Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he expects the probe to conclude right away, since a legal opinion on this controversy had been issued during the previous administration.
File photo
DOJ to probe contract between BuCor, Tadeco
Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to investigate the alleged anomaly in the contract between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco) owned by Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday said he would create a team to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the allegations of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez about the joint venture agreement (JVA) for the lease of 5,300 hectares of the Davao penal farm to Tadeco.

Aguirre ordered the probe upon the request of Alvarez.

“I told the Speaker I will constitute a panel to study the technical, as well as the legal, status of this,” Aguirre told reporters in an ambush interview in his office.

Aguirre said he expects the probe to conclude right away, since a legal opinion on this controversy had been issued during the previous administration.

Last month, Alvarez filed a graft complaint against Floirendo before the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged lopsided deal.

Alvarez accused Floirendo of violating Section 3 (h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for having “a direct financial or pecuniary interest” with the renewal of the consolidated JVA between Tadeco and BuCor, the agency supervising Dapecol (Davao Penal Colony).”

Under the 2003 contract, both parties renewed for another 25 years BuCor’s lease to Tadeco of 5,308.36 hectares in Dapecol at an annual rate of P26.54 million.

Alvarez claims, however, that this is grossly disadvantageous to the government, since developed farmlands like those owned by Dapecol can fetch as much as P200,000 per hectare annually or P26 billion in 25 years – a loss of over P25 billion over the entire duration of the lease or about P1 billion per year.

Aside from the graft complaint, Alvarez also filed House Resolution No. 867 that calls for a congressional inquiry into what he called a “grossly disadvantageous” 25-year lease contract between the BuCor and Tadeco.

No effect on impeachment

Meanwhile, Alvarez has assured the public that his falling out with Floirendo would not affect at all the way the House of Representatives will handle the impeachment complaint against President Duterte. 

“This issue is just too far off. This (speculation) is not aligned, and this issue has totally nothing to do with that of Tadeco and the impeachment,” Alvarez insisted.

The Speaker also vowed that his squabble with his fellow Davao del Norte congressman – which worsened due to his initiative to probe Tadeco’s venture with government and the graft charges he filed – will not affect the looming impeachment of Vice President Leni Robredo.

Without necessarily pre-empting the outcome of the Duterte impeachment complaint, both Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas cited serious flaws in the suit filed by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, hinting this would most likely be dismissed.

On the other hand, the Speaker indicated that he would instead move for the impeachment of Robredo, who belongs to the opposition Liberal Party (LP), whose video message to the United Nations constituted betrayal of public trust for painting a grim picture of the Philippines.

 

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