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[av_heading heading=’ Negrenses rally vs ‘corn sugar’ today’ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=” subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=”]
BY MAE SINGUAY
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Monday, March 20, 2017
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BACOLOD City – Opponents of the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) calling for the boycott of beverage companies using the alternative sweetener will gather in three areas before heading to the main rally site today – in front of the Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Inc. bottling plant in Barangay Mansilingan.
Lawyer Dino Yulo said they will have three “areas of convergence”: Bata-Airport circumferential road, Cegasco circumferential road and near the public cemetery in Murcia, Negros Occidental.
Yulo advised the public, especially motorists, to avoid these areas. He also appealed for understanding of their cause.
“More than 5,000 sugar industry stakeholders are attending,” said the lawyer. “We are expecting a traffic jam in [front of Coca-Cola] and three other areas where protesters will converge.”
Sugar planters and farmworkers, and agrarian reform beneficiaries in Negros Occidental are expected to participate.
“We are also expecting delegations from Panay area, Bais and Bayawan in Negros Oriental,” Yulo said. “This protest is also supported by sugar industry stakeholders in other parts of the country.”
Protesters will come as early as 6 a.m. to line up before marching around 7:30 a.m. They are expected to reach the Coca-Cola plant around 8 o’clock.
Emergency and traffic management personnel will help ensure safety and order, said Yulo.
He said they informed bus companies with vehicles passing through Murcia to take the Abuanan road all the way to Bacolod.
“We also asked the public from that area to leave early if they have businesses in the city,” the lawyer said. “We are expecting a road closure by 8 a.m. Our trucks will be coming in from all points.”
Protesters hope to get Malacañang’s attention, and make Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol “stand down” and let the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) do its job.
Piñol earlier said he wants the SRA to suspend Sugar Order No. 3, which imposes stricter regulations in importing HFCS. He claimed that cola companies using the sweetener were not consulted before the order was issued.
An effigy of Piñol will be burned, protest leaders said.
Coca-Cola has filed a civil suit against the Sugar Order with a Quezon City court. A hearing was scheduled today.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson will join the protest. Lacson will read a Provincial Board resolution opposing the use of HFCS instead of locally produced sugar, said Yulo.
Victorias City mayor Francis Frederick Palanca, president of the Association of Chief Executives in Negros Occidental, will also read their manifesto of support, Yulo said. He added they are expecting other mayors and councilors to come.
Resolutions and messages of support from Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, the provincial government of Bukidnon, the Bacolod City Council, and the Provincial Council of Legislators will be read during the rally.
Secretary-General Yves Akol of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan in Negros and some party mates are attending, Yulo claimed.
“This is a cause everyone in Negros and other parts of the country should embrace,” Yulo said as he quickly stressed the issue is beyond politics. “This is killing…an industry that is the source of livelihood of more than 5 million Filipinos…present in 14 provinces [and] has helped build the economy.”
Police officers will be detailed at the main protest site, said Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, city police head./PN