September 25, 2017, 1:43 am
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Manufacturers seek recall of sale ban

The biggest organization of manufacturers in the country has asked the Department of Health to recall a department order banning or limiting the sale of certain foods and beverages with high sugar, fat and salt content in public elementary and high schools as well as in Department of Education (DepEd) offices.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said DepEd secretary Leonor Briones had overstepped her authority in issuing DepEd Order No. 13 (s. 2017) especially in classifying foods and drinks into those that should always be made available in school canteen, those that should be allowed only for sale on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and those that should not be sold or served.

FPI is an organization presently composed of 34 industry-association members and about 132 corporate members. Most, if not all, of FPI members are into manufacturing and production of goods and products including food and beverage items.

In a petition addressed to Briones, FPI chairman Jesus Arranza said there is nothing in DepEd’s charter that authorizes the secretary to regulate the sale or serving of food or beverages.

The order, issued in March 2017, appears to target certain soft drinks, food juices and confectionery items such as candies and chocolates, Arranza said.

“The secretary of education is not empowered to issue policies and guidelines that classify or determine foods or beverages that are healthy or safe for human consumption, or those that can be served or sold in schools under the supervision of the department, as well as the manner by which these can be sold or offered to such schools,” Arranza said.

He added that all the powers delegated to the secretary of education basically dwell only on the development and implementation of education plans, policies, standards and programs as well as enhancing the teaching skills of teachers and other DepEd personnel.

He cited the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the government agency tasked to regulate food and beverages.

Arranza noted DepEd’s order of classifying foods and beverages as to their unwanted effects on public elementary and high school students is an encroachment on or usurpation of the statutory powers granted to the FDA.

“It is not amiss to point out that the order in question interfereswith the right of people (including our school children) to choose what they want to eat in school. This is also in conflict with the right of canteen concessionaires to choose the food and beverages they want to offer and sell in their respective canteens,” he said. 

“Furthermore, the right of manufacturers or producers to sell their produce is being indirectly curtailed by this DepEd mandate,” he added.

FPI also explained that items produced by food manufacturers cannot be sold to the public unless they have passed the stringent tests imposed by the FDA.

Arranza said through its order, DepEd is in effect regulating the sale of food and beverages that have already been cleared by FDA. Thus, limiting or banning the sale of such foods or beverages despite clearance from the FDA is tantamount to the denial of the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws. 

He denounced this as oppressive and unjust on the part of manufacturers of food and beverages.

Arranza, however, said many schools have long limited the sale of junk food and softdrinks but do so out of their own initiative and never as ordered by DepEd.
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