MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo urged the Duterte administration to “stop dismissing” the impact of high inflation and instead start addressing the spike in food prices.
Robredo made the call on Thursday, September 6, a day after the government reported that inflation or the increase in the prices of goods hit another 9-year high of 6.4% in August. (READ: EXPLAINER: How inflation affects you)
“Nananawagan tayo sa gobyerno na itigil ang pagmamaliit sa epekto ng inflation, at sabihing isa ito sa mga tanda ng paglago ng ekonomiya. Walang katuturan ang paglago ng ekonomiya kung hindi natatamasa ng mga nasa laylayan ang bunga nito,” Robredo said.
(We ask the government to stop dismissing inflation as a sign of a growing economy. Economic growth is meaningless if it does not redound to the uplifting of the lives of the poorest segment of our society.)
“Hindi natin maaaring ipagsawalang-bahala ang pasanin ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga naghihirap. Ang presyo ng mga pagkain at inumin ang pinaka-nagtaas at ang mga ito ang pangunahing pinagkakagastusan ng bawat pamilya,” she added.
(We cannot simply ignore the fact that our fellow Filipinos are suffering, especially the poor, as the highest increases were observed in food and beverages that comprise the biggest share of a family’s household budget.)
‘Stop divisive actions’
Robredo reiterated her earlier call for President Rodrigo Duterte to focus on improving the quality of life of Filipinos rather than on “divisive” actions such as voiding the amnesty granted to opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in 2011.
“Sa panahon kung saan ang kalidad ng buhay ng ating mga kababayan ang nakataya, lugi ang taumbayan kung lulustayin lamang ang kapangyarihan sa mga hakbang na nagdudulot ng pagkakawatak-watak, tulad ng pagwalang-bisa sa amnestiya ni Senador Trillanes, kaysa gamitin ito para magpatupad ng mga totoong solusyon,” she said.
(Expending political capital for divisive moves like revoking the validity of the amnesty provided to Senator Trillanes at a time when the quality of life of our people is at stake, comes at the expense of addressing the issues that truly matter to the Filipino.)
Robredo said the government should focus instead on stabilizing rice supply, reviewing the excise tax on fuel, and ensuring that there is enough funding for unconditional cash transfers as provided under the law and that all qualified beneficiaries get help.
“Sa halip na patahimikin ang mga taong pumupuna ng mga pagkukulang nila, gamitin sana itong pagkakataon ng administrasyon na patunayang kaya nilang pababain ang presyo ng mga bilihin,” Robredo said.
(Instead of shutting down those who dare to point out its inefficiencies, may the administration finally rise to the challenge of putting forward coherent solutions to bring down rising prices.)
Wasted opportunity, public funds
“Ang kailangan ng bansa ngayon ay isang gobyernong nagtatrabaho para sa interes ng nakakarami, at hindi sinasayang ang kapangyarihan at kaban ng bayan para manindak ng mga kalaban,” the Vice President said.
(What our people need is a government that truly works for the public interest and does not waste its power and resources for pursuing personal and petty concerns.)
The Vice President said the August inflation rate confirmed the opposition’s long-standing warning that prices of food, especially rice, would continue to go up “without effective government intervention.” (IN CHARTS: This is how bad August 2018 inflation looks like in regions)
The country’s economic managers had pointed to the agriculture sector’s problems as the reason for higher inflation in August. Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda had said the government only has itself to blame for the country’s high inflation rate.
Economists earlier said rising inflation should be a cause of concern for the government. (IN CHARTS: What your P100 can buy under runaway inflation) – Rappler.com