The Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco), based in Davao del Norte, is the Philippines’ biggest producer and exporter of fresh Cavendish bananas. The giant banana company, founded in the 60s by the late Don Antonio Floirendo Sr., made Davao del Norte the banana capital of the country and placed the Philippines in the world map of major Cavendish banana producers alongside the old banana producing countries of Latin America.
Today, Don Floirendo’s trailblazing foray into banana growing has been replicated by many other companies elsewhere in Mindanao to become the Philippine southern island’s major dollar earning industry. Since its founding in the 60s, Tadeco played key role in the growth of the once infant industry that has triggered a wide range of diverse industries that spun off from the pioneering effort of Don Floirendo. The biggest beneficiary of Tadeco’s banana business is its home base Davao del Norte, where it contributes substantial taxes to the local government. Large, medium and small businesses also sprung up to respond to the service and supply needs of the company and its thousands of employees. Today, Tadeco is one of the biggest taxpayers and employers in the province. Davao del Norte’s development from an outback province in the Davao Region to Southern Mindanao’s fastest growing province today can be credited in part to Tadeco, with both the public and private sector acknowledging its contribution to the economic development of the province. It is for this reason that the business sector, the labor sector and the general public including Davao del Norte’s municipal and provincial officials rose up as one to protest an attempt by an economic saboteur named Panty to derail Tadeco’s continuing efforts to contribute to the economic development of the province and its people. Panty reaped a whirlwind of criticisms from the various sectors and the municipalities and cities which passed resolutions to defend Tadeco against Panty’s questioning of the legality of the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) entered into decades ago by Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections covering about 5,000 hectares of reservation area of the Davao Penal Colony. The once barren Dapecol area had been developed by Tadeco into a productive banana plantation that employs thousands including inmates of Dapecol who are under a penal rehabilitation program that prepares them for life outside of prison walls when they complete their sentence. The JVA that provides a share to government from the produce, was approved by Congress and the Office of the President. The JVA is a major component of the Tadeco banana growing operation. For questioning the legality of the JVA, a tsunami of hate and scorn has fallen on Panty, who is accused of being an economic saboteur of the economic development of the province and its people. Panty is running for an elective post in the May 13 election in Davao del Norte.