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Thursday, October 2, 2008

CDO coops move closer in bid to cooperative- ize COWD

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Raising a knot higher its bid to cooperative- ize the Cagayan de Oro Water District, the cooperatives in Cagayan de Oro agreed to mobilize the public (consumers) and intensify its signature campaign urging the City Government to convert GOCC COWD into a COCC (Consumers-Owned- Controlled- Cooperative) COWD.

Earlier, a consortium of millionaire cooperatives in the City had offered to pay upfront the City Government about PhP45-million as a refund of its initial capitalization to the COWD. The bid to cooperative- ize the COWD was the centerpiece topic of the General Assembly of the Cooperative Development Council of Cagayan de Oro (CDCC) last Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008 at the Sanriva Restaurant. The CDCC is composed of the 156 active cooperatives operating in Cagayan de Oro and with a total membership of more than 100,000 individuals, said outgoing CDCC President BenCyrus G. Ellorin.

Newly elected CDCC President Dr. Anselmo Mercado said that in response to the challenge posed by City Mayor Constantino Jaraula that any move to cooperative- ize the COWD should come from the grassroots and the general public (i.e., the cooperative sector, NGOs, the consumers of water, etc.), the cooperative sector has taken the lead to intensify the signature campaign calling for such. He added that the representatives of this movement to cooperative- ize COWD will personally hand over to the Local Chief Executive a Manifesto with the signatures bearing the formal offer to cooperative- ize the COWD sometime next Week.

Among the millionaire cooperatives in the city, e.g., the First Community Cooperative (FICCO) and the Xavier University Community Cooperative (XUCCO) have already approved in their last General Assemblies their support to cooperative- ize COWD. Isagani Daba, vice chairperson of FICCO said that they would include in the submission to the mayor the FICCO Resolution, attached to it the attendance of their last General Assembly. FICCO, currently the biggest community cooperative nationwide with assets worth PhP2.8-billion has over 60,000 members in the City. Dr. Lovenia Naces, of XUCCO, had also echoed the same: "XUCCO has already approved a resolution on the cooperative- ization of COWD and we will give the mayor a copy of this resolution along with the sector's petition." She said this during the floor deliberation on the campaign in Sanriva Hotel last Saturday. She added that XUCCO's membership includes employees, students and alumni of the Jesuit-run Xavier University.

A pledging session of the city's millionaire cooperatives last Sept. 10, 2008 netted an initial pledge of PhP106.8-million. Dave Pajaron, General Manager of the Philippine Federation Credit Cooperatives (PFCCO) and newly elected CDCC Vice president said that smaller cooperatives in the city are also "passing the hat to contribute to raise enough funds to capitalize the cooperative- ization of the COWD." Daba, who headed the financial feasibility study and review of the financial status of the COWD said that if managed properly, the COWD is a profitable business organization, such that it can pay upfront the initial capitalization of the City Government and even the retained earnings of the COWD of about PhP450-million, on an installment basis for 5 years. The study made by the coops chaired by Dr. Mercado analyzed that the coops can increase the profitability of the COWD from 4% to 42% if the questionable issues raised by the COA Audit Report of COWD's 2005 Financial Statements can be corrected by a new management proposed by the cooperative sector. Mercado further said that, if the conversion from a Government-Owned- Controlled- Corporation to the alternative form - a Consumer-Owned- Controlled- Coop (COCC)would be approved, the new owners (COCCoop) would have to commit to them following bottom lines: more efficient/effective management that is transparent and accountable to the consumer-owners, democratic ownership and control by member-consumers, the sharing of economic gains to its member-consumers through patronage refunds and dividends its surplus income or profit, and perhaps even lower water payment rates with improved business operations and performance.

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