PHILIPPINES: SRA opposes Coke’s attempt to reverse HFCS order

Published: 03/10/2017, 9:45:31 AM

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) contested the move of a beverage company seeking the nullification of the sugar order regulating the importation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to the Philippines' Sun Star newspaper.

This was confirmed by SRA chief Anna Rosario Paner, who said they filed an opposition against the petition of Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines Thursday before the Regional Trial Court Branch 98 in Quezon City. Coca-Cola is asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on SRA's order regulating the importation of HFCS.

Aside from Paner, also named respondents were Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, and members of the Sugar Board.

Paner assured the Negrenses and the industry stakeholders that the SRA will "defend this order to the best we can," adding that they will "put up a good fight." She said it's their mandate to make sure that the livelihood of those in the sugar industry will be "protected."

On March 7, the court conducted a hearing on the TRO petition, but the judge has yet to issue a ruling. Paner said the next hearing will be held on March 20. She added that the SRA will abide by the ruling of the court. Sugar Order No. 3 stated that the importer of HFCS must be registered with SRA and that applicants must also comply with the requirements otherwise, they will be penalized.

Paner, in an interview days after the issuance of the sugar order last month, said: "For all intents and purposes, we will treat HCFS as sugar," adding that HFCS would be classified as "C" or Reserve supply. "Protect the industry" The Confederation of Sugar Producers Inc. (Confed) and the Sugar Alliance fully supports the SRA.

Confed national president Francis de la Rama, in a statement Thursday, said that "we will do everything we can to continue protecting this industry at all cost."

He said they will pray that the court will see the merits of SRA's actions and its effects, if the sugar order is not implemented, to the millions who are directly and indirectly involved in the sugar industry.

Meanwhile, the Save-Sugar Industry Movement (Save-SIM) said they will defend the sugar order, following the petition of the beverage company because sugar is "the lifeblood of our economy."

Wennie Sancho, lead convenor of Save-SIM, said they are reiterating their support to the SRA. He added that will convince multi-sectoral groups to join rallies to support the sugar order.