Manila (Agenzia Fides) - With the aim of encouraging and supporting the creation and management of social cooperatives to accompany groups and communities living in extreme poverty on the path of food security and development, the Archdiocese of Manila has set up a new apostolate service, that intends to address the poorest faithful in the region and enable them to be self-sufficient. This is the Ministry on Cooperatives and Social Enterprise Development, which was officially presented and launched these days in the "Layforce Center" in the San Carlos Seminary in Makati, a central district of MetroManila.
The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Josè Advincula, has entrusted the leadership to Father Anton Pascual, a priest from Manila, who explained the project: "We intend to promote and strengthen the form of social cooperatives in order to offer those in need a path of sustainable and inclusive development". Father Pascual emphasizes that social cooperatives enable profits on the one hand and thus people in able to provide for their families; on the other hand, if it is well-directed towards socially useful services, it contributes to sustainability by caring for the well-being of people and the environment, which is why the Church in Manila wants to be directly involved in this field, according to the spirit and indications of the encyclical Laudato Si'.
As part of the project, all Catholic-inspired social cooperatives or those that relate to the values of the Church's social teaching will be recorded and brought together in the territory of Manila. Educational opportunities and legal assistance services will be provided to enable new cooperatives to be set up and to help existing ones to improve employment opportunities.
The new ecclesiastical institution of the Archdiocese of Manila is convinced that cooperatives play a key role in the development of the poorest: The path taken aims to strengthen cooperative enterprises also through funding and partnerships. The new service will study projects for new cooperatives and their creation both in the primary sector (agriculture and livestock) and for specific initiatives related to urban life, such as the recycling of materials and the marketing of products made by small bcompanies in the textile or handicraft sector.
According to the Philippine Government Agency for Cooperative Development, there are already 18,000 cooperatives nationwide with a total of about 11 million members. At the legislative level, cooperatives are
well integrated: the Constitution contains a concrete definition of cooperatives, which are regulated by law. In the Philippines, cooperatives are divided into categories (primary, secondary and tertiary cooperatives, depending on their legal nature) and classified by industry and type of membership. Many were established in the agricultural and primary sector. There are also cooperative associations that empower all small units operating in the same economic sector through educational and operational resources at local, regional and national levels. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/5/2023)