More than half of Filipino households said that if they lose all of their income sources, their resources to cover daily needs could only last up to two weeks.
It can be guesstimated that the total additional profits generated by the oil firms from overpricing gasoline and diesel is about P142.50 million a day. Of this amount, P17.10 million went to government in the form of the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT).
Indeed, there is a need, as the Asia Peasant Coalition puts it, for the farmers “to organize and mobilize for our own people’s summit together with other marginalized and oppressed sectors that suffer the gravest hunger and poverty because of imperialist control and domination over the world’s food and agriculture.”
But what is even more alarming for Filipinos is that amid the surge in new COVID-19 cases, the response of the Duterte government to the pandemic more than a year into the crisis remains grossly inadequate and incompetent. While implementing the strictest and longest lockdown in the region, the Philippines continues to lag behind our neighbors in Southeast Asia in actually responding to the pandemic.
This latest spate of attacks against activists came a mere nine weeks since the PNP launched a similar operation in Panay island. Nine people were killed and 17 were arrested by the police in several indigenous Tumandok communities on Dec 30, 2020.
As COVID-19 wipes out whatever is left of the limited opportunities for Filipinos to earn a living, the Duterte administration’s lacking response, combined with an oppressive political environment, creates conditions for a perfect storm of social unrest.
Oil firms-imposed price adjustments are higher than what should be – by P 2.41 per liter for diesel and P4.76 per liter for gasoline, based on a DOE-recognized formula. The Big Three, a Duterte backer and other oil firms, rake in tens of millions of pesos daily from profiteering.
The hundreds of thousands of LRT-2 commuters affected by the shutdown are at the mercy of, to the say the least, an inefficient government agency and its inept private contractors that profit millions of pesos in taxpayers’ and commuters’ money.
Focusing on just Manila Water diverts the issue away from privatization as the central issue in, and underlying reason behind, the artificial shortage. As such, it also has the effect of absolving government of responsibility when in fact, the biggest accountability in all this lies with government for abandoning its duty to ensure water for the people.
While not a guarantee to lower prices in the long run, opening up the rice sector to unbridled imports leaves the country’s rice security at the mercy of an unpredictable and increasingly unreliable world market. This happens as 95 percent of Philippine rice imports come from just two countries whose own domestic production is either slowing down or declining. Globally, rice production has been steadily decelerating in the past four decades.
For most Filipino families, especially the poor and those in the lower income brackets, the rising costs of these basic needs mean tremendous pressure on household budgets.