NATCCO Network Celebrates Ruby Anniversary

QUEZON CITY — The National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO Network) celebrated on January 23 its Ruby Anniversary or 40th years, in simple toast ceremony at the Richmonde Hotel ballroom attended by 314 delegates from 124 cooperatives nationwide.

Prior to the ceremony, early leaders of the NATCCO Network gave their recollections on the beginnings of the organization that has endeavored to live and teach the cooperative philosophy,  improve co-op operations through education and the provision of a wide array of products and services, and advance the cooperative cause through advocacy.

The National Association of Training Centers for Cooperatives (NATCCO) was formed by cooperators who believed that the task of co-op development lay primarily in the hands of the private sector. These leaders believed in self-help and in the idea that people in poverty need to create opportunities for themselves to improve their economic well-being.

From 1915 when the first co-op law was passed until the late 50’s, co-ops did not succeed because they were just a government initiative.

As early as the 1950’s up to 70’s, co-op sector leaders were aware that in order to succeed they could not rely on government alone. Instead, co-ops have to be driven and patronized by their members and it is only through co-op education that this level of member patronage and responsibility can be established.

At that time, a number of primary co-operatives had formed five regional co-op training centers (secondary cooperatives).

In 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, abolished Congress, and drafted a new Constitution. Marcos issued Presidential Decree 175 in April 1973, “Strengthening the Cooperative Movement.” It required farmers to be organized into village associations called “Samahang Nayon”.

Furthermore, all types of existing cooperatives were required to re-register and conform to the Samahang Nayon structure. The move created tension between the government and the cooperative sector.

Nevertheless, the co-op leaders decided to comply with the Martial Law imposition. Despite that, some cooperators were suspected of being the “third rebel group” and were jailed under the Regime.

On January 23, 1977, amidst suspicions and harassment, the leaders of five regional training centers met in Cebu City and formed NATCCO, then known as the National Association of Training Centers for Co-operatives, to coordinate the trainings and educational services for cooperatives at the national level. NATCCO also served as the voice of co-ops in the country.

The five training centers were Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies- Southern Philippines Education Center for Cooperatives (MASS-SPECC), Visayas Cooperative Training Center, Bicol Cooperative Training Center, Tagalog Cooperative Training Center (TAGCOTEC), and North Luzon Cooperative Development Center (NORLUCEDEC).

On April 1, 1989, to meet the growing needs of co-ops, the NATCCO was transformed into a multi-service national co-op federation while the regional training centers became multi-service co-op development centers. The acronym NATCCO was retained and its meaning converted to the present “National Confederation of Cooperatives.”

More co-op federations joined the NATCCO in the coming years.  In 1997, the cooperative leaders met in Caoayan, Isabela and formed the COOP-NATCCO Partylist, which ran in the 1998 elections, and obtained a seat in Congress.

After Strategic Planning by the leaders in 2000, the 2002 General Assembly resolved to conduct a study to restructure the Network from a three-tier into a two-tier organization.

The 2004 General Assembly approved amendments in the by-laws to shift from a three-tier organization or confederation, into a two-tier federation, with primary co-ops as direct members.  Its core enterprise would be financial intermediation and non-financial services would become subsidiaries.

Growth in the following years was exponential, with the NATCCO assets reaching the P1B milestone just five years later.  Products and services offered also grew, with the NATCCO Network offering financial services to members, enterprises, information technology, and a diverse curricula of training and consultancy offered to members to improve their operations and sustainability.

Today, NATCCO is the biggest federation of co-ops in the Philippines, in terms of geographical reach, membership, financial capacity and array of services. It now reaches around 3.66 million individual members coming from 840 co-ops. The 3.66 million individual members are served through the 1,653 offices located in 77 provinces and 129 cities all over the country.  They are also served by more than 70 ATM branches of the Network.  The 840 cooperatives have combined assets of more than P115 Billion.

The NATCCO Network, in endeavoring to ensure the sustainability/viability of co-ops, invests heavily in Information Technology software, hardware, and services that co-ops can acquire and use at the most reasonable cost.

NATCCO’s local development partners include government institutions like the Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Education, Dept. of Social Welfare & Development, Land Bank of the Philippines, National Anti-Poverty Commission, and National Agricultural & Fishery Council.

Civil Society partners include The Partnership for Development Assistance in the Philippines (PDAP), Peace & Equity Foundation (PEF), Philippine Commission on Women, and Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI).

Affiliation with the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) is maintained actively.

Another local partner is Bayan Academy.

International partners include Aflatoun Child Savings International in Netherlands, Asian Women in Co-operative Development Forum (AWCF) in Bangkok, Asia Society for Social Improvement & Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), Bank IM Bistum Essen in Germany, Proxfin, Canadian Co-operative Association, Citi Foundation, Deutscher Genossenschafts und Raiffeisenverband e. V. in Germany, Desjardins Developpement International, in Canada; Rabobank in Netherlands, Cordaid, Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), Agriterra and Oikocredit in the Netherlands; German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV), MIX Market in Poland, Software Group in Singapore, Temenos in Bulgaria, Trias in Belgium, WE EFFECT in Sweden, and Western Union.

The NATCCO Network is an active member of the Philippine Cooperative Center as the apex organization of co-ops in the Philippines, the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) in Bangkok, Thailand since 1979, and International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) based in Geneva, Switzerland since 2000.

Thus, as an active member, the NATCCO Network lives and promotes the ten internationally-accepted Cooperative Values of Self-Help, Self-Responsibility, Democracy, Equality, Equity, Solidarity, Honesty, Openness, Social Responsibility, and Caring for Others. The NATCCO Network abides by the international Cooperative Principles of Open & Voluntary Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member Economic Participation, Autonomy & Independence, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, Concern for the Community, and Education, Training & Information.

The NATCCO Network is committed to achieving the ICA’s 2020 Vision as well as the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Advocacies pushed by the NATCCO Network, aside from Co-op Principles and Values, are Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster-Readiness of Communities, Financial Literacy, Gender & Development, Financial Inclusion, Youth Development, Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, and Social Performance.

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