Cooperative summit yields new proposals in Gensan


GENERAL SANTOS CITY: The recently concluded 2nd City Cooperative Summit yielded old issues for the underprivileged social sectors but succeeded to forge new proposals to free them from their prevailing economic woes.

“Some of these proposals are very ambitious but it is now time to think beyond the box”, Art Aller, national chairman of the National Cooperative Development Council (NCDC) and Regional Cooperative Development Council (RCDC), said.

“Otherwise, we will be forever enslaved by our cowardice and lack of foresight”, Aller explained.

Held last Aug. 2-3 at the Family Country Homes and Convention Center in General Santos City, the summit was attended by representatives of 164 existing cooperatives operating in this same city. It was also attended by representatives of various groups that intend to convert themselves into cooperatives.

The major proposals given imprimatur during the summit include, among others, the establishment of a cooperative-owned gasoline station; opening up of capital investments in any of the existing cooperative banks; work for the eventual conversion of SOCOTECO II into a genuine cooperative venture; take hold of the market by establishing a common marketing arm for farm and fishery goods produced by the cooperatives; establish a strong cooperative federation/alliance for effective lobbying and advocacies; create access to credit by aggressively relating the cooperatives with different financial institutions offering low-interest loans and grants; and promotion of a chemical free (organic) farming as an answer to the spiraling prices of farm inputs.

Mayor Pedro B. Acharon, Jr., who delivered an inspirational message before the summit’s participants, issued a challenge to all officers and members of the different cooperatives in the city to solidify and expand their ranks in order for the cooperative movement to create its prominent mark in the city’s development landscape.

“This is the sure formula to your success”, Mayor Acharon said, “manage your cooperatives with great moral integrity and transparency, while, at the same time, harness your skills in the management of social enterprises.”

“This formula”, Acharon declared, “is the road to your success, while the reverse is the pathway to failure.” The formation and vitalization of cooperatives is one of the centerpiece programs of the city government.

Vice Mayor Florentina L. Congson also made similar postulation by stating that honesty and integrity is the core of all cooperative virtues. For his part, Councilor Dominador S. Lagare III encouraged the participants to continue nurturing their respective cooperatives despite the many problems pestering them until these obstacles are finally hurdled.

“The cooperative movement in the country is still young and it is not yet time to give up”, he stressed.

In a cooperative struggle, moment is measured by 50 years. This means that, if a cooperative did not succeed after the lapse of 50 years, only a moment is expended for the efforts, thus, there is still no reason to be discouraged.

Among the old problems discussed during the summit were: One, lack of control of the market by the forces of production; Two, the market forces largely dominated by traders and middlemen (women); Three, lack of access to credit facilities offering low-interest loans; lack of access to community justice; the prevailing social structure unfavorable to cooperatives; and inadequate government support to various cooperative endeavors

The Summit was hosted by the City Cooperative Development Council (CCDC). One of the divisions under the Office of the City Economic Management and Cooperative Development (OCEMCD), the Special Projects and Cooperative Division (SPCD), headed by Alma D. Zerrudo, served as the CCDC’s secretariat. “We are the workhorse of the council, meaning utusan”, Zerrudo said in jest.

Asked how she assessed the newly-concluded summit, Zerrudo said “the claim by many that it was a resounding success is, to my mind, correct.”

Coralynn G. Espinosa, head of the OCEMCD, who closely supervised various preparations for the summit to ensure that the activity was free from any kinks, revealed that the summit was undertaken with the help of the private sectors. DOLE Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines and GSC Coca-Cola Development Cooperative were the major summit’s sponsors.

The summit also paved the way for the giving of awards to the outstanding cooperatives in the city. “Through this awards, we hope to encourage our cooperatives to continue despite the hardships”, Danny Pandes, local chief of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), said.

The cooperative awardees are: City Food Terminal Multi-purpose Cooperative (CFTMPC), Agriculture; Bio-crest Multi-purpose Cooperative and Transport Services (BCMPCTS), Transport Service; Human Resources Multi-purpose Cooperative (HUREMPCO), Manpower Service; and MSU Gensan Multi-purpose Cooperative (MSU-MPC) and GSC Teachers and Employees’ Multi-purpose Cooperative GSCTEMPC), credit.

Each of the awardees was given P5, 000.00.

The affair was graced by various personalities like Salaman Mangca, head of the Cooperative Development Authority in Mindanao, who acted as keynote speaker; Luz Almeda, Regional Director of the Department of Education, Region XII, who presented and discussed the cooperative’s theoretical framework; and Bebe-I Gonzales, who represented First Congressional District Representative, Darlene Magnolia R. Antonino-Custodio.



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