COOP-RUN WATER FIRM. Isagani Daba (left), treasurer of the Mindanao Cooperatives Water Service Federation, and Neil Bryan Oraiz, Kyojogo Engineering Service Cooperative, sign the joint venture agreement between the two parties at the First Community Cooperative board room in Cagayan de Oro on Thursday. The deal aims to provide potable water to underserve areas in the city. (PNA photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A group of cooperatives here have pooled resources together to put up their own water company to bring potable water to the city’s rural areas.

In a joint venture agreement signed Thursday, the Mindanao Cooperatives Water Service Federation (MCWS)--a group of cooperatives mainly based in Cagayan de Oro--and Kyogojo Engineering Service Cooperative (KESC) agreed to operate their own water system with an initial capital of PHP123 million.

The agreement seeks to expand the operations of KESC, which has been supplying water to some 2,300 households, mainly in the city's upland areas that have not been served by the main water supplier—the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD).

“This is to prove that the people, and not huge corporations, can own and operate their own water system,” said Isagani Daba, MCWS treasurer and former chairman of the First Community Cooperative (Ficco), one of the MCWS member-cooperatives.

Under the deal, KESC will provide the technical expertise and capability of the cooperative-run water firm, under the umbrella of MCWS.

MCWS is composed of Ficco, Oro Integrated Coop, Xavier University Community Credito Coop, DMPI Employees and Community Credit Coop, Allied Services Multipurpose Cooperative, Oro Savings and Sharing Coop, City Hall Employees Multipurpose Cooperative, Provincial Capitol Employees Multipurpose Cooperative, Cepalco Community Multipurpose Cooperative, MOGCHS Faculty, Retirees, Employees and Students Multipurpose Cooperative, and PPSC Regional Training School-10 Employees and Staff Multipurpose Cooperative.

Daba said the federation managed to generate from member-cooperatives the PHP132 million as start-up capital, and could raise more amount if needed.

“So the JVA has all the necessary ingredients to upgrade and expand water distribution service – technical skills and experience, as well as financial resources,” the MCWS said in a statement.

MCWS said it is eyeing to expand its operation from the current KESC service areas into the upland villages of Dansolihon, Mambuaya, Bayanga, and Indahag.

“Our intention in this JVA is to fast-track the expansion of water systems in areas not yet serviced by the [Cagayan de Oro Water District],” KESC president Neil Bryan Oraiz said.

Oraiz said although KESC has the experience and expertise, “the MCWS has the financial capability to back up the investment since putting up a water system involves a lot of money.”

MCWS said it was compelled to establish a cooperative-run water system to enable "the general public, to own and manage this basic necessity."

It added: “What we are seeing now throughout the country is that water distribution is owned by taipans, if not cronies. So what the coops aim for is for the general public to own and manage public utilities, like water distribution. This can happen only through cooperatives.” (PNA)