The Department of Agriculture (DA), together with other government agencies, has recommended to President Duterte the imposition of a price freeze on pork and chicken amid rising retail prices of farm commodities in Metro Manila.
In a text message, DA Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Noel Reyes confirmed on Saturday, Jan. 23, that a resolution has been drafted and submitted to the Office of the President seeking Duterte’s approval for such price freeze.
The DA has also forged an agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and mayors within the metropolis to impose stricter price measures in public markets in the metropolis.
To be specific, these agencies want Duterte’s green light to put a price
ceiling on pork at ₱270 per kilogram (/kg) for kasim pigue and ₱300/kg for liempo.
As for chicken, the price cap recommendation stood at ₱160/kg. As of Friday, the prevailing price of pork kasim in select markets in Metro Manila stood at ₱360/kg, while it is ₱400/kg for pork liempo, based on the latest price monitoring report of the DA.
A kilo of a whole fully dressed chicken, on the other hand, now costs ₱190.
Other than the price cap, DA, DTI, and MMDA also pledged to closely monitor major public market retailers, traders, and wholesalers for Price Act violations.
Metro Manila mayors were also asked to identify areas where farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) can deliver and sell their products directly through the DA’s Kadiwa marketing program.
The other day, Reggie Vallejos, spokesperson of consumer group Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (Suki), has called for price freeze and aid distribution to consumers, especially to low-income sectors.
Consumers and rising cost of food
This, as consumers bear the brunt of the rising cost of food while the salary rate in the Philippines has not increased over the last years.
“Consumers during the pandemic had to spend more on internet connection, medical, and other consumer goods,” Vallejos said.
“Prices have increased but consumers’ salary stayed the same, with most of them earning only ₱537 per day. Likewise, 5.8 million people lost their jobs during the pandemic,” he added.
Right now, people falling under the bottom 30 percent category spend 59.7 percent of their earnings on food, compared to those in the upper 70 percent income group at 39.5 percent.
Meanwhile, amid the rising retail cost of farm commodities, farmers are also complaining of low-farm gate prices.
For his part, Joseph Canlas, Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, said farmers don’t benefit from the rising retail cost of some food commodities.
This is because the farm-gate prices of agriculture commodities, such as rice, chili, onion, have remained low.
“Farmers don’t benefit from the rising cost of these products. We are actually suffering because we also have to eat and buy these products. The problem is farm-gate price is low so we don’t make a lot of money,” Canlas said.
Vegetables, pork, and chicken meat prices in Metro Manila and nearby areas remain high for the 8th consecutive week, based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) monitoring and actual retail market prices.
According to the DA, this was brought about by the series of typhoons adversely impacting the supply and prices of vegetables and other farm commodities.
African Swine Fever (ASF), too, continued to pull down pork supply in the country, while pushing prices of the commodity at an unprecedented rate.
The last time Duterte imposed a 60-day price freeze was in November last year, following the declaration of a state of calamity in Luzon in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses.
It covered basic food items like rice, pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, root crops, sugar, fresh fruits, canned fish, and other marine products, among basic commodities.