ZURICH — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday said that the Philippine government was forced to import onions due to the insufficient local supply and high demand.
“May nagsasabing onion, hindi kailangan mag-import. Papaano naman hindi kailangang mag-import? Tignan mo yung production ng Pilipinas, tignan mo yung demand, malayo talaga," the President, told Palace reporters in a briefing en route to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
"Sinubukan natin na makuha lahat ng mga smuggled, pero kulang pa rin, kasi hindi rin natin nagamit yung smuggled. Talagang we were forced to import, so that is what they are doing,” he added.
(There were some who said we don't need to import. Why would we not need to import? Look at the production of the Philippines, look at the demand, the gap is huge. We tried to get all the smuggled onions, it was still not enough because we couldn't use the smuggled onions. We were really forced to import.)
The agriculture department earlier announced that it would implement a “calibrated importation” of onions despite an impending harvest, as low supplies sent prices of the vegetable skyrocketing in recent weeks. Some groups, however, have expressed concern that the importation could affect local onion farmers.
Marcos, who also heads the agriculture department, said his administration would implement strategies to increase local production of onions and sugar, eliminating the need for importation, which also exposes the country to inflationary risks.
“We have to go back to the sugar industry, we have to go back to the onion growers and help them, para magkaroon tayo ng production, hindi na tayo kailangan mag-import. Dyan tayo naipit eh, nasanay tayo masyado sa import, so import tayo ng import hindi natin naayos yung production side,” the President said.
“Kaya nung tinamaan tayo ng pandemya, ramdam na ramdam natin. Same thing like now, when we lost supply from abroad, or when we take supplies from abroad, yung inflationary forces doon, nadadala dito sa Pilipinas. Kaya’t yun ang tinitignan talaga natin ang taas ng inflation, so we have to bring that down for the rest of the year. And I think it will come down,” he added.
(We have to go back to the onion growers and help them, so we could increase production and no longer need to import. We have been so used to importing, we no longer fixed the production side. During the pandemic, we felt that. It's the same thing now, when we lost supply from abroad, or when we take supplies from abroad, the inflationary forces there are carried here in the Philippines.)
Marcos said the government would continue the digitalization of the Bureau of Customs to address the problem of smuggling.
“Yun talaga kailangan pa nating i-solve, masyadong malala na ang smuggling dito sa Pilipinas, kahit na ano, inii-smuggle. So we have to really look into that, and we have some very good ideas which the other people are doing, other countries, and we can use the strategies that they are using. I think the digitalization of the Bureau of Customs is very important,” he said.
(Smuggling is really bad here in the Philippines, anything is smuggled.)