Duterte EO to bring down rising food prices in NCR — Sen. Go

Published February 1, 2021, 4:38 PM

by Mario Casayuran

 Senator Christopher Go on Monday said he expects a curb in the rising prices of pork and chicken products in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, based his optimism on the issuance by President Duterte of Executive Order 124.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

This developed as the Senate agriculture and food committee chaired by Senator Cynthia A. Villar started today a public hearing on the high prices of commodities.

Upon Go’s appeal and based on the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the price ceiling will be implemented within the NCR for a period of 60 days.

Under Section 7 of Republic Act No. 7581, or the Price Act, the President, upon recommendation of an implementing agency, such as the DA, may impose a mandated price ceiling over any basic necessity or prime commodity under circumstances causing an unreasonable increase in the price of such goods.

“Kinokomendahan ko po ang pag-issue ng Pangulo ng EO na ito upang itigil ang tuluy-tuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng pagkain. Kailangan natin itong solusyonan lalong-lalo na sa panahon ngayon na marami pong mga kababayan natin ang nawalan ng trabaho,” Go said. (I commend the issuance of an executive order issued by the President to stop the increasing prices of food.  We need this to help our countrymen, particularly those who have lost their jobs.)

“Wala na nga pambili ng pagkain ang mga kababayan natin, tataas pa ang presyo. Mas lalong mahihirapan ang ordinaryong Pilipino,” he added. (People do not have money yet prices are high. This will truly hurt ordinary Filipinos.)

Under the EO, the price ceiling will remain in full force and effect for 60 days, unless extended by President Duterte upon the recommendation of the DA.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Executive Secretary said that the price ceiling would not result in undue diminution of meat traders’ expected income considering that the reduction rates are not greater than 25 percent of the prevailing market price. Notably, the break-even point for selling pork is only around P105.00. 

The National Agriculture and Fisheries Council has also expressed its support for the price ceiling as reflected in a resolution. The NAFC Resolution signified that the price ceiling bears the support of various stakeholders, including those from the private sector.

The imposition of price ceiling seeks to ease the adverse impact of COVID-19 and ensure that pork and chicken remain affordable and accessible to the public, and prevent unwarranted price manipulation. 

Such measure is likewise consistent with Resolution 33 (s. 2020) of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which seeks to ensure availability, accessibility, affordability, and price stability of food products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to control the outbreak of ASF, the DA implemented the following measures: (1) provision of financial assistance to hog raisers affected by the ASF; (2) depopulation of affected hogs; (3) surveillance activities and border control; (4) heightened implementation of the Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABAY ASF) program; and (5) stakeholder engagement and consultation. 

As means of ensuring adequacy of pork supply, the DA also proposed increasing its Minimum Access Volume of its meat import allocation from 54,000 metric tons to 162,000 metric tons.

Go said he has been prodding the government to prioritize three important aspects towards full recovery: (1) address hunger; (2) acquire sufficient, safe, and effective vaccines for all Filipinos with utmost priority to the poor and vulnerable sectors as well as frontliners; (3) and provide more economic opportunities through jobs and other forms of livelihood. 

At the onset of the pandemic, Go appealed for the implementation of the Small Business Wage Subsidy program for small businesses to support the affected ordinary employees displaced by the COVID-19.

Go, who lamented that many poor Filipinos cannot afford masks and face shields, also called on the government to distribute these essential protective supplies to the poor for free. He has also consistently supported the proper implementation of the government’s Social Amelioration Program.