MANILA - A Palace official allayed fears of social unrest following the increase in the prices of rice and other commodities.
Malacanang, however, has already acted to prevent any possible hoarding that could lead to artificial shortages of commodities.
Asked on the possibility of social unrest amid the rise in prices of fuel, rice, and garlic, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said: "That is not our assessment of the situation. Our assessment of the situation is that we need to address the supply situation most importantly because stable supply is the best deterrent to artificial shortages and unusual spike in prices."
Coloma said the government is carrying out surveillance to discourage hoarding and other practices that could lead to artificial shortage.
"Rolling stores have been deployed to sell these commodities. The National Price Council, led by DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) Secretary (Gregory) Domingo, is closely monitoring price movements. While presently there are no suggested retail prices (SRPs) for these commodities, the Council may prescribe indicative prices, if needed," he said.
Coloma conceded the government missed its own target to be rice self-sufficient in 2013.
“’Yan ay pinagtutuunan ng pansin ng ating National Food Authority at ng Department of Agriculture. Sa mga nakaraang talakayan natin, nasabi natin na hindi natamo nang ganap 'yung rice sufficiency objectives. Pero 'yung level of attainment ay mataas naman dahil lampas sa 90 percent," he said.
Coloma kept his distance from a question on whether the increase in prices would be a justification for any increase in wages.
"Ayon po sa batas, mayroong umiiral na proseso sa pagturing at pag-aaral kung magiging makatwiran ang pagtataas ng sweldo, at ang ating proseso dito ay 'yung pagkakaroon ng regional wage boards na isinasaalang-alang ang iba't ibang kondisyong umiiral sa iba't ibang bahagi ng ating bansa,” he said.
He said it is up to the regional wage boards to decide on wage hikes.
“Kaya hintayin po natin na umiral itong proseso ng regional wage boards. Tinututukan naman po 'yan ng ating mga awtoridad. sa kahuli-hulihan, 'yung hinggil naman sa pagkakaroon ng pagbabago sa pasahod, ito ay responsibilidad ng mga regional wage boards,” he said.