4,500 leaders of cooperatives gather in summit
to oppose House move to repeal tax exemptions
October 27 2016 6:59 PM
More than 4,500 leaders and stakeholders of cooperatives from all over the Philippines gathered at the SMX Convention Center for the 13th Cooperative Summit on October 24 and 25. The biennial event is the biggest co-op occasion in 2016, and was a display of solidarity where co-op leaders discussed issues affecting the sector and threshed out directions they would take in the coming years.
The Summit was co-organized by the Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC) and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA). PCC is considered to be the “apex” of the co-op sector, being composed of the greater portion of the cooperative federations.
Issues discussed were the bills filed at the House of Representatives threatening to repeal the tax exemptions enjoyed by co-ops, as stipulated in the Cooperative Code of 2008.
However, AGAP Partylist Representative Rico Giron who heads the House committee on cooperatives, assured the participants at the Summit that he, together with COOP-NATCCO Representatives Anthony Bravo and Sabiniano Canama, will oppose such bills.
CDA Chairperson, Orlando Ravanera, reiterated that co-ops, while they were not taxpayers, were “actually tax makers” because they directly or indirectly employed 2.5 million persons, generated P313.8 Trillion in 2015, and managed P250 billion in assets owned by the co-op members.
There are currently 25,610 cooperatives registered with the CDA and these co-ops have a combined 14 million individual members who deposit funds, can obtain loans, plus many other services.
Balu Iyer, Chairman of the International Cooperative Alliance in Asia-Pacific, provided an international perspective, saying Filipino co-ops have much to share and can also learn from co-ops in Asia. He admired the theme of the event, “Philippine Co-ops: Exceeding Limits; Sustaining Excellence” because it was a “bold and forward-looking statement of purpose.”
PCC Chairperson Hamilcar Rutaquio reported that at the Cooperative Show of Force in October 2015, thousands of cooperators pushed:
1) the recognition of genuine electric cooperatives owned and controlled by its member-customers,
2) for market vendor cooperatives to operate market,
3) to lobby for an increased budget for the CDA, and
4) to fight against the repeal of tax privileges of co-ops.
One year later, he said, the fight continued: “The PCC is rallying every cooperator and talking to our legislators as new bills in both houses of Congress have been filed in effect to again repeal our tax privilege. We will strongly oppose such moves.”
He added: “The problem of one co-op is the problem of the entire cooperative movement.”
The PCC also gave the prestigious “Bigay Pugay” Award to co-op leaders age 70 and above, who devoted their youth to establishing co-ops and have nurtured their organizations through the years. The awardees were Franco Baricuatro, Elvira Dandan, Romeo de Jesus, Clarita Napoles, Norma Pereyras, Ruben Presilda, Fidel Samson, Napoleon E. Sentillas, and Atty. Federico Triste.
The first day concluded with the representatives of CDA and the Department of Trade and Industry signing the Memorandum of Agreement to develop small enterprises under Republic Act 10644 known as the “Go Negosyo Act.”
She asked the participants how many in the crowd were below 30 years old – less than 80 raised their hands. How many co-ops have laboratory co-ops? Around 15. How many co-ops had youth representatives in their Boards? 12.
NATCCO CEO Sylvia Paraguya presented the results of the Co-op Youth Congress. She said co-ops leaders must be alarmed that the youth, who comprised majority of the Philippine population, were not involved in cooperatives. To prove her point, she asked participants aged less than 30 to raise their hands – and there were less than 100. She therefore urged co-op leaders to enact the Agreements of the Co-op Youth Congress by forming laboratory co-ops (once the co-ops reach sound financial standards), and have a youth representative in the Board.
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