Big banana companies agreeable to bury the hatchet on banana polevaulting with small growers in Davao Norte

Posted in davao del norte banana polevaulting, Stephen Antig executive director of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) with tags , on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

march 28, 2014

by Cha Monforte, Rural Urban News

Representatives of large banana corporations have expressed agreement to settle the issue of pole-vaulting of contracts made by small banana growers and grower cooperatives in Davao del Norte, the country’s No. 1 banana exporter.

During the session of Davao del Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan Monday, Stephen Antig, executive director of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said that there is need “to strike a win-win solution” to the pole-vaulting of contracts made by small banana growers due to high banana prices of “spot buyers.”

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Antig said that polevaulting is one of the problems facing the country’s banana industry alongside the continuing threats of Panama and Sigatoka diseases that give pestilence to banana plantations.

“Polevaulting confronts the banana industry in the last six years and so far we found no solution to it,” he told members of the provincial board.

“Those offering high prices are spot buyers who come in during good times and left and abandoned them (small growers) during good times. They lost their so-called Big Brothers who did not stand by them through thick and thin,” Antig said.

He added that it has come that way because “spot buyers have no investment unlike the corporate farmers.”

Antig however said that the buying price of banana is “supposed to be negotiated every year” adding that there is a need to revisit contracts between the banana companies and small banana growers.

Large banana companies have been facing an issue that they have tied up small growers in contracts with in low buying prices for too long a time that resulted to miserable economic plight of small growers and landowners.

In early 2000s, landowners in Davao del Norte and neighbouring Compostela Valley had started growing their own banana plantations after the contracts leasing their lands for 20 to 30 years to directly farming large banana companies expired. The banana industry in the provinces started in the late 60s and early 70s.

The bananas of small growers were then contracted to be bought by the big banana companies which provided funding and technical support to landowners.

Pole-vaulting of contracts comes when banana growers pole-vaults from their usually long-term contracts with buying banana firms as the supposed sole buyer and they sell the bananas they harvested to other buyers such as the spot buyers like those coming from China.

In the recent years, there were sporadic incidents where small growers and big banana firms went on hostile confrontation like when the latter made road blockade to trucks loaded with bananas of small growers and bound the port for export. They ended in police blotter and jail and in pending legal cases.

The phenomenon on rise of independent small growers and small grower cooperatives engaging with big corporate buyers and spot buyers then started in the province, which alarmed the circle of big corporate banana firms, as small growers gained high income from higher prices and as landowners became rich with them constructing their own bungalows and mansions near their plantations, that they did not dream to happen before.

“It is really a tall order to stop pole-vaulting as the Dept. of Agriculture itself has a hard time to contain it considering that we are in a free enterprise,” Antig pointed out.

Antig presented a situation where landowners even boasted that they were willing to be jailed for pole-vaulting as they could afford to hire lawyers for their plenty of money out from bananas.

He broached the idea that Davao del Norte would enact an anti-polevaulting ordinance similar to the ordinance criminalizing pole-vaulting in South Cotabato.

“The other ordinance I would like to request next is the ordinance against fly-by-night packing banana houses as these affected the quality of our bananas.  In the last three years, there is a tremendous reduction of the volume of bananas that is accepted in China. Penalizing backyard packing houses is a big boost to the industry,” he said.

Severino Mercado, a big banana grower siding with big banana firms, also chided small growers saying “they have no economic size and they just can’t compete with big banana companies”.

He said that high pricing for small growers “only happens once in a while.”

But Board Member Alan Dujali defended the small banana growers saying that the entry of new buyers rather “gives good prices” for bananas, citing that he came to know of growers led by employee retirees of large banana corporations who went into small banana growing and earned enough income.

He questioned the disadvantageous situation faced by banana grower cooperative producing in 200- hectare land with a buying price fixed to only 3 dollars per box of bananas without adjustment in five long years.

He said that if the buying  price is fixed at 2.80 dollars per box, 70 cents of which go to value-added tax, making small growers in difficult financial straits to pay their loans.

“Small growers should be given technical support, facilities, supplies including the chemicals and they should be given a good price that they can continue producing. They are just negotiating prices enough to feed their families. A win-win solution that is fair on both sides is really needed,” Dujali stressed.

Vice Governor Victorio Suaybaguio, Jr said that the legislative body is willing to accommodate the two parties settle the pole-vaulting issue as the banana industry that has made the province great as provider of incomes and thousands of jobs has to be protected.

The current buying price for bananas is reportedly at “high” average 5 dollars per box.

Four years ago the average buying  price of 3 dollars per box of bananas (13.5 kilograms) started after a long post in the range of 1.10 to 2 dollars per box, from the lowest 8 pesos per box in the 80’s.

