Institutionalizing Angat Buhay

Published May 21, 2022, 12:56 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid

The idea of institutionalizing Angat Buhay so that it can play a more significant role in development is noteworthy, one that should be welcomed with open arms by the incoming administration.

Angat Buhay was an effective vehicle for VP Leni’s Covid-19 and anti-poverty initiatives – delivering priority needs of some of the poorest of the poor in our country and utilizing limited resources in the delivery of anti-Covid services to the needy. If I can read into VP Leni’s mind when she announced that she would launch the Angat Buhay Foundation this July, I think that among others, she would like to see it become a movement that would harness the creative energies of the millions of volunteers during the campaign. This time however, the movement would take other roles – as “watchdogs” to ensure a balanced governance. This means responding to those who may have been left out in social and economic services, identifying gaps in legislation, and other advocacies. It would respond to populations that are not reached by government. And, an equally important function is that it would start building a political party and the human and other resources that the latter would require.

To undertake the above, the movement must now be prepared to transform itself so that it can respond to the challenges that the government may not be able to reach. Our social structure has been transformed by three years of the Covid-19 pandemic. The experience of Angat Buhay, even with its limited reach and meager resources, has been regarded by the public as more than satisfactory. This experience could be used in the design of future health and medical challenges. The movement must also plan to expand to other sectoral areas, and be prepared to work with other institutions that are already present in the communities as well as with other regions outside the country.

I could think of no better institution than the cooperative when it comes to responding to multi-sectoral opportunities. . The cooperative has been with us for over a century, and although its contribution to development is checkered, it had moved forward, supported by two constitutional provisions that led to the establishment of the Cooperative Development Authority, and the Cooperative Code. In 2020, we had 18,848 operating cooperatives, with multipurpose cooperatives leading in terms of numbers, followed by credit cooperatives, producer, consumer, etc.

Its potential value to the envisioned movement is that it is able to provide capacity building (skills training in management, values formation), provide employment, credit facilities and various services to volunteers and the people they serve. It would provide training in entrepreneurial skills and investment opportunities. Beyond the economic benefits, the cooperative is a most appropriate training ground for values as sharing, equality, and resilience.

While it had lagged behind and had encountered problems of sustainability due to poor leadership, lack of capital graft and corruption, mismanagement, and lack of government support, it has however been able to survive through the years. We have today successful agricultural cooperatives, electric cooperatives, consumer and credit cooperatives.

An example that is worth replicating in the country, is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a worker-owned enterprise. It is today the fifth largest corporation in the Spanish economy, employs some 74,000 people, and annual turnover of 12 billion euro. It takes its name from the small town in the Basque County of Spain where it was founded. Today, the Mondragon cooperative’s reach has spread across Spain, Europe, and all over the world. It is an example of cooperative entrepreneurship. United by a humanist concept of business, it adheres to a philosophy of participation, solidarity, shared business culture, and shared mission.

Of course the movement can venture into many other new challenges today. Climate change and other environmental concerns require a multi -sectoral response. We can demonstrate how it promotes resilience, the most critical attribute for future survival as well as untapped areas open in our continually evolving digital environment.

These challenges should be exciting and should provide an example to the outside world how we can transform a loss into an opportunity.

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