MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has asked the Department of Justice to declare null and void the joint venture agreement between the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) and the Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) Inc. for being allegedly disadvantageous to the government.
In his letter to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the Speaker indicated that the agreement was entered into by Bucor “without legal basis and authority … the terms and conditions of which are grossly disadvantageous to the Philippine government, and is therefore, void ab initio for being contrary to law and public policy.”
“This being so, there exist clear grounds for its immediate declaration as null and void,” he added.
The Speaker’s latest move came after he filed a graft complaint before the Ombudsman against Tadeco’s purported owner and his erstwhile buddy, Davao Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr.
Alvarez accused Floirendo violating Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, in connection with the joint venture agreement.
According to Alvarez, Floirendo violation stemmed from government official being barred from having a financial interest in any contract or transaction involving the State.
He noted that there was no evidence that Floirendo ever divested his interest in Tadeco, or in its subsidiary, the Anflo Management and Investment Corporation.
Reports have said that the feud between the two lawmakers, both allies of the President started with a quarrel between their respective girl friends sometime in October.
In his letter, Alvarez raised the following points:
- The joint venture agreement was a mere renewal of the 1979 agreement, which allowed Tadeco to lease government property for its banana plantation and utilize inmates as its workers for 25 years, from September 2004 to September 2029.
- When the agreement was executed in 2003, there was no specific rule or regulation authorizing Bucor to execute a deal with a private entity. Bucor should have procured the services of a contractor, pursuant to the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003.
- Bucor, under the agreement, will receive profit shares and guaranteed annual production shares of P26.5 million for the use of property covering 5.3 hectares. However, this was based on lower lease rates of around P5,000 per hectare, compared to the prevailing lease rate of at least P35,000 per hectare of undeveloped land.
- The term stipulated in the contract for was 25 years, contrary to industry practice of only 5 to 10 years.