THE administrator of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) said the agency welcomes Congress' proposal to create a Department of Cooperatives (DepCo).

Eulogio Castillo, CDA administrator, said if the creation of DepCo will push through, cooperatives will now have a more significant role in the national economic development and social change because they will be under the Office of the President.

"The thing that I notice is coop (cooperatives) has no home yet in the Philippines. And because of that, I think the proposal of Congress to have a Department of Cooperatives will create a home for cooperatives," Castillo said.

The House Bill 4174, also known as the Department of Cooperatives Act of 2016, is an act amending Republic Act (RA) 9520 (Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008), repealing RA 6939 (an act creating the Cooperative Development Authority), and creating the Department of Cooperatives, transferring the registration and regulation functions on cooperatives to the department, appropriating funds therefor, and other purposes.

Castillo said the Department of Cooperatives will be able to help address problems in poverty, food security, employment, and environmental protection.

"I think these are the four major concerns in the socio-economic development that coops (cooperatives) will very well address. And we need that agency that will handle these major concerns. And with that, I think we will be focus on uplifting the plight of those who are in the lower strata of the Philippines society, particularly those in agriculture and agrarian reform areas," Castillo said.

Castillo said the agriculture and agrarian reform sectors comprise 30 percent of the Philippine economy.

"So therefore, if it will improve the plight of the people in this sector, then we will have a very tremendous increase in the socio-economic development of the country," Castillo added.

Through the DepCo, the administrator said, the cooperatives will be able to focus and use the development funds given to them with higher efficiency once the DepCo is created.

"Kasi ang CDA alam nya kung ano yung coop at kung saan yung mga coop, at alin yung nangangailangan at alin yung hindi. Kung ang makikialam dun ay ibang departamento na hindi naman niya alam ang coop, then baka magkamali sya, malaki ang likelihood na magkamali sya. Ngaun kung ang Department of Cooperatives ang magha-handle, malaki ang ating kasiguruhan, yung certainty na mailalagay sya sa tamang coop, sa tamang pangangailangan at kakaunti ang misuses at mismanagement," Castillo said.

But Anselmo Mercado, chairman of First Community Cooperative Foundation of Cagayan de Oro City, said there is no need to create DepCo.

“I don’t think that there is a need to create a department because it takes a lot of money. We have good laws, we have to deliver those and implement it well,” Mercado said.

Mercado said the cooperatives may need more funds but they need to be very careful in providing those funds.

“The moment that we give more funds to the cooperatives, people tend to abuse it,” Mercado said, adding that they should give the cooperatives a space to create its own strength.

Although Castillo agreed with Mercado’s points, he said that it will not happen.

Castillo said there is no need for the government to allocate more funds for they already have funds for the development of the cooperatives, which were handled by other agencies.

“Yung development money, nandyan na sya, hindi na mag-appropriate ng bagong pondo ang gobyerno. I-pondo at ilalagay sa tamang uses. We will make sure that ang pondo para sa development ay para sa development,” Castillo said.

Rey Rodis, member of the technical working group that is working towards the passage of the House Bill to create the DepCo, said there are 202 congressmen, including all of the congressmen in Misamis Oriental, who became co-authors and six co-principal authors of the bill.