Tadeco debunks ‘coercion’ claim of House leadership

The Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. has taken exception to claims that the company has been suggesting that the leadership of the Representatives has coerced three government agencies, which declared illegal the joint venture agreement between Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections.

Alex Valoria, Tadeco president and chief executive officer,  said the three offices referred to are the Commission on Audit, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General.

“While we maintain the deal with BuCor is a Joint Venture Agreement [JVA] and the contract legally negotiated, we take care not to muddle the issues as we only want to present arguments that are accurate, rational, and valid,” Valoria said in a statement.

Valoria made the remarks in response to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s statement that Tadeco is the only one claiming that the JVA is above board.

But Valoria said that “we base our arguments on the approvals of the government authorities at the time the JVA was executed and the applicable laws and jurisprudence of the Philippines.  This is a consensual arrangement, which has stood the test of time.  We involve ourselves only in honest business dealings, not in bogus claims. Said. It is not the mission of our organization that is recognized for its best practices to muddle in propaganda issues because “it is contrary to our corporate values to malign and mislead, or argue issues without legal basis.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III earlier admitted that the renewal of the JVA between the BuCor and Tadeco in 2004 had the stamp of approval of two secretaries of the DoJ, which validates Tadeco’s position that the new 25-year period of the contract will extend up to 2029.

Aguirre said that while the signatory to the JVA renewal was then Justice Undersecretary Ramon Liwag, it was approved by Justice Secretary Simeon Datumanong. A subsequent review done on the JVA and the resulting addendum to the agreement was again approved by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, Aguirre added.

Aguirre’s disclosure came upon questioning by Rep. Henry Oaminal during the joint hearing last week of the House committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and the House committee on Justice on the BuCor-Tadeco deal.

At a congressional hearing earlier, lawmakers took turns questioning Aguirre on the validity of the deal but the Justice secretary failed to answer some of their concerns, particularly on the details of how the DoJ concluded that the agreement was a lease and tenancy deal, which Tadeco said it was not.

Aguirre said he needed more time to study these matters. The lawmakers also heard the statement of Valoria, but gave no opinion on his position on the issue nor whether they were convinced or not about the arguments presented by the DoJ and Tadeco during the hearing.

Oaminal had asked Aguirre if the contract between BuCor and Tadeco were approved by the DoJ. Aguirre said that “per information from our Chief State Counsel, [the JVA] was  approved by Secretary Datumanong, then secretary of Justice. Then, if that is the case, then it is approved by the secretary of Justice.”

When Oaminal asked if the addendum to the JVA was also approved by then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, Aguirre said: “That’s correct.”

A DoJ opinion on the BuCor-Tadeco deal has erroneously claimed that the JVA should end in 2019.  The DoJ opinion said that since Tadeco started entering into contracts with BuCor in 1969, this means that another 25-year renewal of the agreement will start in 1994 and end in 2019.

Valoria clarified that a new 25-year term under its JVA with BuCor  should start in 1979, when the two parties consolidated the contracts signed between them on various dates from 1969 to 1978. Thus, the renewal should be reckoned in 2004 and the 25-year period should end in 2029, he said.

Valoria said both BuCor and Tadeco deemed it best to “novate all the documents and come up with one new single Joint Venture Agreement in 1979” because of the complications of multiple documents and addenda governing their team-up.Aguirre’s statements at the hearing validated Valoria’s position.

He also noted that as early as the 1970s, the Senate blue ribbon committee had already found such deals to be valid and aboveboard, with even then Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. saying that the rates benefiting the government at that time were “extremely good and beyond competitive.”

Valoria noted that aside from the Senate, the various agreements between Tadeco and BuCor from 1969 up to the present passed through 14 Secretaries of the DoJ who all upheld their validity and was also examined in 2012 by the House Committee on Agrarian Reform, which found the JVA “beneficial to the government and to the community.”

“There is overwhelming data and proof of the success of the rehabilitation program.  We estimate that around 5,000 ex-inmates have been absorbed by the banana industry itself when they were finally released from incarceration,” Valoria said at the hearing.

He added that the “the training and discipline that the inmates learned in the Davao Penal Farm and Tadeco were highly valued by the companies they joined. In Tadeco, alone, we have absorbed 104ex-inmates and the ones with the highest rank are either that of Executive Driver and Foreman.”

Topics: Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. , Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. , House leadership , Bureau of Corrections
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