The chairman of the House appropriations committee on Thursday assured the public that the government is taking steps to control the impact of soaring inflation.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles made the statement in light of the recent Pulse Asia survey showing that 63 percent of Filipinos said controlling the rising prices of basic commodities is their most urgent national concern that the Duterte administration must address.
“The government is aware that rising prices is an urgent problem, our economic managers know what is causing it, and the appropriate steps are being taken to address it,” Nograles said.
Nograles said the government is already acting on the spike in rice prices, which is among the factors that fueled inflation nationwide to a nine-year high of 6.4 percent in August.
He noted that Malacañang has issued Memorandum Order (MO) 28, which directs the National Food Authority (NFA) to immediately release the rice stocks in its warehouses, including the 230,000 metric tons (MT) of rice currently stored in its warehouses across the country and 100,000 MT of rice previously contracted to be delivered before the end of the month.
He said this “decisive move” can boost the supply of rice in the market and would help protect consumers from profiteers and hoarders.
“This is a decisive move that will force rice traders hoarding stocks to release their stocks, thereby protecting consumers from profiteers that are taking advantage of the situation,” he said.
Apart from MO 28, Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent executive order placing the supervision of the NFA under the Department of Agriculture (DA) “is already reaping dividends.”
He added that the NFA Council is also taking steps to improve its rice procurement efforts by providing incentives to rice farmers who sell their palay (unhusked rice) to the NFA.
He added that these steps, including the arrival of imported rice in the coming weeks, should stabilize rice prices in the market and improve the availability of cheaper NFA rice across the country.
“Rice is life; the more expensive rice is, the harder the lives of our countrymen get. The corollary is also true. Alam ni Presidente yan, kaya tinanggap nya ang pagbitiw ni Jason Aquino bilang hepe ng NFA at may mga bagong direktiba sya para pababain ang presyo ng bilihin . (The President knows this, which is why he relieved Jason Aquino as NFA head and he has issued new directives to lower the prices of basic goods.)”
On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that Duterte signed an administrative order (AO) removing non-tariff barriers and streamlining administrative procedures on the importation of basic agricultural commodities.
Under Administrative Order No. 13 signed last Sept. 21, Duterte emphasized the "urgent need” to control price spikes of basic agricultural products, particularly rice, chicken, pork, and fish.
In line with Duterte’s order, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Order 26 directing the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry to adopt measures to reduce the gap between farm-gate and retail prices of agricultural products.
Medialdea also issued MO 27 directing the DA, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Metro Manila Development Authority to come up with measures that would ensure efficient and seamless delivery of imported agriculture and fishery products from the ports to the markets.