The resilient consumers

What’s the 5.4 percent inflation meant for the Filipino consumers?  Do consumers have choices at the moment? A media person asked me what consumers can do on rising prices? My reply was very pragmatic. I said none. If the consumers cannot afford to buy the item, then don’t buy it. The P33 salary hike has not even felt in the wallet of the laborers when the big-time price hikes of fuel hit the market. Now I read that commuters have to pay a peso more for  jeepney fares. Did we consumers panic in the way we start our daily life?

The next day, we saw consumers  crowd the free bus rides. Most of the car-driving employees left their car at home. Life goes on albeit with minor interruptions. No one wants to be late or absent from work. Livelihood and earning a living continue. We are more astute and behave than the Sri Lankans. In fact, a survey show Filipino consumers rated positive their outlook for the rest of the year. Some jeepney drivers opted not to work but I am sure the next day they will ply their routes.

In the area of public utilities, consumers are assured of no rate hikes in their water bills. This was due to the renegotiated concession contracts of the water concessionaires .

But toll fees are going up for the sector that can afford to pay higher rate in exchange for the convenience of better and quicker ride.

Meralco has been exerting effort to cushion whatever unavoidable increases in our bill per kWh. Let us see how much can the utility firm give unto us consumers.

However, Meralco and its power plant suppliers are asking the regulators to approve a price hike due to the impact of rising oil prices and in the price of alternative fuels. When asked though if fuel prices suddenly go down, will the parties refund the windfall profits they earned and which were passed on to the consumers. I did not receive any reply at all.

On oil prices, the DOE just announced what to me is lip  service. They will propose to the next Congress a review of the Oil Deregulation Law.  Why proposed now when there were many pending bills in the 18thCongress that they could have championed . A media person asked me to comment. I said too late the hero for the outgoing DOE. The DOE now has no credibility, neutrality and transparency to pick up  such proposal.

The review of the Oil Deregulation Law should be a team effort of the new administration and it’s economic managers .

Prices of food is another story . Would you believe a CSR project, Pnoy Tasty, will go up by 4 pesos a loaf? More so the branded bread products. The increases can even more than 4 pesos a loaf. For this year alone, basic goods prices have increased twice already and before the current leaders step down, could raise for the 3rd time . What will consumers do to cope with these price increases ?

I believe consumers just need to use their inner gut feel. What can I buy and  what I cannot buy. As simple as that. Let the market react to the consumers buying power or whatever is left of said power . Consumers cannot find refuge from the outgoing leaders and I believe we should not act like beggars to them.

We are resilient consumers and we shall survive. However, Justice Hernando said that Filipino consumers have been abused, endangered and trampled in their rights that they need protection from the excesses of the business sector, and in some cases by the State itself.

Consumers could still be cautiously optimistic for the balance of the year. A lot could still happen to fuel and food prices as economies try to recover from the effects of the pandemic. Our adherence to health protocols could translate more job opportunities for the Filipino consumers.

On another development, the Laban Konsyumer Inc. was issued recognition by the DTI as a National Consumer Organization after our compliance with the terms and conditions of the accreditation. This also guarantees to our compliance in the Asean economic integration program in the area of consumer protection and welfare. The certification said DTI CPAB001.It meant we are the First NCO in the country. I wish to extend my appreciation to the Trustees, Officers and Members of LKI for their unwavering support to our advocacy.

Mabuhay on our 124thobservance of Philippine Independence Day.

Atty. Vic Dimagiba, AB, LLB, LLM

President , Laban Konsyumer Inc. ( DTI NCO )

Email at [email protected]