In a recent interview, economist and Brain Trust Inc. chairperson Cielito F. Habito stated that the prices of vegetables -such as white onions- are significantly lower in other places in the Asean than those recorded in the Philippines. Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), prices of white onions soared 137.19 percent followed by red creole onion, with prices increasing by 47.15 percent and native onion prices growing 39.43 percent.

In the Philippines, inflation is high. This is not because of the effects of imports, but because of the country’s failure to increase competition in the market and encourage greater productivity in the agriculture sector, said Habito.

“If you only open it up and force ourselves to compete with the productivity of our neighbors, if we did that 30 years ago when we acceded to the WTO (World Trade Organization), instead of exempting, opting out, and waiving all these requirements to open up, our onions would have been as cheap as P100,” he explained.

These policies eat away funds that could also help develop and increase productivity in other crops, including vegetables. Habito added that funds could also be used to streamline the country’s importation regulations.