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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The United Sugar Producers Federatiin (UNIFED) has issued an appeal to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to deny a request by major beverage companies to directly import sugar for their needs.
UNIFED President Manual Lamata spoke out against the request in a news release from his publicist, saying that it would negatively impact the more than five million stakeholders of the sugar industry who are dependent on it for their livelihood.
The request for direct importation of premium refined sugar was made by Coca Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc., Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc., ARC Refreshments Corporation, Nestle Philippines Inc., Alaska Milk Corporation, and Monde Nissin Corporation.
In a letter addressed to President Marcos in his capacity as head of the Department of Agriculture, the companies expressed concerns about sugar supply, high prices, and alleged refusal of traders to provide price quotes to industrial buyers.
The beverage companies urged the president to “consider available options that will allow industrials to directly import premium refined sugar to address the shortage and stabilize prices of domestic sugar.” They also proposed that importation be used to create a buffer stock for at least one quarter and that prices for imports for sale in the Philippines should be pegged closer to the world market price.
However, Lamata criticized the request, stating that it was a “sheer greed” from these companies who have earned billions of revenues from Filipinos who patronize their products. He added that beverage companies should be buying local sugar because Filipinos also buy their local products. He warned that allowing direct importation would kill the sugar industry and millions who are dependent on it just so they can further enrich themselves at the expense of Filipino consumers.
The UNIFED president also argued that the Philippine government had already signed an importation program to address the issue of sugar supply. He noted that the beverage companies were lobbying for direct importation in order to protect their interests and their ability to sustain their P40 billion per year contribution to the national economy.
The issue of direct importation of sugar by multinational beverage companies raises questions about the fairness and responsibility of these corporations in protecting the interests of local industries and workers. It also highlights the importance of food security and self-sufficiency in the country. The Philippine government and stakeholders of the sugar industry must weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of direct importation carefully and ensure that the interests of local industries and workers are protected.