The House of Representatives will start its probe of the controversial 2003 Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco) on May 9, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis party-list the Makabayan bloc of lawmakers, of which he is a part, had filed a House resolution that seeks distribution of 5,202 hectares of land leased by Tadeco to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano is a former Anakpawis congressman.
“While the session is in recess, we have gathered a lot of information that will be of use for the May 9 probe of the Tadeco deal. These 5,202 hectares of land should be distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries,” Casilao told reporters.
The Commission on Audit earlier released a memorandum recommending the junking of the BuCor-Tadeco deal for violating the 1987 Constitution, which states that “alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands… and private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and not to exceed one thousand hectares in area…”
The land leased by Tadeco covers 5,308.36 hectares of the Davao Prison and Penal Farm (DPPF) — exceeding the 1,000-hectare limit.
The DPPF has a total land area of 30,000 hectares with a prison reservation of 8,000 hectares.
“We will know soon if there are other questionable transactions involving Tadeco. If there are landgrabbing incidents, and if so, these should also be distributed to the farmers. At least 30,000 farmers could potentially benefit from this land,” Casilao said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte earlier filed a graft complaint against his congressional colleague Antonio Floirendo over the BuCor-Tadeco deal, with Alvarez saying such joint venture pact is disadvantageous to the government.
The same COA team also found out that the BuCor’s deal with Tadeco inked on December 26, 1969 was also in violation of Section 2, Article 12 of the 1935 Constitution because Tadeco was allowed to use 3,000 hectares of the DPPF lands even if the 1935 Charter states that “no private corporation or association may acquire, lease, or hold public agricultural lands in excess of 1,024 hectares.”
“This Tadeco issue is not about the fight between Speaker Alvarez and Congressman Floirendo. This is about the farm workers in Carmen, Panabo and Tagum City [Davao del Norte] who stand to benefit from this land,” Casilao said.