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Cooperatives help sought amid COVID crisis




Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday appealed to the country’s cooperatives to utilize their Community Development Fund (CDF) to help communities in responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency.

In a statement, the senator urged cooperatives to lend a hand in order to contribute to the government’s efforts to fight the disease and help their respective community members mitigate the socio-economic impact of the crisis.

Go suggested that the said fund may be used for projects that will benefit the community during the enhanced community quarantine, which may include the provision of food packs, vitamins, alcohol, soap, personal protective equipment for medical frontliners and other basic necessities to be distributed to those community members who are in dire need of help.

The senator – who is also a member of the Joint Oversight Committee overseeing the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act — cited the unpredictability and uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation in the country as the reason for his appeal.

Go has continuously reiterated that a “whole-of-society” approach is needed in combatting the public health emergency.

Under Article 86 (3) of Republic Act No. 9520 or the “Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008”, cooperatives are mandated “to allocate not less than three per centum (3%) Cooperative Development Fund from its annual net surplus.”

The senator’s appeal is also in line with Memorandum Circular No. 2020-30 issued by the Cooperative Development Authority which encourages cooperatives “to utilize their Community Development Fund (CDF), which under Article 86 (3) of R.A. No. 9520, shall not be less than three percent of their net surplus, for projects or activities that will benefit the community where the cooperative operates.”

These projects or activities are those identified and included in the approved Social Development Plan of the cooperatives.

The memo also states that “food packs, vitamins, alcohol, soap and other basic necessities may be distributed to those community members who are in dire need of help but with adherence to safety protocols, and ensuring that the procurement of these goods will not shortchange the members.”

It also suggests the use of the cooperatives’ Optional Fund for the benefit of their members and employees. This, however, must later on be confirmed by the General Assembly. Under Article 86 (4) of R.A. No. 9520, the Optional Fund shall not exceed seven percent of the cooperatives’ net surplus. The usage of this fund, however, must later on be confirmed by the General Assembly.

In the event that the cooperative chooses not to use its Optional Fund or if the same is not sufficient for the intended aid purpose, “additional fund assistance may be charged to direct expenses.”

Cooperatives are also encouraged to extend emergency or calamity loans at interest-free or minimal rates of interest to their members, enabling them to meet their needs. These loans are subject to the lending policies of the cooperative.

Cooperative-owned vehicles and properties may also be made available for use by members of the cooperative or community, especially during emergency situations in coordination with local government units.

Go expressed his gratitude to the cooperatives and their members for their willingness to heed his call, saying that their positive response to the request will be helpful and well-appreciated.

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