Press Briefing

Launching of The Presser with Secretary Martin Andanar (PIA Auditorium)

Event Launching of The Presser
Location PIA Auditorium

SEC. ANDANAR: Good morning and welcome to The Presser. Magandang umaga po.

Bakit po natin inilulunsad ang programang The Presser? Kamakailan ay dahil sa mainit na isyu ng inflation rate sa ating bansa ay kung anu-ano na agad ang balita na kumakalat. May mga kumpanya diumano na magsasara na. Dahil dito ay nagkakaroon ng panic sa damdamin ng ating mga kababayan. Kailangan po nating linawin ang mga isyung tulad nito lalo na ang mga kaganapang pilit na ini-uugnay ng mga kritiko ng ating pamahalaan sa TRAIN Law.

Kung kulang sa tamang impormasyon ang ating mga kababayan ay hindi nila malalaman ang tunay na rason kung bakit may mga ganitong pangyayari; at kung may panic sa kanilang damdamin nawawala na ang lohika para alamin pa nila kung ano ba talaga ang katotohanan.

Kailangan ng ating mga kababayan ng mga tulad ng ating guest ngayong na is Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino para maunawaan ang tunay na sitwasyon ng ating bansa lalo na ng ating ekonomiya.

Ang The Presser ay kagaya rin ng iba pa nating programa dito sa Presidential Communications Operations Office na ang layunin ay labanan ang paglaganap ng fake news o disinformation. Kailangan po nating gawin ang mga ganitong klaseng pagbaka sa mga pekeng balita, dahil ayaw natin na ang ating mga kababayan ay maging biktima ng mga indibidwal o grupo na ang layunin lang ay manggulo para bumagal po ang pag-asenso ng ating bansa sa ilalim ni Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Mag iimbita po tayo ng mga panauhin mula sa iba’t-ibang sangay ng ating pamahalaan na tatalakay in a forum style setting sa mga kasalukuyang maiinit na isyu sa ating bayan, lalo na ang tungkol sa ating ekonomiya. Sasagutin ng ating panauhin ang tanong ng bayan about the latest programs, policies and initiatives happening under the Duterte administration; at kung anu-anong mga hakbang ang ginawa o ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan upang maresolba ang mga ito.

Layunin po ng The Presser na maging mas malinaw ang mga balita lalo na ang mga maraming nagsi-circulate online at malaman din ng taumbayan ang buong katotohanan. Diretso, hindi mapanakot na headline; detalyado, hindi naka-anggulo o sabi nga ng mga beterano sa media ay in-SS, para lang maging kontrobersyal at makahatak ng maraming viewers, shares at likes.

Umaasa naman ako na ang ating mga kasamahan sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon na naririto ngayon will press very, very hard sa ating panauhin para sa isang masigla at malayang talakayan.

Without further ado, I would like to welcome our guest, our very first Presser guest, the Assistant Secretary of the Strategy, Economics, and Results Group of the Department of Finance, Assistant Secretary Lambino. Welcome po.

ASEC. LAMBINO: Maraming salamat, Secretary Martin. Magandang umaga po.

SEC. ANDANAR: The floor is yours, you have 30-minutes to explain to the nation kung ano po itong inflation at totoo bang may kinalaman ang TRAIN dito.

ASEC. LAMBINO: Maraming salamat po. Tulad po ng sinabi ni Secretary Andanar, ay ang inflation ay kailangang pag-usapan, intindihin, dahil may pakialam ang taumbayan dito. At dahil mahalaga po ito sa taumbayan, prayoridad po ito ng Duterte administration.

Intindihin po natin ang mga ugat ng inflation at ang pagtaas ng presyo para ang ating mga solusyon ay akma at epektibo.

So, umpisahan ko po sana sa pinaka-basic na na-report na naman po sa media, pag-usapan ko po iyong inflation and its relationship to the TRAIN Law, dahil marami rin pong tanong tungkol diyan, kung ano po iyong mga mitigating measures natin para matulungan ang mga vulnerable at mahihirap na pamilya at ano po ang mga measures ng economic development cluster para bumaba ang presyo lalung-lalo na ng pagkain, dahil iyan po ang nararamdaman ng mga pinakamahirap na pamilyang Pilipino.

