Co-operatives under MASS-SPECC Cooperative Development Center, the largest regional co-op federation in Mindanao, joined forces with other organizations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 29, 2020, 148 co-ops (almost 50% of MASS-SPECC’s total membership) reported to the federation a total outlay of over Php 1.045 billion for this purpose. The amount was used to distribute cash, food, and other necessities to their members, staff, community, and Local Government Units.
In compliance with Republic Act 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” co-ops in Mindanao implemented the minimum thirty (30)-day grace period for the payment of all loans of their members falling due within the period of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, without incurring interest on interest, penalties, fees, or other charges.
The workforce of co-operatives was not forgotten in this time of crisis. Most co-op staff continued to receive their regular pay despite the shortened work-day and work-from-home arrangements. A total of Php 23.84 million was given to them as advanced 13th-month pay, monetized leaves and hazard pay. They also received in-kind assistance such as sacks of rice, groceries, and face masks.
Apart from making financial services available to members, the co-operatives mobilized their resources to extend support to various communities in Mindanao. The co-ops disbursed more than Php 10.33 million. Some co-operatives also helped the government distribute the Social Amelioration Program funds and payouts for Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries even in hard-to-reach areas that are not serviced by banks.
MASS-SPECC also disbursed Php 736,900.00 to various communities, organizations, and co-operatives that are unable to operate at this time. Around sixty-eight percent (68%) of the fund was coursed through the Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC) to procure more PPEs such as gloves, alcohol, masks, vitamins, and bottled water for the front liners (medical workers, grocery staff, janitors, garbage collectors, policemen, soldiers, etc.) nationwide.
Co-operatives are part of the global humanitarian effort to ease the burden on people, especially those who are most vulnerable. Although co-operatives are among those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, they continue to serve their members and respective communities at this time of great need, says Ms. Bernadette O. Toledo, CEO of MASS-SPECC.