One of the major functions that MASS SPECC is relentlessly pursuing is to reach out not only to existing members to determine their needs but also to other cooperatives and communities in Mindanao which can benefit from affiliating with the federation. Through its Membership and Networking Unit, MASS SPECC is constantly making connections with communities in the countryside and maintaining ties and engagements with government and non-government organizations (NGO) and institutions, all aimed at enabling it to come up with programs and services most relevant to the needs of affiliated cooperatives and their members as well as potential members of the federation.

Regional Steering Committees

One such program that greatly improved MASS SPECC’s governance reach in the countryside is the creation of the Regional Steering Committees (RSC) per area/cluster. Launched in 2014, the RSC function was strengthened in 2015 and proved effective in identifying issues, concerns and interventions needed which MASS SPECC could address as part of its advocacy. The RSC is an effective mechanism though which MASS SPECC is able to engage with members and come up with ideas and solutions to better fulfill its mandate.

General Assembly and Bi-Annual Ownership Meetings

Aside from various RSC meetings at the regional level, the General Assembly is another venue in which member cooperatives can exercise active participation. In 2015 the general assembly was attended by about 148 cooperatives with 627 delegates. It was also noted in 2015 that there was an increasing number of cooperatives attending the Bi-Annual Ownership Meetings. This is a positive development as it translates to getting more engagement of members at the regional and provincial levels.

Participation in Major Advocacies

MASS SPECC continues to actively participate in activities promoting the Mindanao Peace agenda and the coop sectors’ interests.

Following the Mamasapano incident on January 25, 2015 in which 44 members of the Special Action Force were slain, MASS SPECC and member cooperatives joined the “Walk for Peace,” a gathering of people from government and civil society groups to renounce all forms of violence and seek justice for the victims of the incident. The peace walk was held on March 16, 2015 around the streets of Divisoria in Cagayan de Oro City.

MASS SPECC together with the Cooperative Development Authority – Region 10, the Regional Cooperative Development Council of Region 10, and the Philippine Cooperative Center conducted a forum to tackle issues and concerns affecting cooperatives, specifically the plan to repeal Article 60 and 61 of RA 9520 touching on tax exemption of cooperatives. The forum was attended by at least 410 coop leaders who were united in opposing the proposed amendment and initiated a signature campaign for the purpose. This initiative culminated in February 2016, with the collected signatures handed over to the coop representatives in Congress and the Senate.

Engagement with DSWD’s CCT Program

MASS SPECC continues to serve as a conduit for the release of funds to beneficiaries of 4Ps in six regions of Mindanao, under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program of the government. As of December 31, 2015, a total of 2,734,562 CCT beneficiaries were served by 83 member cooperatives participating as pay-out centers.

Through this and similar linkages, MASS SPECC is able to widen its reach and harness resources for the benefit of its members.