So, kung titingnan po natin, year-on-year, inflation in August 2018 reached 6.4%, bringing the year-to-date average to 4.8%. Ibig pong sabihin niyan, sa Agosto 2018 kung ikumpara po natin ang presyo ng mga bilihin ng mga pangkaraniwang pamilya, kumpara po natin ng August 2017, tumaas po ng 6.4% ang bilihin. So, kung 100 pesos or for every P100 that we spent in August 2017, naging P106.40 sa August 2018.

Iba po iyan doon sa average inflation na diyan po ang basehan ng target ng gobyerno, which is the 2 to 4% range. Ang ating average inflation rate ay lagpas po sa range, pero hindi po 6.4 yung tinitingnan nating number, iyong average po natin, as of now, from January to August is 4.8%. So, lagpas po sa range, pero slightly below doon po sa estimate and forecast ng ating gobyerno for the whole year, which is 4.9%.

Mahalaga rin pong tingnan ang tinatawag na month-on-month inflation; dahil iba naman po iyon sa year-on-year na August 2017 versus August 2018. Iyong month-on-month po natin, iyong July to August naman, at ang inflation rate natin from July to August ay .9% which means for every 100 pesos for a basket of goods that we spent nung July 2018, dagdagan po natin ng 90 centavos. So instead of 100 pesos, naging P100.90 centavos iyong presyo ng same basket of goods between July and August.

Ngayon, ito po ang sampu sa pinakamalaking kontribyusyon sa inflation rate natin noong Agosto 2018: Electricity, gas and other fuels iyong nanguna; isda, bigas ang operasyon ng pribadong sasakyan, vegetables, meat, housing rentals, catering services, non alcoholic beverages, kasama po ang sweetened beverages at tobacco.

Kung mamarapatin po ninyo, isa-isahin po natin ito, dahil nga ang sabi natin kanina, intindihin po natin ang ugat ng problema para iyong mga solusyon natin ay akma at epektibo.

So, tulad po ng July 2018, iyong pinakamalaking kontribyusyon sa inflation ay nanggaling sa kuryente, gas and other fuels. Iyong gas and other fuels na po na iyan na nasa PSA data, hindi po iyan gasolina, mamaya po natin pag-usapan iyan. Iyong gas and other fuels ay household gas and fuels tulad ng LPG at saka kerosene. Iyan po iyong number one driver of inflation.

So, for consumers in Metro Manila and neighboring areas, hindi po masyadong nakikita ito, pero ang ibig lang sabihin nitong chart na ito ay ang pagtaas ng presyo ay tuloy-tuloy since August 2017. There have been multiple rate increases at kasama po iyan sa mga power supply agreements. So, consumer pays an average rate of 10.22 centavos per kilowatt hour in August versus 10.19 centavos for kilowatt hour in July. So, 3 centavos po iyong difference per kilowatt hour.

Kung ang isang pamilya po ay nagko-konsumo ng 100 kilowatt hours per month, tumaas po ang bill nila from July to August ng 3 pesos. That’s for family that consumes or a household that consumes 100 kilowatt hours per month.

Pero iyong rate increases nangyari mula po ng August 2017 at iyong mga request para sa tariff increase ng Meralco ay one year before. So this was mostly pre TRAIN law iyong nararamdaman po natin na pagtaas ng presyo sa kuryente.

Pangalawa, fish prices tumaas din po dahil po sa climate change effects mula pa po ng 2011, may pananaliksik po tayo diyan, may supply tightening talaga, kumakaunti po ang isda dahil sa climate change at saka mayroon pong recent decision ng Department of Agriculture, policy decision po ito to restrict commercial vessels from fishing in municipal waters. Kaya mas lalo hong nalimita ang domestic supply of fish. Mayroon pong mga solusyon diyan, pag-uusapan po natin mamaya.

The price of rice, ito pong bigas, malaki pong isyu ‘no. Elevated ho kasi lalo na doon sa iba’t ibang lugar ng Mindanao especially ZambaSulTa – Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu at Tawi-tawi. Tumaas po ang average price ng bigas ng regular milled na bigas to 42 pesos and 85 centavos per kilogram on average ‘no sa Agosto compared to below 40 pesos per kilogram on average noong isang taong nakalipas.