There are more than 300 small banana growers cultivating in at least 1,500 hectares of land in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley provinces. Small banana growers averaged to cultivate 10-hectare banana plantation while some have as low as 1- to 2-hectare plantation.

There are at least 45,000 hectares of cavendish plantations in the two provinces, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said.

PGBEA said that there are at least 82,000 hectares of banana plantation in 13 provinces in the country. It announced that the 14,000 hectares of banana plantation wrought by typhoon Pablo are now on the road to recovery and would be completely rehabilitated by the “end of 2014 or early 2015″.(Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

Eliot-pushed Investments Incentive Code approved

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

may 16, 2014

The newly approved investments code of Davao del Norte is giving 100-percent real property tax exemption of the share of the provincial government for one year to three years to new firms who would invest in the province.

Board Member Vicente “Enting” Eliot, proponent of the Davao del Norte Investments and Incentives Code of 2014, hailed it as big enabler for the province to attract a lot of investments especially during the Asean integration by 2015.

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“Local government units can seize on a lot of benefits as investors come in,” he said.

Under the code, firms or enterprises- whether small, medium and big scale, would have to register with and be approved first by the Provincial Investment and Incentive Board chaired by the provincial governor.

Investors will able to avail of the exemption of the basic property tax of the provincial share on the land, buildings, equipment and other improvements, as well as the exemption from franchise tax.

Besides, registered enterprises will get full provincial support through non-fiscal incentives such as one-stop business licensing facilitation, market facilitation, assistance on manpower training and development, raw material supply base development and others.

The code also gives incentives to distressed enterprises- those experiencing bad business conditions where at least 50-percent of its facilities or equipment were damaged due to natural calamities or force majeure and fire, or those sustaining damage that prevents the affected enterprise from attaining its normal operation or production capacity causing displacement of workers.

The code identifies 23 Investment Priority Areas (IPAs) that include aqua marine-based industries, manufacturing industries, aqua marine-based industries, information and communication-related industries, wellness and health facilities, shop building and repair, power generation, and other large-scale mining and others. 

It defines types of enterprises as small, which has assets worth P3 million to P15 million, medium with assets worth over P15 million to P100 million, and big-scale with assets worth over P100 million. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

NO SESSION IN SAMAL SP DUE TO LACK OF QUORUM

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

may 12-18, 2014

In an unprecedented case of the present body, the IGACOS City Council adjourned Monday, April 28 past 9:30 A.M. with an obviously irritated Councilor Larry Colmenares moving for adjournment for lack of quorum. It was seconded by Councilor Alberto Ortiz. Protempori presiding officer Councilor Samuel Rosario then banged the gavel.

The body lacked only one councilor to make a quorum, although Councilor Glenn Colmenares was already “downstairs”, within the City Hall vicinity.

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“He came late when the adjournment was already made. He has no more business,” said Rosario in an interview.

“Sayang gyod, daghan untay concerns nga i-take up,” he added.

Before the adjournment, there were only 8 councilors on the floor. The rules of procedure of the IGACOS City Council provides for 9 members to have a quorum. They are expected to begin the session at the strike of 9 AM.

If the vice mayor is absent, the protempori presiding officer would preside the session.
Rosario said he first called for 15 minutes of recess, noting the lack of quorum, then another 10 minutes more of recess.

And when the second recess ended, it was then that Councilor Larry Colmenares moved for an adjournment. 

At press time, it could not yet be immediately known if the legislative body had made a make-up session for the adjourned session for lack of quorum. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

 

Idol VM Boyet welcomes Rellon moves

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

may 12-18, 2014

Tagum City Vice Mayor Boyet “Idol” Gementiza has welcomed the move of the City Mayor Allan Rellon in designating him and Councilor Jun Coquilla as members of the Advisory Committee for the new City Hall’s renewed construction.

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“It’s a good sign of transparency and accountability to think that I and Councilor Coquilla are not his partymates when we ran and won in the last election,” VM Boyet said. (RUN/cm)

Gaviola Hospital rises up in Carmen town (uniquely with free consultations ever)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

may 12-18, 2014

Where can you find a hospital that rises up even if it has been serving mostly ordinary and poor folks with free consultation while those admitted in its emergency room have never been asked of any downpayment?

It’s in Barangay Sto.Nino, Kilometer 35 in Carmen, Davao del Norte. The doctor is in, and he’s the known doktor ng masa- Dr. Jesus Gaviola, owner of Gaviola Hospital.

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“We give as usual free consultation everyday, smiles and priority to serve foremost the yanong lungsuranon,” says Dr. Gaviola, former mayor of Carmen for three terms, from 1998 to 2007.

