Tug of war in the co-op movement?

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok - CDN Digital | November 24,2019 - 06:42 AM

The end of 2019 feels like it’s flying by, what with so many milestones and events that my friends in the co-operative movement hardly have time chewing over major developments while thinking of the next exciting conference.  

On August 8 this year, President Duterte signed into law RA 11364 or the Cooperative Development Authority Charter of 2019. The law effectively repeals RA 6939 and revised the CDA Charter, which was passed in 1990.  Institutional reforms contemplated in the law authored by Senator Miguel Zubiri got the sector excited as they met in a series of consultations to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations.  

The IRRs are needed to carry out the policies and objectives of RA 11364 but I heard the consensus takings have not been congenial.  According to a well-placed source, one of thorny issues causing tension between CDA executives and co-op stakeholders is with regards to the development of co-operatives.  

The Philippine Cooperative Center PCC, the presumptive apex body is reportedly pushing for a more active and bigger role in the development of co-ops since they believe they are more pro-active and attuned to the concerns of the sector. However, the agency cannot simply let go of this strategic function since it lends itself to the achievement of the agency’s goals.  

The role of the government lies in registration, legislation and regulation of co-operatives.  Other functions include supervision, audit, research, evaluation, technical assistance, education and training. 

On the other hand, the private sector is an essential player in the development field. Cooperatives’ actions have a particularly significant impact, since they function as efficient networks and encourage worldwide exchanges, such as discussions on good practices and reinforced partnerships between diverse cooperative actors. In addition to this collaborative approach, cooperatives have rich resources in human capacity, technical assistance, and finance. (Cooperatives in Development, Cooperatives Europe Development Platform)

I agree with former Coop Natcco Party List Congressman Cresente Paez who, during a chat over the advocacy show Co-op TV, said neither the state nor the private sector can do it alone. They should consider complementary roles since each has its own unique qualities, values and worth which are better combined and enhanced for the greater good. 


While this seeming tug of war was going on behind the scenes, I was in Tagaytay City last week attending the 2nd Eskwela Kooperatiba National Conference for the Development of Youth and Laboratory Cooperatives. 

Sponsored by the City of Imus Cooperative, Livelihood & Entrepreneurial Development Office CICLEDO, Department of Education (Division of Imus), CDA and other public and private partners, the three-day event drew close to a thousand participants from different local government units, Sangguniang Kabataan and co-operatives all over the country eager to know more about the great success of Imus in setting up laboratory co-ops.  

Co-operatives are called to promote the socio-development of the youth by educating them on the values and principles of self help through laboratory co-ops. The rationale of the legal framework embodied in RA 9520 is to “incubate” the youth in an environment where they interact with people their age under the supervision of a guardian co-operative.

The idea of starting them young is easier said than done because young people do not understand the workings of co-ops and can hardly relate to the business model. They think it’s low tech and run by old people with Jurassic mindsets and it’s hard to argue with them because they’re correct in many respects.

Against this woeful backdrop, former CDA Chairman Emmanuel “Mannie” Santiaguel designed a program for the City of Imus led by Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi who, fortunately, is also passionate about alternative economy.  The aim is to draw students to the movement by inculcating in them the values of thrift and savings as a preparation for them to make co-op a lifestyle once they reach the age of majority.  The program looked good on paper but didn’t tweak the interest of the students until Mayor Maliksi “incentivized” the program.

For example, CICLEDO set up Eko-Kooperatiba which enabled students to convert their recyclable wastes into savings. Soon after, popular fast food chains went on board by giving young co-operators discounts through “Bida Cards.” The innovation worked like magic and to date, membership in laboratory coop increased from a few thousands to more than 40,000 and raised over P17 million in savings deposit.  No wonder, the City of Imus has racked up numerous awards, the most notable of course is the Laboratory Cooperative Champion award given by CDA. 

Still, if an award is to be given it is to Cavite’s co-op thought and action tandem, Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi and Dr. Mannie Santiaguel for coming up with a youth program with international values.  The “intergenerational sustainability of co-ops” resonates not only in the Philippines but also with co-operatives and credit unions worldwide.  (To be continued) 

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