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PBBM admin vows continued support to consumers, farmers amid movements in commodity prices

MANILA -- The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. gave an assurance on Thursday for its continued support to the most vulnerable sectors while implementing necessary measures to respond to rising prices as inflation inched up in September this year.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that inflation in September 2023 increased to 6.1 percent, up from 5.3 percent in August, bringing the year-to-date inflation to 6.6 percent.

The increase is primarily due to higher food inflation, which rose to 10.0 percent last month from 8.2 percent in August. Higher food inflation was recorded on rice (17.9 percent from 8.7 percent), meat (1.3 percent from -0.1 percent), fruits (11.6 percent from 9.6 percent), and corn (1.6 percent from 0.9 percent).

Meanwhile, the prices of fish, vegetables, sugar, eggs, dairy products, bread, and other cereals recorded slower inflation.

“The government is committed to providing targeted assistance to affected vulnerable segments of the population while food prices remain elevated,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Among the government initiatives is the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) digital Food Stamp Program which was launched on September 29, 2023, the country’s first.

It is aimed at addressing the lingering incidence of food poverty and malnutrition among low-income Filipino households by providing monthly meal augmentation worth P3,000, which could benefit families classified as “food poor” by the PSA, along with pregnant and nursing mothers.

The agency will also provide a P10,000 cash subsidy to 78,000 farmers listed in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Additionally, rice farmers are set to receive P5,000 as financial assistance to help sustain their productivity amid the increasing cost of production while the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) launched the provision of fuel subsidies to 74,089 public utility vehicles also in September.

Last September 18, the National Food Authority (NFA) Council set a new buying price for palay (unhusked rice), thus raising the buying price of dry palay from P19.00 to P23.00 and the buying price of wet palay from P16.00 to P19.00. This increase aims to provide Filipino farmers with higher income.

Balisacan, who heads the NEDA, added that the government, through the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO), is proactively monitoring the demand-and-supply situation, particularly of key commodities, to provide the President and the Cabinet with appropriate and timely policy recommendations.

During the last IAC-IMO meeting on October 3, 2023, the committee recommended extending the lower Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate on rice under Executive Order (EO) No. 10.

To address the increasing price of rice and ensure enough supply through timely and adequate importation, Balisacan said that the IAC-IMO recommends extending the lower MFN tariff rate on rice until December 2024, but subject to review in July 2024.

The policy response, however, must be complemented by efforts to improve the predictability and transparency of issuing the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance for rice and all commodities, according to Balisacan.

Furthermore, to help ensure efficient transportation and reduce the costs of agricultural products, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. issued EO No. 41, which prohibits the collection of pass-through fees on national roads and urges local government units to suspend the collection of fees from vehicles transporting goods.

The administration is also considering revisiting the proposal to temporarily lower rice tariffs regardless of origin if the global price of rice continue to rise due to the impacts of El Niño and rice export bans among key rice-exporting countries, resulting in a need for a more robust response to stabilize local prices.

“As we implement short-term measures to ease the negative effects of inflation, it is imperative that we also address our long-term food supply issues by providing support for our local farmers to boost their productivity and resilience. These include investing in irrigation, modern high-yielding varieties, pest control, and logistics,” Balisacan said. (PCO)

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Andrea Bancud


Information II from the Creative Production Services Division of PIA Central Office who also writes scripts for IEC materials such as AVP, TV Commercial, Radio Commercial and print materials. 

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