Hitting the ground running

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok June 25,2018 - 10:47 PM

Malou Guanzon-Apalisok

The Cooperative Development Authority CDA is considering a complete revamp of its extension offices throughout the country in light of contro-
versies stemming from the case of an errant co-op.

This was disclosed by OIC CDA Chairman of the Board of Administrators, Benjie S. Oliva, who at 36 years old is probably the youngest person to have held the highest post of the regulatory body.

Oliva assumed the position last June 6 after Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco approved Chairman Orlando Ravanera’s leave of absence dated June 01.

But according to Oliva, Ravanera was more absent than present at the CDA headquarters in Quezon City since March 1 to May 31.

The situation affected the agency and prompted the board to pass a resolution designating him as OIC Chairman.

A week after CabSec Evasco approved Ravanera’s leave, the Cabinet executive confirmed Oliva’s designation as OIC Chairman of the CDA Board of Administrators.

A native of Catigbian, Bohol, Oliva is an agriculturist by profession.

He graduated cum laude at the Bohol Island State University in Bilar and later gained his Master’s Degree in Agricultural Development with summa cum laude honors.

He has clocked an impressive public service record: as consultant of the Philippine Senate, Chief of Operation of the Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Regional Engagement Unit, Project Director of Kabayanihan Foundation, Inc. and Commissioner of the National Youth Commission during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He is an expert in national budget legislation, agriculture, rural development and youth development. If Oliva’s OICship is extended because of Chairman Ravanera’s legal problems, Oliva is a welcome if not a laudable replacement.

He is not only well-qualified but possessed of a determination that hopefully, with the support of other board members, will steamroller the much needed change in the agency.

I got this sense he is hitting the CDA ground running when we talked about the case of Nutriwealth Multipurpose Cooperative during last week’s interview over “Co-op TV” (CCTN Channel 47).

In November last year, Nutriwealth was slapped by a series of Cease and Desist Orders CDOs issued by the Manila Extension Office MEO owing to violations committed against its own Articles of Cooperation and By Laws ACBLs.

To everyone’s dismay, the CDOs which specifically ordered Nutriwealth from performing specific acts like accepting deposits from its members and non-members, engaging in business enterprises not determined by feasibility studies, operating satellite offices outside its area of operation, and to return the deposit of its members within 120 days from receipt of the CDOs were good only on paper.

Seeing the lack of interest on the part of CDA MEO to track Nutriwealth’s compliance, the Board of Administrators finally lowered the boom on MEO Director Nonie Hernandez but her transfer to the Institutional Development Department was stalled because of the Barangay and SK polls which bans the transfer and detailing of civil service employees during election season (April 14 – May 21, 2018). Around this time, Chairman Ravanera was already scarce in the CDA office.

As this developed, Nutriwealth amended its ACBLs to address its operational problems and despite the furor that surrounded the issue, Director Hernandez approved the amendments and had it authenticated with a computer-generated signature of Chairman Orlando Ravanera.

The strategy to “cure” Nutriwealth’s violations after the fact failed after Administrator Oliva led the BOA charge to suspend the effectivity of the amendments.

In light of developments, Chairman Oliva disclosed the agency is considering a revamp of its extension offices even as he virtually admitted that the Nutriwealth case has demonstrated the weakness of the regulatory body. With some regulators developing close relationships with certain co-ops, objectivity became a casualty.

The new man at the MEO helm is lawyer Erick Robles. Chairman Oliva stressed CDA is “bringing the legal” to the said office because he wants to get to the bottom of numerous complaints, not just Nutriwealth, coming from various stakeholders. The Nutriwealth case is going through a legal process and will be resolved next month, according to Oliva.

This coming August, the CDA will launch a campaign against bogus cooperatives in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas.

The multi-agency drive is also meant to flush out investment scams in the guise of cooperatives who have swindled many people and especially OFWs out of their hard-earned money through Ponzi-schemes.

The case of OFW Cooperative which is being marketed by CoopHub is almost resolved, with the coop seen to lose its certificate of registration, according to Oliva.

And by the way, CDA’s Gawad Parangal will have its swan song in October this year according to the youthful OIC Chair.

The ruinous effect of Nutriwealth on the agency’s organic awards has also prompted the BOA to reinvent the mechanics of giving recognition to worthy cooperatives, leaders and institutions by streamlining and simplifying the different categories in particular rites instead of bunching all categories in one ceremony.

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