MANILA — Presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said on Thursday that the Philippines must lessen its import dependency to avoid inflation as the country is having a hard time controlling prices because of it.
”Kung masyado tayong dependent sa importation, maski ‘yung ating mga sariling gulay, sarili nating agricultural product ay hindi natin maaawat ‘yung—o wala tayo masyadong control doon sa presyo ng mga bilihin. So, ang nangyayari, ‘yung inflation tumataas,” said Lacson during a press conference.
Changing the importation mindset is key and government must promote MSMEs who can also manufacture these imported items, he said.
”‘Yung [import]-driven natin na mentality dapat bawasan natin at pag-igtingin natin ‘yung ating mga MSMEs, mga manufacturing sector nang sa ganoon kung export-oriented naman tayo, ang mentalidad natin, from import-dependent country gawin nating export-oriented naman tayo. Tangkilikin natin ‘yung ‘Made in the Philippines’ na mga produkto at saka ‘yung itinanim sa Pilipinas,” said Lacson.
He also took note of the recent Senate investigation where products made in China were given priority.
”Case in point, ‘yung sa Pharmally, ‘di ba? ‘Yung face masks kayang gawin dito pagkatapos ang pinanalo natin ‘yung mga ‘Made in China?’ So paano tayo talagang makakaahon niyan? Talagang tataas ‘yung inflation because pagka imported, sino ang nagdidikta ng presyo?" Lacson said.
‘"Yung nagma-manufacture at nag-e-export para sa atin. Samantalang kung tayo ang nagi-import, bababa ‘yung cost, bababa ‘yung presyo so bababa ‘yung inflation."
Lacson said the country should consider striking a balance between improving the salaries of workers and its inflationary effect. If he wins the presidency in the upcoming elections, he said would begin with the problem of skills mismatch and unemployment.
And he thinks this could be solved if a faster rollout of the national ID system is in place, a law he authored with his running mate, vice presidential aspirant and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
”Kailangang madaliin para nang sa ganoon ‘yung database natin malinaw at saka kitang-kita ‘yung skills ng tao para ma-i-match mo doon sa mga job opportunities para mabawasan natin ‘yung rate of unemployment," Lacson said.
"Kasi ‘pag mataas ‘yung ating employment rate, ibig sabihin ‘non tataas ‘yung antas ng ating pangangalakal at ‘yung pagka medyo export—nag-e-export na tayo, palagay ko, may karapatan na tayo para magtaas ng ating wages."
In the meantime, the government should focus on stop-gap measures while encouraging them to go back to their work after the series of lockdowns enforced during the pandemic, he said.
”I-encourage natin ‘yung mga kababayan natin na talagang bumalik sa trabaho. Kaya nag-o-open up tayo. ‘Yung lockdown, ‘yan ang kalaban ng ekonomiya eh,” said Lacson.
Inflation in the Philippines eased to a 3-month low of 4.6 percent in October despite high fuel prices, the state statistics bureau said earlier this month.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has said that it expects inflation to ease in the coming months and that monetary policy will remain accommodative to support the country's recovery from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.