THE blooming of the flowers may be very beautiful but it will fail in comparison to the blooming of cooperatives! This is especially true, in the Philippines. Why is this so?
When the United Nations in 2015came up with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declaring in clean and strongest categorical term – Stop poverty! Stop hunger! Advance social justice! Debunk social inequities! Protect the environment! Regain back the integrity of the ecosystems! Promote the health of people! And promote peace and development!
We found ourselves amazed by these rhetorics, much more when the UN coined the term – Transformative cooperatives for people, planet, prosperity and peace!
We can only say wow! But we were not surprised. We were never surprised for the reason that all of these SDGs are actually being done by cooperatives already, despite all the difficulties in a highly skewed pyramidal, oligarchical, societal order.
These goals are the raison d’ etre of cooperatives whose DNA is that of being members-owned, value-based and sustainable. In fact, no less than the 1987 Constitution put that in clear, categorical term to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development.
Yes, the 26,000 cooperatives with 14 million members from the 26 types of cooperatives are shining brightly now to effect social transformation that has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of Martial Law and two people-power revolutions. The structure and systems that breed poverty are still as formidable as ever where the economy is controlled by the oligarchs following development paradigm anchored on growth-at-all-cost development strategy that is only successful in sacrificing Mother Earth and the people to the altar of greed and profit.
Yes, cooperatives are like stars, shining amidst the darkness of poverty, social injustice and grave inequities. But today, there are cooperatives, cooperative leaders, cooperative development offices and councils whose brightness must not be put under the bed but on top of the hill for everyone to see.
They must be emulated. They must be honored. They must be awarded. The cooperatives have been successful in democratizing wealth and power through agrarian reform and in effecting paradigm shift where the poor farmers now control the mode of production and marketing. The member-consumer-owners of Electric Cooperatives which are registered with CDA are manifesting the truism that those which are means to life i.e., air, water, electricity, must not be a subject of commerce of men and must be owned and managed the MCOs.
Believe it or not, one cooperative-awardee was able to provide Water Distribution System, where members/concessionaires are being provided and supplied with clean and safe water for over fifteen (15) years. From "pag-iigib ng tubig sa poso," members can now access water through their faucets with ease, at the same time providing the needs of their families and for their livelihood.
Another example is a cooperative that markets their products through innovative and creative approach, thereby contributing to the stability of the economic success.
A cooperative that implements programs and activities that promote gender and development among its members and community, as well; putting in place the important elements of GAD in the cooperative.
And a cooperative development office that implements Cooperative Assistance for Rural Enhancement Program or CARE Program, which provide livelihood development assistance to all micro cooperatives in the City, thus enhancing the cooperatives’ organizational and entrepreneurial capabilities.
These are but just few of their stories, showing what cooperatives can do to empower their members and the community, and the CDA is proud to be telling these stories through the GawadParangal Program of the Cooperative Development Authority.
Yes, the blooming of the cooperatives as exemplified by the GawadParangal Awardees are exemplifying what His Highness Pope Francis has said in Laodatu Si, the new encyclical. That in the world with so much food, no one should go hungry. That we must not use our talents for self-aggrandizement, but to advance our collective power through cooperativism, to transform society for people, planet, prosperity and peace.
All for greater glory of God.