By Armando Fenequito Jr.
DAVAO CITY — The Davao del Norte government will pursue the opening of provincial roads to public use after these were allegedly closed by Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) Inc., in the town of Santo Tomas.
This was the vow made by Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib after the provincial government was not able to open the three provincial roads after TADECO was able to secure a Temporary Restraining Order from the Panabo City Regional Trial Court.
“Samtang ako pa’y governor ning probinsya, ablihan ko gyud ni (While I am still the governor, I will really open this roads), ” Jubahib said.
The governor said, he does not care to face charges if the people in the area will benefit for this.
He said there was really a need to open the roads situated in the banana plantation of TADECO and Davao Prison and Penal Farm in junctions of Bugtong Lubi, Balagunan and Tanglaw.
Jubahib said there was nothing personal in his pledge to re-open the roads to public use since he was just following the orders of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to clear obstructions in public properties.
Tension filled the area as Jubahib attempted to demolish the gate in the areas but was temporarily halted after Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Emmanuel Piñol reportedly intervened at the request of President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Bong Go.
Piñol said equipment sent by the provincial government to destroy the barricades were already withdrawn.
“Also, a local court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), but even before the TRO was issued, the Governor already relented,” he emphasized.
LastOctober 7, Governor Jubahib agreed with the request of Piñol to delay the scheduled demolition until officials of the two entities have met.
TADECO Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Zeus Vadil said that the supposed demolition by the provincial government was part of road clearing operations, following the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s 60-day order to local governments to clear and reclaim public roads.
On the other hand, Vadil explained that the purpose of the biosecurity facilities is to protect the plantation from the fast spread of Fusarium wilt-infected banana farms, which are just across the El Canto Road where the facilities were established.
“Fusarium wilt is just within our backyard. From the highway to the back of the El Canto road, once you cross that entire deep, you will see all affected banana farms, [all the] banana trees [have been cut down]. It is just a stone’s throw from our farm; it is just across the street,” Vadil explained.
Vadil also shared that the removal of biosecurity measures such as foot and tire baths for “road clearing” means risking TADECO of being infected by the Panama disease.
TADECO is one of the country’s largest banana exporters, managing about 6,000 hectares of banana plantation yielding around 28 million to 30 million of bananas annually, which are all shipped abroad. TADECO alone accounts for at least 11 percent of the country’s total cavendish exports reaching 3.4 million metric tons last year.
Meanwhile, TADECO part-owner Antonio Floirendo released by a statement in response to Jubahib’s action.
“Umpisa pa lang ito at ang inumpisahan ng inyong gobernador ay maaring maging dahilan ng katapusan ng industriya ng saging sa Davao del Norte (From the start, this was started by your governor that could be the reason of the downfall of banana industry in Davao del Norte) ,” he said .
Floirendo said the action of the governor is merely political because he allegedly wants to the downfall of the company and the people behind it.