In an effort to determine the present condition of cooperatives in the Province of Batangas and the relative issues confronting their operations after the occurrence of the African Swine Fever (ASF), Taal volcanic eruptions and the Covid 19 pandemic, Assistant Secretary Vidal D. Villanueva III, Board of Director for the Credit, Financial Services, Banking and Insurance Cluster, Cooperative Development Authority, together with CDA CALABARZON Regional Office IV-A Director Salvador V. Valeroso, Senior CDS for Cooperative Project and Development Section (CPDAS) Romel P. Mabilangan and Designated Provincial Cooperative Development Specialist Oliva A. Pacheca visited two cooperatives located in Agoncillo and Laurel, Batangas, both of which are neighboring towns of Taal Volcano.
The visit took place on June 30, 2020 at Barangay Barigon, Agoncillo, Batangas where Barigon Multipurpose Cooperative is situated and Barangay Balakilong, Laurel, Batangas where Balakilong Credit Cooperative who holds its principal office.
During the group discussion with some of the members of the Board and Management Staff of Barigon MPC in Agoncillo, Batangas, the following issues and concerns were discussed:
- The cooperative stopped its operation after the eruption as their barangay was abandoned during the height of volcanic activities. The residents were allowed to return only after several weeks. Then came the pandemic in March where the cooperative partially operated. It was only able to resume its full operation beginning June 2020.
- Some cooperative members who were severely affected got help from the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the form of loans, payable for 10 years.
- It was identified that capital formation is not strictly observed by the cooperative. Asec. Villanueva suggested to have a membership campaign to expand their members considering the big number of households in the area. He also emphasized the importance of strategic implementation ofthe cooperative’s economic activities.The cooperative should encourage those potential members who cannot afford to give the full amount of initial share capital to join with an installment payment plan and to also promote a kiddie savings program.
- He also informed that if the cooperative needs additional capital, the CDA can link them with other financial institutions according to their needs.
- Villanueva have seen the potential of the cooperative to engage in Dairyproduction, thus, he suggested to make a partnership with the National Dairy Authority (NDA). The cooperative may acquire milking cows with the required documents of the NDA.
On the other hand, the discussions with the Balakilong Credit Cooperative revolved around the following questions:
- how the cooperative survived amidst all the difficulties that happened;
- how the cooperative helped its members;
- how the members reacted towards the cooperative; and
- how the CDA can help.
Chairperson Teresa Carandang said that the members suffered various challenges to their livelihood, starting from Taal Volcano eruption, followed by the effect of African Swine Fever and the COVID-19 Pandemic. According to Manager Nelia Mayuga, the members paid their loans religiously in whatever amount they can even during the enhanced community quarantine, and that the cooperative observed the grace period on the payment of thefull amount of monthly amortization without penalty. They also emphasized that they preferred quality membership and not the quantity through the years. After the lockdown, members updated the status of their loans and even deposited additional savings. At the same time, the cooperative extended assistance to members by giving cash and food packages during the lockdown.
The cooperative requested the CDA to have a program or policy for those members who are senior citizens in the form of pension. They have also requested to remove the age limit for the members of the cooperative to be covered by insurance. Such concerns were taken into consideration by Asec. Villanueva which are to be studied for CDA’s policy direction. (By: Ms. Oliva A. Pacheca)