So over the short term, the National Food Authority is helping address high rice prices by sending more stock to affected provinces and importing more rice. Sa Zamboanga for example, iyong NFA po ay nagpapadala ng apat na libong bags ‘no ng rice daily. That will cover around 80 percent of the rice requirement in Zamboanga. Pero mayroon pa po tayong karagdagang mga solusyon diyan at pag-uusapan po natin mamaya.

Iyong mga private vehicle owners nakaranas po ng mas mataas pa na presyo sa mga gasolinahan ng mga diesel at gasolina, 11 pesos and 40 centavos per liter iyong sa diesel, iyong pagtaas kumpara sa Agosto 2017 at 9 pesos and 80 centavos per liter na ang pagtaas ng gasolina mula Agosto 2017. So year-on-year, iyan po ang pagtaas.

The bulk of price increases, mga 75 percent noong pagtaas ay galing sa pagtaas ng oil imports ‘no, nasa 71 dollars and 90 cents per barrel po tayo ngayon, noong Agosto at saka iyong peso depreciation po natin. Alam naman po natin ay bumaba ang halaga ng peso laban sa dolyar. Pero mas mababa po iyong mga values noong mga nasabi ko – iyong presyo ng krudo na imported at iyong ating peso-dollar exchange rate kumpara sa July 2018. So may nakikita po tayong kaunting istabilisasyon pagdating sa pagtaas ng presyo sa gasolina at sa diesel ‘no. Iyong total price increase per liter na nasabi ko kanina, iyong more than 11 pesos and more than 9 pesos, iyong galing po sa TRAIN 2.80 per liter sa diesel at 2.97 sa gasoline. Iyon po iyong contribution ng pagtaas ng excise tax na galing sa TRAIN.

Dito naman po sa vegetables, mas lalo pong tumaas ang presyo noong Agosto. Widespread flooding brought about by iyong mga recent typhoons po natin at iyong South West Monsoon, naging mahirap po ang pag-distribute ng mga vegetables galing sa Northern Luzon. In response iyong atin pong DTI, Department of Trade and Industry at ang DA ay nagmo-monitor po ng mga presyo ng vegetables base po doon sa bagong sistema ng SRP pagdating sa—iyong mga Suggested Retail Prices ‘no, pagdating sa agricultural products. Bago po iyan, dati po wala tayo niyan.

So it’s a recent—it’s a recent role out by DA and DTI.

Ang presyo po ng karne tumaas din po dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng corn, iyong primary ingredient in most animal feeds as well as nasabayan din po iyong pagtaas ng feed doon sa swine disease in China and parts of Africa. So tumaas po talaga ang presyo ng pork. May solusyon po tayo diyan and chicken supply, pag-usapan po natin toward the end of this presentation.

Pero tingnan din po natin iyong month-on-month inflation ng corn ay mukha pong mababa na at 0.6 percent. So ‘pag mas mababa na po ang inflation ng corn, usually sumusunod po diyan iyong presyo ng meat. Kaya kung ma-address na po iyong swine flu at saka bumaba iyong feed, we are expecting na mag-decrease na rin po ang meat prices.

Iyong housing rentals, tumaas po iyan dahil sa partial expiration of Republic Act 9653 o ang tinatawag na Rent Control Act. Toward the end of last year, iyong 2017 na extend po for another three years ang Rent Control Act until the end of 2020. Pero iyong mga units po na ipinatayo pagkatapos ng approval ng extension ay hindi po kasali doon sa extension. So iyong effect po ng pag-expire ng Rent Control Act ay nararamdaman po ng mga renters, iyong mga umuupa since the first part of this year.

