Lawyer and civil society leader Alex Lacson, who is running for senator under the ticket of presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo, wants to change the ownership structures of agricultural businesses and big-name franchises by sharing the profits with cooperatives.
He was a guest in Robredo’s weekly radio show over dzXL, which has featured opposition senatorial bets since last Sunday, Nov. 14.
Lacson shared Robredo’s goals of economic reforms by empowering people at the the grassroots in society such as farmers and fisherfolk and others in the agricultural sector. He wants to support and complement her flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay.
The lawyer said there are many “solutions” to the problem of poverty and unemployment, but that these plans have to be “clear and very specific” based already on the successful programs and best practices instituted in other countries and here in the Philippines.
Since 60 percent of poor Filipinos come from the agricultural sector, the senatorial aspirant is particularly interested in reforming the cooperatives law, which is one of the concerns raised with him by farmers.
“Ang pinaka-effective na modelo diyan gawin mo silang cooperatives. Ang pagtulong diyan (The most effective model is to turn them into cooperatives. The way to help them is) by group, by cooperatives. Kapag naging cooperative sila, nagkakaroon sila ng financial muscles, nagkakaroon sila ng market muscles, nagkakaroon sila ng (When they become cooperative, they will have financial muscles, they will have market muscles, they will have) economic muscles to negotiate for themselves,” Lacson said.
“Gusto kong tutukan yon. Kasi kung gusto natin ng radical na pagbabago sa economy natin, baguhin natin iyong istruktura ng ownership (I want to focus on that. Because if we want a radical change in our economy let’s change the structure of ownership),” he added.
Raising pigs and chickens is “not rocket science.”
Lacson noted that by empowering the agriculture sector, that will also stop the importation of more than 402 million pieces of chicken and 336 million kilos of pork, which comprised around 18 percent of the pork sold in the local market last year.
“Pag ginawa natin ito imbes na iniimport natin ito (When we do this, instead of importing these), in my computation, at least five million na mahirap na pamilyang Pilipino ang mabibigyan natin ng disenteng trabaho (of poor Filipino families will be given decent jobs),” he said.
Lacson pointed out that the same can be done in owning franchises such as fast-food chain Jollibee and McDonald’s.
“Dahil mayaman din po ang bumili ng franchise, hindi po nagkakaroon ng (Because the one who bought the franchise is rich, there is no) spreading of prosperity,” he explained.
His plan is to reform the franchise law that will require 50-50 ownership of big-name franchises. This means that 50 percent of the franchise will be owned by an entrepreneur while the other 50 percent “must be owned” by a cooperative of at least 100 poor families in the area where the franchise is located.
The cooperative can afford the franchise by getting help from “small business guarantee and finance corporations” with a low-interest rate.
The change of business ownership structure is one part of Lacson’s eight-point economic program that also includes a National Dairy Program similar to that of Thailand.