By Genalyn Kabiling
The prices of some food items have started to decrease amid government’s efforts to curb the country’s high inflation, Malacañang announced Friday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque admitted that he regularly goes to the market and noticed the reduction in the prices of onions, garlic, potatoes, and chili peppers.
“Marami pong mga pagkain ngayong na bumaba. Iyong sili po wala nang P1,000 bumalik na po iyan sa P300 [Prices of many food items have dropped. There are no more chili peppers worth P1,000. Its price has gone down to P300],” Roque said in a radio interview.
“Ang bawang po, ang sibuyas bumaba na rin po. Ang patatas bumaba na rin po. Ako po ay namamalengke, kaya ako po ang nagsasabi kay Presidente na talagang tumataas po ang presyo [Garlic and onion prices are now lower. The price of potatoes has also decreased. I go to the market so I was the one telling the President that prices increased],” he added.
Roque said the public could also expect lower prices of rice in the market due to the country’s ample supply. He noted that around 500,000 metric tons of imported rice are expected to arrive in the country soon to further augment supply and help bring down prices.
“Iyan po ay milyung-milyones na kaban ng bigas na talagang babaha naman ang ating merkado para riyan [That’s millions of sacks of rice that will flood the market],” he said.
Roque assured the public that the government was not sleeping on the job in terms of taming the price hikes of basic agricultural commodities.
He said President Duterte recently issued an administrative order on the removal of non-tariff barriers and streamlining administrative procedures on the importation of agricultural products.
The government also approved the importation of rice beyond the beyond the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation to the private sector to boost the country’s supply and lower costs.
He said the government’s rice importation would not only be done through the National Food Authority but also the Philippine International Trading Corp., a state run firm attached to the Department and Trade and Industry.
The NFA was also recently directed to immediately release to markets approximately 230,000 metric tons of rice currently in stock in the warehouses across the country.
“Inaamin namin na talagang ramdam sa sikmura po itong ganitong pagtaas ng mga bilihin. Pero ang sinasabi nga po namin lahat at ginagawa ng gobyerno para maibsan lang lang iyong ating nararamdaman na talagang pahirap dahil sa pagtaas ng mga bilihin [We admit that the prices of commodities are felt in the gut of the public. But we’re saying that the government is doing everything to ease the burden due to the increase in commodity prices],” Roque said.
Concerned government agencies have also been directed to adopt measures to ensure the efficient and seamless delivery of imported agriculture and fishery products from the ports to the markets.
Roque said they have been authorized to issue food lane passes for truckers and suppliers carrying agricultural products.
“Meron na nga tayong mga tinatawag na ‘food passes’ ngayon ‘no. Iyong food passes po ay garantiya po iyan na dapat walang pipigil, walang mangongotong dito [We will have food passes that guarantees the transport of foods would not be stopped or be extorted],” he said.
Apart from the importation of rice, meat and fish, Roque said the government was also transporting cheaper vegetables from Mindanao to increase supply of the produce in other parts of the country.
“Ginagamit na natin ang mga eroplano ng Air Force dahil sagana naman po ng gulay sa Mindanao na mas mababa ang mga presyo [We are using the Air Force airplanes because there are plenty of vegetables in Mindanao that have lower prices],” he said.