Mayroon din po tayong sustained high inflations sa non-essential catering services, kasama po diyan ang pagkain sa labas ‘no ng ating mga kababayan. So restaurants kasali po sa non-essential catering services. Ang implikasyon po nito ay kumakain po sa labas or mas kumakain po sa labas ang ating mga kababayan, ibig sabihin doon po sa mga mayroong panggastos dahil sa additional take home pay dahil sa TRAIN law at dahil po sa mga karagdagang trabaho. Alam po naman natin bumaba ang ating unemployment number ‘no. So this money is finding its way into restaurants, party celebrations and the like—kung titignan ninyo, pasensiya na po medyo maliit ‘no.

Second quarter data from leading fast-food restaurants and retailers are showing revenues continue to grow by double digits ‘no. Iyong pinakamataas po nung first quarter iyong McDonalds, iyong retail sales growth po nila ay 40.6 percent, 4,0,.6. Iyong Jollibee Food Corporation, mayroon na po tayong second quarter sales growth, nasa 19.5 percent ang growth. Ang Max’s group ay sa second quarter po 11.9 percent ang growth ng kanilang sales ‘no. So again, number 8 – driver of inflation, non-essential catering services including eating out in restaurants.

Number 9, the price of non-alcoholic drinks including sweetened beverages increased by 11.5 percent. Iyong estimate po natin dahil din po sa pagtaas natin ng excise sa sugar sweetened beverages, mag-i-increase po ng 15 percent; pero nasa 11.5 percent pa lang po ang increase possibly due to the absorption by companies, iyong mga manufactures po natin na mga sweetened beverages dahil kahit may bumaba po na profits ay may increase naman sa sales ‘no pagdating sa sweetened beverages.

Tobacco prices, I’m sorry ito po, malaki po ang pagtaas, double digits po iyan consistently over the past few months, kasama po diyan ang pagtaas ng excise ‘no, iyong excise tax po natin ay nasa 35 pesos per pack mula ng July, mula January to June, 30 to 50 ‘no so tumaas ng 2 pesos and 50 centavos starting the second half of the year. Pero maliit lang po ang explanation ng excise sa tobacco pagdating sa price increase, karamihan po ng increase ay dahil ang Mighty Corporation, alam naman po natin na nahuli po sila na nandadaya sa buwis noon. Ngayon bago na po ang may-ari ang Japan Tobacco International, tama na po ang binabayad nilang buwis and consequently they are passing this on to consumers. In part due to higher market prices particularly doon ho sa mga brand na mas mura, pati po iyong ibang tobacco manufacturers tinaasan din po nila ang kanilang presyo based on markets surveys. So iyan po ang top 10 drivers ng August 2018 inflation. Nakuwento ko po sa inyo ito dahil sana ho maintindihan natin ano iyong top drivers.

Just among the top 10 of the 6.4 % inflation rate, the top ten already explains 5.2 percentage points or more than 80% of the price increases. So tingnan po natin, ano ba iyong mga main causes if we look at the bigger picture dahil iyon po, mga particular reasons iyon for the top 10.

But let’s look at the main causes noong pagtaas ng presyo. Alam po natin na higher world oil prices clocked in at $71.90 per barrel in August. Noong ipinasa po ang TRAIN Law, noong pinirmahan po ni Presidente Duterte in December 2017, the price was $60.91 per barrel. When the House passed TRAIN in May 2017, the price was $49.91. And when the TRAIN Bill was filed in January 2017, the international price of crude was $53.37 per barrel.

Pati po ang mga international organizations, hindi po nila na-predict ang pagtaas ng presyo na ganito kalaki. So, we are seeing around a 50% increase in the price of imported crude; and nasabayan po ng peso depreciation from 49.74 to 53.30, mas lalo pong naging mahal ang imports natin, so again 80% of the price at the pump is from this; around 20% iyong galing sa TRAIN.

Ito po naman iyong tax reform po natin – Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion – higher taxes on oil, cigarettes and sweetened beverages. Medyo mahirap pong intindihin ngayon, dahil masakit po ang presyo pagdating sa pagpapa-fill up po natin ng ating mga sasakyan, ramdam na ramdam po natin lahat iyan. But we need to understand that the tax on oil is very progressive, because 10% of the richest households consume 50% of petroleum products in our country. The top 20% richest households consume 70% of petroleum products in our country.

