THE first time I became an owner of a vehicle, a second hand American car, the price of unleaded gasoline was 38 centavos. The mayor then in Angeles City was the late Eugenio N. Suarez and Apung Dadong Macapagal was the president of our country. Jeepney fare then was ten centavos. Yeah, I know it was long time ago and life was easy. Fast forward. Today, price of diesel is fifty pesos per liter and unleaded gasoline is P60. Pero sabi nga, parang spaghetti pataas ng pataas at kung bababa kapirangut. Fuel prices went up to the roof since President Duterte became the Malacanang tenant and my good friend Al Cusi became energy secretary. Government should look for a solution like a instituting a stabilization fund to halt the spiral of fuel prices.
Economists have their own language. And possibly you and me, most of the time can’t understand their reportage to the public. Like saying that the base effect from last year’s inflation environment is wearing off and the prices of basic commodities will likely settle at a certain percentage higher than last year. My drinking buddies at lalam manga in Apo road in L& S subdivision will never know what it means because most of whom are trike drivers and small time merchants. All what they know is that their daily earnings which can hardly meet the daily expenses. As a matter of fact, the general public-upper, middle and lower class -- are complaining of higher prices. Maybe not a whimper from those living in Forbes Park in Makati.
Do you still remember some years ago the market price of the lowly garlic, a very common product of Nueva Ecija province reached almost P400 per kilo. And again vegetable prices in public markets zoomed so high like a kite. The net effect of such situation is smuggling. Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar seems not capable of finding a solution. In the early years, when I was still in my shorts, and my mother Beatriz was running a carinderia in the public market of Porac, I can even ask for free some pieces from the corner store. How in heaven's name that happened?
It is not only onion prices breaching the roof but many basic market commodities. And economic students are taught that prices and wages are related. A family of four, the father earning P500 per day can't send the two kids to school if they are renting an apartment. The water and electric bills are monthly concerns. Medicines and transport fares, plus, plus... The P500 will not last a day.
Each year, government is always claiming that there is a dramatic increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and off-shore rating agencies like Fitch and Standard and Poors' statistic are in accord. It is even reported that the Philippine economy is likely to outperform its regional and global peers in the next two years. But do they really ask the wage earners? But that’s not the kind of language a wage earner understand. It is not his mouth that can reply. It is his stomach.
The GDP is being used by the administration as a disguise to an imagined success but the reality on the ground many families can hardly cope up. Maybe to some people living on gated subdivisions, and the corrupt people in government they find life easy in this country with them sending their kids to exclusive schools, vacationing abroad and splurging for signature brands in Italy and elsewhere. (Somehow the pandemic stopped their merry go round). But what about us? Ask the school kids whose families are in the squatter colonies.
Most of the government leaders, senators, congressmen, etc. were born rich. They grew up in upscale communities where there are maids whom they can ask what kind of food they wanted to eat for dinner. Same thing with the Cabinet members, agency heads and even magistrates. When interviewed by media their hearts and concerns are for the poor. But I suspect that is only for soundbytes. Lip service, they call it. Malacanang claims it has big savings. Then scale down the deducted taxes on the pay envelopes of workers from 20 percent to 10 percent, and spare the bonuses. The poor have nothing to bite dinner time.
January 10, 2022
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