The Tagum Agricultural Development Co. Inc. (Tadeco) on Monday denied allegations made by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez about an anomalous deal between the Mindanao-based banana producer and the Bureau of Corrections.
Alvarez, who is seeking an inquiry into the matter, earlier filed House Resolution No.867, which questions the joint venture agreement finalized on July 11, 1969, allowing Tadeco to lease a BuCor-owned land located in the Davao Penal Colony.
The contract was renewed on May 21, 2003, with BuCor guaranteed an annual share of P26,541,809 on production which will automatically increase by 10 percent every five years.
The joint venture agreement also states that BuCor must receive profit shares with respect to the leased lands where the bananas are planted.
“The existing contract, while guaranteeing the BuCor a share of P26,541,809 per year for 5,308,36 hectares, actually prejudices the same since the prevailing price of lease contracts in that area is P25,000 per hectare per year,” Alvarez said in his resolution.
“This means the government is ‘prejudiced’ by as much as P106,167,191 per year,” he added.
Tadeco, however, said that Alvarez’s allegations were entirely false and that the Joint Venture Agreement was above board.
“The arrangement between Tadeco and BuCor is not a lease arrangement but a JVA that is primarily aimed at the rehabilitation of the inmates in Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL),” the company said.
“This rehabilitation program has been found to be very successful by BuCor upto the extent that the latter has even requested Tadeco to replicate the JVA program to its penal colony in Iwahig, Palawan,” it added.
Tadeco noted that the JVA has been reviewed and found to be advantageous to the government numerous times by the executive and the legislative departments of past administrations.
“In fact, the most recent review in the 15thCongress in 2012 once again arrived at the same positive conclusion regarding the JVA and its benefits to government. The Department of Justice, through its representative LawyerTeresita Domingo, said at the jcongressional review that the JVA is above board,” it said.
When the JVA was renewed in 2004, the company said that the rates jointly agreed therein were the most competitive rates prevailing at that time.
“As can be understood, the changes in economic conditions over the past 13 years have affected the competitiveness of such rates. Tadeco understands this and stated back in 2011 its willingness to discuss and adjust the rates as it had done in the past,” the company said.
“However, this effort to adjust the rates did not gain any momentum because of the changes of leadership in the BuCor,” it added.
Meanwhile, Alvarez also said that there have been serious allegations that Tadeco workers have been “ill-treated and exploited.”
“Now therefore, it is hereby resolved to direct the committee on good government and accountability to immediately conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the allegedly grossly disadvantageous contract between
Tadeco and BuCor and the supposed ill-treatment of the workers in the Tadeco banana plantation,” said Alvarez.
Tadeco said these allegations are “completely false and baseless. Tadeco takes good care of its workers. This is evident in the high production yield, indicating that the workers are well motivated and very productive,” it said.
“In fact, among all the banana companies in the Philippines, Tadeco has been branded as a champion of labor and community relations. It is a regular recipient of awards in the field of labor-management relations,” it added.
In two successive occasions (in 2013 and 2015), Tadeco won the Outstanding Labor-Management Cooperation for Industrial Peace Award given by the Philippine League of Labor Management Cooperation Practitioners (PHILAMCOP) in coordination with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). Tadeco is now vying to be a grand slam winner in this category.
Tadeco said that it continues to perform its obligations and responsibilities under the JVA confident in its contributions to the government and socio-economic development. “Thus, Tadeco is befuddled as to the real reasons why Speaker Alvarez has initiated this inquiry,” it said.
Alvarez, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s most trusted lieutenants, is also the secretary-general of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
A 40-year-old company, Tadeco is the flagship firm of the ANFLOCOR Group of Companies owned by Davao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr., the Speaker’s PDP-Laban party mate and province mate. Alvarez represents Davao del Norte’s 1st district in the HOR.
Floirendo, dubbed the “Banana King,” is reported to have contributed P75 million to then-Davao City mayor Duterte’s presidential campaign last year. He also reportedly bankrolled Alvarez’s return to politics in the same elections.