Press Release
March 9, 2011


An impending food crisis can drive millions of Filipinos into extreme poverty and malnutrition, which could spark widespread protests, warned Senator Edgardo J. Angara.

"The high cost of food is a politically sensitive issue here in our country. The bottom 80 percent of our population allots 60 percent of their expenditures on food--and half of this goes to buying rice," Angara pointed out on Wednesday.

Increasing food prices have helped fuel protests in several countries in North Africa, including Egypt and Tunisia. Analysts say that people took to the streets not because of actual hunger, but over the abuse and inaction of their national leaders.

"This tells us that inaction is a dangerous choice," Angara said.

Our Consumer Price Index reflects the extent of the worldwide food price crisis-it rose by 4.3 percent in February from a year ago. This marks the highest level of domestic inflation in nine months.

Rising food prices have grave consequences for developing countries, including the Philippines. The World Bank said that 44 million throughout the developing world have already been pushed into poverty since June 2010.

Filipinos cope with high prices by buying cheaper but less nutritious food, as well as cutting down on the number of meals per day.

"We cannot expect Filipinos to bear this worsening crisis quietly especially when their health is at risk," Angara said.

He called on the government to start agricultural reforms with rice, our staple food. "We have yet to be fully rice-secure since we continue to import at least 10 percent of our needs."

Angara said that the government must also strive to make agriculture a viable area of investment. The Agri-Agra Law mandates banks to set aside 25 percent of their loanable funds for agriculture. "But banks and financial institutions would rather pay the penalty than comply with the law."

We should also protect our consumers from profiteers who can aggravate the situation by speculating and hoarding," Angara added.

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