MANILA - Senator Francis Pangilinan criticized President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday over his claim that the country's quickening inflation was due to the policies of US President Donald Trump.
Inflation hit 6.4 percent in August, the fastest clip in nearly a decade, smashing forecasts by analysts and the central bank.
During a speech on Friday, Duterte said the country's inflation was due to higher tariffs imposed by Trump. Duterte again blamed his American counterpart the next day, saying local prices went up after the US raised interest rates.
All other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should have also registered high inflation if the Trump administration is to blame for the rising prices of goods, Pangilinan pointed out.
"Kung si Donald Trump ang may kasalanan dahil sa trade, dapat lahat ng ibang bansa sa ASEAN ay ganoon din, mataas din ang inflation rate. Tayo ang pinakamataas kumpara sa lahat, at malayo ang agwat," he said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo.
(If the Trump administration's trade disputes are to blame for the rising consumer prices, all other countries in the ASEAN should also have had high inflation. But we have the highest inflation by far among our ASEAN neighbors.)
Since the start of the year, Philippine inflation has outpaced that of its Southeast Asian neighbors.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has said that inflation quickened last month as food prices rose.
"Rice inflation increased to 7.1 percent year-on-year in August from 5.0 percent in July due to tighter supply resulting from the ongoing lean season and adverse weather conditions," the BSP said in a statement last Wednesday.
Food inflation zoomed to 8.5 percent as the monsoon hit agriculture output. Vegetable prices alone rose 19.2 percent.
"Imbes na harapin ang problema, tanggalin ang dapat tanggalin, mga dahilan bakit nagkapalpak-palpak itong ating supply ng rice, e si Donald Trump o si Sonny Trillanes," Pangilinan added.
(Instead of facing our country's economic problems and sacking officials that need to be sacked, the administration blames Donald Trump or focuses on arresting Sonny Trillanes.)
Lawmakers allied with House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have also called on Duterte to fire his economic managers, including Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, for failing to stabilize prices.
Duterte has refused to sack Piñol and the officials of the National Food Authority.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, an ally of the Duterte administration, said last week that inflation quickened because the government did little or nothing to stabilize prices.
An analyst said accelerating inflation was partly to blame for the peso falling to its weakest level in nearly 12 years. The peso closed at 53.73 to the dollar on Friday.
The BSP said that it expects inflation to peak in the third quarter and to return to the central bank's target range of 2 to 4 percent next year.