Roque says high prices of rice, fish won't last long

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 23) —  Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the rise in prices of commodities, particulary fish and rice products, will not affect Filipinos for long.

Roque addressed reports on increasing prices of galunggong or round scad as well as rice products, saying "hindi naman po magtatagal yan (this will not last long)."

Galunggong, a staple viand of Filipino families, now costs P140 to P160 per kilogram in wet markets.

He said several government agencies are already coming up with decisions, particularly on importation and lowering of tariffs, in order to decrease the prices of goods.

"Nandoon na po tayo sa punto na magkakaroon na ng desisyon kung gagamitin natin ang pag-aangkat at pagbaba ng mga taripa sa mga produktong ito, para mapababa ang mga presyo ng mga bilihing ito," Roque said in a media briefing.

(Translation: We're at a point where decisions will soon be made regarding importation and lowering of tariffs on products, in order to lower the prices of these goods.)

He cited the the Department of Agriculture's recent order, which approved importation of galunggong starting this September.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, in an interview with CNN Philippines Wednesday, said the move will address the issue of high commodity prices.


Roque also cited the law of supply and demand to back the product importation decision of the agency.

"Eto nga po ay stop-gap measure dahil sa pagbilis ng pagtaas (ng mga presyo)," Roque said of the fish importation.

"At inaasahan natin na kapag marami na ngang supply, pursuant to the law of supply and demand, ay bababa ang mga halaga," he added.

(Translation: This (fish importation) is a stop-gap measure due to the rising of prices. We expect that if we have lots of supply, pursuant to the law of supply and demand, then the prices will also go down.)

The spokesperson also addressed government efforts in alleviating the Zamboanga City rice shortage, which prompted authorities to declare state of calamity in the area.

"NFA announced the 'Bigasang Bayan' to be opened in Zamboanga, and that's of course intended to increase the supply of rice in Zamboanga," Roque said.

On August 14, the House of Representatives passed the rice tariffication bill, which aims to lift the limits on rice imports by imposing general tariffs.

The bill, marked as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte in his third State of the Nation Address, will allow more entry of the staple to reduce current market prices.