By Ali G. Macabalang
Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines (CCFP) will buy more sugar from Filipino planters who became restive lately over issues of product patronage and marketing, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol announced on Friday, March 24.
Piñol said lawyers Adel Tamano and Juan Lorenzon Tañada, CCFP vice president for corporate affairs and corporate director, respectively, visited his office Thursday, March 23 to personally convey their company’s win-win option.
He said the company’s pledge to buy more local sugar came with a request for a six-month period to be able to install a new “clarification equipment” that could process raw sugar into syrup.
“We will be spending a few million dollars more but we are willing to make the sacrifice just to show to the President that the company is willing to help the sugar industry and Philippine agriculture,” Piñol quoted Tañada as telling him during the Thursday meeting at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) main office in Quezon City.
Tanada and Tamano’s visit followed a series of “back channel negotiations” between Coca-Cola Femsa General Manager Diego Granizo and Sec. Piñol, who is concurrent chair of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board.
The two officials, Piñol said, would officially ask President Duterte through the SRA to grant them the six-month period for the acquisition and installation of a new machine needed in processing local sugar as beverage elemental syrup.
Piñol informed them that he and two other senior Cabinet members – Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez and Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez – have “agreed to recommend to the President” a stay in Sugar Order No. 3 issued by the SRA for the Coca-Cola and other beverage firms to make adjustments in acquiring the processing equipment.