Gaviola Hospital is known to charge in affordable fees and in giving utmost medical service to the best of its capability. It is transparent in its charges through openly posting specific charges in its range of its hospital services.

“Besides our free consultation, we have strengthened our hospital and health services for the ordinary people,” he said.

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The hospital started only with 10 beds in 1995. Currently, a new bigger hospital building is being constructed and once it is completed it will have 35 beds. At present, it has 18 beds yet.

The hospital is Phihealth-accredited and admits those insured of various insurances such as the Maxicare, Intelicare, Goldcare and Tagum Coop insurance, besides having a built-in package of benefits that asks no downpayment for those admitted in its emergency room.

At present, the hospital’s medical force is composed of 18 nurses, 7 resident physicians, 5 consultants, and Dr. Gaviola as the chief of the hospital.

The upgraded hospital will have four major clinical departments to cater to growing clients especially coming from low-income families mostly from the host municipality. The departments are the outpatient, OB, surgery and pedia, besides the admission service for all general types of disease.

“Our target is to make it a Level 1hospital with complete equipment and complete, quality service that would cater the yanong lungsuranaon,” said the doktor ng masa.

The complete medical center that is rising up in Carmen will then have improved special services such as the operating room, dental service and delivery room.

Because it targets the yanong lungsuranon, who are the priority of the hospital, nurses and front and support personnel have been practicing Doc Gaviola’s code of work ethics.

“First they have always to smile to clients in all walks of life, though how poor they are or they have no slippers or who just come from the farm. Second, they have always to be sensitive to the needs of the hospital clients, and third, they must always give full attention to patients whenever they are caring them,” the doc stresses. 

Now, people going to the hospital, patients and non-patients alike, have been noticed to be in happy mood and are observed to have understood the hospital’s services and limits as they are always seen to be satisfied with the way they are treated by the hospital nurses and employees.

Doc Gaviola has been serving a doctor in active practice for 28 years already. He first became a municipal councilor in 1995 for a term before he subsequently became the Carmen mayor for 3 straight terms.

“I wasted 12 years in practice as a doctor just because I devoted myself for public service. But then the real service of a doctor is public service,” Doc Gaviola waxed poetically.

“I’m happy serving for the health of the people,” he said.

And he believes that the hospital he is building from his hard labor and hard-earned money from operating a hospital that gives free consultations is a great help and intervention to alleviate the yanong lungsuranon in his town. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

 

IGACOS Administrator Gales resigns after congressman’s scolding

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

may 12-18, 2014

IGACOS administrator Cleto Gales is tight-lipped except nodding that the talk that he is resigning from his post is true.

ImageIn a check Monday, April 28 with the city human resource office, a female employee said that Gales had already submitted his resignation letter and that he is considered resigned effective May 1, 2014. She refused to share to the media Gales’ resignation letter.

IGACOS Mayor Aniano Antalan has been tried to be accessed for interview for two weeks already to shed light on Gales’ sudden departure but all he made was a head nod while waiving his hand to signal he did not want to be interviewed by the media.

He was asked again of the question last April 28 mid morning while entering the city gym (beside the legislative building) where a summer youth basketball tournament was being held. He refused and chose to watch the basketball game.

A mediaman Dodie Lupogan said that last April 1 he was at the City Hall when Congressman Anton Lagdameo (Davaodel Norte, 2nd district) arrived. He greeted the congressman “good morning” and he replied with an observed good mood.

But some minutes later, Lupogan added, he saw the congressman hurrying to leave the City Hall visibly not in a good mood already or visibly had gone angry from where he came from.

He learned later from an official present that the congressman had gone mad at Gales inside Mayor Antalan’s office.

A City Hall insider said that the congressman became angry when what was supposed to be a meeting with Mayor Antalan and Gales only, he arrived only to see the department heads, some city councilors and the mayor without Gales.
Gales was a no show and he could not be contacted in his phone.

The congressman, according to the insider, wanted to meet the mayor and Gales to thresh out project deviation and other issues like the penalty imposed to beach resorts as well as to hasten projects on the pipeline and those requested by his constituents.

A sketchy report said that there was that issue on drainage project going to a creek that would traverse a portion of the property of Gales family in Penaplata.

“Mayor Antalan was not scolded, napagsabihan lang,” the insider added.

“Morag gitagoan man gud nila si Gales kang congressman,” he said.

He added that things that the congressman wanted to move on had been unmoving at the discretion of Gales and the mayor and had “accumulated” that reached its peak with that supposed meeting where Gales was a no show and it snapped out the congressman’s patience.

In Monday’s convocation following the incident, Gales accordingly announced before city employees he would resign and would only be up to the end of the month.

