OCULAR INSPECTION BY MEDIA PROVED SPEAKER ALVAREZ A LIAR
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was lying when he alleged that banana company Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) closed off from the public farm roads in its plantation in Davao del Norte.
Journalists belonging to the Davao del Norte Media Organization confirmed as “fake news” the claim of Alvarez, during a recent media-organized ocular inspection of the Tadeco farm.
The false claim is among issues leveled by Alvarez (DavNor, 1st District) against Tadeco, owned by the family of 2nd District Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo.
Alvarez is a former friend and political ally of Floirendo, who is credited with having funded the congressman’s past election campaigns before he became Speaker under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
After a break-up last year triggered by a public quarrel between their girlfriends, Alvarez filed a graft complaint before the Ombudsman against Floirendo.
The Speaker also initiated a House inquiry into the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over about 5,300 hectares of Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) that Tadeco, the country’s largest banana producing and exporting company, developed into a banana plantation. The JVA provided share in revenues for BuCor and, as part of a penal rehabilitation program for inmates, employed as farm workers hundreds of prisoners serving time in the penal colony.
Alvarez’s graft case against Floirendo and his initiative in the House to question the legality of the decades-old Tadeco-BuCor land deal are widely criticized in Davao del Norte. Tadeco is one of the province’s biggest taxpayer and employer.
The alleged farm road closure is a propaganda line peddled against Floirendo, Tadeco and Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario, a cousin of Floirendo, by a horde of fake broadcasters apparently linked to the Speaker, who is seeking reelection in the 2019 election.
About 30 members of the media group who joined the inspection found out that Tadeco did not prevent public use of the farm roads.
However, Tadeco required vehicles and people to undergo tire and foot baths before entering the plantation.
The foot bath and tire dips are mandated on Tadeco by a 2012 order of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to protect plantations against deadly banana diseases.
BPI issued the order as banana plantations in Davao del Norte were devastated by the deadly Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt).
The root disease Panama Disease, like the banana leaf disease Black Sigatoka that earlier also attacked Davao Region farms, remain a major threat to bananas in the region.
The twin threats to the exportable Cavendish banana industry, the country’s second biggest dollar export earner, crippled the banana industry in Latin America and South Asian countries in fatal attacks in the 70s and 80s.
Panama Dosease first surfaced in the country in 2012 prompting BPI to issue an order imposing bio-security measures in all banana plantations throughout the country.