THE Bacolod City Council approved a resolution expressing solidarity and sympathy with the sugar industry by supporting its call to ban the sponsorship and sale of Coca-Cola products during the MassKara Festival from October 1 to 22.
The resolution, authored by Councilor Cindy Rojas, was unanimously approved during the council’s regular session Tuesday, September 26.
Rojas said that early this year, sugar planters and workers protested against the Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines Inc. upon knowing they are using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in their beverages instead of the locally-produced sugar.
She said sugar planters and workers raised their concerns in opposing the entry of the HFCS in the country since it would negatively affect the sugar industry.
Rojas added that she informed Mayor Evelio Leonardia and MassKara Festival director Eli Francis Tajanlangit on the banning of Coca-Cola products.
The councilor noted that the Province of Negros Occidental banned Coca-Cola products in the Panaad Festival earlier this year and several towns and cities in the province. These include Hinigaran, Isabela, La Carlota City, Pontevedra, E. B. Magalona, Bago City, Binalbagan, Hinoba-an, and Toboso.
“In sympathy to the cause and sentiments of our sugar planters and workers, it is fitting for the City of Bacolod to also ban Coca-Cola during the celebration of MassKara Festival,” Rojas said.
She added that to manifest the ban, the organizers of the festival shall not include Coca-Cola in all promotional and advertising materials paraphernalia in all festival sites.
For his part, Tajanlangit said in a press statement: “The sugar industry is our lifeblood, our heritage, our patrimony. No matter how distant, all of us are connected to it, one way or the other. Some of us may no longer be direct participants in the industry now, but we are all heirs of sugar. The sugar industry is us.”
“We cannot therefore simply sit and watch as the sugar industry struggles under the weight of unfair practices and lopsided systems,” he added.
“And so, today, we declare that we stand together with our government officials and sugar industry leaders in the fight against Coca-Cola for its continued use of HFCS,” Tajanlangit said.
He said that “(a)s enjoined by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council), the MassKara Festival 2017 organizers have declared a lock-out of all Coca-Cola products.”
Tajanlangit added that “(n)o Coca-Cola product or promotional material or activity will be allowed in all of our festival sites.” (SunStar Bacolod)