MANILA - Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Friday slammed some vegetable traders who he alleged have been manipulating market prices after Typhoon Ompong hits farm lands over the weekend.
Prices of vegetables usually rise in Metro Manila whenever bad weather affects supply in farming communities in other regions.
"The high price of food items in the market is not indicative of lack of supply. Artificial 'yung presyong iyon. Pananamantala iyon (That price is artificial. That is exploitation)," Piñol told ABS-CBN News.
He cited how the price of carrots in Bukidnon remained at P35 per kilo even after the area experienced bad weather due to the southwest monsoon.
"Talagang minamaniobra lang nung mga oportunistang negosyante lalo na akala nila nung pagkatapos ng Typhoon Ompong ay walang magagawa ang gobyerno to address the problem," he said.
(Opportunist businessmen are just maneuvering the prices because they thought the government could not do anything to address the problem after Typhoon Ompong.)
The Department of Agriculture (DA) held a 2-day "Vegetable Festival" in San Andres, Manila to show that market items could still be cheap after a typhoon when sourced from areas spared from calamity.
Red chili can be bought for P300 per kilo, just a third of the P900-per-kilo price in markets, Piñol said.
The DA is now planning to put up "malasakit stores" or community stalls that would sell fish and vegetables at near-farm gate prices, he said.
The "malasakit stores" will be operated by women's groups and located in heavily populated-communities in Metro Manila, he said.
Typhoon Ompong, the strongest to hit the country so far this year, devastated crops in Northern Luzon, leaving an estimated P14 billion in agriculture damage.