Davao del Norte officials numbering close to 200 toured in four batches the controversial roads of the Dapecol reservation area under the joint venture agreement (JVA) between Tagum Agricultural Development Co., Inc (TADECO) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) of the Department of Justice.
The tours commenced last Wednesday, April 11 and ended last Saturday, April 14.
The tours were conducted to provide the officials opportunity to take a look-see at farm roads alleged by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as public roads and closed off by Tadeco from public passage.
Tadeco has said that people and vehicles have access to the farm roads but were required to pass through bio-security gates with foot bath and tire dip facilities to thwart entry of the deadly Panama Disease (Fusarium Wilt) into the farm.
The tours were organized by Tadeco/BuCor at the instance of the intercession initiated by three barangay captains of Sto Tomas town, praying among others since 2014 that the temporarily closed farm roads of the reservation area be opened for public use and access.
It was learned not all public roads are for public use and access such as roads situated in government reservations like the roads in LGU compounds, educational institutions, military camps, national/local parks and plazas, forest reserves and penal farms.
Their public use and access are almost always restricted thru the implementation of government approved security protocols, it was learned.
Tour participants were Davao del Norte provincial officials, local and barangay officials of Panabo City and LGUs of Carmen, B.E. Dujali and Sto Tomas.
Provincial officials were led by its SP Senior Board member Rodolfo ‘Rodney’ del Rosario.
Local officials were led by their respective mayors and vice mayors: Mayor James Gamao of Panabo City and Vice Mayor Janrey ‘Biboy’ Gavina; Vice Mayor Bobong Soriano of Carmen in lieu of the absence of Mayor Jing Perandos who was with a prior meeting commitment; Mayor Leah Marie ‘Tata’ Moral-Romano of B.E. Dujali and Mayor Daniel Batosalem and Vice Mayor Eric Estela of Sto Tomas town.
Playing major hosts were Tadeco executives led by Archie Capoy, Zeus Badil and AOF OIC Brgy Captain Bert Acedo; Dapecol Superintendent Gerardo Padilla; and the three affected barangay captains-Alan Magallanes of Balagunan, Henly Danila of Bobongon and Geronimo Gumanid of Tulalian, all of Sto Tomas town.
The participants first toured the farm road connecting to Brgy Tanglaw of B.E. Dujali.
It being not a public access road, the JVA partners have mounted tire and foot baths as bio security protocols to contain spread of fusarium wilt in its banana plantation and adjoining privately-owned banana farms in its entry and exit points for commuters going in and out of Brgy Tanglaw.
Even as the participants were public officials in their own rights, they were allowed entry only after passing thru the foot baths and their vehicles thru the tire baths, drivers and their seconds and media personalities accompanying them without exceptions.
They also saw in the flesh the on-going construction of tire and foot baths at the exit point of the controversial El Canto farm road that connects to inner Brgys Balagunan, Tulalian and Bobongon which construction is at the instance of the intercession of the three affected barangay captains so their constituents can access the outside world thru the shortest route from their places of origin.
The last day tour participants also entered the access road in the boundary of the reservation area which was purposely constructed by Tadeco/BuCor immediately after the temporary closures of El Canto and Bugtong Lubi roads sometimes in 2013 as alternate route, though longer, for commuters plying the national highway-Balagunan-Tulalian-Bobongon routes.
Officials also saw the improved conditions of the once severely fusarium wilt-infected farms in the boundaries of the JVA area whose owners, themselves banana growers, partly complied with conditions set by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and a provincial ordinance in containing the spread of fusarium wilt in the banana farmlands.
Participants were also briefed why Dapecol farmroads, in particular El Canto and Bugtong Lubi which have no tire and foot baths in their entry and exit points were temporarily closed pending compliance of conditions set by BPI and the provincial ordinance by independent growers in the boundaries of the reservation area.
Officals opposed to the temporary closure of the road without having to appreciate the intercession initiated by the three barangay captains, let alone their agenda for political prominence, were ‘no show’ in the four-day tour.
Either the opposition officials were invited or not, their absence is for apparent obvious reasons.