FOR lawyer Sid Lico, the Chairman of the Regional Cooperative Development Council who is at the helm of the 1,300 active cooperatives in Northern Mindanao with over 700,000 member-cooperators, social change has been so elusive all these years. True, there were changes of the “guards,” but the tentacles of greed and the structures of oppression have remained as formidable as ever.

Despite 21 years of Martial Law and two “people-power” revolutions, the country is still enmeshed in dire poverty, perpetuated by the lethal combination of apathy, greed and powerlessness. With poverty incidence being the worst in East Asia as disclosed by an ADB Study, there is now that ardent call for a collectivist counterculture to unfetter the people from the quagmire of desperation that prods many Filipinos to jump from what they perceive as a “sinking ship.”

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Who will now stand to the call to awaken the spirit of the people to spearhead a social transformation that will halt our accelerating drive towards economic difficulties, worsened by ecological degradations and the lack of food sovereignty? Who will take the cudgel of presenting an alternative paradigm to question developmental fallacies that were only successful in destroying our ecological base and putting more people in the slum areas?

We have in our midst well-meaning leaders who are possessed with outstanding qualities who carry a vision of development beyond the socio-economic milieu. They are statesmen in their own right because of their high adherence to time-honored and universally-accepted principles that uphold human dignity by putting power where it rightfully belongs * with the people. They are the transformational leaders whose vision of democratizing wealth and power will indeed shape the future.

By nature and nurture, Lawyer Sid Lico tops the list of these few good men and women who are now advancing the essence of cooperativism for social change. His life exemplifies one who rose from poverty and whose sheer brilliance and hard work have shaped his destiny.

Graduating valedictorian from Calape, Bohol, he had pursued his college degree thru scholarship, then finished his Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics and took-up law while teaching and passed the bar in 1986, His international travels in many countries in Asia, touching base with different cooperatives and his involvement in various local cooperative activities, as well, have all together given him the correct paradigm to work for social justice, equity and sustainable development.

He acts as the legal counsel of a number of Rural Banks and cooperatives, many of which have been distinctly placed into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame. His leadership is well recognized as he is the Chairman of the Cooperative Bank of Misamis Oriental, the most outstanding Cooperative Bank in the whole country.

He has historically trail-blazed cooperative paths in this part of the country which has advanced the tenets of cooperativism to rectify legal flaws and social wrongs.

As the Regional Chairman of the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore), he has advocated for the conversion of Electric Cooperatives into genuine cooperatives with member-consumers to exercise rights of ownership and their eventual registration with CDA.

As the Founding Chairman of the Mindanao Marketing Federation of Cooperatives, he has somehow cleared the path towards consumers* empowerment through direct buying and direct-selling to erase the many marketing layers whose profits are shouldered ultimately by the consumers.

All told, lawyer Lico is a cooperative leader par excellence whose vision of cooperativism as the cutting edge to establish a society based on peace, justice and sustainability is now gaining momentum for societal transformation. He is the cooperative statesman whose vision will be the force to win back the future for our children. (The author is regional director for the Cooperative Development Authority in Northern Mindanao)