(CDA Chairman Orlando R. Ravanera’s Message on the 29th Year Anniversary of the CDA)

Today is indeed a celebration of success for everyone in the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA). I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to everyone for the trust, support and cooperation of my leadership.

Amidst challenges, issues and controversies, we are still here together. And I vow to continue serving the people through CDA to primarily promote my advocacy to uplift the poor people from the quagmire of poverty, social injustices and inequities through COOPERATIVISM; to to give voice to the cooperative sector, especially the ordinary workers and the community, whether they be in private sector or in the government, by providing a model of services and social enterprise that adhere to the universally accepted principles of Cooperativism for peopleplanetprosperity and peace.

Also, I would like to thank all of you for making the CDA be known and felt by the public especially those who are yearning for empowerment, social injustice and inequity. Further, let me emphasize that this 29th year of success is a product of our teamwork, shared commitment and collective effort. Everyone of us plays a vital role. Every little job is important, everyone has a job to do, everyone serves the whole. Along this line, I would like to give a toast to everyone. Congratulations!

Of course, I also would like to give credit and gratitude to our partner agencies and our mother agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) headed by our very supportive secretary, SECRETARY RAMON M LOPEZ.  Thank you Sir, for having us under your umbrella, by virtue of Executive Order No 67. The DTI and the CDA is indeed a perfect tandem in strengthening the programs, innovations and products of our cooperatives. The “Value Chain Approach,” the “One Town, One Product,” and the “Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso” or P3 (a Memorandum of Agreement to be signed later with the Small Business Corporation) were just few of the very promising programs that we ought to widely implement, supervise and monitor.

And it is my commitment that the CDA will further encourage and empower cooperatives to come up soon with an upgraded version of the “One Town, One Product Program” and that would be “One Barangay, One Product Program.” I am confident that we can make this possible by intensifying public engagement and by strengthening our links with our partner government agencies, local government units, and stakeholders.

This is now the very essence of the Value Chain Approach that starts from Capability Building, Production, Harvesting, Post-harvest facility, up to Marketing. This involves stakeholders like the Local Government Units – for policy support, Academe – for technology support, Civil Society organizations – for possible guaranty mechanism, Cooperatives – for post-harvest and marketing to ensure the success of the innovative value chain project. Subsequently, I would like to stress that this is not an easy approach. This demands focus, strict monitoring and assistance with our officers and Cooperative Development Specialist particularly in our extension offices. On the same note, the Central Office must keep an eye how this program is going to easily respond and make appropriate actions to ensure the success of the program. After all, it is our mandate to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development.

Of course, I also would like to thank the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) led by Secretary Isidro Lapiña. Last March 5, during the conduct of partners’ meeting of the World Café of Opportunities in Taguig, I signed a Memorandum of Agreement, an inter-agency collaboration that would help TESDA Alumni find jobs. And I suggested that perhaps, that the best way to provide not just works but also livelihood to the alumni, is to cooperativize them. This and along with myriad of collaborative projects will ensure job generation for nation-building.

In fact, our partnership with the TESDA has open new horizons and opportunities to our colleagues. Our Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Giovanni Platero, is now in Japan as one the beneficiaries of a three-month training sponsored by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), thru TESDA. And this month, one of our personnel from CDA-Naga Extension Office will be joining another scholarship grant from JICA in collaboration with TESDA.

Also, I would like to thank the Department of Finance, the Bureau of Internal Revenue for the unfaltering support to the CDA and the cooperative sector.  Currently, we have 17,864 operating cooperatives with more than 10.4 million active members and 382.5B pesos of total assets. Subsequently, these cooperatives have generated more than 487,200 direct employments and 1,923,047 indirect employments and these jobs created through coops have contributed 3.9B pesos of indirect taxes. These cooperatives may be tax exempt but they are tax makers.

Further, I also am extending my deepest gratitude to our legislators and Cooperative champions in congress, for continued support to the cause of the Cooperative Movement and strengthening CDA. I would like to particularly mention, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Chairman of the Cooperative Committee in Senate, Cong. Anthony Bravo, Deputy Minority Leader, for continuously guarding the lifeline of the Cooperative Movement, to Cong. Rico Geron, Chairman of Cooperative Committee in the House of Representatives, and Cong. Ben Canama.

Why are cooperatives so essential in the life of the nation?  For one, it is my contention that Cooperativism in this country is in itself an exercise of the most important power of the State which is the Police Power.  Its very existence is to rectify social ills and economic flaws, foremost of which is social injustice.

As a transformational leading edge, the cooperative movement in the country is up to the task of advocating for the much needed paradigm shift that will liberate the people from the quagmire of poverty.  As poverty is rooted in their lack of power to have access and control over their resources and utilities, Cooperativism is the empowering path in crafting their own destiny.

That process of empowerment is being carried now by cooperatives which are now increasingly becoming a countervailing force against all forms of economic deprivation.  This time, the cooperatives have joined the voices of the hungry and the helpless.  And this might just tip the balance, for poverty spares nobody – rich or poor, white or black, right or left.  A glimmer of hope flickers towards a new day.

Cooperativism is a vehicle to democratize wealth and power in a highly skewed societal order with only a few elites in control at the expense of the many who are powerless and wallowing in poverty. The very nature and function of a cooperative is for service, to unfetter the poor from the vicious cycle of poverty through value formation and by enhancing their capacities and skills.  It does the work what are in fact in the realm of governmental functions in advancing the welfare of the people through multifarious services to their members, i.e. providing much needed capital to make them productive, participation in good governance, in resource management and in running basic utilities, be water, electricity and even public conveyance services. The CDA on the other hand have created and will continue to create an environment that is conducive for the growth of cooperatives and draw a path that bring the cooperative movement to its full realization of being transformational for people, planet, prosperity and peace.

Before I end, I also would like to express my gratitude to our big cooperatives for your full support to our “Koop-Kapatid Program.” Your assistance to our fledgling, micro, small and medium cooperatives is very noteworthy.  Recently, the PAFCPIC has extended its Scholarship to seven college students (sons/daughters of the Indigenous People’s cooperatives in Cagayan de Oro.); the 1-CISP has pledged to support the Taro Chips production and livelihood of the Indigenous People’s cooperatives through Value Chain Approach. More and more stablished cooperatives have pledged their support… and we are very much glad and grateful of it. To institutionalize the Koop Kapatid Program, your CDA will be giving plaques of appreciations to those Big Brother coops who will help the small ones.

Today, as we take another year of our journey, I am confident that we have so much to look forward to and be grateful for. Let us take this opportunity to renew our commitment as public servants and catalyst of change and development.  Let us take the upcoming years to show the best version of the CDA by advancing Cooperativism.

With this, I am wishing you all, happy 29th anniversary!