TADECO eyes expansion for banana production
Davao-based Tagum Agricultural Development Co. Inc. (TADECO) plans to expand areas devoted to banana plantation as its joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) lapses by 2029 and amid threat that the agreement will be voided.
Anthony B. Sasin, chair of Anflo Management and Investment Corp. (Anflocor), which manages TADECO, in an interview, said the company eyed about 2,000 hectares in Cateel, Davao Oriental to help offset the loss of land resources when TADECO lets 5,308 hectares go — that is subject of a JVA with BuCor and the ongoing investigation at the House of Representatives questioning the legality of the 25-year JVA between TADECO and BuCor.
Under the deal, the agriculture company hires inmates from Davao Prison and Penal Farm (DPPF) as workers in the banana plantation they had set up within the colony’s premises covering 5,308 hectares.
According to Sasin, TADECO’s output inside the DPPF accounts for a little over half of the company’s banana production.
“(In terms of revenues and output) DPPF represents more than half. It is big. Out of our 26 million boxes a year, 15 million comes from DPPF,” he said.
At present, the company’s biggest export markets are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and some countries in the Middle East like Iran.
“We have 12 more years under the deal. In 2029, it will be over, If we finish this contract, we will just leave this place. But we are legally well placed (in this situation). We didn’t violate anything. Actually, the DOJ (Department of Justice) should defend us,” said Sasin.
But should the government cancel its contract before it expires, Sasin said TADECO might be forced to bring the case to the court.
“If they are cancelling us, they are forcing us to go to court. Where are we going to bring our workers?” he said.
As such, he said the company was looking at expanding in other areas such as in Cateel (Davao Oriental) “because there’s a potential area there of about 2,000 hectares. We have 1,000 people (that we can deploy there),” he said.
Meanwhile, in a press release issued earlier by the office of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, it said that the DOJ has upheld the stand of the Speaker that the JVA between TADECO and BuCor was unconstitutional, and therefore null and void.
DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, in the release, said has taken this position during the resumption early this week of the joint inquiry of the House committees on good government and public accountability, and on justice on the basis of House Resolution 886 filed by the Speaker, seeking an inquiry into the alleged grossly disadvantageous contract entered into by the BuCor and TADECO.
Aguirre has said that based on their appreciation of the provisions of the Constitution regarding the subject agreement, any disposition or lease of the penal reservation was void.
He recommended either a presidential action to rescission, as it is well in President Rodrigo Duterte’s powers to do so and for a more immediate solution, or a judicial remedy initiated by the DOJ, or both. (PNA)