Empowering Future Lawyers: CDA and TSU Pioneers Clap in Central Luzon

Asec. Virgilio R. Lazaga, MD and Central Luzon Regional Director Marieta P. Hwang hold up the signed Memorandum of Agreement with their TSU counterparts President Dr. Arnold Velasco, Vice President for Local Academic Affairs Dr. Agnes Macaraeg, and School of Law Dean Dr. Jose dela Rama, Jr. Joining them for a photo opportunity is CDA Central Luzon Legal Officer Atty. Macy N. Marcelo, Legal Affairs Deputy Administrator Atty. Leah B. Banagui-Han, Legal Division Acting Chief Atty. August Owen P. Magdato, and TSU Professor Dr. Brigido Corpuz.

In a significant step towards promoting the values of cooperativism and social justice, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) and Tarlac State University (TSU) officially sealed their partnership through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing ceremony on 13 September 2023 at the TSU Main AVR. This groundbreaking collaboration not only underscores their commitment to legal education but also serves as a testament to the CDA’s dedication to fulfilling its mandate under Republic Act No. 11364.

The core objective of this partnership is to foster the spirit of cooperativism and social justice among law students while providing them with invaluable learning experiences. It seeks to instill the value of legal professional social responsibility and prepare these budding lawyers for a career in the cooperative sector.

One of its central components is the education of Law Student Practitioners (LSPs) from the TSU School of Law’s Developmental Legal Advocacy Center (DLAC) on the substantive and procedural aspects of the 2019 CDA Charter. This specialized knowledge will empower these students to serve cooperatives effectively, ensuring they adhere to the legal framework governing their operations.

Furthermore, this partnership opens doors for TSU’s Center for Legal Education and Practice (CLEP) to conduct information sessions and training programs. These initiatives aim to educate cooperative members about their legal rights and, ultimately, offer legal services to cooperatives in need. This is a crucial step towards bridging the gap between the legal community and cooperatives.

The MOA outlines a comprehensive plan for the involvement of LSPs in the CDA’s activities. As part of their education, all law students will receive a general orientation on the CDA’s mandate, organizational structure, objectives, and functions. This broad understanding will serve as a foundation for more specialized legal training regarding cooperatives. Students will have the unique opportunity to become fully immersed in the daily operations of the CDA office, gaining practical experience and putting their legal training into practice by providing essential legal services.

According to Legal Affairs Service (LAS) Deputy Administrator Atty. Leah B. Banagui-Han, the current landscape for legal practitioners specializing in CDA laws is relatively sparse. At present, only around twenty lawyers under the LAS cater to the legal needs of approximately 20,105 duly registered cooperatives in the Philippines. This stark imbalance highlights the urgency of programs like the CDA Laws Awareness Program and partnerships such as the one with TSU to fill this gap and empower a new generation of lawyers to serve the cooperative sector effectively.

In response, Dean Dela Rama thanked the CDA for choosing the university as its pioneering partner in Central Luzon. “You can rest assured that we will take to heart the objectives of our agreement and we will ensure to instill in our students the value of helping our communities”, he said.

Through a video message, CDA Chairman Usec. Joseph B. Encabo expressed his appreciation to the university for its warm welcome to the Authority and enthusiastic participation in the agreement while TSU President Dr. Velasco reiterated their support and shared his vision of TSU graduates helping not only Tarlaqueño cooperatives but all communities across the country.

Signing the MOA on behalf of the CDA was Assistant Secretary Virgilio R. Lazaga, M.D. and Region III Extension Office Director Marieta P. Hwang while TSU President Dr. Arnold Velasco, Vice President for Local Academic Affairs Dr. Agnes Macaraeg, and School of Law Dean Dr. Jose dela Rama, Jr. signed on behalf of the university.

The tentative schedule for the orientation of the LSPs is on 26 October 2023. With the partnership’s success, the CDA hopes that cooperative laws will become a part of the university’s curriculum as an elective course. By equipping law students with the knowledge and practical experience needed to navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding cooperatives, this collaboration advances the CDA’s mission under RA No. 11364. It is a beacon of hope for cooperatives across the Philippines, ensuring that they have access to the legal expertise they need to thrive and contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.

Photos Citation:

Tarlac State University. TSU-CDA Memorandum of Agreement Signing for CDA Laws Awareness Program. Facebook, 13 September 2023, 21:00, https://www.facebook.com/TarlacStateU/posts/pfbid0uitqyRJLkZQDFSgeQhHhGEnnateLHDWZXZRjdDcdjSb4ci9aD2wDLC2gNvj6E9hdl. Accessed 02 October 2023.