Duterte alarmed over rising inflation; warns to use full power vs rice hoarders
President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed alarm over rising inflation as he warned the government would use full power against rice hoarders, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, inflation in July rose to 5.7 percent, way above the 2.4 percent a year ago. Inflation a month ago hit 5.2 percent.
Year-to-date, inflation averaged at 4.5 percent, higher than the government's target of 2-4 percent for 2018.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said inflation was not formally discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Monday.
"But the president has previously expressed alarm also over rising inflation," he said.
He said the government is looking at all aspects on how to ease inflation, one of which is on the price of rice, a basic commodity among the Filipinos.
"And of course the statement of the president against rice hoarders was because the increase in price of rice was the major contributor to the increase in overall inflation. And that's why the President has made it very clear, he will use the full power of the state to break open if need be the warehouses of rice hoarders," he said.
He admitted that Duterte personally knew some of the hoarders as he even called one before and warned the businessman to release rice within 72 hours, otherwise he would not hesitate to order the warehouses opened.
"He (Duterte) gave them a warning, and this first warning, it was followed. So his continuing warning is for them to stop because the president knows them. And this time around, he made it very clear, he will not hesitate to break open their warehouses. Sue him, but he will break open the warehouses if it becomes an issue of national security," Roque said.
Asked if the alleged hoarder who released the rice after the warning was made would be charged, Roque said. "That's a gray area because unfair competition will come in. But unfair competition, well, there are elements there that may or may not have been complied with."
"But what the president did was easy remedy. So if there will be cases, it would take long. Thus, he (hoarder) was given 72 hours, and in 72 hours, the rice came out," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS