THE Commission on Audit has recommended the filing of corruption charges against the Justice department and Bureau of Corrections officials who signed and approved a joint-venture agreement with Tagum Agricultural Development Co. Inc.
The deal was over Tagum’s use of government land for a 3,000-hectare banana plantation in 1969 that the commission says was illegal because there had been no auction.
“[The] Public officials involved in the BuCor-Tadeco [deal] may be prosecuted under Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 [Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act],” the commission said in a 2016 audit report.
The agency said the officials’ decision to allow Tadeco to use government land without a public auction resulted in giving the private company unwarranted benefits.
“We also recommended that [the Bureau of Corrections] management initiate the filing of criminal action before the Office of the Ombudsman for the patent violation of laws and the Constitution,” the commission said.
On Dec. 26, 1969 under the Marcos regime, the government and Tadeco signed a 25-year contract that was renewed on May 21, 2003 under the Arroyo administration.
The auditors said the land subject to the agreement was located in the Davao Prison and Penal Farm, which they said was non-alienable and hence outside the commerce of man.
They said that made the deal “inexistent and void from the beginning, adding the period covered by the deal was 60 years, which exceeded the constitutional limit of 50 years.
The commission backed the Justice department’s May 29 position paper saying the classification of the deal as a land-lease or joint-venture agreement did not make it legal.