- Speaker Belmonte and honourable members of the House of Representatives,
- Senator Lapid,
- Mayor Bautista and distinguished local government officials of Quezon City,
- Chairperson Santiaguel of the Cooperative Development Authority,
- Chairperson Aquino of the Philippine Cooperative Center,
- Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon sa inyong lahat (good afternoon to all of you)!
It is my honour to join you today for the “National Show of Cooperative Force” to celebrate the International Year of Cooperatives!
The International Labour Organisation recognizes the significant role cooperatives can play in promoting both economic and social development throughout the world, especially in times of crisis.
Cooperatives, as social economic enterprises and self-help organizations, have demonstrated that they have a meaningful function in uplifting their members and their local communities.
Cooperatives have been an important contributor in creating and sustaining employment, providing more than 100 million jobs today; they have the ability to advance the ILO’s Global Employment Agenda and they have the ability to contribute to promoting decent and productive work.
With their concern for their members and for the communities, cooperatives play on equal footing the need to help their members in earning and making profit. At the same time, cooperatives respond to the needs of communities.
Nevertheless, cooperatives’ economic contribution can be substantial. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) reported that the top 300 cooperatives worldwide are responsible for an aggregate turnover of 1.1 trillion US dollars, equal to the world’s tenth largest economy.
The ILO has been supporting the work of cooperatives through its Cooperative Programme. It serves ILO constituents – governments, employers and workers as well as cooperative organizations, by:
- raising public awareness on cooperatives through evidence based advocacy and sensitization to cooperative values and principles;
- ensuring the competitiveness of cooperatives by developing tailored tools such as management training, audit manuals and assistance programmes.
- promoting the inclusion of teaching of cooperative principles and practices at all levels of the national education and training systems; and,
- providing advice on cooperative policy and cooperative law, including participatory policy and law making and the impact on cooperatives of taxation policies, labour law, accounting standards, and competition law among others.
ILO Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives helps ensure that cooperatives have the modern legal frameworks they need.
It has a particularly important role to play in helping governments worldwide create the laws, administrative systems and policies needed to enable cooperatives to develop.
Here in the Philippines, the ILO has been working closely with cooperatives through projects which include:
- Lake Sebu, South Cotabato where the ILO partnered with, the Cooperative of Women in Health and Development (COWHED) which is composed mainly of and led by indigenous women. COWHED is now operating a microfinance facility with ILO assistance. It is becoming a model of individual and collective self-reliance among indigenous women.
- In Agusan del Norte, a cooperative model on innovative financing for farmers which help them adapt to climate change was piloted with the local government units, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Baug Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative. This was made possible through financial support from the government of SPAIN and the project on the Millennium Development Goals.
The ILO’s programme for the future in the Philippines will be guided by the priorities set under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) and the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan (LEP).
We envision continued partnership with cooperatives in achieving sustainable, inclusive and greener growth through decent and productive work.
Congratulations to the organizers and to the participants of this “National Show of Cooperative Force”.
I wish everyone continued success as I express my solidarity in supporting cooperatives towards creating employment and sustaining development through decent and productive work!
Thank you and Mabuhay!