SFi-San Miguel Foods exclusive food supply contract not binding to the city, says Labella 

Local food products can be sold at the Sinulog grand parade route without fear of arrest, Mayor Labella clarifies

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Reporter/CDN Digital | January 17,2020 - 05:46 PM

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella says the local food producers can sell their products during the Sinulog despite the exclusive contract undertaken by the Sinulog Foundation Incorporated and the San Miguel Foods Incorporated. | Delta Letigio

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said the P2-million exclusive food supply contract between the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI)  and San Miguel Food Inc. (SMFI) is not binding to the city government, which means all other local food producers can still sell their products during the Sinolog grand parade on Sunday, January 19.

Labella stressed that the city government will uphold free enterprise even if SFI has entered into a contract with SMFI to be the only food company that can supply food and beverage during the Sinulog grand parade, particularly in the stalls accredited by SFI.

 “If they have that partnership, that’s theirs. That does not bind the city. I will instruct the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) not to confiscate any non-SMFI products in the Sinulog (grand parade route). Unsa man ila mabuhat if naay magbaligya dinhag laing products? (What can they do if other products are sold there?) SFI has no police power,” said the mayor.

The mayor reiterated that the city supports local businesses especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which keep the economy of the city alive.

Labella said that if the exclusive contract has been brought before him before it was signed, he would have immediately advised the SFI not to pursue it because this was disadvantageous to the local businesses. 

SFI’s  contracts for sponsorship and deals do not need the approval of the mayor and only needs the approval of the SFI board of directors. SFI is a private foundation although it receives its biggest funding for the annual Sinulog Festival from the Cebu city government. This year, the city donated P30 million to the SFI. 

The mayor said he wants the Sinulog to be a venue for open trade where everyone can showcase their products to the many devotees, tourists, and spectators that have been congregating in the city even before the official launch of this year’s Sinulog Festival on January 10.  The crowd during the grand parade is expected to run by the hundreds of thousands. Last year, at least a million people attended the grand parade.

He also reiterated that exclusivity for a public event such as Sinulog should never happen because it is an activity that is of great interest to the public.

“Any food item that is compliant to the regulations of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be allowed,” said the mayor.

The mayor’s younger brother, Elmer “Jojo” Labella, who is also the executive director of SFI, said that the third-party marketing firm hired by SFI and the Sinulog Governing Board (SGB) took the opportunity to earn as much as they could for the Sinulog Festival and negotiated exclusive deals to provide more funds for the foundation. 

The younger Labella denied that SFI placed “too much” pressure on the marketing firm to earn the alleged deficit of P38 million of their target budget for Sinulog 2020.

He also said that there was no overspending on the part of the SFI in this year’s Sinulog, which was reportedly the reason why the marketing firm was pressured to find more funds for the festival.

Angela Emphasis, the communication officer of the SGB, clarified that the SMFI exclusivity deal is only limited to the stalls, banners, and other advertisements within the Cebu City Sports Complex and at the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda.

The exclusive products to be sold are also limited to hotdogs, chicken nuggets, corned beef, and some beverages.

In other areas along the parade route, private stalls may sell food and beverage from local producers without hitches.

Emphasis also said that all contracts undertaken by the third-party marketing firm need the approval of the SFI Board of Directors before being finalized, and so any exclusive contract undertaken by the marketing firm has SFI approval.

Meanwhile, Labella said that for this year’s Sinulog, the entry of meat into the city will be allowed as long as they have a certification from the National Meat Inspection Service.

This after the Cebu Provincial Government maintained that pork products from Luzon are still not allowed to enter Cebu due to the risk that the African Swine Fever poses on the local hog industry. /elb

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