The land deal between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. (Tadeco) is unconstitutional and thus void, the Office of the Solicitor General said.
Tadeco is owned by the family of Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr. The deal was earlier questioned by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who filed a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against Floirendo, his erstwhile friend.
The BuCor leased to Tadeco a 5,308-hectare penal farm colony in Panabo, Davao del Norte province that was converted into a banana plantation.
Alvarez said that the lease agreement signed by BuCor in 1979 was extended for another 25 years in 2003 which was “contrary to law and public policy.”
Solicitor General Jose Calida said that the joint venture agreement was “without legal basis and authority” and “grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
“The JVA entered into by BuCor and Tadeco is void as it goes against the Constitution and the Public Land Act. It should be emphasized that the Constitution only allows private corporations to hold lands of the public domain through lease for a total period not exceeding 50 years… [t]he Constitution also provides that private corporations may only lease lands of the public domain not exceeding 1,000 hectares,” Calida said.
He added that the agreement also failed to undergo public bidding as required by law.
“Assuming arguendo that the agreement falls under the definition of a lease under the Civil Code, the JVA would still be void because it failed to comply with the competitive bidding requirement under the Public Land Act,” he stressed.
He opined that the Tadeco’s use of the land “should cease by 2019.”