A congressional leader on Thursday called on the Department of Agriculture and Department of Social Welfare and Development to step up their efforts in assisting poor families as food prices continue to rise.
Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, head of the House committee on social services, expressed concern over the continuing spike in food prices after the holiday season.
“It is alarming that in what should be a ‘low-demand season’ after the holidays, food prices remain high. Kawawa po ang 11 milyong Pilipino at ang kanilang pamilya kung hindi natin ito aaksyunan,” he said.
Inflation rose to 3.5 percent in December—its highest jump in more than a year—in part due to increases in food costs, with vegetable prices rising 19.73 percent and meat prices 9.95 percent.
The DA had attributed the increase on tight supply due to the successive typhoons that hit the country in the last quarter of 2020. The agency said food prices might not stabilize until March, when the harvest season usually begins.
To ease the financial burden of higher food prices on the poor, Vargas said, he would ask the DSWD to study the possibility of extending additional cash aid, especially as the number of “food-poor” and “borderline food-poor” families had increased due to the pandemic.
“This is an urgent issue that we need to address. Hindi pa tapos ang pandemya. Mas madaling magkasakit ang taong gutom,” he said.
Vargas called on the DA to expand its network of Kadiwa rolling stores, which sell fresh produce at cheaper prices.
“Expanding the network of Kadiwa stores will not only help our farmers but also consumers,” he said.