Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food committee, underscored the significant contribution of cooperatives to combat poverty in the Philippines.
Villar noted that cooperatives are truly the government and the private sector’s partners in promoting agriculture-driven growth and entrepreneurial development.
The veteran legislator believes that nothing can equal the assistance being given by cooperatives to the development of communities, small businesses and the farmers and fisherfolk.
“We cannot simply ignore the very important role of cooperatives in fighting poverty not only in the fields but also in the agricultural communities of our country. And that is really the essence of the existence of cooperatives – to alleviate the lives of our countrymen especially in the rural areas,” explained the seasoned legislator.
The lady senator said poverty in rural areas, where our farmers and fisherfolks live, has remained one of our problems. She said majority of the poor in our country are in the rural areas and in the agriculture sector.
Villar said half of the country’s population lives in rural areas and two-thirds are involved directly or indirectly in agriculture.
“So if we can reduce poverty in these areas, we can help avert poverty in the entire country,” she further stated, especially because she has been advocating the creation of more cooperatives especially those involved in agriculture and supporting their growth.
To further support cooperatives, Villar said she fought to retain their tax exemptions under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) tax package.
She said she explained to the Finance officials that tax exemptions on cooperatives should not be removed because they need it for their growth so that more will benefit from them.
Furthermore, Villar said she recognizes the most outstanding community enterprises through the yearly Villar SIPAG Awards by selecting the 20 Most Outstanding Community Enterprises every December. It acknowledges good practices or innovations of community enterprises, which create jobs and increase household income.
“As I cited earlier, job creation and livelihood generation are crucial in all of our efforts to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty in our country. But there are barriers and challenges that get in the way. Among which are lack of access to education or training and to entrepreneurial opportunities or support, such as availability of credit,” she said.
As members of any cooperative know, she said, entrepreneurship is not all about earnings and profits. She said it also has another aspect, which is social entrepreneurship.
“I myself have transitioned from a business entrepreneur to becoming a social entrepreneur. I have also used my role as a public servant not only to advance the causes of social entrepreneurship, but to establish also my own social enterprises,” related Villar who is known for creating jobs and providing livelihood.
“I have managed to realize my advocacies of livelihood generation and job creation while pursuing another important advocacy, that of environmental protection. I have built nearly 1,800 livelihood projects all over the Philippines,” she added.