By Usec. Orlan R. Ravanera, Chairman, CDA

“From time to time, there appear on the face of the earth men with rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant and whose fate once they have vanished, we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants: they are the whole of their race.”

Indeed, no greater love there is than a fearless man who is willing to give his life so that others may be free. Sen. Nene did what was probably the most difficult task in the restoration of democracy in the Philippines. A freedom-fighter, Sen. Nene was imprisoned four times during the 14-year Martial Law Rule. During those painful years, a poem, Veritas LiberabitVos” loomed:

“My name is Veritas. So simple is my language. Mankind runs after me because I am a precious position. But to the rule of a dictator, I am a threat, so I have to be imprisoned. But there will always be lovers who will search for me because they cannot live without my presence. Dictators do not know that in the silence of the prison cell, I am gaining strength. One day, when the Filipino people are awakened, I will burst out in the open and through a people powered revolution, I will unfetter the people from oppression. Indeed Veritas LiberabitVos!” (The Truth shall set us fee!)

After Martial Law, it was so amazing how he dismantled the entire martial law apparatus by replacing en masse incumbent officials with handpicked officers-in-charge.

A brilliant lawyer, he had been the Dean of the College of Law of Xavier University, then becoming the City Mayor of Cagayan de Oro. He was one of the chosen few who framed the 1987 Constitution that amazingly captured the essence of cooperativism in Chapter XV, Article XII, “to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development,” to pave the way to institutionalize “people power” through cooperatives to transform a highly skewed pyramidal societal order not through armed struggle but through cooperativism by harnessing peacefully the collective power of the people.

Sen. Nene had seencooperativism as the one to democratize wealth and power which is under the strangled hold of the oligarchs in a country where 73% of the economy is controlled by just 200 families.

Through that empowerment constitutional provision, then Senator Nene who later became the Senate President authored the twin laws: RA 6938 (the Cooperative Code of the Philippines) and RA 6939 (The Creation of the Cooperative Development Authority).Sen. Nene also shepherded the enactment of the crucial Local Government Code which included the LGU’s mandate to advance cooperativism in their respective territorial jurisdiction.

The amazing mindset of a transformative leader has indeed been manifested in the said laws especially in debunking gross social inequities and social injustices which have been looming in so many ways. These are evident in the life of the farmers tilling land that they do not own or if they do, they do not control the mode of production and marketing. That’s the reason why everyone is profiting from farming except those who struggled to make the land productive – the poor farmers. In a land controlled by Cartel, our beloved Nene wanted to rectify a social wrong especially in the life of the eleven (11) million member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of the so-called Electric Cooperatives. Sen. Nene’s counter measure then was the provision in the law creating CDA that it is. as “the “sole registering office” of all types of cooperatives” and that all agencies of government which are doing registration especially the National Electrification Authority (NEA) must turn-over the registering power to CDA but it never happened manifesting how powerful the electric cartel is.

Let us make the “Father of Cooperativism” our model in advancing “Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace,” so that the cooperatives can become a countervailing force against poverty, gross inequities, social injustices, ecological turbulence due to climate change and violent extremism which is so alarming as manifested recently by a Filipino suicidal bomber.

Sen. Nene was not only the father of the cooperatives, he was as cooperative hero and champion, bringing a beacon of light during those martial law years and a beacon of hope amidst poverty and social inequities. In a world with so much veneration to the profit motive “that has captured the mindset of all governments, institutions, universities and religious group and denigration of spiritual values, Sen. Nene had indeed crafted cooperativism as the counteravailing force to effect social transformation which is the real essence of cooperativism in a world beset with so much consumerism and materialism.

As Sen. Nene’s remains will soon be buried, what comes to my mind is the 12th stanza of the 17th century poem written by Thomas Grey in a Country Churchyard, to quote: “Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid, some heart once pregnant with celestial fire, hands that the rod of empire might have sway’d, or walked to ecstasy the living lyre.”

To our dearly-beloved hero, father and champion, you had lived with us with that “celestial fire” to advance cooperativism as a liberating force to make life better for the poor and the oppressed. Where ever you are, now with us, then with the stars and in the loving embrace of the Being, you must now walk to ecstacy the living lyre, all for God’s greater glory – with our firm salute and warm embrace. All the more than 10 million members of the cooperatives all over the country are now shouting: WE LOVE YOU SEN. NENE! Marami pong salamat!