Senator Win Gatchalian urged local government units (LGUs) in the country to help lower down transportation and logistics that are ultimately affecting food inflation amid surging food demand related to Christmas and New Year festivities.
Gatchalian highlighted that LGUs must ensure strict compliance with Executive Order 41, signed by the President in September this year, prohibiting the collection of pass-through fees from motor vehicles transporting goods or merchandise along national roads and other roads not constructed and funded by LGUs. However, LGUS are only urged to suspend collection when transporting goods or merchandise along local public roads. The EO aims to ensure the efficient movement of goods across the regions and revitalization of local industries.
“Whether passing through national or local public roads, LGUs should suspend the collection of fees considering that pass-through fees significantly add to transportation and logistics costs, which are usually added to the prices of goods and commodities,” said Gatchalian.
He emphasized that the transport of all farm products from the LGUS should be covered by the EO to ensure the affordability of such commodities for consumers, necessitating strict monitoring by concerned LGUs.
According to Gatchalian, provincial LGUs should also ensure the availability and access to post-harvest facilities. This, he said, will not only prevent spoilage but also provide appropriate markets for farm products, citing a recent incident where farmers in Ifugao, Benguet, and Nueva Vizcaya were forced to dump tomatoes amid oversupply and lack of buyers.
“LGUs need to assume responsibility in implementing supply chain initiatives that would ensure the availability of affordable food commodities,” Gatchalian said, noting that despite a lower inflation rate of 4.9% in November, the prices of certain food items continued to climb. For instance, rice, the main food staple of Filipinos, posted an inflation rate of 15.8% in November, higher than the 13.2% rate registered in October and the 3.1% posted in November 2022.
“Malaking bagay ang magagawa ng mga LGUs para tugunan ang mataas na presyo ng ilang pangunahing bilihin. Hindi dapat nasasayang ang mga produkto ng ating mga magsasaka,” Gatchalian said. He has earlier filed a bill seeking the establishment of an agriculture information system (AIS) to help ensure an adequate supply of farm products, boost agricultural output, and reduce poverty.
The proposed measure provides for the creation of the AIS, to be managed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), which will serve as a dynamic online computer database where information on the demand for specific agricultural and fisheries commodities is gathered and uploaded simultaneously with the production data from farmers in every barangay. As envisioned, the AIS shall merge and synchronize agricultural data from different sources into a cohesive database designed to facilitate linkages from the farm to the intended consumers, including global markets.