Senate to launch inquiry into rising food prices
Workers arrange sacks of rice at a National Food Authority warehouse along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, on Nov. 9, 2020.
The STAR/Boy Santos

Senate to launch inquiry into rising food prices

(Philstar.com) - January 21, 2021 - 5:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid record hunger and the rising cost of commodities, the Senate will conduct hearings to determine the interventions needed to stabilize and lower food prices, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Thursday.

Pangilinan, a former presidential assistant on food security and agricultural modernization, on Wednesday filed Senate Resolution 618 calling for the inquiry.

He also delivered a privilege speech on the issue which he called "just as important as the [COVID-19] vaccine and its prices, if not more."

"Food prices are on the rise because food supply dropped due to, among others, the series of pandemic lockdowns," Pangilinan said. "The successive typhoons in the last quarter of 2020 destroyed crops, and the African swine flu and the closed fishing season during the cold months made supplies of pork and fish and vegetables scarce."

The senator stressed that the soaring prices of food are also an issue of health. "As the price of food rises, more and more people will go hungry," he said in Filipino.

He cited a September 2020 Social Weather Stations survey which found that some 7.6 million Filipino families experienced hunger at least once in the past three months, the highest since 2012. Pangilinan also relayed data from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), showing one out of three children in the Philippines to be stunted.

"In the karinderya, the price of rice is almost P20, and the soup that used to be free must be paid for now," he said in Filipino. "Even the gravy which is used as a soup by some strategic Filipinos must be paid for now at fast food establishments."

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture, has agreed to conduct hearings on the resolution, Pangilinan's office said in a press release.

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday filed Senate Resolution No. 611 similarly calling for a legislative probe on "the alarming increases in the prices of basic commodities such as pork, fish and vegetables." — Bella Perez-Rubio

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