House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez blew his top as an official of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) spurned his order to re-open to public use farm roads inside the Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) farms in Davao del Norte, on Tuesday, March 20.
At the joint hearing by the House committee on justice and the committee on good governance and public accountability, Alvarez ordered Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) Superintendent Gerardo Padilla to “re-open” the roads to public use.
Saying that he could not follow the Speaker’s order, Padilla told Alvarez that only the Davao del Norte provincial government and the Department of Agriculture can order the re-opening.
Angered by the response, Alvarez accused Padilla of “ gross ignorance.”
“You know Mr. Padilla, you are displaying your gross ignorance. Paano ka ba naging director diyan? Ito simple lang ito, isipin mo ganyan yung takbo ng utak mo,” Alvarez snapped at the chief of Dapecol, a line agency of BuCor.
Not content with his insulting verbal attack, Alvarez also recommended to the House committees the transfer of Padilla for “gross ignorance of his duties and responsibilities.”
The hearing is the fifth on a House resolution initiated by Alvarez on the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between Tadeco and BuCor involving about 5,300 hectares of the Dapecol reservation area.
Alvarez is a former friend and political ally of Floirendo. The Speaker’s move to question the JVA is widely criticizedin Davao del Norte.
Alvarez alleged the JVA is “unconstitutional and disadvantageous to the government.”
The JVA was first signed in 1969 with its renewal approved by the President and Congress.
The JVA allowed Tadeco to develop the Dapecol reservation area into a banana plantation, with BuCor earning shares from the production of exportable Cavendish bananas.
Tadeco has also hired as farm hands prisoners serving term in the penal colony, as part of rehabilitation program for the inmates.
On top of the inquiry into the JVA, Alvarez has also sought the “re-opening” of the farm roads alleging that Tadeco barred public passage.
Tadeco denied Alvarez’s claim saying that the public enjoys free passage through the farm roads.
Tadeco President Alexander Valoria told the hearing that bio-security measures have been adopted in the farm to protect bananas against diseases.
Tadeco has installed checkpoints and foot baths and tire dips at the entrance to the farm as ordered by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
In 2012, BPI, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, issued Department Order No. 1, ordering banana plantations to install checkpoints and anti-pest measures to protect against spread of Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt), which then was attacking bananas. The order remains to this day with the deadly root-disease continuing to be a major threat to the banana industry.
The BPI order was backed by the Davao del Norte capitol with a resolution of support.
The BPI order and the capitol resolution were the legal instruments invoked by PPadilla in shooting down Alvarez’s order to “re-open” the roads inside the Tadeco farm.