Villar on higher galunggong prices: 'Why eat it if too expensive?'

MANILA, Philippines – The country's richest senator, billionaire Cynthia Villar, said Filipinos should look for healthier and cheaper alternatives to galunggong or round scad, as the Department of Agriculture (DA) eyes its importation amid rising prices.

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, December 10, Villar said Filipinos can stop eating galunggong, after the price of the fish shot up to about P300 per kilo due to low supply.

"Kung mahal ang galunggong, eh di wag kumain ng galunggong, 'di ba?There are other alternatives.... Bakit ba gustong-gusto 'nyo 'yung galunggong kung mahal ang galunggong?" Villar said.

(If galunggong is expensive, then don't eat it, right? There are other alternatives.... Why do they really like eating galunggong if it's expensive?)

Villar said Filipinos should instead eat vegetables which are "healthier," adding that the Philippines' low rankings in reading comprehension, mathematics, and science can be attributed to malnutrition.

The senator also suggested that Filipinos try backyard farming or urban gardening.

"Bakit ba patay na patay tayo? Mahal na ang galunggong. [Eh di] 'wag kumain ng galunggong. Kumain ng other means which are cheaper and available. Dami namang choices, bakit ba ini-insist 'yan?" Villar said.

(Why are we insisting? Galunggong is already expensive. Then don't eat galunggong. Just eat other food which are cheaper and available. There are other choices, so why do they keep insisting on galunggong?)

Villar said the Department of Trade and Industry's price control team should start inspecting retail prices of galunggong in the markets.

Galunggong recently made headlines when the DA gave the go signal for the importation of 45,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish and galunggong.

According to the DA's price monitoring, galunggong is now being sold for P240 per kilo to P280 per kilo, or as much as 55% higher than its original price of P180 per kilo. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.