OPINION: Banana polevaulters, China, CIA

By Cha Monforte

Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario did not mince his words in saying that the pole-vaulting banana growers “deserve to learn their lessons” and “deserve to lose their money”. He said Thursday in roundtable talks with Tagum mediamen after the Kapihan sa Kapitolyo organized by the PIA that one Vic Lao, the chair of the Regional Development Council, should also be “shot at Luneta” for alleged “economic sabotage”, an obviously comical charge made in jest. The governor said he had warned the local bankers a year ago not to put their money to fund the pole-vaulting banana growers.

But since pole-vaulting persisted and it has now resulted to the non-payment to the already shipped bananas, and “ayon nagkalinti-linti na ang mga growers” in the words of Gob Dolfo, hence now bad, bleak days are really ahead for the affected banana growers. He said that due to this pole-vaulting the local banana industry would be losing billions and not millions of pesos this year. That in terms of income lost by the growers and taxes which should suppose go to government coffers.

For the uninitiated, pole-vaulting occurs when a contract banana grower sells his produce to companies other than the one he had signed a contract with. March to April this year the pole-vaulting row between banana growers and banana multinational companies (MNCs) cracked up wide open in public.

For his harsh words, Gob. Dolfo could not be faulted. He said he has not been with the banana industry for 35 years for nothing. He had been there and had known well of the ups and downs of the number one dollar industry in his province. That’s when the governor stood side by side with the Banana King Antonio O. Floirendo Sr. as his right hand man in the making of Tadeco as a leading banana exporter in Asia-Pacific region, and consequentially, the making of Davnor as the Top 1 producer province in the country.

But pole-vaulting growers could not be faulted too. We know that these growers come from at least three origins.

First, there are these landowners whose lands before have been turned into banana plantations of big banana firms and whose 25-year lease contracts had already expired. So they learned to grow cavendish bananas using the already developed plots, sell their produce to banana companies and get higher income from boxes pegged in dollars. Where before their families suffered economic difficulties for being victimized in the tricky downpayment scheme and low monthly rentals from banana firms, now mansions and bungalows are sprouting inside contract-growing banana

Second, there are these ARBs- the agrarian reform beneficiaries who for being benefited by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, they managed to carved out a share of landholdings from banana plantations and vast private lands and organized a coop for banana contract growing. Where before they are poor tillers and workers or employees of banana firms, now they take pride over having their own banana companies run like an MNC.

Third, there are these landowners who after knowing that their neighbors become economically well off out from banana production, they have even their ricelands converted to banana plantations to follow suit to them in this lucrative dollar-earning banana craze in the provinces. The known Compostela granary, Tagum’s Pagsabangan  and even the highland Maragusan are not even spared of this, so with the watersheds and aquifers in the outskirt highlands in Davao metropolis.

Now that growers know how to grow cavendish, they have been dreaming all along they could independently sell their produce direct to the foreign buyers and not passing through the cartel of Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA)- this one which wants the aerial spray- and the MNCs which the growers charged to be buying their produce in low dollar prices.

Enter into the picture Vic Lao and et al, whom the governor tagged as having “no plantation, no contract” and who allegedly dropped the high and mighty name of Malacanang in pursuing the pole-vaulting adventure. He appears to be brokering for the growers to carve their own foreign market niche. He brought the growers’ produce at high dollar prices over those offered by the MNC buyers. One grower said that an MNC affiliate offered only $2.11 per box, while he made more money to the pole-vaulting company which bought his produce at $3.95 per box. That’s a lot of money in difference in terms of thousands of boxes. The pole-vaulters delivered. Until they blew it. Now in the Sto. Tomas-Kapalong-New Corella enclave alone, affected growers have still to collect P78 million from the pole-vaulting banana marketers. Bankers, too, who fund the pole-vaulting are standing to lose. I tell you so, Gob Dolfo reminds.

I think the aim of the pole-vaulters is good- that in giving high prices for the growers. That’s good for the economy. But it puts banana MNCs into a fit of so jealous rage. What is not good is that they lead the growers to renege their contracts with the PGBEA cartel and MNCs.

It is said that pole-vaulting started when China opened its market even for Class B bananas than the Class A bananas the cartel and MNCs want to buy. That’s 1 billion of banana eaters out there versus the 88 million Pinoy consumers. It’s good for the economy, regardless that cheap China-made products have long flooded the country including milk adulterated with the dreaded melamine. The pole-vaulting could have been our country’s sweet revenge that’s initiated by our own growers. But sadly, the pole-vaulters blew it.

But here’s this devil’s advocacy: maybe the MNCs which have known links with the CIA have the latter enlisted to sabotage the Pinoy pole-vaulters’ marketing initiatives in China. After all, the CIA is known behind the strings of downfall of regimes in Banana Republics in Latin America. (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com, e-mail: chamonforte@yahoo.com)


One Response to “OPINION: Banana polevaulters, China, CIA”

  1. Eric Tubo Says:

    Agree. 🙂

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