BUKIDNON GOVERNOR ENTERS
DOLE-DEL MONTE FRAY
Cagayan de Oro City, March 22, 1999 - The battle royale between two multinational food giants over who can plant what product where continues to escalate, with even the Bukidnon governor appearing to take sides.
Gov. Carlos Fortich of Bukidnon has branded as an act of arrogance the move of a multinational food company to implement a plantation project without properly coordinating with the local government units (LGUs) in the province.
Fortich said that Dole Philippines Inc.,undermined the local governments of Sumilao and Impasug-ong and that of the province, and violated the autonomy of the LGUs when it started its sweet-banana plantation project without any permit from the two towns.
He said Dole was remiss in recognizing the authority of the LGUs and instead had gone ahead with the banana plantation as if a duly constituted governments did not exist.
"I cannot understand the character of this multinational company which came to our province and just cannot respect local officials and their decision in not allowing it to go ahead with its project," Fortich said.
Dole has recently started a sweet-banana plantation with Farm Cooperative Inc., its partner, in Laruk, Sumilao town, despite opposition from existing industries like Del Monte Philippines Inc., which operates a pineapple plantation in the town, the poultry raisers of Bukidnon and the local government.
He said that besides the apprehensions of the existing industries that a banana plantation, alongside their operations, would adversely affect their production, the provincial government had already designated Sumilao and Impasug-ong as part of the province's high-value crop-production area.
He said that although a year ago, Dole had approached him and talked about investing in Bukidnon, "the company did not specify the type and identify the location of the project."
"Dole's arrogance has already done damage to our developmental programs, in addition to the chemical pollution it would create once they fully operate," Fortich said.
The existing industries, Del Monte's pineapple and poultry raisers like Swift, San Miguel and Purefoods, contend that Dole's banana venture would rely heavily on chemicals to maintain fruit quality and productivity. Del Monte said these chemicals would find their way to its pineapples, thus harming the product's viability in the export market.
Meanwhile, the poultry raisers said nearby poultry farms would become polluted and that the banana plants would obstruct the wind flow needed to maintain the temperature ideal for poultry production.
"As much as we want to invite investors in the province, we welcome Dole's intentions, but they could have first consulted the local officials so that they could be properly advised with regard to the LGUs' priority programs and not mess them up," Fortich said. He said that Dole further revealed its arrogance when the company invited the provincial board members for an exploratory visit to the company's banana plantation in Davao. Fortich alleged that the invitation came with an offer of money.
"Dole's invitation was at the onset already an attempt to bribe the board members when it promised a financial consideration attached to the visit," Fortich said.
Dole denied the allegation.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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