BACOLOD CITY: Sugar industry leaders expressed dismay over the sudden turnaround of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on high fructose corn syrup (HFCs) after he told a national daily that he wants the implementation of Sugar Order (SO) No. 3 deferred “pending consultations with soft-drink makers.”
“There’s a problem with SO 3 of the SRA because it regulates the importation of HFCS, which Coca-Cola uses in producing its soft drinks. Now, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola appealed to me, saying they were not properly consulted,” Piñol said.
“I have recommended to President Duterte to authorize me to hold in abeyance SO 3 pending proper consultations with stakeholders,” Piñol added.
Citing an official of Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines Inc. (CFPI), he said using other types of sugar would entail the overhaul of the company’s machines and equipment, as these were designed to use HFCS.
Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said the matter was already resolved during a meeting in Malacañang last Wednesday.
“Present were Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat representing Secretary Piñol, representatives from the Department of Finance and Department of Trade and Industry, and Sugar Regulatory Administrator Anna Paner together with other leaders of the Sugar Alliance. Piñol withdrew his reservations on the implementation of SO3,” Rojas noted.
“We are disappointed with the secretary’s actuations because he is supposed to defend Philippine agriculture and Filipino farmers,” Rojas said.
“Leaders of the sugar industry are shocked and angry that, without consulting industry stakeholders, Piñol issues this statement which shows that he favors and protects the interests of foreign multinational corporations, who exploit us and siphon off our money abroad, over the welfare of millions of Filipino farmers, farm workers and their families,” he added.
Eugene Y. Adiong