Gales was the city administrator since the time of former Mayor Roger Antalan, and had served on the post for 16 years already ending last May 1 during the incumbency of Roger’s younger brother Mayor Aning.(Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

DANECO-CDA execs poised to file syndicated estafa vs. DANECO-NEA execs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 14, 2014 by cha4t

may 12, 2104

After finding out recently that the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco)–NEA has “no juridical personality” for not being registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, officials of the competing Daneco-Cooperative Development Authority (Daneco-CDA) group said that they are now preparing to file a syndicated estafa suit against the rival group.

In a press conference Saturday, Daneco-CDA board chairman Engr. Albert Omega relayed that per certification they got from SEC Manila office dated May 2, 2014 “records of the Commission do not show that that the registration of Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. as a corporation or as a partnership.”

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“For that, nakaseguro gyod mi nga mo file gayod ug syndicated estafa sa ilaha (We’re sure we will file syndicated estafa case against them),” he said referring to the Daneco-NEA management and board officials.

“We will file syndicated estafa for their illegal collection as they have no legal basis to exist. They have no right in the first place. Many Daneco members will file for it,” he continued.

Omega said that as advised by their lawyers a syndicated estafa will be filed because Daneco-NEA officials “acted as a group without juridical personality.”

The copies of SEC certification that Omega gave to reporters was signed by Gerardo F. del Rosario, assistant director of SEC Corporate Filing and Records Division in behalf of SEC Director Ferdinand B. Sales.

On the other hand, Daneco-CDA OIC general manager Engr. Jerold Osorio said that the Daneco- NEA is neither registered with the CDA as it is their group that had registered the Daneco entity with the CDA under Registration. No. 920-11021778.

“So we are the legal one, and they (Daneco-NEA officials) should not insist. Because they continue collecting, they can be liable for syndicated estafa. We have already discussed the possibility of filing that case,” he added.

Osorio recalled that since Sept. 2013 their own collection of electricity bills from member-consumers sank as they temporarily stopped collecting “in compliance to the agreement and to respect” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla who brokered for an agreement to end the Daneco’s woes of infighting between two electric cooperative groups that has lasted to almost three years now.

When they started collecting again after the agreement failed, Osorio added, the Daneco-CDA was saddled with financial difficulties due to low collection.

“Now our collection is increasing and a great number of members are returning to pay to us,” he said.

Omega also said that the agreement with Daneco–NEA first sought for confirmatory referendum supposed to be held on Feb. 16, 2013, and for the unification of two sets of board of directors and managements.

“But Daneco-NEA did not sign the memorandum of agreement, and instead they wanted the MOA turned into Memorandum of Understanding, which they still did not sign when it was done,” Omega claimed.

He charged that Daneco-NEA officials allegedly bluffed Petilla, the governors and mayors during the forging of agreement at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao by allegedly threatening that power supplier PSALM would soon disconnect power and put Daneco’s franchise in total darkness due to ballooning power debt obligations.

Omega said that, on the contrary, power suppliers could not arbitrarily cut power supplies to Daneco without Energy Regulation Commission(ERC) hearings.

Omega further claimed that at the recent the ERC was “not entertaining Daneco-NEA anymore as ERC wanted to deal only with only one Daneco.”

There was a cease and desist order (CDO) issued by NEA to Daneco-CDA last Dec. 13, 2013 to turn over the management and control of Daneco including all the vehicles and equipment but the latter filed a writ on prohibition and mandamus at the Court of Appeals Manila to stop the CDO and the confirmatory referendum . The mandamus case is still not decided at press time.

Daneco-NEA, too, objected the holding of the confirmatory referendum.

Stopping the operations of the Daneco-CDA has all been made in various legal actions of the Daneco-NEA with the support of NEA as its project supervisor since when the once single Daneco entity was ripped two factions apart in July 2012 in a hostile and divisive leadership row.

But Daneco-CDA remains operating as its CDA registration remains unrevoked although it was temporarily suspended by CDA in Sept. 2012 due to Daneco-NEA petition. But CDA lifted the suspension of registration in May 2013.

At present, the two rival groups are still on cat-and-mouse affair in reconnecting meters what the other has disconnected from delinquent member-consumers while they compete to collect from among the more than 150,000 member-consumers in the provinces of Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley including the Samal Island.

Management officials and members of Daneco-NEA board of directors were present and showed their unity during the press conference held at Philippine Cooperative Union (PCU) compound at Magdum, Tagum City, where the Daneco-CDA holds office.

“We decided di na gyod mi moundang, and we believe we can get justice from the court as we already got several favorable court decisions,” Omega declared. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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