Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the country’s cooperatives to utilize their Community Development Fund (CDF) to help the communities they serve in responding to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) emergency.
“Hinihikayat po natin ang ating mga kooperatiba na gamitin ang kani-kanilang community development fund upang mas lalo pang mapalakas at mapalawig ang paglaban natin sa mga banta ng Covid-19 (We are encouraging our cooperatives to utilize their CDF in order to further strengthen and expand our fight against the threats of Covid-19),” Go said in a press statement.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography said the unpredictability and uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation in the country needs a “whole-of-society” approach to combat the public health emergency and mitigate its socio-economic impact.
“Lahat po tayo kailangang tumulong sa ating komunidad. Lahat tayo naghihirap at lahat naman tayo gustong malampasan ang krisis na ito. Gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para pagserbisyohan ang kapwa nating Pilipino (All of us need to help in our community. We are all suffering and we all wanted to survive this crisis. We have to do everything we can to serve our fellow Filipinos),” Go said.
He said the CDF may be used for projects that will benefit the community during the enhanced community quarantine, such as the provision of food packs and other basic necessities, as well as personal protective equipment for medical front-liners, among others.
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 percent Cooperative Development Fund from its annual net surplus”.
Go’s appeal is also in line with Memorandum Circular No. 2020-30 issued by the Cooperative Development Authority which encourages cooperatives to utilize their CDF “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 further 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.”
RA 9520 also suggests the use of the cooperatives’ Optional Fund for the benefit of their members and employees.
As provided by law, 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.
If 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 said the positive response of the cooperatives and their members to his call will be of great help and would be well-appreciated.
“Ngayon pa lamang po ay nagpapasalamat na ako at ang sambayanang Pilipino sa inyong kontribusyon sa laban nating ito (Me and the Filipino people are already thanking you in advance for your contribution in this fight),” he said.
“Magkaisa po tayo at sama-sama nating talunin ang virus bilang isang nagkakaisang bansa. Ipakita natin na walang imposible kung ang diwa ng bayanihan at pagtutulungan ang mangunguna sa ating mga isip at puso sa paglaban ng Covid-19 sa Pilipinas (Let us unite and fight this virus together as one nation. Let us show that nothing is impossible if the spirit of bayanihan and cooperation is foremost in our hearts and minds in fighting Covid-19 in the Philippines),” Go said. (PNA)