We cannot predict when a disaster may occur in our life. The best thing we can do is to constantly prepare ourselves. Super Typhoon Odette, a violent and destructive tropical storm with a maximum wind speed of 260 km/h, hit the Philippines last December 16, 2021. The ST Odette wreaked havoc in Mindanao, making landfall at Surigao City and the Province of Dinagat Islands, among other places. People were devastated. The anguish it caused was a nightmare for those who have been seriously affected. Due to ST Odette, there was a “black-out” in all of Surigao City areas, Siargao, and Dinagat Islands since the communications network—radio,television, internet were all shut down. Buildings, dwellings, farm fields, government offices, and industrial and service companies were closed, including several cooperatives in the above-mentioned provinces.
When cooperatives suffer, the Authority also feels for them. Facing the situation, CDA inventoried how grave the consequences of the ST Odette to the coops, thus, a program was born. The SAGIP KOOP program of CDA. To bring new hope and to help create a new beginning, this “Special Assistance for Recovery and Alleviation (SARA) Program” for affected micro cooperatives of Surigao del Norte areas was launched last February 22, 2022 at the Philippine Gateway Hotel, Surigao City. The launching was attended by Undersecretary Joseph B. Encabo, together with Asec. Abdulsalam A. Guinomla, Asec. Virgilio R. Lazaga, MD., and Asec. Pendatun B. Disimban. As partners, representatives from the local government unit of the Province of Surigao del Norte witnessed the activity. The recipient-cooperatives were all present there.
The program prioritized helping those cooperatives which were seriously impacted by the typhoon; those which badly needed support to restore their operations and financial losses.
The Cooperative Development Specialists stationed in the affected areas validated the situation of each of the coop-beneficiary. They also documented the damages wrought by ST Odette especially to micro cooperatives.
The SARA Program gave financial assistance amounting to Php 50,000 – 100,000 to cooperatives which complied with the requirements. This is to initiate build back activities for coops to bounce back from their hopelessness. The cooperatives endorsed for the financial assistance was personally visited by the team headed by Usec. Joseph B. Encabo.
Last April 28, 2022 the Cooperative Project and Development Assistance Section (CPDAS) with the Acting Regional Director, Sally Joy R. Bungabong conducted the release of the first batch of the checks amounting to fifty thousand pesos (50, 000.00) in the Province of Surigao del Norte. The actual turn-over of checks was held at the Governor’s Mansion Lobby in the Capitol Compound of Surigao City. There were seven (7) cooperatives from the mainland of the province including Surigao City which benefitted. These were: Himamaug Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (HARBCO), Barangay, Ima Womens Producers Cooperative, Malimono Sea Explorers’ Multipurpose Cooperative, Surigao del Norte Peoples Initiative Credit Cooperative, Mabua Fishvendors and Housekeepers Multi-purpose Cooperative, Bilang-Bilang Consumers Cooperative, and Good Shepherd Servant Community (GSSC-SELIM) Multi-purpose Cooperative.
The second batch of checks were released May 16, 2022 in the Municipality of Dapa with two cooperative beneficiaries, namely: Nuevo Campo Development Cooperative and Garcia Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (GARBECO). At that same day also the team headed by Sr. CDS for CPDAS, Leopoldo B. Cabiad proceeded to the Municipality of Claver where there were also six (6) cooperative beneficiaries: Kababayen-an sa Panatao Producers Cooperative (KAPAPROCO),
Taganito Concern People Consumers Cooperative (TACPECCO), Capangdan Sabang Alliance for Sustainable Consumers Cooperative, and from the Municipality of Socorro namely Tanawan Consumers Cooperative, Bucas Grande Aquamarine Producers Cooperative and Nueva Estrella Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (NEFAMCO).
All cooperative beneficiaries of the SARA Program received what was intended for them and were grateful enough to know that the Cooperative Development Authority never abandoned them, even in times of crisis and difficulty. They also realized that even in the midst of tragedy, there is still light and hope to become more resilient and strong enough to face any catastrophic event. *****
By: Liza Lorine P. Mercader