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Filipino households saving P0.50 per P100 spent due to cheaper rice

in News/Tabloid PH News
Filipino households saving P0.50 per P100 spent due to cheaper rice

Filipino households managed to save at least P0.50 for every P100 they spent since August because of the new policy on rice importation that lowered the cost of the staple, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Friday (September 13).

The DOF based this on the 1.7 percent inflation rate in August, which was significantly slower than the 2.2 percent average increase in prices recorded in August 2018.

The biggest contributor to this low inflation was the 5.2-percent average drop in the prices of rice in August 2019 compared to the same month last year. This was the fourth consecutive month of deflation for rice.

“At the household level, the August 2019 inflation rate means an additional spending of just P1.70 for every P100 spent in the same month last year. Had rice inflation remained flat YOY (year on year), the additional spending would have been P2.20 for every P100,” the DOF said.

The DOF’s Strategy, Economics and Results Group (SERG) said the record-low inflation rate was largely due to President Duterte’s enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), or Republic Act (RA) 11203. The new policy replaced the quantitative restriction scheme in the importation of rice.

“The lifting of quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice imports helped increase the domestic supply of the staple, thereby pulling down retail prices by P7 to P10 per kilo and benefitting most especially poor Filipinos who spend about 20 percent of their total household budget on rice,” SERG noted.

Jose Sosa of the Bulacan Consumer Affairs Council, Inc. validated this in a Malacañang economic press briefing last Sept. 4.

According to the consumer group leader, local-milled rice in Sta. Maria, Bulacan now costs only P25 to P32 per kilo.

“This downtrend is expected to help reduce poverty incidence, malnutrition, and hunger in the medium-term as more Filipino families gain access to affordable and high-quality rice,” SERG added.

As of 31 August, the government has raised P9.2 billion in customs duties from 1.5 million metric tons (MT) of rice imported by the private sector under the new tariffication regime as put in place by RA 11203.

The tariff revenues from the rice imports are being utilized to boost our local farmers’ productivity and global competitiveness through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which RA 11203 has set up with an annual allocation of at least P10 billion.

Of the P10-billion RCEF fund, P 5 billion will go to rice farm machineries and equipment to be administered by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), P2 billion to the production of high-yield seed varieties by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), P2 billion to skills training programs of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and P1 billion to credit facilities via the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Should tariff collections exceed P10 billion pesos, the excess amount shall also be utilized for similar intervention programs to boost rice farmers’ productivity.

Villanuevas resurrect anti-endo measure

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Villanuevas resurrect anti-endo measure
photo from twitter / instagram

Senator Joel Villanueva and Party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva have resurrected the vetoed Security of Tenure Bill—also known as the anti-endo bill—in Congress, although the father-and-son tandem is seen to face an uphill battle as they are still pushing provisions already thumbed down by President Duterte.

Senator Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 806 while his father, who is now the representative of CIBAC Party-list, filed House Bill 3367, both seeking to end the practice of labor contracting, especially the so-called endo scheme where workers are being hired for only five months and then rehired for another five months to skirt the rules on regularization of employees.

President Duterte vetoed the original Security of Tenure Bill approved in the previous Congress as it “unduly broadens the scope and definition” of endo, in the process banning other forms of contractualization that give employers flexibility and do not necessarily harm employees.

“Indeed, while labor-only contracting must be prohibited, legitimate job-contracting should be allowed, provided that the contractor is well-capitalized,” the President said in his veto message.

With the bill approved in the previous Congress, it now needs to be refiled so changes can be introduced to it.

However, the younger Villanueva said the bill he filed “is exactly the same measure that was certified as a priority and urgent by the President.” The senator believes that Duterte was only misinformed when he vetoed the bill.

Rep. Villanueva, on the other hand, stressed that the bill is not anti-investors. His bill, the elder Villanueva said, seeks the creation of industry tripartite councils that will help determine which business operations will be allowed to hire workers on a contractual basis.

“The battle for decades of the working class to be freed from economic injustice was delayed but we will not stop until social justice is served and the rights of the people are honored. In the name of fairness and order in our business and labor sectors, and most of all, for the sake of our Filipino laborers who have been constantly living in fear of finding not just a new job but new means to support their families once their (supposedly illegal) contract ends, the passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” he said in his bill.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Department of Labor and Employment will be presenting its version of the bill to both houses of Congress for consideration.

What Duterte wants, he noted, is a balance between the welfare of workers and the interests of employers.  “He’s (Duterte) making a balancing act — weighing the interest of management and the working class… We have to educate ourselves, each one of us. Let us go for what is more beneficial to the country.”

Filipino firefighters to wield guns soon

in News/Tabloid PH News
Filipino firefighters to wield guns soon

The country will have an additional 25,000 armed personnel to help maintain peace and order once the plan of President Duterte to issue firearms to firefighters is implemented.

In his speech at the 28th-anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Thursday (August 1), Duterte said firefighters should not confine themselves to fire prevention.

“I will allow the issuance of guns to firefighters. After stopping the fire, look after the people. Kill the fire then the person. You help in the maintenance of peace and order,” Duterte was quoted in a report of the Manila Bulletin. “You have to help in the law and order. You are not just limited to just fire. That’s a bullsh*t idea. You have to go around and help the policeman and the military, you must help and you must help kill; kill the enemy because your enemy will kill you.”

A report of the Commission on Audit in 2018 showed there were only about 23,000 firefighters in the country that year, or about half of the desired number. The BFP opened 2,000 slots for recruitment last year and another 2,000 this year.

Duterte’s pronouncement to make the firefighters help the military and police in maintaining peace and order was an offshoot of the spate of killings in Negros Oriental, where communist insurgency-related attacks already left 15 people dead in a span of one week. 

The President also hinted at imposing Martial Law in the province and dispatch his “death squad” to go after the communist rebels.

The Philippines has about 170,000 policemen and 125,000 active military personnel.

The BFP is under the supervision of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Duterte said he has given instructions to DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano to implement his policy pronouncement.

Photo Credit: Bullit Marquez/AP

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