REVERSED PUNCH: Balancing act for the PNP

If it were a boxing bout, the punches thrown at the Tagum Agricultural Development Company by way of a congressional inquiry had largely been ineffectual at best.

They were glancing blows at most, the type delivered at the initial stage of the game in a bid to test the waters, to psyche out the opponent, and to determine how to proceed over the long haul.

Yet other than what one side has been feeding the House of Representatives, the House committees found themselves staring with uncertainty as to how the inquiry would proceed.

The committee’s order to survey the existing public roads in and out of TADECO turned out to be ill-advised. It turned out that the roads were farm roads built by TADECO not public roads built with public funds. Despite this, we found ANFLOCOR president Alexander Valoria in high spirits on Monday during the launching of Tadeco’s AgroTechnical Outreach Program that formally made available to this region TADECO’s world class laboratory services in producing disease-resistant banana plantlets and in countering the threat of fusarium wilt.

He said he was also assured by PNP regional director C/Supt. Manuel R. Gaerlan that his job “is not to dismantle but to keep the peace.”

Besides, C/Supt. Gaerlan can be said to have an enviable assignment as the honcho to reckon with in President Duterte’s home region.

It also comes at a most interesting time when the region is brimming at the seams with economic activities and development.

The region has also become a tourist destination, and Martial Law notwithstanding, the flow of tourists and investors cannot be denied.

But what the police general probably did not bargain for was to find his office caught in the middle of a political stand-off between some of this region’s colorful personalities, or how else describe the feud initiated by House Speaker Pantaleon against fellow legislator Antonio Floirendo, Jr.?

It is my guess that when the police official first got a copy of a House committee communication directing his office to remove road blocks and to clear the public roads surrounding and leading to the Davao Penal Colony, he was more amused than surprised.

It is not often that a PNP regional office gets a direct order from several committees of the House of Representatives. But probably reading between the lines, his office acted as professionally as possible and was not stampeded into action as some congressmen would have expected him to do so.

And while it is true that several policemen were there when a DPWH team tackled a steel barrier in a show of machismo, they acted with utmost restraint. .

The policemen were strictly speaking, merely observing.

Probably, the leader of the DPWH team was just going through the motion of compliance as he thought it best to leave the barrier damaged than removed. It cannot be said that he did not try.

It is also possible that DPWH team leader himself got the order ‘to charge the barricade’ from a member of the House of Representatives himself as one chief of hospital experienced when he was ordered not to invite the provincial governor to the groundbreaking of a mini-hospital in San Isidro town.

If the team leader was joking, TADECO was not. Last we heard, the banana corporation may have already filed a case of malicious mischief against the team, topped by an administrative case against the DPWH engineer and the staff of congressman for graft. The idea of getting suspended is not a pleasing thought if the Ombudsman gets the notion.

As to the PNP, it is a case of monitoring and observing and ensuring that nothing gets out of hand, as a nurse would to a patient.

It is a balancing act, and like it or not, the police general may already be enjoying this part of the job. It comes with the territory.

What next for the chief actors in the story? Alvarez has tried the ‘frontal attack’ but it miserably failed. Perhaps taking a cue from fellow reserve Col. and Senator Manny Pacquiao, Alvarez may be tempted to settle the matter with Floirendo in the ring, matira ang matibay. Possible but not likely to happen.

I am also ruling out a duel with arnis sticks considering that Alvarez has so far not shown an inclination for a face-off, preferring others to do his bidding.

If this is a game chess, Alvarez prefers to telegraph his moves, away from the board. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Here is Valoria’s thoughts on TADECO’s trailblazing Agro-technical outreach program:

“Today is a milestone in our continuing effort to improve production in terms of both quality and volume in our banana business and also for other agricultural crops.  It is the culmination of the hard work of tadeco’s research team led by Dr. Corcolon, the company’s investment of over P100m and even a grant from the Dutch government through their Promo Banana Project.

Today we launch Tadeco’s AgroTechnical Outreach Program that makes world class laboratory services that are so critical for our agricultural operations available right here in the middle of Davao del Norte. We made that commitment to many of our fellow Bananeros and to government. And today it is a reality.

To be able to check on soil nutrient status, diagnosis of diseases through conventional and molecular approaches eg for FW in plants or soil or in water, root health status, active ingredient analysis for formulated products, analysis of fertilizers, etc. quickly and here in Davao del Norte will be a huge advantage for the banana industry.  Furthermore, we will be selling tissue cultured planting material that is FW tolerant as well as selling trichoderma packs that we ourselves use extensively and consider integral to our program against FW.

Last year 2017, Tadeco achieved new production records. Tadeco produced 35.99 million boxes. Our ABC farms produced another 3 million boxes for an aggregate of 39 million boxes.  The planation average yield was 5,400 boxes per hectare, overall for Tadeco.  I congratulate the Tadeco team for such an accomplishment!

Obviously, such production and quality levels could not have been reached without the advantage of a world class agricultural laboratory and technical personnel. We want to share this advantage with the rest of the banana industry and that is why today is important for all of us.

From 2011 to 2016, annual fresh banana exports of the Philippines dropped by 50 million boxes. In the same time frame, annual banana exports from Central and South America increased by 137 million boxes. Thus we see their bananas in China, Japan, Korea and the ME in increasing numbers. In the last Corbana meeting, C and South American banana associations stated clearly that they will continue to penetrate the Asian market.  We cannot allow that to do that. Together, as the Philippine banana industry, we must meet and defeat that threat to our markets. That can only be achieved if our industry will produce much more banana exports. We need to regain the ground that we lost in our Asian markets and even threaten their own US and European markets with Philippine bananas. These laboratory services and products will be integral to the success of those objectives.”