MANILA, Philippines - Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz said it is unfair for the United States and the European Union to question the lower duties the country imposes on its own distilled spirits.
Cadiz said their allegations that the Philippines discriminates against foreign suppliers of liquor is unwarranted.
"They want to penetrate the Philippine market. Ang sinasabi nila, masyadong mura ang produkto ninyo. Napakababa ng buwis na in-impose ninyo. Taasan ninyo ang buwis para mataasan rin ang presyo at maging competitive kami," he said.
Cadiz, who is the government lawyer, will naturally represent the country in a case filed before the World Trade Organization.
The US, one of the largest exporters of distilled spirits, is supposedly claiming that the lower taxes on local products are hurting sales for brands such as Jack Daniels or Jim Beam.
The oral arguments will be held in November in Geneva, Switzerland.
Cadiz said local spirits are cheaper because these make use of local raw materials such as molasses.
Foreign liquors, on the other hand, use barley that is more expensive.
The process that Filipinos use is also much simpler and cheaper, he added.
Cadiz noted, "I see this case as a move to make our products unavailable to ordinary Filipinos. Nakasalalay dito ang industry ng Philippine distilled spirits."
The local industry has an annual income of P50 billion.
Cadiz will work together with international law firm White and Case, which will represent the Distillers Association of the Philippines. – From a report by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News