Liquor makers urge end to ban or ‘industry can’t survive’
MANILA, Philippines — Saying their industry’s survival is at stake, local liquor companies are asking the government to lift or ease the restrictions on alcoholic beverages that were imposed in connection with the Luzon lockdown and allow quarantined Filipinos the small mercy of a little drink.
The Center for Alcohol Research and Development (CARD) Foundation Inc., whose members include Emperador Distillers Inc. and Ginebra San Miguel Inc., made the appeal in an April 16 letter to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The group asked Lopez to reconsider the economic impact of the liquor ban being imposed by some local governments like Manila and Quezon City.
The letter was signed by CARD Foundation chair Gerardo Tee, who is also chief operating officer of Absolut Distillers Inc., a company under the Lucio Tan Group.
CARD said the ban may be lifted totally or just relaxed on certain hours during which stores can sell liquor.
The group said it understood the purpose of the prohibition but that prolonging it would already be detrimental to workers and companies dependent on the liquor industry.
“It bears stressing, even with the pain of being called redundant, that the sale of our alcoholic beverages is not an illegal undertaking, not deserving of the prohibition and [the] total ban imposed by the government,” the group said.
Peace and order concerns arising from people getting drunk while on quarantine had already been addressed by the lockdown rules, it said, hence there was no need to keep retailers from selling alcoholic beverages.
“The total ban … effectively drives out the industry from the market and unduly forfeits the capital which had already been invested in the products already produced and bottled for distribution,’’ it said.
“If this ban continues, the industry can no longer survive; a situation that can affect a large sector of the community,” the group warned. “[The] alcohol beverage industry bears already the agony of declining market demand due to the imposition of high excise taxes on alcohol.”
“We are pleading [to the government] to let us thrive as a business by allowing our products to exist in the market with the same freedom of trade given to other goods,” it said.
—Roy Stephen C. Canivel
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