Filipino co-ops step in to support those affected by Typhoon Rai

Around 400 people lost their lives in the tropical cyclone with another 500 injured and 380,000 displaced

Co-ops in the Philippines were quick to respond to Typhoon Rai (also known as Odette), which hit the country last month, killing and injuring hundreds of people and displacing thousands more.

Around 400 people died, with another 500 injured and 380,000 displaced, when the tropical cyclone struck the country with winds of about 195km/h (120mph) on 16 December.

CLIMBS Life and General Insurance Cooperative supported its farmer members by offering assistance, with the payment of the first claims through its enhanced Weather Protect Insurance product.

The agricultural insurance product was launched in August 2021 in partnership with IBISA (Luxembourg), Global Parametrics; and CIAT (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture). In developing the product CLIMBS also received technical assistance from the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

During the pilot phase CLIMBS is working with five co-operative organisations and has the goal of protecting 3,600 farmers in the first year. The partnering co-ops are the Mindanao Consolidated Cooperative Bank (MCCB), Paglaum Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Metro Ormoc Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (OCCCI), Oro Integrated Cooperative (OIC), and The Philippine Family Farmers Agriculture-Fishery-Forestry Cooperatives Federation (AgriCOOPh).

Set up in 1971, CLIMBS provides mutual protection to low-income farmers, fishermen, employees and labourers who could not afford or did not have easy access to insurance products offered by commercial insurers.

On 3 January 2022, CLIMBS president and CEO, Noel D. Raboy and his team personally handed over the very first weather protect insurance claim to one of the five pilot co-operatives of CLIMBS’s enhanced Weather Protect Insurance, the Mindanao Consolidated Cooperative Bank.

And through its Community Action Response to Emergency Services (CARES) programme CLIMBS provided relief to affected communities, distributing a range of goods and hygiene kits.

CLIMBS has also launched a fundraising campaign to support the most affected regions. Those wishing to make a donation can transfer funds to CLIMBS LIFE AND GENERAL INSURANCE COOPERATIVE BDO account: 0117-8800-2141 and send proof of deposit and/or validated deposit slip to or or email to [email protected] for proper acknowledgment. CLIMBS’ sales team and customer service hotlines are also available for further information.

“As a co-operative we live by two of the seven co-operative principles – ‘Co-operation among Co-operatives’ and ‘Concern for the Community’,” said the co-op. “This entails volunteerism and asking how we can be of service to others in times of emergency or crisis. In the spirit of generosity, CLIMBS Life and General Insurance Cooperative is once again enjoining co-operatives and citizens to respond to the call for solidarity.”

Electric co-operatives were also among the first to provide assistance to the communities devastated by the Typhoon. They worked together to restore power via a task force set up by the Philippine Federation of Rural Cooperatives (Philfeco).

Its charity arm, the One EC Network Foundation (OECNF), used vehicles from electric co-ops to send in relief goods such as food, water, rice, and other essentials.

“We received information that some areas are experiencing lack of food and other basic necessities, so, instead of sending financial assistance in those areas, we requested our members to purchase the necessary goods and send these together with the Task Force contingents,” said Presley C. De Jesus, president of PHILRECA and OECNF.

“We are still consolidating information on effect of the typhoon to co-op employees and MCOs, but as of this writing, the Foundation has released Php 4,951,000.00 worth of assistance – in cash and in kind – for the benefit of those EC employees and families affected by the typhoon.”

PHILRECA confirmed that some lineworkers lost their lives while helping in the restoration of damaged facilities of affected electric co-operatives.

“We have nothing but the highest respect and appreciation to our Warriors of Light, who, without second thoughts, bravely accepted the mission to assist our electric co-operatives whose distribution systems were damaged by Typhoon Odette,” said Janeene Depay-Colingan, executive director and general manager of PHILRECA, on 27 December.

“In addition to being far away from their loved ones for a long time during the holidays, these lineworkers will be facing dangers and risks as they restore and repair the distribution system, perform clearing operations, and transport heavy equipment and materials in terrains unknown to many of them.

“Sadly, we have had some casualties as some of our beloved but unspoken heroes losing their lives in line of duty.”

The National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO Network) is examining the impact of the typhoon on the country’s co-operatives. Some co-ops could not be contacted due to the damages to the communication facilities. Further information will be available at a later stage.