Four hundred ninety two cooperatives in Region 5 were identified and classified into six clusters based on their authorized business activities: Credit & Financial Services Cluster; Agriculture Cluster ; Education, Advocacy, Unions Cluster; Human Services Cluster; Public Utilities Cluster; and the Consumers, Marketing, Producers, Logistics Cluster and organized into Regional Clustered Organizations (RCO) by the Region V Extension Office in close coordination with the CDA board member cluster heads.
The initial organizational meetings were done on May 5th for the Credit and Financial Services Cluster; on May 19th for the Agriculture Cluster; on May 20th for the Education, Advocacy, Unions Cluster; on May 25th for the Human Services Cluster; on May 26th for the Public Utilities Cluster; and on June 1st for the Consumers, Marketing, Producers, Logistics Cluster this year using the zoom platform of the Office. The existing restrictions on mass gatherings due to the pandemic situation in the country prevented face to face activities.
All of these initial organizational meetings were presided over by Atty. Ma. Lourdes P. Pacao, Regional Director of Cooperative Development Authority Region V. She also discussed the Legal bases for the RCO and the procedural guidelines in the organization and election of RCO officers. She emphasized the importance of RCO thus:
“To ensure that the consultation and coordination is inclusive and accessible to all cooperatives, especially those cooperatives that are traditionally marginalized or are unable to participate in various activities, especially in national activities, it is important that the mechanism ensures a bottom-up approach rather than a top down approach. It is also important to give equal opportunities to all cooperatives, whether they be micro, small, medium or large and not just to hand pick a few known personalities to represent the entire cooperative movement during the consultations.
. . .
It will ensure that all cooperatives are given opportunities to be involved during consultations at the regional level through their membership to the RCO where they belong.
The preparation and actual conduct of the RCO meetings involved all personnel of the Regional Office with special tasks delegated to the Regional Cluster Team for every identified cluster. During the election proper, the Presiding Officer turned over the plenary session to the designated Chairman of the Election Committee. Representatives were also elected for every type of cooperative and for each of the six provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. The RCO President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer of each cluster were elected in plenary by all authorized representatives. The representatives for each type and from each province were elected via breakout rooms in zoom. All elections were done online using the Google Workspace of the Office.
Cooperatives which did not qualify to join the RCO were given the opportunity to witness the proceedings via livestreaming of the Facebook private group created for every cluster. This prepared them when they later on qualify to join the next RCO organizational meeting and election of officers.
Undersecretary Joseph B. Encabo, Chairman of the CDA Board of Directors, delivered his inspiring video messages which undoubtedly motivated the cooperative leaders in attendance and also those witnessing the event via FB livestream. He said: “… Let us be one in our vision, mission and action and continuously embrace the principles of cooperativism as we promote the importance of economic sustainability, social justice and giving recognition to our contribution to nation building. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with all of you. I wish you all the best…”
The Board member cluster heads administered the oaths of office of the officers and representatives. They also delivered their respective messages to inspire the cluster members and expressed support to cluster initiatives and endeavors.
The first RCO that was organized, The Credit and Financial Services, its Cluster Officers President Gerwyn Pura, Vice President Antonio Jimenez, Jr., Secretary Leonisa Ferreras, Treasurer Josephine Adaque; Representatives Nolan Belaro of Albay, Allan Solver of Camarines Norte, Julie May Barcenas of Camarines Sur, Luzviminda Rañada of Catanduanes, Mark Danel Begornia, and Nancy Mendoza of Sorsogon recited their oaths of office before Assistant Secretary Vidal D. Villanueva III.
Next, fifteen Agriculture Cluster Officers: President Annielen Panerio, Vice President Cynthia Lisay, Secretary Mario Espeso, Treasurer Cecilia Esguerra; Provincial Representatives Marlyn Salceda of Albay, Gil Del Barrio of Camarines Norte, Edward Yater of Camarines Sur, Anita Tasarra of Catanduanes, Salome Quizon of Masbate, and Atty. Jessica Samantha Acleta of Sorsogon; Sectoral Representatives Agaton Galan from Agrarian, Engr. Julian B. Abonal, Jr. from Agriculture, Salvacion Amican from Multipurpose, Rodor Bose from Fisherfolk/Aquaculture, Maggie Odsinada from Dairy recited their oaths of office before Assistant Secretary Virgilio R. Lazaga.
Then the following day, the The Education, Advocacy, Unions Cluster Officers: President Luz Lopez Rodriguez, Vice President Anita Tasarra, Secretary Norie Begornia, Treasurer Rosalie Fuentes (Temp) recited their oaths of office before Assistant Secretary Abdulsalam A. Guinomla. This cluster had the least number of qualified cooperatives.
About a week later, The Human Services Cluster Officers: President Dr. Geoffrey Lopecillo, Vice President Estrella Uriarte, Secretary Dr. Roland Hermo, Treasurer Dr. Rufino Bartolabac; Provincial Representatives Dr. Geoffrey Lopecillo (Temp) of Albay, Estrella Uriarte (Temp) of Camarines Norte, Marilou Olitoquit of Camarines Sur, Venia Gapaz (Temp) of Catanduanes, Dr. Rufino Bartolabac (Temp) of Masbate, and Dr. Roland Hermo (Temp) of Sorsogon; Sectoral Representatives Benjamin Bernaldez from Housing, Hilda Barbonio from Health, Joenel Paawan from Labor recited their oaths of office before Assistant Secretary Myrla B. Paradillo.
The Public Utilities Cluster Officers followed on the next day: President Alex Bañares, Vice President Mary Bethsaida Olivar, Secretary Mary Oliva, Treasurer Rochelle Tan; Representatives Elmer Dioso of Albay, Yeronides Tulalian of Camarines Norte, Jacinto Aquino of Camarines Sur, Carmencita Francisco of Catanduanes, Romeo Bajada of Masbate, and Rochelle Endaya Tan (Temp) of Sorsogon; Joemil Mujar from Transport, Shirley Merilles from Water, Rochelle Tan (Temp) from Electric to recite their oaths of office before Assistant Secretary Abad L. Santos.
Again after about a week, The CMPL Cluster Officers: President Luz Payla, Vice President Perlyn Onquit, Secretary Basilisa Mayor, Treasurer Dominga Terresa Yoo; Representatives Neslyn Tero of Albay, Engr. Edmond Madera (Temp) of Camarines Norte, Eldrico Rana (Temp) of Camarines Sur, Carlito Duran of Masbate, and Jaime Barola of Sorsogon; Salvacion Cending from Consumers, Magnolia Michelle Santiago from Producers, Engr. Cynthia Aserado from Marketing recited their oaths of office before Assistant Secretary Pendatun B. Disimban.
The organization of Regional Clustered Organization (RCO), Sectoral Apex Organization (SAO), and National Alliance of Cooperatives (NAC) is mandated by Sec 4 (z) RA 11364, Rule III Sec 2A, par 6 , IRR RA 11364, Rule IX Section 12 , IRR RA 11364, CDA MC 2020-28, Section 7), MC 2021-05: Procedural Guidelines in the Organization, Election and Recognition of NAC, SAOs and RCOs .