So, we are asking those who have more – may mga pribadong sasakyan – to contribute more to national development. For those who own private cars, you go to the gas stations once a week, let say, ang gastos po natin diyan, from our own resources ay mga 2,500 to 3,000 di ba for a full tank. Ang mga sumasakay po ng jeepney ay nasa less than 10 pesos per ride, tapos kung titingnan po natin iyong weekly expense nila kung dalawa po iyong sakay nila, nasa P400 po iyan because they share public transportation.

We are asking those who have more and that is—the indicator of that, is meron po tayong pribadong sasakyan to contribute more. Nagkataon lang talaga na nasabayan ng much higher oil import prices. And that’s the bulk—the source of the bulk of the price increase.

So what is TRAIN’s contribution? It does have a contribution – and we have been consistent about this since the hearings in Congress – around 0.4 percentage points of the 6.4% in August. Essentially, for every 1oo pesos in additional spending, P6 is coming from TRAIN.

Of the P11.40 per liter increase in diesel, P2.80 or 25% is from TRAIN and of the P9.80 per liter increase in gasoline, since December 2017 to August 2018, only P3, actually P2.97 or P3, that’s excise plus VAT or 30% is due to TRAIN.

So, again, for those who are calling for the suspension of the oil excise, intindihin po natin that it will lower the price by a little bit, but probably not by as much as most people think – around 20% of the price increase.

Other key causes of inflation, ito po nasabi na po yata namin ito, you probably have heard this before. There is around P32 billion per month, in additional income in the pockets of the Filipino people. Around 90% is spent, maybe overtime we will be better savers, but 90% of that 32.5 billion pesos is actually spent and that is inflationary as well – more money chasing after the same number of goods, talagang tataas ang presyo.

Where is that P32.5 million coming from? Iyong personal income tax reduction na galing sa TRAIN, that’s P12 billion a month that the government does not collect anymore from taxpayers.

Unconditional cash transfers P2 billion per month, wages from more jobs in infrastructure around P15 billion per month and free college tuition doon sa mga state universities and colleges around 3.5 billion pesos per month.

Nakita na po ninyo iyan, iyong retail sales growth ‘no, just to show that people are… or those who do have additional money and that’s not everybody. There are those who do have less. But those who do have more are spending more.

Rice supply. Ito po alam naman po natin, it’s a controversial topic, pero talagang may contributory effect din po ito, NFA was not able to buy enough palay during the previous harvest season, pero nag-umpisa na po iyong next harvest season ngayon. And despite importation the rice supplies still decreased, nagkaproblema din po unloading. Alam na po ninyo iyong issues na iyan, hindi ko na po kailangang uulitin.

But these reflect underlying issues in our rice policy. Kung titingnan po natin, the Philippines or Filipino spent a lot more – ito pong blue line – on rice per kilo than our neighbors in Thailand and Vietnam, kahit po sa Pakistan. So, tayo nasa P36.81 as of 2017 June ‘no. Ang mga karatig bansa po natin ay less than P20 in June 2017. So, if you look at that talagang meron po tayong issues pagdating sa presyo ng bigas.

So, isa po sa mga pinagkaisahan ng economic managers ay ipaglaban po at i-advocate ang rice tariffication na nasa Senado na po ngayon.

What are the key provisions of rice tariffication? The NFA mandate should be to make sure we have enough emergency buffer stock and possibly logistics to make sure that this buffer stocks gets to where it’s needed. To convert the QR, iyong atin pong tinatawag na quota, palitan po natin iyan, gawing mas maluwag ang pag-angkat ng bigas, gawin po nating taripa, naka-set po sa level na iyong makokolekta po nating taripa ay magagamit po natin sa kapakanan ng ating mga magsasaka para mas maging productive or makapag-shift sa higher value crops.

Ang problema po kasi sa quantitative restriction, iyong quota po ay based po iyan sa import license. Iyong NFA lang po ang nakakabigay ng import license. Ang nangyayari po diyan, ang nakikinabang ay ang mga licensed lamang. Under a tariff regime, iyong taripa po will be collected from anyone who wants to import rice and that money will be used to support our farmers.

