Companies urge PH gov't to lift liquor ban

MANILA, Philippines – Alcoholic beverage makers appealed to the government to lift the total liquor ban imposed in several areas during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a letter dated April 16 and addressed to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, the Center for Alcohol Research and Development (CARD) said the total ban "drives out the industry from the market" and "unduly forfeits the capital" they have invested in products.

"If this ban continues, the industry can no longer survive, a situation that can affect a large sector of the community," CARD said.

Some of CARD's members are Absolut Distillers, Emperador Distillers, Ginebra San Miguel, Far East Alcohol, and Asian Alcohol.

Local government units like Quezon City, as well as Cebu City, Ilocos, and La Union, banned stores from selling liquor, as people converged on streets and failed to practice physical distancing.

CARD said it recognizes that the government wants to prevent intoxication during the pandemic, but noted that people can drink in moderation.

"The state of intoxication...is caused only when alcohol consumption is considered abusive, that is, consumption of higher amount of alcohol than the normal.... Alcohol consumption can be taken in moderation by responsible individuals of the society who are accustomed to drinking alcohol," CARD said.

Some countries have also banned alcohol consumption, but others said liquor shops are essential. (READ: After a long day of lockdown, how 'essential' is an alcoholic drink?)

"While the alcoholic beverages in the Philippines are banned, elsewhere in the world, it is not, putting our industry in much unnecessary peril," CARD said.

The group noted that the lockdown has already restricted movement, and in turn, added roadblocks to the flow of goods, including liquor.

“There is no need to further restrict the flow of alcoholic beverages, as the buying freedom of the people [is] already constrained by the quarantine," the group said.

The alcohol industry has had to deal with hefty taxes on products, especially under the Duterte administration's tax reform agenda. The high taxes led to a decline in demand, according to CARD. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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