We are more empowered and supported than ever before!
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri disclosed that President Duterte signed on April 13, Republic Act No. 11535, “Cooperatives Development Officer Act”, amending the Local Government Code of 1991. The newly signed law authorizes the creation of the Cooperative Development Officer as a mandatory position in LGUs.
The active role of the local governments in the development of the cooperative sector has been the main purpose in the filing of a legislative measure at the House of Representatives by COOP-NATCCO Rep. Sabiniano Canama and Rep. Estrellita B. Suansing of Nueva Ecija, and Rep. Horacio Suansing of Sultan Kudarat (House Bills 2436 and 287 respectively). Other related measures were also filed by Representatives Dahlia A. Loyola, Wilter “Sharky”Wee Palma III,Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez and David Suarez and Carlito Marquez.
Though a landmark law, the Local Government Code is vague on the purpose, mandate, and designation of cooperative officers in their respective LGUs. It is to be noted, however, that there are provisions in the Local Government Code that implicitly push for the partnership of LGUs and the cooperative sector.
However, before RA 11535, either the hiring of cooperative officers was optional, or their functions appeared to have served no purpose for the cooperative sector. Only 305 out of 1,715 LGUs have CDOs in the country.With this amendment, local governments play a more active role in the development of the cooperative sector and the appointment of a Cooperative Development Officer is now explicitly mandatory.
Among the responsibilities of the CDO are the following:
“(1) Formulate measures for the consideration of the sanggunian (council) and provide technical assistance and support to the governor or mayor, as the case may be, in carrying out measures to ensure the delivery of basic services and provision of facilities through the organizing promotion and development of cooperatives, and in providing access to such services and facilities;
(2) Develop plans and strategies in consultation with the cooperative sector and upon approval thereof by the governor or mayor, as the case may be, implement the same, particularly those which have to do with the integration of cooperatives values, principles, and practices in programs and projects, which the governor or mayor is empowered to implement and which the sanggunian is empowered to provide for;
(3) Take the lead in identifying groups, sectors or communities that can be organized into cooperatives; provide assistance to prospective cooperatives in the conduct of the required preregistration seminar; provide technical and other forms of assistance to duly registered cooperatives; assist cooperatives in establishing linkages with government agencies, cooperative unions, and federations, the academe, and non-government organizations involved in the promotion and integration of the concept of cooperatives; and
(4) Assist cooperatives in the development and implementation of risk management plans and business continuity plans and management as a response to anticipated or unexpected man-made and natural calamities and disasters, to aid in their survival and if necessary subsequent rehabilitation.”
The law also states that the CDO may be created or appointed by the LGU, or be combined with an already existing position tasked to handle the development of the cooperative sector. At the same time, the law ensures that the CDO is well equipped in supporting and guiding the cooperative sector in the LGU.
Earlier, Senator Risa Hontiveros, one of the authors of the Cooperative Development Office Bill, said that “the enactment of a law creating the position of LCDOs is a new instrument in the cooperative movement towards community development in facing the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Senate Majority Leader Zubiri, who is also one of the authors of the bill, has the same sentiments – “It’s timely for us to establish CDOs as we emerge from the pandemic. Our cooperatives will really need focused, particularized assistance during this crucial period of recovery”, and that “Through our CDOs, we will really be able to reach out to every single cooperative in the nation, and we’ll be better positioned to help Filipinos help themselves”.
It has been a long but worthy struggle. PCC and the cooperative sector have been trying to engage and empower cooperatives through the establishment of the Cooperative Development Officer. As such, the passing of this law is a momentous event that may hopefully serve as a catalyst for the furtherance of the cooperative sector.
 RA 11535 is the consolidated Senate Bill 1855 and House Bill 5925, passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives last Feb. 16, 2021 and Feb. 17, 2021.
 Section 17, 35, 50, 108, and 149, among others.