Ninety-eight percent of Filipinos surveyed by Pulse Asia said that food prices have gone up. (Photo courtesy of Agence France-Presse)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Although the government is initiating efforts to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn caused by the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic and lockdowns, minimum-income workers are now outraged over the exorbitant prices of prime commodities, including food, that has exacerbated the hardships of most Filipino families.
The majority of Pinoys are now urging government authorities to address the problem of runaway price increases in order to assuage the difficulties and hardships being experienced on a daily basis by the public.
Labor groups have observed that in Metro Manila, food price have skyrocketed with a kilo of pork now equivalent to seven hours of work for a minimum wage earner and a kilo of cabbage, eggplant, string beans, or ampalaya tagged as worth three hours of work.
“Even a kilo of galunggong is now equivalent to the minimum wage for a half a day’s work and outside the National Capital Region; the price of a kilo of pork is higher than the minimum wage. How can the jobless afford that?” Partido Manggagawa (PM) president Rene Magtubo asked.
The legislated daily minimum wage in Metro Manila is PhP537 but when adjusted for inflation, it goes down to PhP434 (real daily minimum wage).
Varying per region, the nominal daily minimum wage outside NCR ranges from PhP310 (Bicol) to PhP420 (Central Luzon), for a real daily minimum wage of PhP234 and PhP333, respectively.
According to Magtubo, the price monitoring report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the prices of meat and vegetables this month rose by 50 to 275 percent compared to January last year.
“Even if there’s a Covid-19 vaccine coming, this will not take away the people’s hunger,” he stressed.
Associated Labor Unions (ALU) vice president Gerard Seno said that most workers, especially those receiving minimum wages, were in despair with the steep hike in the prices of basic food items such as rice, vegetables, meat, and liquefied petroleum gas.
Seno noted that the prices of basic commodities rose in December despite the 60-day price freeze imposed by a multi-agency government task force from November 18, 2020 to January 17.
ALU called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to bring down as soon as possible to ‘reasonable levels; the prices of basic commodities.
“Government agencies have already identified the gaps and problematic layers giving rise to these runaway prices of basic food commodities,” Seno said.
“The DA and the DTI now have to step up their price regulation mandate and level up their enforcement to further improve protection of consumers, particularly against profiteers, supply hoarders, and middlemen victimizing retailers and ordinary people,” he concluded. (AI/MTVN)