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Court stops demolition of Tadeco biosecurity gates meant to prevent entry of banana diseases

/ 06:37 PM October 09, 2019

DAVAO CITY—The latest showdown between two leading political forces in Davao del Norte continued to unfold as the provincial government, allied with Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, ordered three biosecurity gates of Tagum Agri Development Co. (Tadeco), owned by the Floirendo family, demolished.

But a court stopped the demolition with former Rep. Antonio “Tony Boy” Floirendo urging supporters “not to allow one man to destroy the industry that has put the country on the map and which they had nurtured for decades.”

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Gov. Edwin Jubahib, ally of Alvarez, had ordered the gates, which prevent plant diseases from entering the vast Tadeco plantation, demolished after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) gave an order to all local governments to clear and reclaim public roads.

But Tadeco officials said the biosecurity facilities were there only to protect the plantation against the spread of Fusarium wilt, known to infect banana plants in the country.

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Tadeco officials earlier warned that removing biosecurity facilities, like foot and tire baths, would put Tadeo, a top banana exporter accounting for 11 percent of Philippine cavendish export, at risk of infection by Panama disease.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 11 Executive Judge Dax Gonzaga Xenos on Wednesday, Oct. 9, issued a 72-hour temporary restraining order, barring the provincial government from clearing, removing and demolishing Tadeco’s swing beams and biosecurity structures installed along the road junctions of El Canto and Bagong Lubi in Balagunan village of Sto. Tomas town; and in Tanglaw village in Dujali town.

Lawyer Nicolas Banga, legal counsel of the Floirendo-owned Anflo Management and Investment Corporation (Anflocor), said that minutes before the court TRO arrived, the demolition team had already torn down the biosecurity gate in Tanglaw.

He said the demolition team from the province had come armed with heavy equipment and backhoes, which meant they really meant to dismantle the structures.

Floirendo said in a statement he decided to break his silence because it seemed to have made his enemies think he was afraid.

“I’ve been silent for a long time for all the things they’re doing to me, my family and Tadeco. But it appears that they’re misinterpreting my silence,” Floirendo said in a statement written in Filipino. “Let the whole Davao del Norte know that I’m not afraid.”

He also called on his supporters to unite and protect the industry that has put Davao and Mindanao on the world map.

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“The number one pride of Mindanao is the banana industry once started here by my father. Let’s not allow the industry we built and nurtured for decades be destroyed by one person only,” he said.

Mindanao Development Agency (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he had stepped in to resolve the conflict between the Floirendo-owned Tadeco and the provincial government headed by Jubahib.

“(The) problem has been resolved,” Piñol said in a statement.

He said the governor heeded the request by President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Bong Go “to settle the problem amicably.”

Equipment sent by the provincial government to destroy the barricades had been withdrawn.

The feud between Alvarez and Floirendo, erstwhile pals, came to a head when Alvarez was ousted as Speaker. Floirendo denied having a role in it.

Since their feud, Alvarez has been targeting Tadeco, knowing that it would hurt the Floirendos financially. Germelina Lacorte/TSB

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TAGS: Alvarez, Bananas, biosecurity, Davao Del Norte, demolition, DILG, Feud, Floirendo, Tadeco
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