Ano po iyong magiging impact nito, bababa po iyong inflation, mga estimates po ay galing sa PIDS at saka sa NEDA at saka sa Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. At bababa po ang presyo ng bigas between 2 to 7 pesos depending on what market in the country we are looking at. At magiging mas competitive po ang manufacturing, dahil ang mga pressure para taasan ang minimum wage ay bababa ng kaunti dahil mas magiging affordable ang staple; and for low income families, rice is around 20% of their budget.

Okay, napag-usapan po kanina, iyong tobacco compliance, alam po natin na napakataas ng pag-angat ng presyo ng sigarilyo – 20% from TRAIN, 80% from better compliance. Especially by Mighty… Mighty under Japan Tobacco, that’s an additional from 1.5 billion to 3.5 billion for month, iyong binabayaran ngayong ng Mighty. So that’s P2 billion that used to be forgone revenue from—iyong kakulangan po ng bayad sa buwis noon.

So in sum without TRAIN, ano po iyong mangyayari? Let’s try to imagine a policy regime, a Philippines without TRAIN. First, inflation would still be high. Iyan po kasi iyong sinasabi nung marami, dahil sa TRAIN merong inflation. Meron hong contribution iyong TRAIN; but given the other factors that we talked about earlier, inflation would still be high with—or inflation will be with or without TRAIN.

In August, it would have been around 6.2% instead of 6.6%. A little bit lower, but still high.

Ano po iyong mawawala? 99 percent of personal income taxpayers will lose 12 billion monthly in additional take home pay. Those who are calling for the suspension of TRAIN will have to explain to 99 percent of income taxpayers why their tax burden is going up again, back to 2017 levels. Essentially that’s a 14th month pay that you divide over the year ‘no for those who are personal income taxpayers. Almost 90 billion pesos in tax revenues will not be generated without TRAIN from the excise taxes that we discuss earlier and again as I mentioned, we are asking those who have more to contribute more.

From that 90 billion, we would lose 27 billion for social services. Sinabi nga po ni Secretary Liling Briones that we have record numbers of enrollees in primary and pre-school. How are we gonna pay for that and make sure that the quality of education gets better and better for the Filipino youth.

63 billion pesos less for infrastructure, kakambal po niyan more than 93,000 jobs in infrastructure in 2018 alone just from incremental TRAIN revenues ‘no.

So again, without TRAIN, inflation would still be high, it will be a little lower but we lose two, three and four. So kailangan hong balansehin ng mabuti siguro ang mga panukala at pag-isipan ho natin ng maigi. But… and this is the bottom line, the government needs to help the poor cope with higher prices regardless of where they are coming from. It doesn’t matter if it’s TRAIN or not TRAIN, if it’s oil imports, if it’s supply issues in agriculture, it is the responsibility and duty of the government and society more broadly to help those who need help.

So under TRAIN, there are social mitigation measures, you’ve heard of this pero kailangan po nating ilagay sa konteksto na kasama po ito sa disenyo ng TRAIN Law. Hindi po ito after thought, this was part of the design from the very beginning. Iyong unconditional cash transfers po natin ay lagpas 6 million na po ang disbursement, and the remaining UCT beneficiaries will receive their 2,400 this year but it will become 3,600 next year and the year after that.

Ang Pantawid Pasada, sana matulungan po ninyo kami na i-communicate ito dahil ang DOTr at ang LTFRB ay nananawagan po talaga sa lahat ng may hawak ng lehitimong prangkisa na kunin na po ang kanilang Pantawid Pasada para ibigay sa kanilang mga drivers ‘no for those who have—the operators and the holders of the legitimate franchise of a public utility jeep more than 86,000 Pantawid Pasada cards are now available for pick up. So sana po matulungan ninyo kami na malaman nila na kukunin na po. Nasa website po iyan at sa mga information materials ng LTFRB at ng DOTr.

Ang Philippine ID System ‘no, ang Phil ID, iyan po ay makakatulong para maging targeted ang ating mga subsidiya para sa mga poor households. This was ratified by Congress in May, signed by the President by President Duterte last August 6 and the PSA targets released of the IRR in October and from October to November 1 million unconditional cash transfer beneficiaries will reserve first priority to be enrolled in the Philippine ID System.

