Tawan-Tawan Residents Storm Floirendo Firm Over Drainage

Apr. 26, 2007

DAVAO CITY — The patience of the residents of Barangay Tawan-Tawan in Baguio District has worn out pushing them to storm the main office of the Floirendo-owned Davao Agri-ventures Corp, (Davco) in Lanang to again demand from the company to do something about their problem on the absence of a comprehensive drainage system in the village that has resulted in flooding and impassable roads.

The residents are taking Davco responsible for this because the company put up hundreds of hectares of pineapple plantation in the village without setting-up the needed drainage system that is required in their environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

Village Councilor Danilo Gumapac, head of the Barangay Council committee on environment, said they were prompted to go straight to the Davco office because they wanted to lodge their complaint to the company officials like Anton Lagdameo himself.

We are here to personally air our complaints. The people of Tawan-Tawan, with their complaints, have been ignored in the past. It has been almost four years already and we want to tell them that we are all fed up with the constant promises they give that they will fix the drainage but it has never been done, Gumapac said.

We are not taking no for an answer. If they will promise something again, they better keep it because we are really, really tired of all of their promises. The people of Tawan-Tawan have suffered so much because of their neglect and abandonment of their responsibility, Gumapac said.

After the big flood that hit the village and destroyed many properties in 2003, the residents of Tawan-Tawan have been demanding for the company to set-up a comprehensive drainage system in the plantation area, which according to them can avoid flooding.

At least five residents are also pressing the company to pay them for property and crop damages which was caused by the flood. This was also denied to them by the company despite many promises and assurances by some of its representatives during various negotiation attempts.

Teresita Sumalpong, a resident claiming at least P12,000 for her crops lost during the flood, said they have been constantly asking the company to pay them but to no avail. This despite the companys payment of the claim of two other residents of the village.

Why is the company not paying us when they paid two of our colleagues? Is it because there are no prominent people backing up our claim or is it because the company just do not give much importance on poor people like us, Sumalpong said.

Everytime it rains, the roads of Tawan-Tawan become the virtual drainage of water rendering the road impassable. There have also been reports of farm animals being swept away by the current. Parents are also fearful of the safety of their children.

Nelson Umblero, Davco administrative manager, said the company will again seek an audience with the residents of Tawan-Tawan to discuss their demands and claims. The residents and Umblero agreed to meet on Monday.

He said the company is likely to agree into an amicable settlement if the residents claim and demands are reasonable.

I know that their complaints and their requests have been lodged here for so long time now and it appears that the company denied these. We will see what we can do with this, Umblero said.

Few years back, the problem in Tawan-Tawan has prompted the villagers, led by the Barangay council, to barricade the road leading to the village to prevent Davco trucks from entering the area. The move paralyzed the operation of the company for a time.

The standoff forced Lagdameo to go to the community and talk to them. A villager, who requested anonymity, said they will not hesitate to close the Barangay roads again if their demands will not be given appropriate attention by the company. (Jeffrey Tupas)

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