TADECO: Propaganda is not our business
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (TADECO) will not resort to dirty tactics in seeking a favorable resolution to its questioned joint venture with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) covering over 5,000 hectares of government land in Davao del Norte.
A circulating claim says that TADECO has been suggesting that the leadership of the House of Representatives has coerced three government agencies to declare as illegal the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between TADECO and the BuCor.
TADECO denies it is behind the circulating claim that hits the House and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
TADECO does not muddle in propaganda, said Alex Valoria, TADECO president and chief executive officer.
The House is conducting an inquiry into the 25-year JVA involving idle lands of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol), a line agency of the BuCor.
The probe was instigated by Alvarez who claimed that the deal was illegal and disadvantageous to the government.
TADECO says the JVA is legal and approved by Congress and government agencies including the Office of the President.
The circulating claim of arm-twisting by the House leadership is an apparent dirty missile fired to destroy Alvarez’s credibility.
The House probe inspired by Alvarez followed a public quarrel between the Speaker’s girlfriend and the partner of Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. Alvarez is also hounding Floirendo, whose family owns TADECO, with a graft case at the Ombudsman and a request at the DOJ to cancel the JVA.
TADECO is the country’s biggest banana producer and exporter.
Alvarez and Floirendo, both of Davao del Norte, are former political allies and long-time friends.
TADECO is largely credited for helping the the economic progress of Davao del Norte.
“Our organization that is recognized for its best practices does not muddle in propaganda,” said Valoria. Dirty tactics is not TADECO’s business, he said.
“To malign and mislead or argue issues without legal basis, is contrary to our corporate values,” said Valoria.
“While we maintain the JVA with BuCor is a contract legally negotiated, we take care not to muddle the issues as we only want to present arguments that are accurate, rational, and valid,” said Valoria.
Valoria issued the statement as the banana growing company took exceptions to the claim that it has been suggesting that the House leadership has coerced the Commission on Audit (COA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) into an unfavorable stand against the TADECO-BuCor land deal.
It is not the mission of our organization that is recognized for its best practices to muddle in propaganda issues because “it is contrary to our corporate values to malign and mislead, or argue issues without legal basis,” Valoria said.
Valoria also reacted to the comment of Alvarez that TADECO is the only one claiming that the JVA is above board.
“We base our arguments on the approvals of the government authorities at the time the JVA was executed and the applicable laws and jurisprudence of the Philippines, he said.
“The JVA is a consensual arrangement, which has stood the test of time. We involve ourselves only in honest business dealings, not in bogus claims,” said Valoria in a retort to Alvarez’s claim the TADECO-BuCor deal is not a JVA, illegal and disadvantageous to government.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, in an earlier statement, said the TADECO-BuCor deal is void “as it goes against the Constitution and the Public Land Act.”
TADECO said Calida’s statement was “premature and uninformed” coming as it did while the DOJ was reviewing the JVA and the House conducting an inquiry.
Calida is not involved in both the review and congressional inquiry, said TADECO, adding that there is no case filed before the courts on the cancellation of the JVA.
Only the courts of law can declare that a contract is void, the company said.
TADECO suspects that Calida has ill motives on the issue.
“This is a clear case of prejudging our JVA. Perhaps the intent is to condition the minds of the public and pre-empt the review by the DOJ as well as the House probe,” TADECO said.
The Commission on Audit (COA), on the other hand, found that Tadeco “far exceeded” the 1,000-hectare limit when it established the banana plantation in violation of RA 1199.
COA argued the TADECO-BuCor deal is not a JVA but a leasehold agreement.
TADECO said COA’s findings were “based on the erroneous application of laws and constitutional provisions.”
The provisions COA cited as bases for the supposed violations cannot be applied to the Tadeco-BuCor agreement,” Valoria said.
“The Davao Penal Colony is a government reservation, thus, it is an inalienable land and cannot be the subject of a lease agreement as stated under RA 1199,” Valoria pointed out.
He emphasized that the contract between BuCor and Tadeco is a joint venture agreement, with the primary purpose of helping the rehabilitation of inmates of Dapecol.
“Its goal of making profits is only secondary to the main goal of inmate rehabilitation,” Valoria said, adding that BuCor and Tadeco are prohibited under the Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act 141) from entering into a lease arrangement.
Further pushing his argument, Valoria also cited the 1987 Constitution.
There is now an express provision in the Constitution allowing joint venture arrangement involving exploration, development and utilization of natural resources. Natural resources include inalienable public lands like the Dapecol, Valoria said.
Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, for his part also earlier, said the land deal was illegal, based on findings of the DOJ review committee.
At the House hearing, however, Aguirre told legislators that DOJ has no power to cancel the JVA.
Only the President can cancel the contract, he said.