Cooperatives: Orientations and Trajectories

Erik Villanueva


With an estimated membership if 4.5 million and a growing economic clout, the cooperative sector has come to an age as an emerging social force and an important actor in the Philippine political scene. A political role does not negate cooperativism because the former is an outgrowth of the cooperative mission of building capabilities to respond to the needs of its members and to intervene in shaping its environment. At the practical level, are very intimately interconnected, being regulated by the same laws and beset by common issues and problems. Moreover, they share a very natural and conservative basis of commonality, i.e. the practice and promotion of self help and cooperation. Despite this common identity, not all of them consider themselves as belonging to the "cooperative movement." There is nothing, however, in cooperativism that limits what coops can do in the social and political arena provided that they have a visionary and conscientizing framework and continue to embrace the civic orientation towards equality, justice, transparency, and solidarity. Actually, cooperatives have several political options such as participation in local legislative and policy-making bodies, lobbying, joining the party-list system, coalescing with an existing national party, supporting pro-coop candidates and parties, having sectoral representation in the House of Representatives and launching a national coop party. Whatever the options may be taken, the time for a distinct coop political movement has undoubtedly ripened as coops can no longer remain as mere bystanders or spectators in politics

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