CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The head of the city council’s trade and commerce committee warned of a looming food crisis in Cagayan de Oro if fuel prices continue to increase.
Councilor George Goking, chair of the city council’s committee on trade and commerce, said the Cagayan de Oro City Price Coordinating Council has started seeing red flags for hoarding – some basic goods, especially those sold at cheaper prices, have been withdrawn from grocery shelves in the city.
“This is only the beginning. It would worsen in the next few weeks if the fuel prices continue to spike,” Goking told Rappler on Wednesday, June 8.
On Tuesday, fuel companies increased their pump prices by as much as P2.70 per liter for gasoline and P6.55 per liter for diesel.
Goking said the city’s price monitoring team suspected that some basic goods were being withdrawn from the shelves in anticipation of increased prices in the coming weeks.
“Last Tuesday’s increase and the weekly fuel pump hikes would trigger inflation, and that would severely impact the economy of Cagayan de Oro,” he said.
Goking said farmers in nearby Bukidnon province, a major food source of Cagayan de Oro, complained that the prices of urea – widely used as a nitrogen-release fertilizer – have increased from P850 to as much as P3,200 a bag in a matter of months.
The prices of other agricultural inputs have also increased, but the farm gate prices for unhusked rice remained at P14 to P16 a kilogram though, he said.
“Many farmers are now saying that they are downsizing the areas where they plant by 50%. If this happens, we might see a food shortage in the city,” Goking said.
Workers, he said, would be among the first to suffer despite the decision by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) to grant them daily wage increases.
The daily minimum wage in Northern Mindanao will increase by P25 effective June 18, and by another P15 to P22 on December 16, based on Wage Order No. RX-21 of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).
Raymond Mendoza, president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), warned that the increasing fuel prices would weaken the buying power of the minimum wage earners.
“Because of extraordinary inflation, the series of wage increase orders issued by the wage boards failed to restore the purchasing power of wages and it didn’t uplift workers’ purchasing power above poverty threshold wage level,” Mendoza said in a statement. – Rappler.com