Tuesday, March 21, 2017

BACOLOD City – Coke lovers, you might get disappointed.

The provincial government of Negros Occidental is banning a beverage company from the 24th Panaad Festival from April 22 to 30 at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Barangay Mansilingan.

Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. does not want Coca-Cola products sold at the festival site, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. president Manuel Lamata told a news conference on Monday.

Lamata told the press at the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters building that Marañon told him the provincial government will not allow Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Inc. to sponsor the event.

A capitol source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, confirmed Lamata’s statements.

Coca-Cola has not yet replied to Panay News’ request for comment as of press time.

Marañon will ask the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass a resolution banning the sale of Coca-Cola products at the Panaad Festival site and the company from sponsoring the annual event, Lamata said.

According to Lamata, Marañon told him that capitol is supporting the sugar industry stakeholders’ call against the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and for the boycott of companies using the alternative sweetener.

Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, presiding officer of the Provincial Board, also hopes the governor bans Coca-Cola from Panaad.

Ninety kiosks at the Panaad Festival site will be made available for rent, according to the provincial government’s Public Information Office (PIO).

A maximum of three kiosks will be allowed for every renter, the PIO said in a press release.

Lamata was among the sugar producers and farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries, labor leaders, and local government officials who gathered outside the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Barangay Mansilingan on Monday to call against the importation and use of HFCS.

The protesters claimed the alternative sweetener, which Coca-Cola admitted to using, is dangerous to human health and its importation and use lower the demand for locally produced sugar. (Related story on Negros, page 16)

They also called for the boycott of Coca-Cola and other companies using the HFCS.

Superintendent Noel Polines, chief of the Operations and Plans Unit of the Bacolod City Police Office, estimated the crowd to be “more than 5,000.”

“The provincial government is in solidarity with the sugar industry in its campaign against the unregulated importation of the high-fructose corn syrup,” Marañon said in a statement released earlier.

Citing data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration, the governor said the volume of HFCS consumed by soda and beverage companies is equivalent to more than 5 million 50-kilogram bags of sugar.

“Imagine the far-reaching effect of this importation to the economy and to the millions in the labor sector,” he said. “Millions of small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries and their families will greatly suffer as they are highly dependent on this commodity for their livelihood.”/PN


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