Amid claims by Liberal Party senatorial bet Coop-NATCCO Rep. Cresente Paez that he has the support of the country’s entire cooperative sector, cooperative groups clarified during the Centennial Cooperative Unity Assembly that Paez was mistaken to declare that he had the support of all of the 24,000 co-ops nationwide and its 13 million individual members.
In an interview at the Assembly organized by the Philippine Cooperative Center and attended by 25,000 members, PCC Director Loreto L. Ramiro said that “the co-op sector has not endorsed the candidacy of Rep. Cris Paez.”
In a TV interview, Paez had claimed that he would win a Senate seat because he could rely on the support of the whole cooperative sector.
“I know I will win. You know why? With the first introduction of the party-list system was done way back in 1998, we said it’s high time for us to participate. So we put up the Coop-NATCCO party-list and we won. And in every election, we won,” Paez said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart. Paez said he was banking on Coop-NATCCO’s estimated 13 million individual members and 24,000 cooperatives nationwide to deliver votes for him in 2016.
Ramiro, a multi-awarded co-op leader who is also the general manager of the Kabisig Savings and Agri-Development Cooperative and Chair of the Northern Luzon Federation of Cooperatives and Development Center, the biggest co-op federation in Northern Luzon, disputed Paez’s statements, stressing that “only the PCC, as the apex organization of the Philippine cooperative movement, has the right to speak for whole sector.”
“Rep. Paez’s decision to run for the Senate is his alone, and while he belongs to a co-op group, it would be presumptuous of him to assume that he has the support of all cooperatives nationwide,” explained Ramiro.
Co-op leaders from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, on the other hand, reiterated their support for Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, who are currently leading presidential and vice presidential surveys, respectively.
“The leadership of the Tagalog Cooperative Development Center supports the tandem of Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero because they are committed to put up a Gobyernong may Puso that will espouse inclusive growth and will make sure nobody is left behind,” said Volet Pingo, chief executive officer of TAGCODEC, a regional co-op federation with members from Regions 3, 4A, 4B and NCR.
According to George Tadena, general manager of Sto. Domingo Development Cooperative from Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, the tandem’s message “has connected with our members, who have not really felt the economic growth we are supposedly enjoying.”
“We are also encouraged by the positions Poe and Escudero have taken on issues like lowering the income tax and increasing SSS benefits; these show that the duo is committed to prioritizing the needs of common folk, many of whom are members of cooperatives like ours,” explained Norman Diaz, chairman of Northern Samar Development Workers Cooperative in Catarman, Northern Samar.
Poe and Escudero have campaigned around the country calling for a “government with a heart” (Gobyernong may Puso) where “no one will be left behind” (Walang Maiiwan).
This, according to Escudero, means a government that is not robotic, a government that is not a simple machine; a government that has feelings and is empathetic.”
A government that is hurt when there are tragedies and calamities, that is angry when a Filipino is being oppressed. A government that is happy when a Filipino triumphs. A government that will ensure that progress reaches every corner of the country.