Banana plantation workers urge Ombudsman to fast-track graft case vs. Tony Boy...

Banana plantation workers urge Ombudsman to fast-track graft case vs. Tony Boy Floirendo

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ARBs camped at DAR demand installation to lands grabbed by Floirendo-TADECO

Some 50 banana plantation workers and leaders of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) cooperatives trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman this morning to demand Conchita Carpio-Morales to act on the graft charges filed against Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio ‘Tony Boy’ Floirendo Jr. The Ombudsman has earlier found probable cause on the case against Floirendo filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. An indictment against Floirendo from the Office of the Ombudsman is underway.

“This case against Floirendo must be fast-tracked. The least that the Ombudsman can do is to suspend Rep. Tony Boy Floirendo as Davao del Norte district representative. As long as Floirendo is in public office, he will use his position and even taxpayers’ money to further exploit banana plantation workers contracted with TADECO. “We want the case against Floirendo rolling and the wheels of justice turning,” said Pedro Arnado of KMP Southern Mindanao Region.

Floirendo’s ANFLOCOR and Tagum Development Corp. (TADECO) are operating thousands of hectares of banana plantation and packing plants in Davao del Norte where ARBs are seeking the return of their lands grabbed by Floirendo’s TADECO through joint venture agreements (JVAs).

The Ombudsman has indicted Floirendo for violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for having a pecuniary interest while in public office in his banana firm.

The Ombudsman said Floirendo committed the graft offense, when he owned P7.5 million worth of shares in Tadeco at the time the banana firm renewed its joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in the lease of 5,308.36 hectares of land at the Davao Penal Colony which was converted into a banana plantation by Tadeco.

Based on the complaint filed by Rep. Alvarez, the JVA was renewed in 2003 for another 25 years when Floirendo was Davao Del Norte second district representative, and that his political foe serves on the board of directors of Tadeco and the Anflo Management and Investment Corp. (Anflocor). Tadeco is a subsidiary of Anflocor.

Under the said contract, BuCor would receive from Tadeco at least P26.5 million in guaranteed annual production share, which would automatically increase by 10 percent every five years. BuCor also enjoys a profit share with respect to the leased land where the bananas were planted, the amount of which also increases by 10 percent every five years.

“There’s more to this graft case against Floirendo than corruption and vested interests on the joint venture agreement between TADECO and BuCor. Hundreds of ARBs want to reclaim their land back from the Floirendos – the biggest oligarch-landlord-landgrabber in Davao del Norte,” said Huel Huyle, president of the ARB One Movement.

Members of several TADECO ARB cooperatives are camped-out at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to demand the issuance of installation orders by the new DAR leadership under OIC Rosalina Bistoyong. The ARBs have set-up camp outside DAR since October 15 to demand the return of their land and installation as legitimate ARBs.

The Floirendos, Anflocor and TADECO have used dummy ARBs to ease out legitimate beneficiaries and reconcentrate more than 6,000 hectares of public and private lands under its control. TADECO is among the country’s largest exporter of cavendish banana. ###