Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo cited a study of the Asian Development Bank at the height of the global financial meltdown in 2008, which showed that 2.3 million Filipinos become poor for every 10 percent increase in food prices such as rice, galunggong (round scad) and vegetables.
Edd Gumban/File
Rep. Romero Quimbo: '4.6 million Filipinos poorer due to inflation'
Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Inflation – or the increase in the prices of goods and services – has added at least 4.6 million Filipinos to the ranks of the poor, Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo said yesterday.

Quimbo cited a study of the Asian Development Bank at the height of the global financial meltdown in 2008, which showed that 2.3 million Filipinos become poor for every 10 percent increase in food prices such as rice, galunggong (round scad) and vegetables. 

“With essentials increasing in price by more than 20 percent in the last seven months, it is fair to say that four million more Filipinos have become poor because of uncontrolled inflation,” Quimbo, now a member of the opposition, stressed. 

While increase in prices is being blamed on the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the House voted 187-14 with three abstentions on Monday approving on third and final reading House Bill 8083 or TRAIN 2, renamed Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) bill.

Among its conclusions, the ADB study also found that a similar 10 percent increase in the price of rice leads to an additional 660,000 Filipinos becoming poor while a 10 percent increase in fuel leads to an additional 160,000 new poor Filipinos.

“The impact is clear, beyond just the study, it is felt in the streets, in our markets and in our communities. On behalf of the millions Filipinos now suffering because of this uncontrolled, self-inflicted inflation,” Quimbo said.  

“Unless this runaway inflation is addressed, instability will happen. We hope that the administration takes a long and hard look at our constructive suggestion and not simply dismiss it because we are not partymates,” he added.

In a related development, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles vowed to file a House resolution calling on the National Food Authority (NFA) Council to raise the government’s price ceiling for the purchase of rice from local farmers.

“I will file a resolution urging the NFA Council to increase their buying price from P17 to P22. I will remind them that we really need to raise the buying price for our farmers’ palay,” Nograles, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said. 

Quimbo belongs to the opposition Liberal Party. He was previously part of the pro-administration leadership in the House of Representatives, being a deputy of then speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

As deputy speaker, he supported administration-initiated legislative measures, including the controversial Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which critics are now blaming for record inflation.

Last July 23, when the House ousted Alvarez and elected former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as new Speaker, Quimbo and other LP lawmakers abstained from voting.

Since then, they have considered themselves as a minority bloc, though the House has recognized the group of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as the legitimate minority.

Suarez and his senior deputy, Lito Atienza of party-list group Buhay, have called on President Duterte to replace his economic managers, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and NFA administrator Jason Aquino.

“The President should change the members of his economic team and those in charge of rice supply and food security for inefficiency. They are not capable to do what they are tasked to do,” Suarez said.

He said the 6.4 inflation rate would result in a significant decrease in people’s purchasing power.

Atienza said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III should be blamed for rising consumer prices.

“The culprit is TRAIN 1,” he said, which Dominguez pushed hard for.

“We have seen the spikes in prices due to TRAIN 1, and now he is pushing again for TRAIN 2. This will worsen the situation for the entire country,” Atienza said.

Rep. Michael Romero of 1-Pacman, who is an economist, urged the government to “do drastic measures now to counter inflation or we might risk being compared to Venezuela (which has runaway inflation).”            

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