Negros folks press Coca-Cola to use local sugar
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—About 4,000 Negrenses staged a protest in front of the Coca Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. bottling plant in Barangay (village) Mansilingan, Bacolod City, Wednesday morning to protest the company’s use of imported instead of locally grown sugar.
The protesters were to march to the Bacolod public plaza in the afternoon for a rally to kick off a campaign to boycott Coca-Cola products.
The protest was spearheaded by Sugar Watch, composed mainly of labor groups and agrarian reform beneficiaries, in cooperation with the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines and other sugar groups.
Sugar Watch leaders on Tuesday met with Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin to ask her to convey their demands to CCBPI.
The group wants CCBPI to buy local sugar to ensure the survival of the Philippine sugar industry and to pay a 38 percent tariff on the sugar it imports in the form of pre-mixed syrup, Sugar Watch convenor Hernane Braza said.
They also want CCBPI to stop using high-fructose corn syrup in its products which, he said, is bad for one’s health.
Martin told the group that she would forward their concerns to the company. She said she would remain neutral on the issue and instead try to facilitate a solution to the problem as soon as possible for the good of the industry.
Reached for comment, Cat Avelino, Coca Cola Corporate Communications director, said the company had no comment at this time.
The company maintains it has been operating in compliance with the law.