The NATCCO Network celebrated on January 23 its 47th Anniversary starting with a Mass held online attended by 500 staff, Management and leaders.
After Mass, Chairperson Maria Corazon Montallana welcomed the participants and encouraged the leaders: “Take accountability for your members seriously, you must accept responsibility, credit and blame for the good and bad things. Then we become good examples to young leaders. After all, failure allows us to learn, improve and enhance.”
Chief Executive Officer Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya gave a brief history of the NATCCO, thanked all for the hard work done to make the federation into one of the largest in the country today with the widest array of services offered to primary cooperatives.
Paraguya also gave a brief state of the network in context of the federation’s history: “If we will look back, we will notice that the pioneers made bold decisions. Likewise, we should make bold decisions today.”
The National Confederation of Cooperatives was established in 1977 by five regional co-op federations at the height of Martial Law. NATCCO was then called the “National Association of Training Centers for Cooperatives.” The objectives were primarily to 1) standardize the training programs for cooperatives, and 2) to push the advocacy of cooperators of self-help, the idea that people in poverty could, through solidarity, create opportunities for themselves to improve their economic well-being.
These co-op leaders had the benefit of hindsight: from 1915 when the first co-op law was passed until the late 50’s, co-ops did not succeed because they were just a government initiative.
But as early as the 1950’s up to 70’s, co-op sector leaders were aware that in order to succeed they could not rely on government alone. Instead, co-ops had to be driven and patronized by their members and it is only through co-op education that this level of member patronage and responsibility could be established.
At that time, a number of primary co-operatives had formed five regional co-op training centers (secondary cooperatives).
In 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, abolished Congress, and drafted a new Constitution. Marcos issued Presidential Decree 175 in April 1973, “Strengthening the Cooperative Movement,” that required farmers to be organized into village associations called “Samahang Nayon”
Furthermore, all types of existing cooperatives were required to re-register and conform to the Samahang Nayon structure. The move created tension between the government – specifically the Martial Law regime – and the cooperative sector.
Nevertheless, the co-op leaders complied with the Martial Law imposition. Despite that, some cooperators were suspected of being the “third rebel group” and were jailed under the Regime.
On January 23, 1977, amidst suspicions and harassment, the leaders of five regional training centers met in Cebu City and formed NATCCO, then known as the National Association of Training Centers for Co-operatives, to coordinate the trainings and educational services for cooperatives at the national level. NATCCO also served as the voice of co-ops in the country.
The five training centers were Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies- Southern Philippines Education Center for Cooperatives (MASS-SPECC), Visayas Cooperative Training Center, Bicol Cooperative Training Center, Tagalog Cooperative Training Center (TAGCOTEC), and North Luzon Cooperative Development Center (NORLUCEDEC).
On April 1, 1979, the NATCCO joined the International Cooperative Alliance.
As early as 1989, the leaders decided that NATCCO would be more than just a training center but would also provide other services to grow co-operatives. Thus, the name was changed to National Confederation of Cooperatives.
COOP-NATCCO Partylist was established in 1997 and won a seat in Congress in 1998. Since then, the Partylist has advanced coop legislation in Congress.
NATCCO joined the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) on September 25, 2000.
After Strategic Planning by the leaders in 2000, the 2002 General Assembly resolved to conduct a study to restructure the Network from a three-tier into a two-tier organization.
The 2004 General Assembly approved amendments in the by-laws to shift from a three-tier organization or confederation, into a two-tier federation, with primary co-ops as direct members. Its core enterprise would be financial intermediation and non-financial services would become subsidiaries.
Some federations that had helped form, or joined NATCCO, would leave in the years following.
But NATCCO’s Transformation Journey continued. Growth in the following years was exponential, with the NATCCO assets reaching the P1B milestone just five years later. Products and services offered also grew, with the NATCCO Network offering financial services to members, enterprises, information technology, and a diverse curricula of training & consultancy offered to members to improve their operations and sustainability.
Since then, growth has been exponential as NATCCO began delivering a wide variety of services for co-ops such as the Central Fund (established 2002), Information Technology to boost efficiency of co-op operations, the Stabilization Fund to protect co-ops from insolvency, Consultancy in 2012 with assistance from Developpement Internationale Desjardin, and KAYA Payment Platform starting in 2016 to enable co-ops mobile transactions and 24/7 ATM transactions.
Paraguya added: “We note how the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas envisions the financial system to become. We are excited because our banking system will be connected to KAYA Payment Platform. That is why NATCCO is now supervised by CDA and BSP because we operate a payment system. So we are undergoing inspections by BSP and we have to make new policies. Instead of being scared, we must be excited because if we pass this, we have more freedom to work with BSP.”
Launched in 2006 was the Microfinance Innovation in Cooperatives (MICOOP) that provides training, capitalization and a complete set of services to struggling co-ops like agrarian reform cooperatives.
With NATCCO’s thrust in digitalization and resiliency in the face of challenges like climate change, cybersecurity, natural disasters, and competition from other financial service providers, NATCCO leadership has now focused on re-creating NATCCO as an “integrated network”.
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