In the September Inflation update from the Philippine Statistics Authority, cereal and cereal products like wheat, grain, and rice had twice as much inflation than in August this year, even though it did not yet take into account the full consequent price caps set for rice under Executive Order No. 39.

Chief Statistics Specialist Maria Lalaine Rodriguez on Tuesday presented at the SM City Puerto Princesa the Year-On-Year Inflation Rates in Palawan, revealing that cereal products such as rice and corn had a 16.1 inflation rate in September, more than double the 6.5 rate assessed in August this year.

However, Puerto Princesa City did not see the same dramatic rise in inflation for the same category as Palawan, whose sample households are found in the municipalities of Roxas, Quezon, Brooke’s Point, and Narra.

Cereals and cereal products went from an inflation rate of 1.2 in August to only 2.2 in September in Puerto Princesa, which Rodriguez attributed to the difference in lifestyle patterns of the city and the province.

“Pag sa munisipyo staple food ang rice, dito sa city staple din siya pero pwedeng palitan ng bread so di siya nakakaapekto doon sa cereals,” Rodriguez said during a press conference.

She observed that the inflation resulting from the issuance of EO No. 39 on September 5 and its subsequent lifting on October 4 will be included in the overall figures for October’s statistics.

Palawan and Puerto Princesa had further differences as to what commodity groups had an increased inflation in September. While Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages had the highest inflation in Palawan, contributing to 98.8% of the inflation rate in the province, it was only the second highest commodity group in Puerto Princesa, contributing 36.4% of the inflation rate in the city.

Rodriguez explained that aside from the inflation price of rice, the trend for September 2023 still reflected the return of face to face classes. For Puerto Princesa City, the highest contributor to their inflation rate at 58.5% of their total was for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels- a large part of which is from actual rentals of boarding houses in the city, occupied by those who come from municipalities outside of Puerto Princesa.

When asked about rent control affecting the price caps for these boarding houses, Rodriguez said that it was still up to the individual landlords if they were to lower their prices for those, as surcharges for electricity and water are usually included with actual rent.

In Palawan, recreation, sport, and culture contributed to 1.2% of the inflation rate. Rodriguez explained that these were less about actual sports materials and equipment being bought, as this category also included newspapers, books, stationery, and other materials used for classroom activities and presentations.

There is also a comparison for the bottom 30% income households computed in both Puerto Princesa City and Palawan. The household incomes fall under the poverty threshold of P 10,000 per month and were calculated separately, as Rodriguez explained that these households’ main expenses mostly circulated around food and basic needs.

The bottom 30% for Palawan had an inflation rate of 8.1 compared to August’s 6.2, while Puerto Princesa’s bottom 30% has an inflation rate of 4.2 compared to August’s 3.4. While the major contributions for Palawan’s bottom 30% inflation rate reflected those same categories found upwards of the poverty threshold (food & non-alcoholic beverages, along with recreation sports, & culture), Puerto Princesa’s bottom 30% had a higher inflation in food, household expenses such as rent and gas, and transportation.

Rodriguez explained that the bottom 30% mostly focused as well on food, basic needs, and educational activities whereas those who were upwards of the poverty threshold had a higher inflation rate for information communications and technology than transport.

In Puerto Princesa City, the PSA reported that mobile telephone equipment such as cellphones, chargers, headsets, and the like increased dramatically, from a -13.7 rate in August to a flat 0.0 this September. Notably, this was because those who belonged in the bottom 30% rarely bought new technology as it is not a basic need.

“Siyempre every year tumataas yung specs ng phones and gadgets, tumataas din yung bilihin, those who can afford to replace or get new gadgets off the market do so, lalo na kapag for school,” Rodriguez noted.

The latest surcharge for electric consumption in Palawan brought about by the loss of one power supplier in the Palawan Electric Cooperative was also not included in the inflation update, as it will take effect in October 21. Furthermore, the inflation rate for electric consumption is compared with previous years, which has always seen a trend of inflation during the holidays.

“May posibilidad siyang tumaas sa susunod na buwan kasi magsisimula na ang ating Christmas lights pero hindi pa natin alam kung ilan ang epekto niya sa implementation, pero foreseeable siya,” Rodriguez said.

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