Aquino wants ‘definitive answers’ on price spikes
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III expects concerned officials to provide him with "definitive answers" on the cause of price spikes in rice, garlic, and other commodities, when he meets with then in the next two weeks.
Aquino made the statement while fielding questions on rising prices in a media interview on Tuesday, June 24, onboard Philippine Airlines Flight PR001 from Tokyo to Hiroshima in Japan, where he was on a day-long working trip.
“There will be a meeting, perhaps this week – if not, at the latest, by next week. We will check this [price spikes] especially on rice but also garlic to determine exactly what is causing this price spike or price spikes,” he said.
He said there has been “a lot of debate” on rice prices including the impact of typhoons in 2013 on rice production, among other possible factors.
“The output due to Yolanda, Santi, and others, what is really the extent of their effect?…Our fight in the Spratlys, did it hike prices? We need definitive answers,” he said.
Aquino said the Philippines is importing 800,000 metric tons of rice this year to serve as a buffer for the lean season, and that satellite imagery will determine the country’s arable lands planted with rice, and the tonnage per hectare in specific municipalities, “to get a real and accurate picture of our rice supply.”
The President said he had been informed that there has been no significant movement in the price of “low-end” rice which is consumed by more Filipinos, but this is not the case for well-milled rice.
“The NFA [National Food Authority] has also doubled its normal supply to ensure that there is adequate supply that will prevent any undue upward movement so that [there will be no] panic buying that will induce further price spikes,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture has formed an action team to look into higher garlic prices despite sufficient supply in the country.
Malacañang earlier said it was monitoring the prices of basic goods. – Rappler.com