• Senate eyes sugar consultative council

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    BACOLOD CITY: The Senate committees on trade and agriculture are pushing for the creation of a sugar industry consultative body that will work with producers and large-scale consumers on matters affecting the sugar industry.

    During the joint hearing of the committees led by Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Cynthia Villar, they supported the creation of a consultative body originally proposed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol that will be tasked to coordinate with stakeholders and draft plans on how best to help the sugar industry and address concerns of sugar users, like ample supply and pricing.

    “The industry wants a P1,500 price for domestic sugar and the beverage companies will help,” Villar said.

    She was referring to the sugar producers’ suggested fair composite price per 50-kilogram bag, or Lkg. It will have to be discussed with industry users, she added.

    The consultative committee will be composed of the Senate’s agriculture and trade and industry committees, along with the Department of Agriculture, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs, Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SAP), beverage companies and other industry users, millers, sugar farmers, and labor groups.

    During the hearing the beverage companies also agreed to recognize Sugar Order No. 3 of the SRA imposing regulatory measures on the importation of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

    However, Emilio Yulo, SAP spokesperson, remains pessimistic about the issue, saying there is still “no win-win solution,” adding no clear solution has been presented.

    The SAP expressed optimism that the hearing has brought to national consciousness the issue that affects not only the big planters but agrarian reform beneficiaries as well.

    Yulo added the boycott of Coke products will continue with already 40 food establishments and 14 local government units in the province joining the move.

    Even SRA Chief Anna Rosario Paner said she has little “doubts” on whether the beverage firm could fulfill its commitments, including the purchase of more local sugar.

    Winnie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA) said that its stand is “until there is an official pronouncement from Coca Cola that they will cease and desist from importing HFCS, the campaign to boycott its products shall continue.”

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