Credit unions in the Philippines look to build on COVID-19 struggles

As American credit unions face their own unique struggles with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, so too do financial cooperatives in countries across the globe—including the Philippines.

Despite a citywide lockdown in Manila and the closure of most businesses in some of the provinces, more than half of the nation’s credit unions remain open to serve their members—and more are reopening each week. With skeletal workforces inside, staffers wearing personal protective equipment greet members outside to give them cash withdrawals or provide other services.

And there is light on the horizon. After the crisis passes, credit unions expect to see a big increase in membership—because they are still working to serve their members while other institutions are not.

Leni San Roque, CEO of the Association of Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU), says credit unions in the Philippines were also able to convince their regulator to let them use funds that are required to be set aside for member education to instead assist frontline health workers and communities in response to the crisis.

And several credit unions belonging to both the National Association of Credit Cooperatives (NATCCO) and the Philippine Federation of Credit Cooperative (PFCCO) have stepped up to help:

  • The Most Holy Rosary Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MHRMPC) has released four million pesos from the community develop fund and optional funds to ease their member need along with the distribution of 500 pesos worth of commodity packs to 8,000 families.
  • Oro Integrated Cooperative provided 14 Barangays (villages) in Cagayan de Oro City with knapsack sprayers to aid them in their fight against the spread of COVID 19. Each spray tank can hold up to 16 liters of cleaning solution, which can be used to disinfect possibly contaminated areas.
  • Mediatrix Multi-Purpose Cooperative donated face masks to City LGU of Kidapawan. The masks will be given to the frontline workers battling COVID-19.
  • The NEC Multipurpose Cooperative founded by NATCCO employees provided food packs to volunteers manning the check points in their locality.
  • Disenyo Pandi Cooperative, a cooperative of garment producers, made improvised personal protective equipment (PPE) that they will donate to the health workers. Due to the fast escalation of cases, hospital workers are running out of PPE.
  • The Bohol Community MPC provided food aid to displaced workers/members. The food pack includes rice, noodles, coffee, biscuits and canned goods.
  • Paco Savings and Credit Cooperatives provided food packs to their vulnerable members. Being aware of the shortage of supplies, the cooperative donated PPE and disinfectant to the health workers of the Lung Center of the Philippines.
  • Mediatrix Multi-Purpose Cooperative donated face masks to City LGU of Kidapawan. The masks will be given to the front liners battling COVID-19.
  • The NEC Multipurpose Cooperative founded by NATCCO employees provided food packs to volunteers manning the check points in their locality.

NATCCO also opens a Co-op Consultancy Clinic online at 3:00 pm every Tuesday. Leni San Roque joined the March 24 session, in which the NATCCO team shared the policy on loan repayment moratoriums as an immediate measure to help members whose income is affected due to the lockdown.

Despite all the positives, concerns about things like liquidity and regulatory relief remain for credit unions across the country. World Council of Credit Unions is working with ACCU to plan a webinar for Filipino credit unions—focused on regulatory advocacy issues and the importance of digitization going forward. It would be the latest in a series of COVID-19 webinars World Council has conducted for member credit union associations around the globe—and will continue to provide as long as this crisis continues.

What is happening in The Philippines is a microcosm of the struggles and triumphs facing our global credit union community. To learn more about how credit unions across the world are responding to the crisis, visit World Council’s COVID-19 Resource Page.

Leni San Roque

PPE made by the Disenyo Pandi Cooperative.

Face masks donated by the Mediatrix Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

Food packs provided by The NEC Multipurpose Cooperative.

Greg Neumann

Greg Neumann

Greg Neumann is Corporate Communications Manager for World Council of Credit Unions. He directs the tactical and strategic management of World Council’s communication efforts, and works to build WOCCU’... Web: www.woccu.org Details

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