Davao prison at risk of losing land ownership if Tadeco deal scuttled
The Davao Prison and Penal Farms (DPPF) expects to lose to claimants about 5,000 hectares of its property currently in use for banana production if a joint venture agreement with Tagum Agricultural Development Co. Inc. (Tadeco) is scrapped.
Penal Institution Supervisor Gerardo F. Padilla, acting superintendent of DPPF, said in a press briefing that there were pending claims from at least three organizations.
Padilla said many of the claimants insisted that their ancestors had been in the area or were tending to the land even before the penal colony was established by law in 1932.
“We started with 28,816 hectares but we have lost so much land because of such claims,” he said.
According to the Bureau of Corrections, the parent agency of DPPF, the colony’s landholding was pegged at 6,396 hectares as of the end of March 2017.
About four-fifths of the total land area or 5,308 hectares are covered by the joint agreement with Tadeco which, if it ran its course, would end in 2029. Tadeco has no option for another renewal, having renewed the original 1969 pact in 2003.
The agreement is currently a subject of inquiry at the House of Representatives. In one of the hearings, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II threatened to have the agreement canceled, citing violations of the law.
Padilla said that, whether the agreement was canceled in the near future or was allowed to proceed for 12 more years, the DPPF had no ability to continue activities that are related to Tadeco’s banana plantation business.
“We cannot manage such an expanse of land,” he said. “[DPPF] would most likely lose possession of these lands, especially with claimants.”
Based on the agreement, Tadeco is currently engaging 764 DPPF inmates—about one in every eight of the total 6,115 inmates in the facility—in the maintenance and care of the plantation as part of their rehabilitation toward eventual social reintegration.
The workers include 81 female inmates of the Correctional Institute for Women. The inmate “trainees” are given the opportunity to earn stipends by working at Tadeco’s several banana packing facilities at P330 daily, which is equivalent to the minimum wage in that region.
Tadeco has a contract to sell to Del Monte Philippines, which exports fresh Cavendish bananas to Japan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Middle East, Russia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Tadeco touts this flagship business of the Anflo Management and Investment Corp. group (Anflocor) as “one of the highest yielding banana plantations in the world.” The Tadeco-DPPF operation ships out 15 million boxes of bananas yearly, worth about $75 million or P3.8 billion.
There are at least 10 packing stations at the Tadeco-DPPF plantation, each employing about 190 workers and some 10 inmate-trainees.
“Please tell them (lawmakers) that there are many of us, not just the inmates, who will lose our source of income if Tadeco [leaves],” said Gena Fe Ibañes, 45, who has been working for Tadeco for 24 years.
According to Anflocor chair Anthony Sasin, the company was looking at other possible banana plantations in Davao del Sur when Tadeco has to leave the DPPF.
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