WHOSE interest should prevail, is it of the residents in the vicinity or the interest of a multi-million business that exists in the community for decades sustaining the residents? I am referring to the road closure conflict between the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte and the management of Floirendo owned-Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (Tadeco).
The bone of contention is the road traversing the Tadeco banana plantation in the adjoining towns of Dujali and Santo Tomas that has been closed to public since 2015. Tadeco has two substantial reasons for the closure and putting up of biosecurity facilities: First, to secure the inmates who are working in the plantation; and second, to protect the bananas from the ravaging Fusarium Wilt (a.k.a. Panama disease) – a tough soil virus that can be carried by footwear and vehicle tires coming from the outside to the plantation.
Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib claimed his office received complaints that the road owned by the province was closed to public. Should it be opened to the public, it makes an easy access for the residents specially the students who to and from the school has to spend P100 per head per trip. By opening the road, route will be shortened with a reduced fare to only P10 compared to P100.
In a PNA report Jubahib said the provincial government has allotted P15 million for the road widening in the area. Either of the above motives or both, Jubahib wanted to dismantle the installed biosecurity facility (tire and footbath) of Tadeco applying President Duterte’s order for a nationwide clearing of roads from obstruction. The governor must be ignorant that MC 121 signed by DILG secretary Año on July 12 is not applicable to widening purposes.
Here we could see how the law is applied. Like a glass of water, if it gets into the body through the mouth, it can quench thirst and hydrates the body. But if it will pass through the nose, the water can be fatal.
BuCor and Tadeco in a joint venture agreement can maintain its biosecurity gates and open it to the public, including the enclosure of the entire 30,000-hectare plantation and 8,000 reservations of the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Panabo city, Dujali and Santo Tomas; as long as the passing public are submissive to the biosecurity protocols like stepping on the footbath and tires for vehicles, among others.
The provincial government on the other hand, should not only look at the welfare of the passers but also the protection of the multi-million industry that brings home the bacon not only on silver sounding taxes but of the jobs created in the community.
Jubahib before elected as governor was the Chief of Staff of Davao del Norte First District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, who then the former House Speaker was in open conflict with former Second District Representative Tonyboy Floirendo, Jr.
Whether or not Jubahib was driven by political vendetta in pursuing to dismantle the gates of Floirendo owned Tadeco plantation, the welfare of the constituent must be supreme over all concerns.