PEOPLE who don’t believe in the power of cooperatives to make changes in the community should mourn for the death of their minds.
Accordingly, the observed booming and significant contribution of coops in the nation’s strawberry capital urged the local government unit (LGU) to designate a cooperative officer to collaborate, consult and coordinate coop-related programs, projects and activities. Since La Trinidad is known for its agriculture industry, most of the clients catered to by the office come from high-value-crop farmers until it expanded its services to non-agricultural cooperatives.
La Trinidad coop office started in 2014 with the hiring of the coop development specialist which was supported by an Administrative Order signed by then Mayor Edna Tabanda. It developed into the crafting of an ordinance establishing the cooperative development services office.
Authored by Councilor Horacio, Jr., the ordinance went through series of consultation and was finally affixed by Vice Mayor Joey Jovencio Marrero and Mayor Romeo Salda together with the members of the Municipal Council in 2016. Atty. Franco Bawang, Jr., CDA-CAR director firmly assisted in the lobbying of the ordinance prior to its enactment. The former Governor of Benguet, Nestor Fongwan also promoted cooperatives in the valley since 2004 during his stint as Mayor.
“We [the cooperatives] really feel the presence of the government in helping the marginalized sector” said one of the participants in one of the programs of the LGU.
Meanwhile, reports show that there was an undeniable improvement in the training and education of co-ops due to the massive conduct of free seminars by the government. It was also revealed that it created strong cooperation and partnership among the almost one hundred cooperatives operating in La Trinidad that resulted to the improvement of services of the cooperatives. These social impacts encouraged the local officials to increase budget allocations and craft more legislation to further the welfare of co-ops.
Cooperativism in La Trinidad is also embodied in the just launched Cooperative Development Council’s Social Program. In coordination with the coop office, the cooperatives decided to remit three percent of its Cooperative Development Fund annually to the cooperative council.
Projects to be implemented are those identified by the cooperatives and those that are present in the Local Development Investment Plan of the locality. The projects shall be credited to the coop sector as a whole.
The LTCDSO implements the following programs, projects and activities: Coop Congress; Livelihood Assistance; Coop IEC Caravan; Mandatory and Optional Coop Trainings; Publication of Coop Promotional Materials; Coop Mentoring and Consultancy; Publication of a Coop Journal; Packaging and Labeling Workshops; Random Guesting to a Community Paper and Radio Station promoting coops, COOPlympics (Sports Competition); kooperatiBLOODLETTING; Inter-Agency Forum; Coop Research Conference; Localized Gawad Parangal; and Coop Mapping.
As a result, the CDA-Central Office proclaimed the office as the National Winner during the Gawad Parangal awarding in 2017. On the same year, the Liga ng Cooperative Development Officers sa Pilipinas (LCDOP) gave special recognition to the LGU for promoting and developing cooperatives in the locality.
The LTCDSO continues to become catalyst of cooperation among pro-active cooperatives and stakeholders in pursuit of a vibrant economy for sustainable development.