By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: Philippines Lifestyle

As pork and chicken vendors bewail steep production costs amid the implementation of a price ceiling in Metro Manila, detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima said the government's recently implemented price cap on meat products is a "failure of leadership". 

"Failure of leadership ang nangyayari. Ang lakas pa ng loob nilang magyabang ng achievements nila kuno, habang nagugutom ang mga Pilipino. Pero wala nang pakialam ang mga kababayan natin na walang mabili at walang pambili," De Lima said in a statement on Wednesday. 

The former chair of the Commission on Human Rights claimed that the “pork holiday” being observed by the meat retailers in response to the price ceiling being imposed is a result of long-term neglect by this administration. 

De Lima further slammed the administration's misplaced priorities such as the blatant red-tagging of students activists and smuggling of basic goods in the market among others. 

"Habang busy ang administrasyon magred-tag ng mga aktibista at mga pamantasan, talamak ang smuggling ng bigas, gulay, karne at iba pang commodities. Dahil dito, nagkandalugi-lugi ang ating mga local supplier habang nakapapasok ang mga karne na may dalang ASF at iba pang sakit," she said.

The senator reiterated that the country's economy is" in a fragile cycle and it is important that our administration remain vigilant against activities that disrupt and destroy our markets."

She suggested that the administration must work with the suppliers in easing the cost of production and transportation of goods and in stopping the widespread smuggling.

The senator further calls on action from the government to hear out the struggles of the Filipinos after reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession.

"Gumising-gising naman sila at gawin nila ang trabaho nila. Huwag puro fake news at kayabangan ang inaatupag," the opposition senator said.

Earlier this week, pork prices have soared as the local hog industry battles the spread of African swine fever. The disease has disrupted the operations of hog farms in Batangas, Bulacan and nearby provinces, prompting hog raisers in the Visayas and Mindanao to supply Metro Manila.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 124, which aimed to tame prices of pork (pigue) and pork shoulder (kasim) to P270 per kilo, pork liempo to P300 per kilo, while dressed chicken was capped at P160 per kilo.

The 60-day price cap on pork and chicken was supposed to be enforced in Metro Manila’s public markets and supermarkets on Monday, February 8, but some vendors opted not to sell altogether.