The issuance of Executive Order No. 39 (EO39) setting price ceilings at P41-P45 on rice may seem like a quick fix to rising food prices, but it falls short of being a real solution. While it may provide temporary relief to consumers, it won’t last long unless our agriculture sector receives the support it desperately needs. It appears that Marcos Jr. hasn’t considered the detrimental effects this may have on farmers, who will likely be forced to sell their produce at lower prices to big traders. Small-scale vendors will also suffer, as their profit margins diminish just to adhere to the mandated prices.
The Filipino people are currently feeling the impact of favoring neoliberal policies that opened the floodgates to agricultural imports while restricting land access for farmers. This has hindered our agriculture sector’s growth, leaving us increasingly reliant on imports. The Rice Liberalization Law (RLL) has exacerbated the situation, making us dependent on rice imports and pressuring local farmers to sell their harvest at reduced rates. Additionally, the rising cost of oil due to the Oil Deregulation Law (ODL) has allowed oil cartels to raise prices as they see fit, contributing to the overall price hikes.
In the end, the cycle of tightening belts for consumers each year continues if workers’ wages are not increased in line with inflation.
If Marcos Jr. genuinely wants to lower the prices of rice and other commodities, it would be much simpler for him to issue an Executive Order suspending neoliberal policies such as the RLL and ODL. Instead, he opted for a superficial solution to the ongoing price increases.
What can the citizens expect from a leader who promises to lower the price of rice to P20 without addressing the root causes of the issue?
Now more than ever, it is essential for the struggling Filipino population to unite and voice their demand for a long-term solution to the rising cost of rice and other goods. Joining labor unions and community organizations is crucial in amplifying the call for a living wage.
Take the call to the streets, advocating for the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, the Rice Liberalization Law, and demanding a living wage for all!