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Residents near Tadeco hail opening of roads

Davao del Norte residents, particularly those residing in several barangays areas adjacent to the lands operated by the Tagum Agricultural Development Co. Inc. (Tadeco), have expressed gratitude to the government for the opening of public roads traversing the firm’s banana plantation
This developed after a private surveyor accompanied by House officials, representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the police started Monday the survey of roads and infrastructure inside the Tadeco area of operation.
The survey opened to the public access to several barangay roads traversing the Tadeco plantation that residents of Barangays Tulalian, Bugtung Lubi, Balagunan, Bobongon and Tanglaw in the municipality of Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, could use as a shorter route in and out of their barangays.
Many residents welcomed the survey team with banners expressing their gratitude, written in the local dialect saying, “Thank you very much President Duterte and Speaker Alvarez for opening the roads.”
Before, access to the roads was restricted. A gate was built at the entrance of Tadeco plantation, visible from the national highway leading to Sto. Tomas, with a barricade and armed guards accosting anybody trying to cross the plantation area to reach the adjacent barangays.
Tadeco officials claimed entry to the area was restricted to contain the spread of pests that ravaged the banana plantation.
The opening of public roads traversing the plantation is an offshoot of the House inquiry spurred by Resolution No. 876 that Alvarez had filed, seeking to probe the contract between Bucor and Tadeco, owned by the family of Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr., a known Marcos crony, for being illegal and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Floirendo Jr. has since been expelled from administration party Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino. House ordered survey,

opening of public roads
The conduct of the survey in Tadeco-operated area was in compliance with the order by House committee on good government and the committee on justice during their joint hearing last February 7, 2018 on the Tadeco-Bucor land deal.
During the hearing a witness testified that access to public roads traversing the Tadeco-operated areas was restricted through the use of gates with armed personnel.
“That is the reason we requested to have this surveyed, to determine which are the provincial roads and which are the public roads that should not be restricted,” Speaker Alvarez said.
The survey was meant not only to pinpoint the location of public roads traversing the Tadeco-operated area but also to determine which are public lands and private lands, and find out as well the location of public infrastructure inside it that should be made accessible to the public.
The two committees tapped former Panabo City surveyor, Engr. Ruben Tacugue, to conduct the survey.
At the same time, the Speaker directed the Philippine National Police to disarm any private armed guards found restricting access to public roads inside the Tadeco area of operation.
The Department of Environ-ment and Natural Resources was also directed to join in the survey.
In his testimony during the hearing , Engr. Tacugue said that in 1996 he was hired by a private individual to conduct a survey to determine if the adjacent Tadeco-operated lands overlap with the boundaries of his client’s property.
He said that under Proclamation 103, series of 1948 set aside a 10,000-hectare agricultural land in the municipality which Tadeco was allowed to use. However, he said he was surprised to find out that the actual area of the property under the proclamation is around 14,000 hectares.
Tacugue also said he found it difficult to conduct the survey because Tadeco prohibited entry to the area. He added that a week before the hearing of the committee he returned and found that access was still restricted.
In the same hearing, Alvarez bared alleged poll anomalies that had been practiced in the Tadeco-operated areas. He said barangay AO Floirendo was created inside the area operated by the firm and isolated for the purpose of determining election results.
“Here’s the problem: that barangay becomes the determinant factor in every election. They [Tadeco] are cordoning the area so that in every election the winner is invariably the mayor they are supporting. No other candidate can enter that area,” he said.
He added that the Floirendos restricted access to the barangay to ensure the family’s continued political dominance in the area.
Aside from questioning the legality of the Bucor-Tadeco land deal, Alvarez has filed graft charges against Davao Del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr. for having financial interest in the Bucor-Tadeco land deal while serving as lawmaker in violation of the law.
The Ombudsman sustained Alvarez’ allegation and indicted Floirendo for violation of Article VI, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that no member of Congress is allowed to intervene in any government contracts before any agency for his pecuniary benefit during his term of office.
Last Feb. 21, the Sandiganbayan issued a warrant of arrest against Floirendo in connection with the graft case. The lawmaker has posted a P30,000 bail for his provisional liberty.

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