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Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday urged the Cabinet to map out plans on how to tame what he described as “runaway prices of food,” which were beyond the reach of households made poorer by the pandemic-caused economic slowdown,

“I think this should be on the top of the agenda in the next Cabinet meeting,” Recto said.

The people who are having a hard time making ends meet are looking for answers on when these “food price shocks” would end, Recto said.

In the meantime, trade and agriculture officials should share to the public what their plans are in bringing down prices of fish, vegetables and meat, he said.

Recto said government’s own daily monitoring of prices of “agri-fishery commodities” in several markets in Metro Manila showed an alarming upswing tick.

The November 23 price of ampalaya is up by 194 percent compared to the month before, and sili by 200 percent. Cabbage and sayote, based on the said Philippine Statistics Authority report, doubled in price in 30 days.

Year-on-year, the price of pechay is up 167 percent; tomato, 133 percent; and red onion by 108 percent.

“Kung ang ampalaya ay P235 kada kilo at ang pechay ay P160, paano pa ito mabibili ng isang minimum wage worker?” Recto said.

Based on the prevailing mandated daily floor wage of P537 in the National Capital Region, “a worker has to work almost half a day to buy a kilo of ampalaya,” he said.

That worker will also have to work half a day to buy a kilo of galunggong, monitored by the PSA as being retailed at P250 per kilo during the week ending November 23.

Average prices of pork, specifically the “kasim” part, was tracked by the PSA at almost P300 per kilo, Recto said.

“Lahat ng gulay sa kantang ‘Bahay Kubo’ nagtaasan. Ang galunggong, ginto na ang presyo. And these are market prices. In retail outlets, prices are higher. At tiyak sasabihin ng mga tao na mas mataas ang bili nila kaysa sa kung ano ang naiulat ng pamahalaan,” he said.

He said Filipino families on the average spend 43 percent of their income on food, “but the bottom 30 percent, or about 7.42 million families, allot almost 59 percent of their income on food.”

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