Motivated by the cheers he received from the banana planters of Davao del Norte, Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Mar Roxas said on Tuesday (March 8) that he will focus on boosting the income of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and cooperatives in his administration.

According to Roxas, this is the best step of the next administration, especially since Republic Act 10744 or the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act was approved last February 6, 2016.

RA 10744 will enhance financial landscape for Filipino entrepreneurs through helping MSMEs gain access to formal sources of credit.

“Kita ang sentro natin sa Daang Matuwid. Kung sakaling makaupo tayo sa Malacañang ay papalawakin at palalaguin natin ito,” Roxas told almost 500 banana factory workers, farmers, and their families when he visited their packing center of Alberto M. Soriano Comprehensive Agrarian Reform – Beneficiaries Multi Purpose Cooperative (AMSKAR BEMCO) in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

AMSKAR BEMCO is the largest banana growers cooperative in Davao del Norte. It has fully pledged its support to candidates whom they trust to improve the state of cooperatives and MSMEs in the country, like Roxas and Cresente “Mr. Coop” Paez, a candidate of LP in the senatorial race.

There, Roxas visited the plantation’s packaging area, where thousands of bananas are being prepared for export to China and the Middle East everyday.

Roxas listened to the sentiments of the banana farmers, and they discussed how to deal with the changing international market of the fruit, ways to acquire cheaper credit to start their businesses, and possible livelihood projects for the wives of the farmers.

The administration standard bearer then disclosed that his administration will prioritize the programs that will give credit with low interest to farmers.

“’Yung mga pautang na ito ‘yung sisilbing kapital para sa pautang ulit sa mga miyembro para sa mga nangangailangan, para sa mababang interes. At mas mahalaga ang pautang para sa kapital sa negosyo para mas marami pang saging ang anihin ninyo, mas marami pang saging ang mabebenta ninyo, mas marami ang kikitain ng bawat isa sa inyo,” he said.

“Ang gusto ko, mas maraming saging ang aanihin ninyo, mas maraming saging ang maibebenta ninyo, at mas marami ang kikitain ninyo!” Roxas stated.

The Philippines is earning $720 million annually in selling bananas in the world market. Thirteen of our provinces are producing bananas of different kinds, which is being sold here and abroad.

Roxas also met Cerilo Cabiles, a member-farmer of AMSKAR BEMCO with seven children. He said that cooperatives help farmers to make ends meet fo their family.

According to Cabiles, farmers are looking forward to more programs and solutions from the government to stabilize their production despite challenges such as extreme weather conditions, and plant diseases that affect the fruit.

The farmers are also heartened to know that they can now apply for loans from banks even without hard collaterals, as long as they are accredited, regulated and supervised by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

Moreover, Cabiles is more excited about the Capability Enhancement Program (CEP) for member-cooperatives under RA 10744 , wherein they can develop skills in financial, risk and business management and entrepreneurship.  The CEP also inculcates in member-cooperatives core values in good governance.

“Nais ko din kasing madagdagan pa ang mga batas tulad ng RA 10744. Mga ganitong programa talaga ang kailangan namin,” Cabiles said in an earlier interview.