DavNor Gov wants re-opening of roads closed by Banana Plantations

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DAVAO CITY — The provincial government of Davao del Norte wants to re-open provincial roads to provide access to the residents affected by the closure by the management of Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) Inc., in the town of Santo Tomas.

On Wednesday, October 9, the Provincial Government led by its Governor Edwin Jubahib tried to re-open the gates of TADECO but a Panabo City Regional Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order in favor of the banana company, it was then that, the provincial government backpedaled.

But Jubahib vowed “Samtang ako pa’y governor ning probinsya, ablihan ko gyud ni, dapat makaagi ang mga residente nga nagpuyo sa likod sa plantasyon (While I am still the governor, I will really open this roads, I want the people residing at the back of the plantation to be provided with access )” Jubahib said. 

Wednesday’s move was the third attempt since 2017.

The governor said, he is ready to face legal battle against Tadeco “Para lang sa Katawhan, (For the people).”

He said there are 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 where the people in the community where having hard time to travel since they need to go a long route and spend much for their fare. 

“The travel will be shortened from 20-minutes to at least five minutes and the fare from P50 to 10, pesos- that is the relief,” he said in vernacular.

Dennis Sampaga, 36, a resident told reporters “Nalipay ko, abrihan na, pirting lisura kay motuyok pa man ka pagawas, ug abri na ang dalan, seven minutes ra jud ang biyahe (I am happy that the road will be opened, it is very hard to get out because we use the other route, if the road is open, it will just take seven minutes to travel).

Tension gripped on Wednesday when the provincial government attempted to demolish the gates but Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Emmanuel Piñol intervened and claimed the President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Bong Go want a peaceful solution to the road issue. 

TADECO Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Zeaus Vadil said that the supposed demolition by the Provincial Government is 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. 

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. 
Businessman Antonio Floirendo Jr. of TADECO in a statement said “Umpisa pa lang ito at ang inumpisahan ng inyong gobernador ay maaring maging dahilan ng katapusan ng industriya ng saging sa Davao del Norte (this is just the start, and was started by your governor that could be the reason of the downfall of banana industry in Davao del Norte).”

Jubahib explained “We are not anti-business, we are duty-bound to protect the industry that feeds hundreds of workers, we are willing to help them in the bio-security requirement, all we want is access for the people,” he said in vernacular.

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. The company accounts for at least 11 percent of the country’s total cavendish exports reaching 3.4 million metric tons last year.-Armando Fenequito Jr. Newsline.ph

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