Co-op believer and supporter
Shared meals with his mother in a government hospital canteen ran by a co-operative when he was still a young boy and interaction with co-op leaders and members during the 2010 and 2013 gubernatorial campaign may not count for a full-immersion program in the self-help sector.
But Cebu Governor Hilario “Junjun” Davide III turned out to be a staunch believer and supporter of cooperatives.
In a TV appearance over the advocacy show “Co-op TV” (CCTN Channel 47) last Saturday, Governor Davide said the exposures gave him a glimpse of what co-ops can do in helping people improve their lives.
Davide ran and lost the gubernatorial race to Gwendolyn Garcia in 2010. In his second bid for the same post in 2013, he won against Pablo John Garcia, Gwendolyn’s younger brother. He was reelected in 2016. During the campaign seasons of 2010 and 2013, Davide made a promise to give co-ops “importance” under his administration.
Five months into his first term, he called for a multisectoral summit to gather feedback on the needs of different sectors including co-ops. The October 2013 summit was followed by another meeting, this time exclusively for the self-help sector.
Davide’s close engagement with the cooperatives may be gleaned through his initiatives: logistical assistance through the federation of accredited co-ops called Cebu Province Association of Accredited Co-operatives (CPAAC); the creation of a co-operative business hub in the Cebu South Bus Terminal; free mandatory trainings for small and micro-coops and the construction of a three-storey cooperative building. He was quick to clarify that he did not initiate these projects on his own but through consultations with the sector and upon recommendation of Capitol consultant for cooperative affairs, Atty. Herculene Rizon.
The free mandatory trainings conducted last year for southern co-ops were especially helpful for small and micro-coops that can barely make both ends meet. The idea of a co-op building where the sector can hold meetings was also sparked by discussions among stakeholders, mostly belonging to small and micro cooperatives, according to Davide.
“Cooperatives are willing to help. All you do is ask them. Many, if not most, of them are idealistic. You could see their passion and their drive to really help out,” Davide said. He mentioned Ellen Limocon, general manager of the highly diversified Lamac Multi-Purpose Co-operative based in Lamac, Pinamungajan, Cebu.
The Cebu governor revealed that a three-storey co-op building will soon rise in the province-owned lot in M. Velez Street. He initially approved a budget of P3 million to cover the construction of the first floor. There will be additional appropriations for the second floor and uppermost floors in succeeding years to complete the project. He expects the first floor of the co-op building to be finished by 2018.
The province has also invested P3 million in the Credit Surety Fund (CSF). Designed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the CSF pools the resources of co-ops and the local government unit for co-op members who may wish to access livelihood loans.
“People should be encouraged to join co-operatives in their own locality or join big co-ops in other areas,” Davide emphasized.
Davide, who is reserved by nature, expressed his admiration for many co-op leaders. Asked if his exposure and close engagement with cooperatives have changed his perspective, Davide replied: “I believe so. When I look at people in cooperatives I realize there are so many people even better than ourselves.”
“I look forward to the day that elective officials are leaders of cooperatives. I know they can contribute a lot, especially the advocates. They have the discipline and skills in handling people. You can depend on a lot of leaders and members of cooperatives,” Davide stressed.
Next week, more than 900 co-ops in Cebu are expected to cap this year’s National Co-operative Month celebration with a party in a five-star venue. Indeed, there are many reasons to be thankful for, and I think one of them is the Capitol’s all-out support for the sector.
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