BACOLOD CITY – Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and other local officials are expected to join more or less 5,000 protestors in a multi-sectoral rally today, Mar. 20, 2017, in front of the plant of Coca-Cola- FEMSA in Brgy. Mansilingan here.
The rally aims to express the dismay of sugar industry stakeholders over the recent statement of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on his plan to suspend the implementation of Sugar Order No. 3 which regulates high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Lawyer Emilo Yulo, spokesperson of the Sugar Alliance, said in a press conference on Mar that Marañon has committed to join the rally while Lacson will read the resolution passed by the Sanggunian Panlalawigan last week supporting SO No. 3.
A message of support from Sen. Miguel Zubiri will also be read during the protest action along with resolutions of support from the provincial government of Bukidnon, the Bacolod City Council, the Association of Chief Executives and the Provincial Council of Legislators.
PDP-Laban Negros, through its secretary general Yves Akol will also join the protest along with some of their party mates.
Yulo said that they advise the public, especially those going to the east side of the province, to expect delay as big contingents from different areas will cause traffic jams.
“We have sought the assistance of the traffic management group but we are asking the public to avoid the area and seek their understanding and sympathy for our cause,” he said.
Yulo added that there will be three areas of convergence – the Bata-Airport circumferential road for the north contingent, Cegasco circumferential road for the south and another in Murcia town near the public cemetery.
“Our members will be coming in as early as 6am and will be lining up along those roads to pull-out together around 7:30am,” he said.
Yulo said representatives from Panay, Negros Oriental, labor and environment groups will arrive.
“Through this protest, we hope that Malacañang will intervene and ask DA Sec. Manny Piñol to ‘stand-down’ instead and allow the Sugar Regulatory Administration to do their mandate in protecting our industry,” he said.
Stakeholders claimed that 90 percent of sweetener used by soft drink companies is corn sugar.
Yulo added that they have their counterparts in Luzon “to bring the fight” to Manila where the policy making and the headquarters of the beverage firms are located.
In a manifesto, ACE said “the use of HFCS is slowly killing the country’s sugar industry composed mainly of 5 million Filipinos and the more than 700,000 laborers whose lives are directly and indirectly dependent in the sugar industry.”
“Sugar is our lifeblood in Negros Occidental and we are at great risk of bleeding to death if the massive entry of HFCS will not be regulated. The sugar industry is already can already feel the adverse effects as evidenced by the drop in sugar prices lately and is feared that it will lead to the industry’s demise if not immediately addressed,” the manifesto said.