Co-operative development in the Philippines has received a boost after the country’s Senate unanimously passed a bill making the appointment of co-operative development officers in local government units mandatory instead of optional.
Senate Bill No. 1855 seeks to amend the Local Government Code of 1991 to authorise the creation of the Co-operative Development Officer (CDO) as a mandatory position in all local government units (LGUs). Through this, all provinces, cities and municipalities will have a dedicated CDO, who will be in charge of helping promising groups and sectors in organising and forming their own co-operatives. CDOs will also bridge regional co-ops with the national Cooperative Development Authority and other national government agencies.
Local governments may choose to appoint a full CDO, or they may merge the responsibilities of a CDO with an existing position, depending on the size of the local co-operative sector, local government capability and budget.
The bill was approved on its third and final reading with 18-0 votes. In the Philippines, the Senate must concur on every bill in order to be passed for the president’s signature to become a law. The House of Representatives approved the counterpart measure on third and final reading in March.
“The Philippines’ National Cooperative Month has just ended, but I hope the sector finds more reasons to celebrate with the approval of this bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, principal sponsor of the measure, speaking to the Philippine News Agency.
“The co-operative sector is such a huge economic driver, especially in the countryside. We have over 28,000 registered co-operatives in the country, which is a good, healthy number, but I believe we can have an even more robust national co-operative movement if we strengthened government support for the sector.
“Once we have CDOs in all our LGUs, we will be able to more easily reach communities in our most far-flung areas, and they will be able to deliver vital and immediate support on the grassroots level.”
A CDO must be a resident of the country and the LGU concerned; be ‘of good moral character’, be a degree holder in co-operatives, business administration or in any related programme; and be a first-grade civil service eligible or its equivalent. Prospective CDOs must also have at least five years of experience in co-operative organisations or management for city and provincial levels, and at least three years in the municipal level.