Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar yesterday said that despite the suggestions of some stakeholders, the price ceiling on pork and chicken products in Metro Manila will remain in effect until April 8 as prescribed by Executive Order 124.
“Lifting it will undeniably result in dramatic rise in prices of pork and chicken, given that the African swine fever (ASF) crisis is still raging and thus continues to impact on local production of hogs nationwide,” Dar said in a statement.
He said it is incumbent upon the Duterte administration to take all necessary measures to check inflationary pressure to protect low-income households, particularly the poor, who are hurt most because high inflation further fritters away the value of their already small income.
Dar also addressed the hog raisers’ plea to raise the price ceiling.
“It would be a redundant measure given that actual average pork and chicken prices are higher than the ceiling imposed by EO 124,” he said.
He added that it is not far-fetched that if the price ceiling is raised to a new level, industry players will hike their prices once again, emboldened by the knowledge that they are capable of pressuring the government to change its mind.
In the meantime, consumers will be fretting that the government is not really serious in protecting their interest, Dar said.
Though the price ceiling may not ensure full compliance by the traders and retailers, it is still an effective deterrent against unscrupulous trading activities, he noted.
EO 124 will lapse on April 8, barely a month from now.
“By maintaining it, the government will send a strong signal to Filipino consumers — who suffer from lower incomes due to the adverse impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic on our economy — that it does care about their welfare,” Dar said.*PNA