The national government and even the farmers would stand to lose, if the wild campaign promise of selling rice at P20 per kilo would be forced as a matter of policy, because the most practical pricing point is at least P38 per kilo.
Presidential candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and senatorial aspirant Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Piñol gave this dose of reality check to Filipinos during their town hall forum in Muntinlupa City, Tuesday (May 3), amid the bold claims of some politicians that people can buy still rice at P20 per kilo these days.
“Imposible po uli ibaba ‘yung presyo ng bigas na P20. Dahil sa kanyang (Piñol) computation, ang presyo ng bigas doble dapat ng presyo ng palay,” Lacson said in response to a town hall forum participant, who expressed concerns over the rising costs of food prices, including rice.
[It is impossible to bring down the price of rice at P20 per kilo because, based on his (Piñol), the price of rice must be double that of the market value of unhusked rice.]
According to Piñol, undervaluing rice at P20 per kilo would lead to more suffering for the farmers, who are already complaining about the rising costs of fertilizers. He said the most practical and realistic pricing point for both the farmers and consumers is P38 per kilo.
Lacson explained that even if the government allocated a P288-billion subsidy to turn such unviable campaign promise into reality, it would not be sustainable in the long run because the raw materials needed for rice production would keep moving.
“Tumaas ‘yung abono e… Sabi nga ni President Lacson kanina, kami, cuentas claras… P20? Pwede pero magpapalugi ang gobyerno and hindi sustainable. At I will not recommend it. Dapat mga P38 para ang kita ni farmer, P19 ang kilo ng kanyang palay, which is fair,” Piñol explained.
[The price of fertilizers increased… Like President Lacson said earlier, we’re just being clear… P20? Maybe that can happen but the government would lose and it’s not sustainable. I will not recommend it. It should be at least P38, so the farmer can sell unhusked rice at P19 per kilo, which is fair.]
Piñol also called for the revival of food terminals across the country to lower the prices of food products, not only in Metro Manila. He said this was one of his main projects when he spearheaded the Department of Agriculture.
“Napakamura ng isda sa Tawi-Tawi, napakamura ng isda sa Zamboanga. Kaya lang sino ang magdadala ng tamban mula Zamboanga papuntang Metro Manila? Kasi kung walang cold storage, walang reefer vans, pagdating ng tamban dito bagoong na; hindi na isda, durog-durog na,” he said.
[Fish products are sold at very low prices in Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga. But how can we bring these sardinella from Zamboanga to Metro Manila? If we don’t have cold storage facilities, reefer vans, the sardinella might turn into fish paste once it arrives here; no longer a fish because it’s already crushed.]
Establishing food terminals may ease the distribution of various food and agricultural products around the country, according to Piñol, which he believes can help reduce their market prices without sacrificing quality and the sustainability of the livelihood of our food producers.
Meanwhile, for Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, they assured Filipino voters that they would stay away from making false campaign promises. They urged voters not to fall for politicians who are resorting to these kinds of bold claims just to get voted.
“Hindi po namin gawain ni Senate President (na) maboto lamang, lahat (ay) ipapangako na… ‘Yung pinapangako ng iba, alam namin hindi pwedeng gawin (‘yon), kaya hindi po namin gagayahin at hindi namin gagawin na mangako nang hindi namin kayang tuparin,” Lacson said.
[Senate President (Sotto) and I are not in the habit of promising everything just to get voted… What the others are promising, we know they cannot happen, so we would not emulate that because we don’t want to make a promise which we cannot deliver.]