Duterte orders ‘unimpeded’ importation of rice to curb food inflation

Marje Pelayo   •   October 9, 2018   •   3364

FILE PHOTO: Workers unloading imported NFA rice

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a free market of rice in the country effective Tuesday (October 9).

This was announced in a press briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque who was still technically on leave but was compelled to return to work for the said important announcement.

According to Roque, the President decided to liberalize the importation of rice to curb food inflation. The matter was decided during the Cabinet meeting on Monday (October 8).

Describing how the Cabinet meeting dealt with the issue, Roque said they had an “animated” discussion with many of them raising their strong views on the need to import rice as “the ultimate means by which to rein in inflation as far as food items are concerned.”

“The President said we would go by the recommendation that we should have now unimpeded importation of rice. It was highlighted that minimum access volume is a minimum, there is no maximum,” he said.

Secretary Roque noted that since the Philippines has no local source of oil, the government cannot do anything to stop the continuous spike in oil prices.

What it can do now, according to Roque, is to increase the supply of rice to lower its price.

“Habang wala pa tayong sariling langis dito sa Pilipinas, wala tayong magagawa sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis. Pero ngayong pinapayagan na nating mag-angkat ng bigas ang kahit na sino, kahit anong quantity ng bigas. At least, inaasahan nating mapapababa ang presyo ng bigas na siyang pinakamalapit sa sikmura ng mamamayang Pilipino,” he said further.

The current status quo actually impedes the importation of rice with the National Food Authority (NFA) as the regulating body when it comes to the maximum volume to be imported.

With the President’s directive, Roque said: “Anyone who can afford it and will pay tariffs for rice will be allowed to import rice.”

Secretary Roque clarified that the directive does not affect the proposed rice tariffication measure being pushed in Congress.

He explained, however, that there was a consensus among Cabinet members to recommend the full liberalization of rice importation to the President as the only solution to address inflation.

The Secretary, meanwhile, emphasized that although importers no longer need approval from NFA Council, they still have to secure import permits and the necessary documents before importation as the NFA is already stripped off its power to accredit any importer.

When asked about the impact of the President’s order to the local farmers, Roque said: “Wala naman po dahil mataas nga ang presyo (ng bigas). Pero ang pangako po natin, iyong ibabayad na taripa ay itatabi natin iyan para sa kapakanan ng ating mga lokal na magsasaka,” he concluded. —Marje Pelayo

 

Duterte to deliver public address on April 12, Roque says

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his public address on Monday (April 12), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. confirmed.

In a text message to reporters on Saturday (April 10), the Palace official said the President will push through with his weekly public address on Monday.

Duterte skipped his public address last week after several members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) tested positive for the COVID-19. Due to his several days of absence, speculations have surfaced questioning the state of the President’s health.

However, several officials, already assured that Duterte is of good health and will deliver his public address on Monday.

Meanwhile, Roque said he was admitted to a hospital for COVID-19 treatment. AAC

PH inflation eased to 4.5% in March — PSA

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Inflation or rate of increase in the prices of goods and services slightly slowed down in March due to slower price movement of food and non-alcoholic beverages, data released Tuesday by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

The PSA said the consumer price index was recorded at 4.5% in March, slightly slower than 4.7% registered in February. However, this is still faster than the 2.5% in March 2020.

March inflation brought the year-to-date inflation at 4.5%, still within the 4.2% to 5% forecast range of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the agency said.

“The slowdown in inflation at the national level was primarily due to the lower annual increment registered in the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages at 5.8 percent in March 2021, from 6.7 percent inflation in February 2021,” the PSA said in a statement.

Core inflation, which excludes selected food and energy items, stood at 3.5%. This was unchanged from the rate recorded in the previous month, but faster than the 3% recorded in March last year.

The PSA also noted deceleration in the annual increases in the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco (12.1 percent); furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house (1.9 percent); communication (0.2 percent); and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services (3.1 percent).

“The latest outturn is consistent with expectations that inflation could settle above the high-end of the target in 2021, reflecting the impact of supply-side constraints on domestic prices of key food commodities, such as meat, as well as the continuing uptick in international oil prices,” the BSP said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, inflation is still seen to return to within the target band in 2022 as supply-side influences subside. At the same time, timely and effective implementation of direct measures by the national government could contribute to easing price pressures,” it added.

The central bank also said that a tighter domestic supply of meat products and improved global economic activity could lend further upward pressures on inflation.

However, the ongoing pandemic also continues to pose downside risks to the inflation outlook, as the recent surge in virus infections and challenges over mass vaccination programs continue to temper prospects for domestic demand, it added.

SC junks petition vs PH withdrawal from ICC

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday (March 16) unanimously junked petitions against the Philippines ‘ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The high court said the issue of the country’s withdrawal from the ICC  has been considered moot as the withdrawal has already taken effect on March 17, 2019.

“In a unanimous decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, the Supreme Court dismissed the Petition questioning the unilateral withdrawal for being moot and academic,” the SC said in a briefer released on Tuesday (March 16).

The statement released by the SC public information office says the decision acknowledged that the President, as the primary architect of foreign policy, is subject to the Constitution and existing statute.

Therefore, the power of the President to withdraw unilaterally can be limited by the conditions for concurrence by the Senate or when there is an existing law that authorizes the negotiation of a treaty or international agreement or when there is a statute that implements an existing treaty,” it added.

Two petitions were filed against President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the ICC, stating the decision still requires concurrence from two-thirds of the members of the Senate.

“The Court also noted that the judiciary has enough powers to protect human rights contrary to speculations raised by the petitioners,” the briefer reads.

Duterte made the announcement in March 2018, after the ICC announced it will conduct a preliminary investigation on the government’s war on drugs. -AAC

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