The organizational meeting and election of officers of the Region 8 Agriculture Cluster took place last April 13, 2021, via zoom. Although it was originally planned to be a blended activity, travel restrictions and health protocol concerns proved it practical to be conducted on a virtual platform. Ms. Riza Abolon, staff of the Registration Section, acknowledged the participation of twenty-seven (27) cooperatives – eighteen (18) agriculture type, three (3) agrarian, one (1) dairy, four (4) multipurpose engaged in agriculture and one (1) multipurpose engaged in agrarian and one (1) federation. Ms. Priscila A. Acopio, Acting Supervising CDS, pointed out in her welcome message that the organization of RCOs is a nationwide undertaking that shall serve as overall consultative and coordinating body on issues and concerns affecting the cluster. A snapshot of the cooperatives comprising the agriculture cluster was shared by Ms. Maripaz del Pilar, Senior CDS – Registration Section.
Assistant Secretary (ASec) Virgilio R. Lazaga was the guest speaker who pointed out that the Regional Cluster Organization shall serve as the consultative and coordinating body together with the Cooperative Development Authority. It is his wish for the agriculture sector to thrive and for the officers to think big for the organization and participate actively to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of those in agriculture and the country’s economy. This was followed by the presentation of the Certificate of Appreciation for ASec Lazaga for his expertise and insights shared during the activity.
The legal bases and procedural guidelines in the organization, election and recognition of National Alliance of Cooperatives (NAC), Sectoral Apex organizations (SAOs) and Regional Clustered organizations (RCOs), specifically Memorandum Circular 2021-05, was discussed by the Acting Regional Director Venus M. Jornales.
Before the election, Mr. Rowan de los Santos, Senior CDS of the Cooperative Project Development Assistance Section (CPDAS), gave a detailed run through of the mechanics of the election process so as to guide the participants in the proceedings to ensure its smooth flow. This was followed by an open forum to surface concerns and clarifications on the agriculture cluster. As the meeting was conducted on a virtual platform, the election followed the same format. This was facilitated by Mr. Jordan Madjus of the Cooperative Training, Information and Research Section (CRITS) as well as Ms. Perlita Solis and Mr. Lydon Broz Tonolete of the Management Information System (MIS).
The following officers/representatives were elected, to wit:
President: Frank Roy Ribo, Kalipunan ng Maliliit na Magniniyog ng Pilipinas Agriculture Cooperative (KAMMPIL AGRICOOP)
Vice-President: Fe Angelie Rufil, Baybay Dairy Cooperative (BDC)
Secretary: Lerma Matus, Island of Samar and Leyte Agriculture Cooperative (ISLACO)
Treasurer: Gabriel Chua, Nueva Vista Agriculture Cooperative (NueVisAMCO)
Provincial Representative –
Leyte: Jeremiah Medalla, Calaguise Agriculture Cooperative
Southern Leyte: Milagros M. Capistrano, Laboon Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative
Biliran: Pedro Angello, Biliran Agriculture Cooperative
Eastern Samar: Anita Dadulla, Balangkayan Agriculture Cooperative (BACO)
Samar: Marufelia Dagondon, Mahayagnon Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative
Representative for –
Agriculture: Rodolfo Meracap, Calubian Cacao Coconut Agriculture Cooperative (CCC AGRICOOP)
Agrarian: Evelyn Nierras, BSF Farm Workers and Beneficiaries Agrarian Reform Cooperative (BSF-ARC)
Federation: Lida D. Corpin, Federation of Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Biliran (FECARB)
The newly elected President of the RCO pointed out that the sector is facing many challenges. Cooperatives are in a position to address them by working with the government. With the agriculture cluster organizing and working together will prove to be a big boost in generating solutions to the problems confronting the sector.
The conclusion of the event was ushered by Atty. Jasper Carias, Legal Officer, with his closing remarks. He pointed out that as an agricultural country, our food producers need to be sustainable to help propel forward its progress. He conveyed gratitude for the active participation of the cooperatives, ASec Lazaga and all CDA Region VIII Extension Office personnel involved for making the activity possible.