“COOPERATIVISM works in making a difference in the human and structural change today and in the future,” declared lawyer Arnel D. Agrasada, regional director of the Cooperative Development Authority during his visit to Bacolod City on Friday. 

Agrasada was the guest speaker in the 24th Batch Graduation Rites of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Sugar Workers Foundation Livelihood and Technical Skills Training Center at the NFSP Compound, Bacolod-Murcia Road, Alijis. 

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“Facts and figures significantly prove that cooperativism rooted in the culture of volunteering and ‘People Helping People’ is an ideology working towards the paramount welfare of all,” he said. 

Agrasada said that President Benigno Aquino III himself acknowledged the important role of cooperatives, being a part of the private sector, in nation-building, when the President pronounced in his state of the nation address, “Ito ang magiging solusyon – mga public-private partnerships.”

“In other words, (there’s) a bright future ahead with the help of the private sector,” he added.  

The cooperative movement brings together over 800 million people around the world. Estimates by the United Nations point out that, in 1994, the livelihood of nearly 3 billion people or almost half of the world’s population at that time, was made secure by coop enterprise, Agrasada said. 

“As a matter of fact, the International Labor Organization considers cooperatives as an important means to create employment and livelihood, improve the living and working conditions of men and women, and make special infrastructure services available in areas neglected by the state and investor-driven enterprises,” the CDA regional director said. 

To illustrate his point, Agrasada cited Malaysia which in 2005 has a cooperative membership of 5.5 million people, representing 20 percent of the country’s total population. In Japan, one out of three families is a member of a cooperative.

In Finland, the country’s S-Group coop has a membership of almost 1.5 million individuals, representing 62 percent of the country’s total households. In Bolivia, one of the credit cooperatives handled 25 percent of the country’s savings in 2002 while in Denmark, consumer coops held 37 percent share of the market in 2004. 

Coops also provide essential services, as in the case of Colombia where the cooperative movement provides 109,000 jobs and an additional 379,000 work opportunities for owner-workers in workers coops. These coops serve the health, transport, industrial, financial and agricultural sectors, Agrasada said. 

The Philippines has 15,458 operating cooperatives as of March 22, based on the CDA’s electronic registration system. Western Visayas has 1,027 cooperatives while Negros Occidental has 380.  

Coop assets reach more than P163 billion while the amount of paid-up capital exceeds P34 billion. (Butch Bacaoco)