Pero mayroon din ho tayong mga immediate actions and reforms na kailangang gawin para bumaba ang presyo ng pagkain, dahil diyan po ang pinaka—sa pagkain po pinakanararamdaman ang pagtaas ng presyo. In fact, if we look at the regional inflation numbers, dito po sa Region 3 at sa CAR, mga agriculturally productive regions, diyan po ang pinakamababa ang inflation rates. In fact, it’s been—for Region 3 it’s below the target—upper band of the target and for CAR malapit lang po ‘no above the target; unlike the national average which is 6.4. So we really know that the cause of higher food prices is supported by the fact that the lowest regional inflation rate is recorded by PSA in food abundant and agriculturally productive regions of Central Luzon and CAR among others.

So the economic development cluster of the Duterte administration expects moderate inflation in the months ahead, following the implementation of measures to tame the rice in commodity prices ‘no, which include streamlining import procedures for rice, fish, sugar to boost their supply in the domestic market. Inflation is expected to decelerate once the following eight immediate actions to reduce food prices are put in place.

Una, sa isda: the Department of Agriculture has committed to replicating the issuance of certificates of necessity. Nagawa na po nila iyan for one market in Metro Manila, ire-replicate po nila to allow more imports primarily of galunggong to be distributed in wet markets around the country.

On rice: 4.6 million sacks of rice that are available in NFA warehouses are for immediate release to the market across the country. We expect 7 million sacks of rice to arrive over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Some of it previously contracted, some of it newly approved.

The NFA Council also will—also approved the importation of 5 million sacks for early next year as standby stock. To address the reported shortage in ZambaSulTa – Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi – 2.7 million sacks have been allocated to this areas and in addition the harvest has already started in many parts of the country with a projected harvest of 250 million sacks.

So pagdating sa bigas, we are looking at multiple sources of addressing the supply issues. The economic development cluster, kasama po diyan ang DA have agreed to recommend to the President the issuance of a directive to simplify licensing procedures for rice imports of the NFA. And also to urge the Senate to immediately pass iyong atin pong rice tariffication bill within the month.

DTI, NFA, PNP and the NBI and farmer groups will form monitoring teams para may surveillance po tayo from ports to NFA warehouses to retail outlets ‘no pagdating po sa ating rice imports.

Sa chicken naman po, dahil po may swine flu outbreak nga sa China at sa ibang parts ng Africa, para ma-reduce po iyong gap between the farm gate price which was around 85 pesos and retail prices na lagpas po sa 120, 130 pesos. DA and DTI will set up public markets kung saan po ang mga producer natin ay makabenta po directly to our consumers. DA also committed to providing cold storage facilities for this purpose.

Iyong Sugar Regulatory Administration will open importation of sugar to direct users, mga manufacturers po na gumagamit ng sugar para ma-moderate po ang cost para sa ating mga consumers ultimately.

The spike in prices of vegetable was attributed to seasonal weather conditions and we will see relief in this area after the typhoon season. But in the medium term, ang ginagawa po natin diyan ay pinapaganda ang ating infrastructure para ang logistics ay maging mas reliable at bumaba po ang cost para sa ating mga producers and those who are in the value chain.

And lastly, the eight: the Bureau of Customs will prioritize and release of essential food items in the market ‘no. Secretary Dominguez has said and I quote “that a committed effort from government in the agriculture sector to boost supply of key products and introduce policy reforms will bring down prices for all Filipino families.” Iyan po ay sinabi niya pagkatapos ng marathon working session between the economic development cluster and the Department of Agriculture, BSP and members of the NFA Council, pati po DTI kasama ‘no.

The point is this, implementing the solutions is the priority of the Duterte administrations economic development cluster, they are based on an understanding of the problem na galing po sa datos, galing po sa PSA, hindi po galing sa haka-haka, hindi po galing sa panghuhula. Kaya ang nasabi ko po kanina mahalaga po itong isyu dahil nararamdaman po ng taong bayan, prayoridad po ito ng gobyerno at dahil doon mahalaga po na ang ating mga solusyon ay akma doon sa problema at epektibo. Iyon lang po, maraming salamat.

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Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)

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