Wed, 10 Aug 2022

MANILA - A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday said the government should start rolling out targeted subsidies to help Filipinos stay afloat and ease the impact of inflationary pressures.

BHW Party-list Representative Angelica Natasha Co said financial subsidies should be provided to assist poor and lower-middle-income families amid rising commodity prices.

Co made the remark after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced that Philippine inflation climbed to a three-year high at 6.1 percent in June from 5.4 percent in May and 3.7 percent a year ago amid higher food and transport costs.

"I represent the Barangay Health Workers and the frontliners in the health and wellness sector where there are tens of thousands of marginalized individuals and breadwinners. Inflation hits them hard. The impact on their household budgets is immediate and felt every day," Co said. "Mas mahal na ngayon ang tinapay, mantika, gamot, pamasahe, at marami pang iba. Hindi sapat iyong pagtaas ng minimum wage (Bread, oil, medicine, transportation fares, and a whole lot more have become pricier. Increasing the minimum wage would not be enough)," Co said.

She said the government should continue the Libreng Sakay (Free Ride) program as it entails immediate savings for Filipinos, which can be used to buy food and medicines.

"We need Libreng Sakay buses and jeepneys going to Manila and linking to the Edsa route going south to Pasig, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Muntinlupa, and Paranaque," she said.

Aside from the transportation program, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should restore its cash aid program, such as the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced) and the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), so that the much-needed financial assistance would reach the affected individuals faster.

CAMP is one-time cash assistance of PHP5,000 given to formal sector workers while TUPAD is an emergency employment assistance where beneficiaries are given temporary jobs.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said the country's rising inflation warrants careful handling and close monitoring.

"We are having to be careful because essentially our economic policy right now monetary --- our monetary policy right now is essentially to use interest rates to hold, to take control of the inflation rate," Marcos said.

As part of efforts to lower the prices of food, Marcos said the government plans to boost the production of staples-corn and rice.

"We will do it in the Department of Agriculture to boost production of rice and corn in the coming two quarters hanggang Pasko (until Christmas), until after Christmas," Marcos, who is also concurrent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, said.

He said this is necessary as the government prefers to "import as little as possible".

"If we are able to increase production sufficiently...It's not really an import substitution measure, it is a strategic food supply measure," he added.

Marcos reiterated the need to prioritize the agriculture sector to address the looming food crisis in the country. (PNA)

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