Gov’t, “hugas-kamay” on lockdown-induced inflation

Manila, Philippines – With the new year’s surged prices of meat, vegetables and other agricultural commodities, the poor producers and consumers are bearing its brunt amid government inaction and neglect. The price shocks included of pork to as high as P380 this January from last month’s P300 per kilo or an increase of 26%, or 52% from its last year’s price of P250, while whole chicken to P190 per kilo from last month’s P170, or about 12% increase. Moreover, said that prices skyrocketed to 66% from last year including the price of red onion from P120 to 200 per kilo; sili from P600 to P800.

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women decried that this is an added burden to the detrimental impact of last year’s losses due to government’s neglect and incompetence addressing the pandemic, calamities and neoliberal policies. And yet, the demand for P10,000 financial assistance and P15, 000 production subsidy for the farmers, peasant women, agricultural workers, fisherfolk and other rural-based sectors were neglected instead, the Department Agriculture promoted the offering of various loans and loads of requirements, to those already engrossed in debts.

“Nagiging praktis na ng pamahalaan na maghugas-kamay sa mga kapalpakan nito pagdating sa mga pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin. Nanawagan nga mga magsasakang producer noong nakaraang taon ng pandemya dahil nga sa epekto ng mga lockdown na nagpahirap sa pagsasaka at kahit sa pagbebenta sa kabilang barangay, at sa dulo ay wala namang ayudang binigay para magpatuloy ang produksyon at masiguro ang suplay. Ngayon, nagngangawa ang DA na mahalaga ang produksyon, na sila nga ang inutil at walang pakialam sa mga producers,” “Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano lamented.

She added that, “hanggang sa kasalukuyan, ipinaglalaban pa rin na dapat may state subsidy sa mga ‘food security frontliners’ natin may pandemya man o wala. Hindi lang cold-storage ang sagot batay sa sinabi ng DA kundi kumprehensibong programa para maiwasan ang matataas na presyo ng mga bilihin at matulungan ang mga magsasaka,

The peasant women group recommended for a price freeze of agricultural products such as meat, poultry and vegetable products. The group and various peasant organizations have demanding the government since the early stage of pandemic to ensure and protect the consumers’ rights ad there’s food affordability amid the crisis.

“Ang nakikita natin ngayon ay mismong simtomas ng liberalisadong agrikultura, o sa madaling salita ay patakarang ‘bahala kayo sa buhay nyo’ o kawalang suporta ng estado sa mga magsasaka, at wala ring regulasyon sa mga retail price nito. Si DA Secretary William Dar mismo ang promotor ng liberalisasyon sa agrikultura, pero ngayong may masamang epekto, nagpapanggap silang inosente sa krimeng pang-ekonomiyang ito na bumibiktima sa parehong producer at consumer, ” Soriano added.

As immediate demand, the Amihan peasant women group urged the government to regulate prices of meat and vegetables in the market as well as, provide immediate assistance and production subsidy to the food security frontliners. #

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