ALVAREZ DUMPED BY OWN DISTRICT; BACK TADECO-BUCOR JVA
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is losing political grip in Davao del Norte as more local government units (LGUs), including those from the First District, the Speaker’s bailiwick, back the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Alvarez has initiated an inquiry by the House of Representatives into the JVA covering more than 5,000 hectares of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) reservation area.
According to Alvarez, the Tadeco-BuCor deal Is illegal, anomalous and disadvantageous to the government.
Tadeco maintains the legality of the JVA, first signed in 1969 and now an anchor program for rehabilitation of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol), whose inmates are hired by Tadeco as farm workers.
The municipal councils of First District — Asuncion, Kapalong, Talaingod and New Corella, and the City Council of Tagum City — are preparing their own resolutions throwing support to the Tadeco-BuCor JVA.
The First District LGUs’ rejection of Alvarez’s “war” against Tadeco and Floirendo happens as the LGUs of the Second District earlier approved separate resolutions supporting the Tadeco-BuCor JVA.
The Davao del Norte Provincial Board also passed a resolution, approved by Governor Anthony del Rosario, expressing “strong and unequivocal support” to the JVA for its “contribution to the economy of the whole province.”
To further strengthen the voice of Resolution No. 364, the Davao del Norte Provincial Board also enjoined the LGUs of District 1 – Alvarez’s congressional district — to convey their support to the contract, citing “its social and economic benefit to the entire province for so many years.”
Although located in Panabo City in the Second District, Tadeco, the country’s largest banana producer and exporter, is credited for its tremendous economic impact on the economy of the province since it was established in the 60s.
In Davao del Norte, Alvarez’s move to hound Tadeco is a surprise: the Speaker is a long-time friend and political ally of Second District Congressman Antonio Floirendo, Jr. , whose family owns Tadeco.
On top of the House probe, Alvarez has also filed an anti-graft case against Floirendo, son of the late Tadeco founder, banana magnate Don Antonio Floirendo Sr., at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Covering more than 5,000 hectares of land of the BuCor-managed Dapecol, the JVA involves BuCor agreement for Tadeco to develop the Dapecol reservation area into a banana plantation.
Without cost to the government, and BuCor getting share from Tadeco income from bananas planted in the JVA area, the once barren Dapecol land is now a sprawling banana plantation providing employment to thousands of workers, including Dapecol inmates, and contributing millions of pesos in taxes to the coffers of the province of Davao del Norte and the national government.
The conflict between the Speaker and Floirendo reportedly was sparked by a public quarrel in Bacolod City between the girlfriends of the two solons who supported the presidential bid of President Rodrigo Duterte. Alvarez served as one of the campaign managers of the former Davao City Mayor. Floirendo is one of the biggest financial supporters of the Duterte campaign.
Alvarez, a lawyer, has publicly admitted he kept women other than his wife.
His admission drew flak from several opposition members of the House, particularly from the women’s rights party-list Gabriela; sparked calls for conduct of investigation by the House ethics committee on the Speaker’s public admission of immorality, and a disbarment charge at the Supreme Court against the Speaker who is a lawyer.