The Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) is filing charges against a top aide of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for the illegal demolition of a structure in a farm of the banana company in Braulio E. Dujali municipality in Davao del Norte.
To be included in the case is Davao del Norte district engineer Noel Basañes of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region Eleven.
The assault on Tadeco, owned by the family of Congressman Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo (DavNor, Second District), comes amid soured relations between Floirendo and his erstwhile friend and political ally Congressman Alvarez (DavNor, First District..
On March 5, Basañes led his team together with staffs of Alvarez headed by chief of staff Edwin Jubabid in the destruction of an iron swing beam at the entrance to a Tadeco farm in barangay Tanglawan.
DPWH XI spokesman Dean Ortiz said Basañes by ordering the illegal demolition went beyond his task during an inventory of roads and infrastructures in the Tadeco farm ordered by the House of Representatives.
The swing arm is part of bio-security measures ordered in 2012 by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) in wake of the attack by the deadly Panama Disease (fusarium wilt) in banana farms in Davao del Norte.
Interviewed by Davao City-based radio station DXAB on Thursday, March 7, Ortiz said Basañes did not coordinate his participation in the inventory with DPWH XI Director Allan Borromeo. “We will investigate the incident,” Ortiz said.
The inventory is an offshoot of a House inquiry, initiated by Alvarez, who claimed that Tadeco closed off entrance to the Tadeco farm from public use.
The House committees on Justice and Good Government and Public Accountability handling the Alvarez complaint have ordered conduct of an inventory of roads and infrastructures in portions of the Tadeco farm covered by a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over 5,300 hectares of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) reservation area.
Tadeco denied that the company prevented people from passing through Tadeco farm roads, but admitted that they are required to pass through a foot bath while vehicles must pass a tire pit.
The company also said the swing arm is part of measures to fight off Panama Disease, mandated by the Bureau of Plant Industry under BPI Special Quarantine Administrative Order No. 01, series of 2012 and an executive order in support of quarantine measures against the Panama Disease issued by the Davao del Norte Provincial Government.
The BPI order and the support of the Davao del Norte capitol, along with the support of the various municipalities sharing boundaries with Tadeco, came at the height of the deadly Panama Disease infestation that started in 2012.
For the illegal demolition, Basañes along with Jubabid are to be slapped with charges by Tadeco, who suspects the attack was part of political harassment against the company.
In a press conference in Davao City on March 7, Nicolas Banga, Tadeco legal counsel, said the company is contemplating charges of grave coercion, malicious mischief, graft, destruction of private property and other charges against Basañes and Jubabid.
The illegal demolition “ was a clear display of arrogance, abuse of authority and disregard for the rule of law,” Anthony Alexander Valoria, Tadeco president, said at the press conference.
Valoria said that the House committees’ order to DPWH was merely to conduct an inventory of public roads and infrastructure projects from Dapecol to the different municipalities in Davao del Norte.
“But instead of inspection and inventory, the team (of Basañes and Jubabid) forcibly removed the steel swing beam of Tadeco’s quarantine facility, resulting to damage in property,” he said.
Valoria said the incident is part of a grand design to harass and to put Tadeco in a bad light.
Alvarez has instigated a House inquiry into the Tadeco-BuCor JVA that he said was illegal and disadvantageous to the government.