The now controversial Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Tagum Development Corp., Inc. and the Bureau of Correction finally reached Monday at the hall of Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
After weeks of deafening silence despite the much publicized rift between their two congressmen- Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez of the 1st District and Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo, Jr. of the 2nd District and the related quarrels of their mistresses, provincial board members on their session Monday, cautiously tackled the JVA issue by first laboring much on what appropriate committee where the legislative matter would be referred to.
In the end after long run-around discussions interpersed by three recesses and closed-door executive conference, the body unanimously agreed to tackle the JVA issue on the committee of the whole than the committees of laws or of agriculture.
The JVA agendum of the committee of the whole- meaning all SP members including the vice governor as presiding officer- appears to be potentially divisive issue as Alvarez is questioning and wanting it to be cancelled, while Floirendo, whose family owned Tadeco, vigorously opposes Alvarez moves.
A vote in favor to JVA is apparently a disapproval to Alvarez current moves. Likewise, a vote against JVA can be taken as an anti-Tadeco or anti-Floirendo move.
Whatever the stand of the SP will bare who is the real political kingpin in Davao del Norte in the coming days, kibitzers speculated.
But there is a creeping rumor that President Duterte is actually backing up Alvarez all the way, with the support that Alvarez has been getting from Dept. of Justice, Commission on Audit and Solicitor General’s Office.
The provincial board’s current make up comprises of 1 FABC representative, 1 PCL representative and four District 2 regular board members who won in the election because of the backing of Floirendo- or many figuratively describe as Tadeco- as a political kingpin concentrating in District 2; 1 indigenous peoples representative and four District 1 regular board members who won the election due to Del Rosarios’ backing as also one political kingpin concentrating in District 1; 2 “swayable” board members who won independently in the last year’s election, and Vice Gov. Alan “Aldo” Dujali, the common choice of the coalition of Kusog Baryohanon of Floirendos and the Liberal Party of current Gov. Anthony del Rosario and ex-Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, who is now on political forlough.
Speaker Alvarez, because he is President Duterte’s choice and protege, and given his financial muscle now being a Speaker is emerging as the third political kingpin in a province whose politics has been traditionally controlled by two political families- the Floirendos and Del Rosarios for more than two decades now.
Sources said that Alvarez has current “good relationship” with Gov. Del Rosario, but the Floirendo-Del Rosario reconciliation has been on since two elections ago.
The JVA issue finally landed at the SP’s lap when FABC representative Miguel Niez stood in privileged speech, uttering “we” to sound off he is one with Tadeco to protect the Tadeco-BuCor JVA status quo.
Niez, former vice president of Tadeco, traced the history of Tadeco formed by intrepid businessman Don Antonio Floirendo, Sr. who turned the once forest, marshland starting 1949 into present sprawling top banana plantation now.
Niez apparently reechoed Tadeco’s position paper published in various national newspapers late last week with his expanded notes and views as ex-Tadeco senior officer in elaborating JVA’s legal rulings, past justice secretaries’ confirmations since the 60s and Tadeco’s contributions to employment, taxation and economy.
He also rebutted the charge that Tadeco prejudiced government of P106 million, citing more than P142 million as JVA share to BuCor in 2016 besides the millions paid to taxes and licenses, and more than a billion in terms of salaries and incentives to 800 Dapecol inmates working in the 5,308 hectares of Dapecol land put under JVA.
He moved that his motion supporting the JVA be referred first to the committee on laws and justice, then he proposed to the committee on agriculture and food after a wrangling of board members over what proper committee to refer the matter to.
Board Member and Floirendo’s political liaison officer Roy Catalan moved that it be instead referred to the committee of the whole.
Board Member Joey Millan objected, then Floorleader Nani Duco called for division of the house, which did not happen.
Board Member Shirley Belen Aala supported Catalan’s motion, saying let it be tackled by the committee of the whole, “no matter what it brings as we serve for truth.”
A closed-door executive session was called and made, and after about 30 minutes, board members came back to hear Niez withdrawing his motion in favor to the motion to refer it to the committee of the whole.
The board unanimously approved it in voting.
The JVA started in the 70s and renewed in 2003 when Cong. Tonyboy Floirendo was on his second term during his first round as congressman. He is on his new first term now.
Alvarez filed cases at the Ombudsman against Floirendo stemming from his being a signatory of JVA’s renewal while he was a congressman in alleged violations to laws.
Alvarez also pushed House committees’ probe on the Tadeco-BuCor JVA deals, with the first committee hearing made last week. (mindanaosunchronicle.com/Cha Monforte)