THE United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED) declared its opposition on Sunday to the beverage industry’s request to directly import sugar.

UNIFED President Manuel R. Lamata, in a statement released over the weekend, said the lobbying effort “will affect the more than five million stakeholders of the sugar industry who are ironically their consumers as well.”

Mr. Lamata said that beverage companies sent a letter dated March 22 to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., which cited domestic supply constraints and high prices, as well as the alleged “outright refusal” of traders to “provide price quotes to industrial buyers.”

The beverage companies asked Mr. Marcos to review other options to allow industrial users to directly import refined sugar to address shortages.

Mr. Lamata urged beverage companies to buy local.

“Allowing them to directly import now will not just kill the sugar industry but kill the millions who are dependent on this industry just so they can further enrich themselves at our expense,” he said.

Mr. Lamata said that there is a need to import but the government has addressed the shortages via Sugar Order No. 6 which allowed the entry of 440,000 metric tons of sugar. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera