Sugar bloc seeks anew Senate intervention vs corn sugar

(Photo Courtesy of Partido Manggagawa)

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Tatak Kalamay, a group of planters association, agrarian reform groups, labor organizations, and sugar workers again sought the intervention and support of the Senate against the importation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or “corn sugar.”

Tatak Kalamay convenor and spokesperson Raymond Montinola said the sugar industry had “closed ranks and rose against industrial users whose large-scale importation of HFCS sent domestic sugar prices plunging and threatened the very existence of an industry on which 5 million Filipinos depend.”

President Rodrigo Duterte, along with the Senate and House of Representatives, institutionalized the regulation of HFCS imports through the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax.

“Subsequent to, and likely as a result of these moves, leading beverage manufacturers offered to work hand in hand with the sugar industry and, among others, committed to buying domestic sugar in support of our local farmers,” Montinola said.

However, Montinola said there are worrying signs that there are discussions relating to the possible widespread industrial use of HFCS once again.

Wennie Sancho, who is also a member of Tatak Kalamay on behalf of the Save the Sugar Industry Movement, said sugar stakeholders, including the labor sector, hope this is not true as “this is certainly detrimental to the industry and comes at a time when the country’s agriculture sector, particularly the rice, coconut and livestock industry, is in crisis.”

The group said they have turned to their champions in the Senate to seek their intervention in protecting the agricultural economy and in particular the sugar industry.

“We call on all stakeholders to once again close ranks in the best interests of our industry,” Montinola added.

The group is set to submit their manifesto to the Senate.