Manila, Philippines – The Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women blasted National Economic and Development Authority Chief Ernesto Pernia for his statement of “no-frills” monthly food budget of a family of five and branded it as “fiction” or a product of pure imagination amid rising cost of living in the country. The group added that he has just exposed that the Duterte government is insensitive to the plight of poor in the country.

“Hindi nakabatay sa realidad ang badyet ni Pernia. Sa aktwal, kulang na kulang iyan dahil sa napakataas ng presyo bilihin tulad ng bigas, gulay, karne, isda at iba pa sa mga palengke, iba pa ang epekto ng TRAIN Law. Naglabas pa siya ng menu niya, na ang gusto niyang gawin ay paulit-ulit itong kainin ng mga tao araw-araw para magkasya yung badyet na sinasabi niya. Isa itong kabaliwan mula sa isang neoliberal na burukratang pinapasweldo ng mahihirap,” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson.

Amihan said that the peasant women who are in the forefront of producing food for their families were dismayed on Pernia’s statement. His P7,528 monthly food budget or around P81 per meal, excluding snacks, is obviously inadequate for a family of five. The group bared that early this year, a peasant family of five in Cagayan struggles with a daily food budget at P350 for one “gantang of bigas, ulam, asukal, kape, tinapay “and other condiments.

The group stressed that rice prices remained high at around P30 to P70 per kilo in the provinces, due to the impact of the Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Law, particularly that the stocks of National Food Authority (NFA) lost its regulatory pressure to pull down prices. Moreover, the price shocks of “poor man’s fish” galunggong further narrowed down the already limited food choices of poor families.

“We are outraged that Duterte, Pernia and his economic managers are denying the poor Filipinos of their concrete realities. This connotes the government neglect and non-intention for an authentic poverty alleviation. We urge the public to speak up and join us in condemning Duterte’s neoliberal policies,” ended by Soriano. ###

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