• Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro
  • 9 Mar 2020

ON March 10, 2020, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) marks the 30th year of its existence since it was organized on March 10,1990 by virtue of RA 6939, an Act creating an office based on the constitutional provision establishing and mandating an office “that shall promote the viability of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development.” Celebrating with CDA are the 18,700 active cooperatives nation-wide with some 11 million members coming from all “walks of life” especially those in the margins to empower and put them in the mainstream of development processes. They have awakened and they will not allow any more poverty to reign in this bountiful and beautiful country under the present dispensation that is now empowering the poor and the vulnerable.

Three decades of scaling the heights have given birth to transformative cooperatives for people, planet, prosperity and peace, debunking a flawed development paradigm that allows the privileged few to use democracy to serve special interest groups at the expense of the people and the environment. They are vehemently condemning an elitist system that uses power, like vultures, feeding on the flesh of the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed in a highly skewed societal order that our beloved President is rectifying.

Here is an office, standing firm to serve and exemplifying to the highest degree the constitutional provision that “a public office is a public trust . . . serving the people with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.” CDA is now front-lining the President’s Ambisyon Natin 2040 to alleviate poverty by empowering the poor and uprooting the causes of armed struggle through cooperativism. Thru the intensified efforts of CDA, cooperativism has come of age and is now the call of the times to be the countervailing force against violent extremism and against ecological turbulence brought about by climate change.

Exemplifying that truism is the on-going organization of some ten thousands (10,000) combatants of the MILF North Western Mindanao Front in Camp Bilal, Kora-Kora, Munai, Lanao del Norte led by Kumander Bravo. In two weeks, the former MILF warriors under Kumander Bravo’s 5 division commanders and hundreds of front commanders have recently been registered into some 150 cooperatives, shouting Allahu-Akbar, this time not anymore through armed struggle but through cooperativism. After organizing the 10,000 former MILF combatants into cooperatives, the CDA in coordination with the UCPB-CIIF Finance & Development Corporation under President Rehan Balt Lao plan to establish “Coconut Malasakit Center” in Munai, Lanao del Norte as the land is oozing with coconut trees to go into value-chain approach. While the coconut industry is a billion dollar industry, coconut farmers like the former MILF combatants are the poorest because they are just selling their products raw. This time, the Coconut

Center will be the liberating force against poverty through value chain approach to generate more income and jobs.

What was even more amazing was that one miraculous transformation has spawned more trail-blazing turn around. What came next was the appearance of the North Eastern Mindanao Front in Lanao del Sur under the command of Sultan Abdul Amoran who is half Higaonon and half Maranao whose 1,400 combatants have come together to form themselves into cooperatives that are so passionate in protecting the environment and in improving the quality of life of the Indigenous People.

This amazing unfolding of events for peace is also happening in Lingig, Surigao del Sur where some 1,000 Higaonons with some 288 NPA surrenderees have formed themselves into the “Cabungsoan-Manobo-Cimulawnon Tribal Agri-Cooperative.” Also, in Sibagat, Agusan Sur, the head of the 10,000 Manobo Tribe headed by Chieftain, Arnold Acebedo known as Datu Subang who was a former commander of the NPA who surrendered are now being formed into cooperatives. What a turn-around from violence to peace. Take note that there was this call before to rise up in arms saying that they have some 60,000 combatants with high powered guns ready for war. The cooperatives have countered that they have some 11 million members ready for peace because peace can only be had not through the fire power of guns but by the strength of the human spirit in harmony and cooperation, collectively and compassionately advancing social justice, equity and economic development.

Who would believe that meager as its budget is, the CDA together with its 16 regional offices nationwide are front-lining the essence of service in the war torn barangays. The CDA through its extension offices have provided assistance to 1,592 former rebels in the different provinces all over the country. They have been providing direct assistance through the cooperatives who are advancing the “Koop Kapatid Program” to help advance peace and development to uproot the causes of rebellion. These compassionate cooperatives are providing livelihood to the poor and downtrodden, food and medicine to the sick and even putting-up training centers, to uplift the quality of life in the communities through capability building.

The PLDT Employees Credit Cooperative (PECCI), for example, is now building a wonderful Training Center in Tabac, Talakag, Bukidnon for the Higaonon, Manobo and Talaandig Tribes. Increasing the IPs’ skills and capacities will empower them to reforest and transform the hundreds of thousands of hectares in Mt. Kitanglad-Kalatungan Range, their ancestral domain which had been logged before by 6 logging companies for six decades and now are standing bare and denuded which the IPs, when capacitated, will transform into coffee, garlic and bamboo plantations. This time, their ancestral domain will not be for the control and benefit of the rich and powerful corporations that have already converted some 200,000 hectares of choicest of lands in Mindanao into value-value crop plantations but by the Lumads themselves.

The same compassion has been shown by the Most Holy Rosary MPC to the Wounded Soldiers Agri Cooperative whose members have been impaired by war in Mindanao. They are now being provided with a training center to become productive as no greater love there is than these soldiers willing to die so that other may live. “Noon po noong ako ay may mata pa, hindi ako nakakakita at ngayon po na ako ay nabulag na, nakita ko na ang panglaban pala sa mga rebelde ay hindi baril o bomba ko hindi kooperatiba.” Such was the statement of 1st Lieutinant Jerome Jacuba who was totally blind because of war in Mindanao who is now the Chairman of the Wounded Soldiers’ Cooperative.

After 3 decades, the cooperatives have indeed scaled the heights as the countervailing force against poverty and advancing social transformation under the amazing leadership of the present dispensation. His Excellency’s priority area on transparency, good governance, anti-corruption and accountability jibe well with those of the cooperatives’ fundamental principles and values which the CDA and the cooperative movement are advancing.

It has been said that for those who have dreamt, advocated, sacrificed and even died for it, social change has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of martial law and two people powered revolutions. The systems and structures that are breeding poverty are still as formidable as ever. BUT NOT ANYMORE UNDER THE PRESENT DISPENSATION which has strengthened the CDA under the new charter RA 11364 which the President has signed into law on August 8, 2019. With the Reorganization and Strengthening of CDA, it will transform the cooperative movement, in whose name and for whose cause CDA exists, into a formidable development force for inclusive development and social transformation.

As the theme of the 30th year celebration declares: “CDA – IKA-TATLONG DEKADA: KATUWANG SA PAGBABAGO PARA SA KAUNLARAN AT KAPAYAPAAN!” Indeed, social transformation has finally come as trail-blazed by some 18,700 Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace. MABUHAY ANG KOOPERATIBA — All for God’s greater glory!

“As the theme of the 30th year celebration declares: “CDA – IKA-TATLONG DEKADA: KATUWANG SA PAGBABAGO PARA SA KAUNLARAN AT KAPAYAPAAN!” Indeed, social transformation has finally come as trail-blazed by some 18,700 Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace. MABUHAY ANG KOOPERATIBA — All for God’s greater glory!”