BuCor-TADECO land deal illegal — DOJ, COA

MANILA-- Initial findings from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Audit (COA) reveal that the land deal between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (TADECO) is illegal.

The DOJ sent a summary of the Preliminary Fact-Finding Investigation Report to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who requested a review of the 25-year joint venture agreement (JVA) between BuCor and Floirendo-owned TADECO for allegedly being anomalous and disadvantageous to the government.

Justice Undersecretary Raymund Mercate said the initial report of the fact-finding panel was without prejudice to the final review and approval of the Secretary of Justice.

According to the report, the BuCor-TADECO deal failed to comply with legal requirements, noting that:

-- there is no community of interest in the business by both parties;

-- no categorical indication of a true and realistic sharing of the profits and losses;

-- and that BuCor's participation in the operation and management of the banana plantation is substantially minimal.

The DOJ panel further pointed out that the present BuCOR-TADECO JVA has a contract area of 5,308 hectares, which exceeds the limitation of 1,000 hectares under the 1987 Constitution.

The BuCor-TADECO deal also violates Commonwealth Act No. 141 or the Public Land Act as the present and earlier agreements since 1969 were never subjected to any public action or bidding, and the contract, covering 1969 to 2029, is more than 10 years the maximum 50 years allowed.

Under the BuCor-TADECO JVA, the production and profit share of the BuCor in 2016 amounted to only PHP44,854,726, or a rate of PHP8,449.83 per hectare per year, the DOJ panel said.

"Compared to the prevailing lease rates of PHP10,000-PHP18,000 per hectare per year of Tanglaw and Cooperative leaseback rates located in the general area where the DPFF lands are located, the BuCor-TADECO JVA appears to be disadvantageous in terms of per hectare rate," it added.

Meanwhile, the COA conducted its own investigation on the BuCor-TADECO deal and sent an Audit Observation Memorandum to BuCor Director General Benjamin Delos Santos.

In the memorandum, the audit team said the 1969 deal between BuCor and TADECO is unconstitutional since it did not comply with the 1935 Constitution that only allowed a maximum of 1,024 hectares of public lands to be leased.

The COA memorandum noted that BuCor allowed the lease of a 3,000 hectare-public land to TADECO in its 1969 deal.

Similarly, the May 21, 2003 JVA is also unconstitutional because the 5,308.36 hectares landholding of TADECO over an agricultural land, exceeded the limitation of 1,000 hectares provided under the 1987 Constitution, the COA noted.

"What is obvious is the excessive holding of agricultural land by TADECO, which under the May 21, 2003 JVA consisted of 5,308.36 hectares, is a violation of the provisions of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, limiting the holding of corporations to only 1,000 hectares. This being so, the JVA is unconstitutional," it added.

Both findings of the DOJ and COA support the legal opinion of Solicitor General Jose Calida that the BuCor-TADECO deal is void for being illegal.

Source: Philippines News Agency