More restos boycott Coke products in Negros Occidental

MORE food establishments in Negros Occidental have answered the call to boycott Coca-Cola and other beverage products that are using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as an alternative sweetener.

Former vice governor Emilio Yulo III, spokesperson for Sugar Alliance, said 36 restaurants in the province have stopped serving Coke products.

These are Anne Co's Cake, Bar 21, Bob’s, Bob’s La Salle Courtyard, Bob’s Ayala North Point, Bob’s SM, Calea, Cafe 1925, all branches of Chicken Deli, all branches of Chicken House, Cantina Mondo, Cucina Italia, Cafe Uma, Cozy Nook, Delicioso, El Ideal, Murcia Hilltop Restobar, Fogo, Orange Karenderia, 11th Street Bed and Breakfast, 18th Street Palapala, Inaka, Kusina Mia Mix, Lina’s Al Fresco Dining, all branches of L’ Sea, L’ Kaisei, La Vista Highlands Mountain Resort, Mimi's Cafe and Restaurant, Papa Rizzo's, Pizza Republic, Potato Corner Philippines, Time Out Restaurant and Bar, Tres Restaurant, Trap Door Tasting Room, Sitting Duck and Victor's Pub.

The said establishments are supporting the sugar industry through the ban, Yulo said.

“We are very thankful and we hope more will join this campaign,” he added.

On April 10, the Senate agriculture committee led by Senator Cynthia Villar will conduct a hearing to clarify issues about HFCS.

Last week, the sugar industry leaders rejected the “win-win solution” presented by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

Piñol said Coca-Cola agreed to increase their consumption of local sugar from 90:10 (90 percent HFCS and 10 percent domestic sugar) to 80:20.

He added the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will study the proposal of the beverage companies to be given access to the “D” sugar, or the World Market sugar.

However, the stakeholders insisted that the proposal is detrimental to the industry.

Sectors in the sugar industry, meanwhile, said the “grossly lopsided” use of HFCS over local sugar is precisely the cause of the drop in sugar prices.

In a letter addressed to Piñol, Ranie Lava, former chairman of National Federation of Sugar Workers, and Aaron Sorbito, executive committee member of Kilusang Pagbabago-Negros Island Region, said the agreement was reached without consulting all sectors of the sugar industry and, thus, runs contrary to President Rodrigo Duterte’s platform of participatory governance.

They also hit the plan to study the proposal of giving the beverage companies an access to the World Market sugar.

“Selling to beverage makers a portion of local sugar production at a loss, coupled with the very low price of domestic sugar, will aggravate the already dire economic situation of sugar farmers and will result to ‘double kill’ of the sugar industry,” they said.

They urged the government to rescind the agreement with the beverage makers and to call for a genuine, all-inclusive dialogue among all sugar industry stakeholders to reach an authentic “win-win” solution on the HFCS issue.

Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines has a pending injunction case against SRA’s sugar order regulating the importation of HFCS.

The Provincial Government had already banned the sponsorship and sale of Coke products in the annual Panaad sa Negros Festival next month.

Hinigaran Mayor Jose Nadie Arceo also said his town will ban the sale of Coke products during its Hinugyaw sa Hinigaran Festival this month.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. Sunday, April 2, said he did not order the local chief executives in the province to ban Coke products in their respective festivals.

For his part, Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez said Piñol has “agreed to recognize” the validity of the sugar order.

He said the implementation of the order is just a matter of time.

“SRA has to function properly in protecting the industry,” the lawmaker added.

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