NEGRENSES will defend the sugar industry against the unabated entry of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) at the Senate Tuesday, April 18.
The Senate agriculture committee led by Senator Cynthia Villar will conduct the inquiry, which will be attended by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, and various stakeholders.
Leading the delegation from Negros Occidental is former vice governor Emilio Yulo III, spokesperson of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines. He will be joined by labor leaders and agrarian reform beneficiaries.
They will outline the reasons why HFCS is destroying the sugar industry.
HFCS, according to them, has also prevented development in the countryside and has led to employment loss in the industry labor sector.
With the hearing, the Negrenses hope to prevent further entry of HFCS in the country, levy government charges against HFCS as its negative effect on health has yet to be determined, oblige beverage companies to utilize locally-produced raw materials, and provide opportunities to make the sugarcane industry more sustainable.
The importation of HFCS has led to the drop in sugar prices.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration had issued Sugar Order 3 on February 17 to regulate the HFCS importation, which took effect on March 10.
Beverage firms are seeking to utilize the more than 300,000 tons of HFCS, which was held in various ports in the country, for six months as its importation before March 10 was not yet covered by the new regulation.
The proposal was endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
SRA Administrator Anna Rosario Paner said the HFCS shipments can worsen the sugar prices though she remained optimistic that the sugar industry could recover from the drawback.
Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines’ petition for injunction on the sugar order is pending before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. The next hearing will be held on May 10.
La Carlota boycotts Coke
Various sectors, including the Provincial Government and restaurants in Negros Occidental, have boycotted Coke products manufactured with HFCS.
The latest local government to boycott Coke during its festival is La Carlota. Others are Hinigaran and Isabela.
La Carlota City Mayor Luis Jalandoni III, in an executive order dated March 6, directed the prohibition of sale of Coke products not only during its Pasalamat Festival this month, but for other celebrations.
The province is producing at about 60 percent of the country’s total sugar output.