The Senate should investigate the alarming increases in the prices of basic commodities that are now posing a threat to people’s right to food and affecting the fragile condition of Filipino households reeling from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is imperative for the Senate, along with other key agencies, to discuss and assess the primary causes of this unabated increase in prices in basic commodities including pork, vegetables, and fish,” Sen. Leila De Lima said in filing Senate Resolution No. 611.
“The State and its agencies must identify the policy levers that can rein in excessive volatility and maintain prices within a reasonable band,” she said.
Citing a study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the senator said the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in lower incomes and higher prices of some basic food commodities.
De Lima said the prices of agricultural commodities in the market continued to climb as Filipinos welcomed the new year, citing the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price watch showing increases in vegetable and meat prices by as much as 66 percent from December, 2020.
While the national government is focusing on the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program, De Lima said gut issues should not be relegated to the background.
“It is crucial that these price surges are duly addressed as price volatility on these basic commodities adversely impacts the very fragile condition and situation of many Filipino households given the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
The lawmaker said the increase in the prices of these basic commodities is an extra burden for those whose income had fallen because of the economic shocks brought about by the pandemic such as loss of employment and underemployment.
“The dramatic slowdown in the economy, coupled with severe restrictions on movement, has resulted in mass job losses over the last few months. With no income or social support, millions of people cannot afford enough to eat,” she added.
The senator said the Senate should step in to review and enact policies and measures that can temper down and manage the skyrocketing prices of these basic commodities.
“While the State must take action to control the spread of the coronavirus, urgent action is also required to stop the growing hunger crisis and build more resilient and sustainable food systems that work for all Filipinos,” De Lima said.
“It must also scale-up investments in food production, ensure producers earn a living income by establishing minimum producer prices and other support mechanisms, and ensure that workers earn a living wage,” she said.