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A little over a month after President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Mindanao Development Authority to settle the problems which led to the closure of two huge banana farms in Maguindanao Province, one of the farms is set to start rehabilitation soon.

After a series of consultations and negotiations with the bank, the owners of the land and the corporation which used to operate the 1,500-hectare farm in Datu Paglas, an agreement was finally reached laste week which could lead to the start of the rehabilitation and an expected reopening of the former La Fruttera Banana Plantation.

Last week, I and the MinDA staff joined officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines led by Director Rogelio Garcia and Southern Mindanao Vice President Annie Veloso in meeting with members of the Paglas Family which owns 500-hectares of the plantation and Unifrutti President Alberto Bacani in the plantation site.

Among the points agreed were:

1. The Paglas Family which owns 500-hectares of the plantation will take over the operation of their area under the Paglas Corporation and acquire the assets of the UGP Corporation owned by John Perinne;

2. Unifrutti Philippines agreed to provide technical and management assistance to Paglas Corp. in rehabilitating the plantation and make it productive in one year;

3. The DBP agreed to finance the rehabilitation and operation of the plantation under Paglas Corp. with the total loan amount to be based on the assets of the corporation;

4. Unifrutti will provide Paglas Corp. a marketing agreement which would ensure the repayment of the loan acquired from DBP.

Since the area to be reopened is only one-third of the original area which employed about 2,000 workers, many of whom are former rebel combatants, MinDA recommended to Paglas Corp. the implementation of a work rotation schedule so that all workers could be accomodated.

MinDA, with the support of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Office of Civil Defense of the Department of National Defense, will continue consolidating assistance for the displaced workers until work has restarted.

With the settlement of the problem in the Datu Paglas banana plantation, MinDA will now focus on the resolution of a similar problem which led to the closure of another banana farm, the Al Sahar Farm in Talayan, Maguindanao, which also employed former rebel combatants.

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