Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday, February 8, called on the country’s economic managers to tame the rising inflation in the country which peaked at 8.7 percent in January 2023, an all-time high since November 2008.
Pimentel expressed dismay at the economic managers’ ‘’lack of concrete plans and swift action’’ to address inflation and help the millions of Filipinos whose purchasing power continues to decline.
“We have seen the first symptoms of worsening inflation with the sugar crisis in the second half of 2022 followed by the onion crisis in the last quarter. These should have behooved our economic managers including the agriculture sector to look closely at agricultural production and food supply augmentation,” said Pimentel.
The Senate’s chief fiscalizer emphasized that if only the government has put measures in place to monitor and strengthen agricultural production and empower small farmers and food producers, food inflation would not be as high as 11.2 percent which was only 1.6 percent at the same time last year.
“We have known for a long time that there is a gap between our farmers and the market, and the middlemen that usually connect the two earn so much, leaving our farmers shortchanged, but what exactly are the concrete steps we are doing to change this,” Pimentel said.
“For the bottom 30 percent income households, the inflation rate equates to 9.7 percent. It is disheartening that the poorest in our nation suffer the hardest as prices of essential commodities continue to rise and our government seems to just watch prices fluctuate,” he added.
Apart from the plight of the farmers, the former Senate President also recalled that minimum wage earners only received an additional P33 in June 2022.
“With the increasing inflation, the essential needs that a P570 salary for non-agriculture workers and a P533 salary for manufacturing, agriculture and service industries can purchase get slimmer and slimmer,” he said.
Pimentel said that “instead of focusing on the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), all hands should be on deck to address the serious problem of inflation.”
“Unfortunately, I have not seen any concrete plan or a roadmap to address the problem,” he lamented.
“There are so many pressing issues that need more of our attention and efforts, we should be prioritizing these especially matters that concern the ordinal ordinary ordinary and marginalized Filipinos,” he added.