NO ONE will deny that death and taxes are two things in life that we cannot all escape from: death, the inevitable fate of us mortals, aptly described as our “marriage to eternity, eternity being the home of the souls,” and taxes as the “life-blood of the nation” without which the essence of the State will just be illusory.

That being the case, the State rarely relaxes its inherent power of taxation which is most pervasive and persistent than its other two fundamental powers, that of eminent domain and police power. And when the State gives tax exemption, it does so only for very important reasons that have great bearing on its reason for being as a nation.

Yes, while the State’s power to tax is so strong, taxes being the lifeblood of a nation, yet, it must bow down to the principle of social justice, the razon d’ etre of cooperativism. No one can dispute that social injustice looms in so many ways. It is seen in the life of the farmers tilling not their own land, they do not control the mode of production and marketing. This is the reason why everyone is profiting from farming except the farmers. Food comes from their farms yet their dining table fall short of food.

As countervailing measure, the farmers must harness their collective powers through cooperativism. Indeed, cooperativism has become the liberating force to extricate the peasantry from the quagmire of poverty.

In a country controlled by a few oligarchs who are following a development paradigm which is only successful in sacrificing mother Earth and the people to the altar of greed and profit, the only alternative course of action is to empower the people to craft their own destiny. Inclusive growth can only be had through people empowerment through cooperativism.

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.

This is the reason why it is so stated in the Constitution as a declared State policy to “advance cooperativism as an instrument of social justice, equity and economic development.” The framers of the 1987 Constitution must have fully realized the importance of cooperativism as a vehicle to democratize wealth and power in a highly skewed societal order with only a few elite in control at the expense of the many who are powerless and wallowing in poverty.

Thus, by its very nature and function, 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 or electricity.
In Cagayan de Oro, let us cooperativize the water district. Let us serve notice to one and all that water, just like air, is a means to life and must not be the subject of commerce for profit.

Water comes from the invisible water dam called forest. Let not an oligarch corner the flow of the water then sell it at a high price. That corporation doesn’t own the water as it comes from nature. Let the people of Cagayan de Oro be the ones to collectively manage the water district underscoring the truism that water is a means to life and must not be subjected to commerce of men otherwise only those with money who can live which is contrary to God’s will.

Indeed, you can live for 40 days without food but you cannot live even for eight days without water for water is life—one of the essential elements of nature.