MIRACLE! Bankrupt co-op bounces back!

Co-op members grow bangus in 120 hectares.

WHAT HAPPENS when a cooperative becomes bankrupt? It usually dies a natural death. Not so with the CAMPCO, the multi-purpose cooperative of fishermen from the towns of Cantilan, Carrascal, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza in Surigao del Sur.

LOAN FOR RELENDING – In 1889, some 31 fish farmers operating about 120 hectares of ffishponds and fishpens sought the help of the Department of Agriculture, the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Management Association of the Philippines Foundation so they could borrow P1.5 million for lending to their members.

Since they started as an informal association, they formed themselves into a multi-purpose cooperative—the CarCanMadCarLan Aquamarine Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CAMPCO).
LOAN GRANTED – In 1991, they were able to get the P1.5 million for relending to the members. The Management Association of the Philippines detailed a manager to help the co-op manage its lending operations.

SOMETHING WRONG – Unfortunately, things did not work out as expected. Their dream turned into a collective nightmare. The lending program was mismanaged. Some were given loans that were not enough to meet their needs. Some used dummies to avail themselves of bigger amounts. Releases were delayed, some only in the middle of the cropping season. According to a Land Bank technician, there was no recognizable accounting system despite the huge loan.

DIDN’T GIVE UP – The board of directors did not give up, however. They hired a new business manager, the son of one of the founding members. He is a business administration graduate and also finished law. The MAP’s development program manager was also replaced with a more competent person who had taught cooperatives development for 15 years.

NEW LOAN – With the revamp, the Land Bank bailed out the organization with a new P2.5 million loan. The only condition set by the bank was that the co-op should seriously initiate legal action against the accountable officers and institute measures to recover losses. Four counts of estafa cases were filed against the treasurer and seven civil cases were filed for the collection of loans from delinquent borrowers.

TAKE-OVER SHEME – Instead of legal action on some delinquent borrowers, the co-op initiated a take-over scheme over 12 hectares of fishponds and 25 hectares of fishpens. The co-op took over the management of the fishponds and fishpens. Under the scheme, 55% of the net income per cycle would go to the co-op, 25% used to pay for delinquent loans, 15% goes to the sustenance of the pond or pen owners, and the remaining 5% goes to the capital build up of the co-op.

PAYMENT SCHEME – A new payment scheme was also introduced in conjunction with the new marketing program of the co-op. All the production of members of the members are assigned in trust to the co-op covered by a promisory note and trust receipt. The harvests are marketed through the co-op’s consumer store which was primarily organized as a central bangus market, duly supported by a bangus daily remittance report with the net proceeds thereof to be allocated as follows: 70% loan repayment, 25% beneficiary sustenance, and 5% share capital.

PRODUCTION BY ZONES – A zonified production and marketing scheme was also introduced by a special group within the co-op. The chairperson monitors the bangus production and identifies marketing gaps. Five zone chairpersons see to it that “pole vaulting” which was rampant previously is controlled. This means that the fish farmers cannot sell their produce to outsiders other than the co-op.

MODULAR PRODUCTION – The co-op also has introduced to the members the modular system of bangus production. It has also streamlined the marketing system, establishing market linkages with big steady buyers such as the PICOP community in Bislig.

DELINQUENCY CUT – Because of the measures adopted by the co-op, the high delinquency among borrowers was curtailed. In 1995, members repaid Land Bank a total of P1,067,140.39.

REMARKABLE FEAT – As proof of its remarkable feat, the Surigao co-op was cited in 1994 as National Special Awardee in the search for outstanding LEAD projects. Also, the co-op was a Land Bank nominee for the province of Surigao del Sur.

OWN BUILDING, ICE PLANT – The co-op has since put up its own building and a three-tonner ice plant.

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