Lawmaker Ariel Casilao said “unlimited price hikes” would ensue if the suggestion by the Department of Trade and Industry were approved.
Currently, the Price Act provides for suggested retail prices to be printed on consumer product packaging. If this were to be taken away, the poor “could not even afford the most basic of the basic goods, such as food,” Casilao, an Anakpawis party-list representative, said.
The move would result in price rises in goods including rice, meat, fish, vegetables and manufactured goods such as canned fish, milk and coffee.
Casilao said that the proposal had been issued because trade and industry secretary Ramon Lopez is known to be keen to allow manufacturers to dictate their own retail prices.
Officials in the Rodrigo Duterte government “do not believe that a majority of the people are already in abject poverty and misery”, and demand is generally always higher than supply in the as the country has limited food manufacturing, he added.
The representative also cited instances from Europe in the mid-nineteenth century when civil unrest was sparked by increases in the price of bread.
“We are confident that the President clearly knows history, as food price hikes build up people’s revolutions,” Casilao said.
Meanwhile, the Philippines finance secretary has defended his government’s proposal to impose an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Carlos Dominguez said the proposed tax had been intended to discourage the public from consuming unhealthy products.
“You know, too much sugar is bad for you. So, if the consumption—excessive consumption of sugar goes down, your health will be better,” he said.
“It’s not to make people starve. It’s to make it more expensive to consume foods that are not good for your health so that you will change your diet to healthy foods.”
Under the government’s tax reform package, which was passed by the House of Representatives at the end of May, an excise tax of PHP10 (US$0.20) is in line to be introduced on sweetened juice drinks, tea and coffee and carbonated beverages, including those with caloric and noncaloric sweeteners.
A similar tax could also be imposed on flavoured water, energy drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages that contain added sugar, and caloric and artificial sweeteners.