By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Amid the rift between House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., the workers of Tagum Agricultural Development Co., Inc. (Tadeco), the owner of the world’s largest banana plantation, are now demanding job security and even denied alleged mistreatment.
A few days before it was reported that the quarrel between Alvarez and Floirendo — both Duterte allies — was apparently triggered by a feud between their partners, the House speaker filed graft charges against Tadeco owner Floirendo.
In a nine-page complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Alvarez accused Floirendo of violating Section 3 (h) of Republic Act No. 3019 for allegedly continuing to have pecuniary interests in the family-owned Anflo Management and Investment Corporation and its subsidiary, Tadeco, which cultivates a 3,000 hectare banana plantation in Mindanao.
Alvarez also alleged that Tadeco has been mistreating its workers, most of them are inmates.
Employees of the Tadeco on Tuesday came out in defense of their company, where, according to them, they are treated “not as prisoners or workers, but as family and partners in business.”
Tadeco entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with the government, represented by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), in 1969 to help rehabilitate inmates in the Davao Penal Colony by hiring them as workers in the banana plantation set up within the colony’s premises.
BuCor, in turn, committed to give Tadeco “free and uninterrupted use of the land,” prevent the entry of squatters and maintain peaceful operating conditions.
The JVA was renewed in 2003, with the latest agreement scheduled to lapse 12 years from now.