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Number of hungry Filipinos to soar even more in 2011 due to price hikes

January 12, 2011

“There’s no place to go but up”

This was the reaction of Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez to the latest Social Weather Stations survey which found that the number of Filipino families which experienced ‘involuntary’ hunger, and considered themselves poor, rose in the last quarter of 2010.

“The rising costs of families’ non-food expenses are major factors in the spread of hunger among our people” said Bañez. She noted that the SWS survey itself showed that the ‘purchasing power’ of Filipinos in 2010 was lower compared to 2000. For example, the amount of P15,000 last year could only purchase goods equivalent to P9,096 in 2000.

“With wage levels unable to keep up, and the Aquino administration going on a ‘hike spree’, the question is no longer ‘if’ the incidence of hunger in the country will increase, but ‘by how much’” said the youth leader.

On January 1, President Noynoy Aquino approved toll hikes for the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), South Luzon Expresway (SLEX), and the SCTEX. In response, vegetable prices in Metro Manila’s wet markets also rose. A hike in taxi fares was also approved, while there are pending petitions for fare hikes for buses and jeeps. The fare in the MRT and LRT trains was announced to be at a maximum of P30 per ride yesterday, while oil companies announced a P0.50 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.25 per liter hike for diesel.

Bañez said “Involuntary hunger is the one of the most extreme indicators of poverty, second only to death by hunger. Noynoy should take this as a ‘sign’ for it to undertake active measures in keeping the prices of commodities and services in check”.

“However, his government is doing just the opposite: giving companies the go-signal to charge consumers more, even at a time of crisis such as today. Does the latter’s alleged ‘right to profit’ takes precedence over the universally-recognized right to a decent existence?” added the youth leader.

Meanwhile, the militant group of young workers, students, young farmers, professionals took a pot-shot against the heavily-criticized government dole-out program, saying the situation showed the ineffectiveness of the said program in combating poverty.

“Instead of spending billions to give a few families a few more pesos, the government should just devote its efforts to controlling the prices of commodities and services” said the group’s spokesperson.

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