SO IT SEEMS
A tho-rough re-view of the contract between the Bureau of Corrections and the Tagum Agricultural Development Company owned by the family of Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr. on the lease of 5,300 hectares of the Davao Prison and Penal Farm (formerly known as Davao Penal Colony (DAPE-COL) is a move in the right direction.
Justice Secretary Vialiano Aguirre III ordered a review of the contract on the claim of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that the joint venture agreement is “grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
The original lease of a portion of DAPECOL’s 28,000 hectares to TADECO was secured by the late Antonio Floirendo, Sr. in the late 1960s during the regime of the late authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos. Being the head of his political party Kilusan Bagong Lipunan (KBL) Marcos appointed Floirendo as chairmen of the KBL in Region 11, then made up of the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, South Cotabato and Surigao del Sur.
The lease contract was renewed in 2003 on initiation of Congressman TonyBoy Floirendo, using his influence as lawmaker. The JVA provides that TADECO would pay an annual rate of P26.54 million which Alvarez claims “is grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
Alvarez said that developed farmlands like those owned by the penal colony could fetch no less than P200,000 per hectare annually or about P25 billion in 25 years. He further claimed that the government would suffer a loss of over P25 billion during the lease period or about P26 billion in 25 years.
Justice Secretary Aguirre said a group has been formed to scrutinize the lease contract and explore the possibility of amending the deal in such a way that the government will no longer be on the losing end.
If there is NO provision in the contract that disallows abrogation by either party without the consent of the other, the deal should be terminated at the earliest time possible for, to repeat, being grossly disadvantageous to the government.
To clear the issue once and for all, we strongly suggest that a new contract be negotiated with the annual rate of P56.54 million that TADECO is paying be tripled and the duration of the lease be reduced from 25 years to 15 years.
The way we see things, Ismael Sueno was sacked as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government without what could be the equivalent of due process of law.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fired Sueno after the Cabinet meeting last Monday night without giving him a chance to present his side on accusations of corruption, questionable acquisition of wealth and abuse of power.
In a democracy any person accused of wrongdoing is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Of course, the situation is different in the case of presidential appointees, especially members of the President’s official family or Cabinet as they serve at the pleasure of the President.
The moment a Ca-binet member loses the trust and confidence of the President, he is out. However, in fairness to Sueno who is a seasoned public official, he should have been given a chance to present his side of the accusations, especially that he had been at loggerheads with three of his five undersecretaries.
How do we know that the charges were not made up by the undersecretaries with whom Sueno was not in good terms? It is not impossible for the trio to connive with each other so Sueno would be removed from his post, as what ac-tually hap-pened.
Reac-ting to criticism that he had acted abruptly on Sueno’s case, Duterte said that as a lawyer he could not be made to swallow false accusations, a claim which to us is too presumptuous. Is Digong trying to say that lawyers can never ever be fooled?
Sueno said he is ready to face any investigation to clear his name. The prob-lem is Digong, taking lock, stock and barrel the accu-sations against him con-tained in a “white paper” sacked Sueno without hearing his side. As a sea-soned politician, the erstwhile DILG chief had been governor of South Cotabato and mayor Koronadal City, the provincial capital.
On accusations that he had made money-making activities like the purchase of fire trucks from Austria, Sueno said the deal had been consumated during the term of Mar Roxas as DILG chief. He admitted going to Austria last Ja-nuary to visit Rosenhauer, the world’s biggest manu-facturer of fire-fighting vehicles, with his wife but they shouldered all their expenses.
Accepting his fate… este…rush judgment of his boss, Sueno said he is willing to be made a sacri-ficial lamp by Digong.
In any case, all these now are water under the bridge, so to speak.
It’s Holy Week again. This season of the year is much-awaited in this predominantly Catholic country like Christmas. The week-long observance of the penitence of Jesus Christ—from His travel to Mt. Calvary to His nailing to the cross and finally resurrection—began yes-terday with the observance of Palm Sunday.
In some countries in the western hemisphere, particularly in the United States, Holy Week passes just like any time of the year; it’s a working week as usual. Not surprising for only 23 percent of the nation’s 323 million population are Catholics.