The Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) maintained that the findings of the Department of Justice (DoJ) declaring the company’s joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) was “fraught with legal misinterpretations.”
In a statement, Tadeco president and CEO Alex Valoria said the findings were based on flawed interpretations of the Constitution and laws governing contracts and the disposition of public lands.
“When the DOJ investigating panel released its findings, Justice Undersecretary (Raymund) Mecate pointed out that the JVA was ‘fraught with infirmities.’ But, sadly, when we read the findings released to the media, the only conclusion we can respectfully come to is that the findings were fraught with legal misinterpretations,” Valoria said.
He added that the recommendation of the DoJ panel to amend the JVA to make it compliant with the law indicates that the justice department deems the contract valid.
Disputing the DoJ’s claim that the contract area of 5,308 hectares exceeds the allowable area of public agricultural land that may be leased to private firms, Valoria pointed out that the agreement involves inalienable public land, which does not have any prescribed area limits.
He added that the JVA does not involve the procurement of any government infrastructure, supplies and consultancy, thus was not covered by the bidding requirement.
Tadeco, he said, pays BuCor not only a guaranteed annual production and profit share, but also provides the funds for the Bureau’s Inmate Farm Workers Training and Exposure Program, the inmates’ stipends and training subsidies.
“For 2016 alone, Tadeco paid BuCor a total of P142,719,662, which equates approximately to P27,000 per hectare. This figure is way above the lease rates of P10,000 to P18,000 that the DOJ said BuCor should be receiving from TADECO, when it claimed that the JVA was disadvantageous to the government in terms of per hectare rate,” Valoria said.
“Moreover, the successes of the rehabilitation program under the JVA resulting in the eventual re-integration of the inmates back to society as productive citizens is beyond monetary value,” he added.
The Tadeco head said that the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions does not bar the government from entering into joint venture arrangements involving inalienable lands like the DPPF.
“In fact, under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, there is now an express provision allowing joint venture arrangement involving exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources. Natural resources include inalienable public lands like the Davao penal farm,” Valoria said.