Co-operators all over the Philippines officially began the celebration of the 2021 Philippine Cooperative Month in simple online ceremonies this morning led by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
Theme for this year's Cooperative Month is Kooperatibang Matatag: Tumutugon sa mga Hamon, Daan sa Pagbangon, Nagbibigay Pag-asa sa Makabagong Panahon! (Robust Cooperatives Rising to Challenges, Giving Hope in the New Age.)
While the Philippine co-op sector has traditionally celebrated Cooperative Month in previous Octobers, it was not until December 2020 when President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law RA 11502 declaring October to be the Cooperative Month.
Every October co-operators had been organizing events, seminars and related activities that showcase the role of cooperatives in national development and as partners of government in delivering services and programs.
However, with the pandemic, the sector will be celebrating the Cooperative Month mostly online on Zoom or social media.
Online festivities began at 9:00 AM on October 1, with the host, Jojo Hallazgo, declaring: “This pandemic has shown the resilience of the Philippine cooperatives, and have responded to the challenges set upon them. But more importantly they have made the resources and services available for the good of their communities, enabling their communities to rise above the difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our cooperatives continue to bring hope in these challenging times. Today, we acknowledge and honor our cooperatives that are persevering in their generous nature.”
CDA Acting Administrator Myrla B. Paradillo welcomed delegates composed of officials of the Department of Trade & Industry, the Senate, Congress, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and co-op leaders, saying: “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperatives have continued to be the beacon of hope in our communities. And the Cooperative Development Authority has been with the cooperative sector all the way.”
According to the CDA, right after the Cooperative Code of 1990 became law, cooperative membership grew from 1.6 million in 1991 to 5.27 million in 1995. That was a 724% growth, thus making the co-op sector the fastest growing sector at that time.
By 2001, business volume generated by cooperatives in 2001 had reached Php 627 Billion.
The new Cooperative Code of 2008 was signed into law by President Gloria Arroyo, and membership in co-ops reached 12 million in 2014.
CDA records show there are 18,848 registered and operating cooperatives in 2021, with combined assets of Php 572 Billion and 360,000 personnel.
Leaders of the United Cooperative Movement of the Philippines led the sector in the Cooperative Month Declaration: “With the aim of building the Filipino nation, by enabling every Filipino to eliminate poverty and have a stake in the economy, that from this day forward, we shall unite and combine our God-given talents, resources, and time, for cooperatives to contribute to the Philippine economy. We will advance our position in agriculture, education and advocacy, in utilities like electricity and water, transport, production, marketing, logistics and retailing, health, housing, labor service, and especially credit, financial services, banking and insurance. We recommit ourselves to this journey, we will conduct our business with the highest integrity, we will continue to mainstream and advance the cooperative agenda and interests. Our continuing commitment on this first day of October 2021, we solemnly open this second, historic and victorious National Cooperative Month!”
Greeting the cooperative sector were DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, who said: “You are vital economic actors especially in the countryside as you ensure that people can participate in and benefit from our country’s economic growth. You are partners with the DTI in empowering MSMEs down to the grassroots level who are based in far-flung areas.”
“After all, nation-building is no easy task and is not the responsibility of government alone. We are very fortunate na kabalikat po namin ang cooperative movement.”
Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cooperative Development, joined the celebration: “This is the first time we are celebrating Cooperative Month since passing the law that declares October as Cooperative Month, so it is very, very exciting indeed. Ang laki po ng tulong ng mga kooperatiba sa ating mamamayan. During the worst of the pandemic, cooperatives offered not only much-needed assistance, but also a sense of community. And that is the beauty of cooperativism!”
CDA Chairperson Joseph Encabo told the participants: “Walang maiiwan. Sasama-sama tayong aangat tungo sa tagumpay ng sektor ng kooperatiba. Our theme is a testament to all our challenges and breakthroughs. We have remained resilient and hopeful in the pandemic because of our profound alliance as one Filipino nation. As we look forward to a meaningful month, the CDA shares the core of our celebration: the prosperity of all cooperatives.”
President Rodrigo Duterte said: “I acknowledge the vital role of cooperatives in uplifting the lives of many Filipinos, especially as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that the activities this month will encourage more people to join cooperatives in their communities. Together let us surmount our challenges and push our nation’s progress. Mabuhay ang kooperatibang Pilipino!”
Republic Act 11502 known as the Act Declaring the Month of October of Every Year as the National Cooperative Month, was approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on the 16th of December 2020.
For the month of October, the United Cooperative Movement Philippines (UCMP) has prepared events and webinars.
On the 5th of October, UCMP will conduct a commendation event for our fellow cooperators and cooperatives. This will serve as our kick-off event for the Coop Month.
On the 7th, the Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC) will call for a dialogue with Water Cooperatives in order to identify the current issues of the sector. The goal of the dialogue is to create a policy paper that hopefully will help address the issues of water cooperatives.
On the 11th of October, PCC together with the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) will conduct an event focused on revisiting and deepening the identity of cooperatives.
On October 12, the Finance Cluster Forum entitled “Legislative Support for a Cooperative Stabilization Fund” will explore the possibility of creating legislation for a Stabilization Fund as practiced by co-op federations in Asia, North America and Europe. A representative of German federation DGRV will present the framework of the German Stabilization Fund System.
On October 13, PCC will hold a dialogue with the agricultural cluster regarding the issues of the Rice Tariffication Law. As we are still plagued by the pandemic, PCC together with the Coop Health Management Federation (CHMF), will offer a free online webinar discussing mental health during the pandemic on the 14th.
On October 15, the Liga ng mga Cooperative Development Officers ng Pilipinas (LCDOP) will lead the 10th National Tripartite Conference. On the 21st , PCC together with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), and the ASEAN Co-operative Organization (ACO) will hold an international conference about the future readiness of the cooperatives in the country. This event will feature guest speakers from PCC, PUP, and ACO.
As the national elections are nearing, UCMP will also hold “Uniting Coops through the Coop Vote” webinar on the 27th of October. The event aims to consolidate the political voting prowess of the movement in order to create a strong influence in policy making.
Lastly, there will be a culminating event on October 29 in order to close the month long celebration.
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