DOJ backs Solgen’s opinion striking down BUCOR-TADECO deal

May 4, 2017 - 1:16 AM
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File photo of Solicitor General Jose Calida

MANILA – The Department of Justice has thrown its support behind the legal opinion of the Office of the Solicitor General declaring void the land deal of the Bureau of Corrections and the Floirendo-owned Tagum Agricultural and Development Co (TADECO).

In its initial findings, the DOJ said the deal is void because it is illegal.

A 7-page letter sent to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez – who had sought the opinion – by DOJ Undersecretary Raymund Mecate “by authority of the secretary” contained a summary of the preliminary fact-finding investigation report submitted by the DOJ fact-finding committee.

Mecate’s letter made it clear, however, the initial report of the panel is “without prejudice” to the final review and approval of the DOJ secretary.

According to the DOJ committee report, the land of the Davao penal colony that became subject of the BUCOR-TADECO deal cannot be the subject of a joint venture agreement because it is part of the public domain.

Moreover, the 2013 BUCOR-TADECO deal cano no longer be considered a joint venture agreement under existing jurisprudence.

The BUCOR-TADECO deal fell short of legal requirements; there was no evidence of a real sharing of profit and loss; and that BUCOR’s participation in the supposed joint venture was very minimal, said the DOJ.

The DOJ stressed that under the Constitution, there is a limit – 1,000 hectares – to the public agricultural land that can be leased to a private company.

In the case of the Davao penal colony, the land subjected to the agreement with the Floirendo group exceeded 5,000 hectares.

The DOJ report said the existing BUCOR-TADECO deal was not even subjected to public auction or bidding, in violation of the Public Land Act or Commonwealth Act No. 141.

Moreover, the agreement between BUCOR and TADECO that began in 1969 and is supposed to run till 2029 exceeds by 10 years the 50-year limit set by law for such kind of arrangement, said DOJ.