Pangilinan and the price of rice
Liberal Party candidate for the Senate Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan talking to supporters. Photo from the Kiko Pangilinan Facebook Fan Page.
Television advertisements, popularly known as “TV ads”, have become a popular choice for aspiring politicians to reach out to the Filipino people due to their wide coverage. Various politicians come up with gimmicks in order to maximize their 30-second advertisements. Some politicians use the 30 seconds to forward their platforms. Some politicians use it to narrate their experiences while some politicians use to put forward claims such as the legislations they passed and the programs that they initiated.
Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan is one of the many senatorial candidates who make use of TV ads to put forward claims on legislations they passed. As a senator, he headed the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food. During his term, he focused on his advocacy of uplifting the lives of the farmers by focusing on modernizing the agriculture sector.
During President Benigno Aquino III’s term, Kiko Pangilinan was appointed the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM). PAFSAM is mandated to oversee four agencies: Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), the National Food Authority (NFA), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
Pagiging Tapat at Totoo?
In his recent TV ad, Kiko claims to have lowered the price of rice during his term as the PAFSAM. In the caption of his recent TV ad uploaded on his official Youtube channel, he claimed that in some areas, the price of rice per kilo reached P 50. The variety of rice he was referring to was not specified. He also claimed that the price of rice went down P2.00-3.00 per kilo. Lastly, he claimed that rice inflation decreased from 14.5% in July 2014 to 0.8% in July 2015.
In May 2014, which was the time when Kiko Pangilinan was appointed as the PAFSAM, the average price of regular milled rice in the country was P 39.92. The province with the highest recorded price of regular milled rice in May 2014 was Siquijor which was P 44.80, P 5.2 short of Pangilinan’s claim. The price of rice (please refer to Figure 1) increased from June 2014 to September 2014 and then eventually steadily dropped from October 2014 to August 2015. The annual price of the regular milled rice in 2014 was P38.93 – P 1.87 higher than the annual price in 2015 which was P 37.06
Figure 1. Prices of regular milled rice from May 2014-September 2015.
The average price of well milled rice in the country in May 2014 was P 42.16. The province with the highest recorded price of well milled rice was Basilan, pegged at P 47.20 which was still below Pangilinan’s claim.
The price of well milled rice (please refer to Figure 2) rose steadily from May 2014 to September 2014 and then eventually dropped from October 2014 to September 2015. The annual price of well milled rice in 2014 was P 42.32 which was P 0.28 higher than the annual price of Well Milled rice in 2015.
Figure 2. Prices of well milled rice from May 2014 to September 2015.
As for Pangilinan’s claim on rice inflation, while he was not able to get the exact figures, there was definitely a great drop in rice inflation from May 2014 to September 2015. In May 2014, the rice inflation was 14.4% and steadily decreased until reaching 0.10% in July 2015. While Pangilinan was right in his claim that rice inflation decreased, his figures were incorrect.
Figure 3. Inflation percentage in prices of rice from July 2014 to July 2015.
Despite his incorrect figures, Pangilinan was correct in saying that the price of rice, both regular milled and well-milled, decreased during his term as the PAFSAM. He was also correct in saying that the rice inflation dropped during his term.
However, there are various points for consideration. In his TV ad, Pangilinan merely said that it was because he was “tapat sa trabaho” (doing his job honestly) that he was able to decrease the price of rice. While one must recognize the difficulty of squeezing a lot of information and gimmicks inside a 30-second TV commercial, one must maximize it in such a way that would further educate the voters.
Politicians must also steer clear from motherhood statements and silly one-liners and instead, focus on educating the voters on the things that they have done and the plans that they have for the country. In using data to back up claims, one must also make sure that the correct figures are being used in order to avoid misinformation.
Jeremi Elaijah M. Barretto is an alumna of the University of the Philippines Diliman.