TTypical of the lives of most government employees, almost all of the officials and employees of the municipal government of Socorro, Surigao del Norte were then engrossed into the quagmire of financial distress and were living on a hand-to-hand existence. Such situation was characterized by the fact that the heavily-indebted officials and employees were getting their hard-earned salary from the Municipal Treasurer every pay day only to land into the hands of the loan sharks. Moreover, the dignity of the said persons were at its lowest level when they would be ridiculed by store owners and branded as persons who owned their jobs and professions but do not possess their salaries as it belonged to the said businessmen.
Amidst this bleak economic backdrop and forced by extreme necessity, on May 27, 1996, fifty one (51) officials and employees of the municipal government of Socorro decided to organize a cooperative through the initiative of Mr. Reynerio T. Canta, Sr., Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator as well as Mr. Edelito C. Sangco, Municipal Agricultural Officer and Municipal Cooperative Development Officer-Designate. Subsequently, Socorro Government Officials and Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SOEMCO) was registered with the Cooperative Development Authority on November 8, 1996 with Registration Number CARA-0111. The P 33,500.00 initial paid-up capital was utilized to purchase basic goods at Surigao City with the members volunteering themselves to re-pack the sugars, rice and other commodities and displayed at a rented stall in the public market. Thus, the SOEMCO Consumers Store was born.
The following year, SOEMCO availed a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines for relending to its members. The cooperative then accepted members who are employees of other government and private agencies. Subsequently, SOEMCO operationalized a Member-Savings Operation (MSO) in 2000 with the assistance of the Land bank of the Philippines paving the way for the acceptance of savings and time deposits from members. Thus, the SOEMCO Credit and Savings operation came into being.
SOEMCO got an award in 2003 as the Most Outstanding Cooperative of the Year by the Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte and the Cooperative Development Authority.
In 2004, the cooperative affiliated with the Philippine Federation of Credit Cooperatives-Mindanao League (PFCCO-ML) and participated in the professionalization program aimed at attaining Financial Viability; Operational Efficiency; Competitive Position; Member Satisfaction and; Employee Satisfaction. On July 18 of that same year, the General Assembly decided to amend the name of the cooperative into Socorro Empowered People’s Cooperative (SOEMCO) and changed the common bond of membership from institutional to residential. Subsequently, on December 28, 2005 the Certificate of Registration of Amendment No. 2005-127 was issued by the Cooperative Development Authority. Since then, membership to the cooperative was opened to all persons residing or working in the island municipality of Socorro.
SOEMCO was classified in 2005 as “Class A” by the Land Bank of the Philippines, the only cooperative classified as such in the Province of Surigao del Norte. On that same year, it received the Cooperative Achievement Award given by the Philippine Federation of Credit Cooperatives (PFCCO). In the following year, the cooperative received the distinction of being the only Key Cooperative of the Land Bank of the Philippines in the Province of Surigao del Norte.
In the year 2006, the cooperative affiliated with the Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies-Southern Philippines Educational Cooperative Center (MASS-SPECC) paving the way for its affiliation with the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO Network). In the same year it affiliated as a local chapter of the Coop-NATCCO Partylist paving the way for the garnering of a total of 3,025 partylist votes in the municipality in the 2007 elections thereby earning the distinction as the highest number of votes garnered in a single municipality in Mindanao.
In the following year, the cooperative availed the Financial Intermediation Consultancy Services (FICS) Program of the MASS-SPECC. Subsequently, it acquired the MASS-SPECC Run-Time Edition (MSRTE), a UN FAO-created computer software making SOEMCO as the only fully-automated cooperative in the Province of Surigao del Norte.
In 2008, the cooperative qualified as recipient of the Integrated Coconut Processing Project funded by the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacionale para el Desarollo (AECID) under the Strengthening the Agro-Industrial Sectors in Bicol and Caraga (SAIS-BC) Project. SOEMCO was then selected by the funding agency as one among the five cooperatives in the country to send a delegate to be a member of the 15-man Philippine delegation to the Study Visit on the Development of Cooperative Integration in Spain conducted on April 18-27, 2009 with its General Manager, Mr. Edelito C. Sangco serving as SOEMCO representative in the said undertaking.
On February 14, 2009, the General Assembly decided to amend the area of operation of the cooperative from municipal wide to nationwide. Moreover, in the same year, SOEMCO directly affiliated with the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO Network). One of the significant breakthroughs for the cooperative in the year 2009 is the blessing and inauguration of the Coop-NATCCO Party-funded SOEMCO building on April 28, 2009. Such building now houses the cooperative’s Credit and Savings as well as Consumers’ Store businesses. On July 2, 2009, the SOEMCO-MICOOP Branch was opened in Dapa, Surigao del Norte in partnership with the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO Network). Moreover, on September 19, 2009, the SOEMCO Surigao Branch was opened and the SOEMCO Magpayang Satellite Office in Mainit, Surigao del Norte started its operation on November 3, 2009. It was also on that date that the SOEMCO re-registration was approved by the Cooperative Development Authority with Registration No. 9520-13001544. On September 21, 2010, the SOEMCO Alegria Branch was inaugurated while the SOEMCO Claver Branch started its operation on May 28, 2011. Finally, in May 16, 2016, the 6th and last branch office of the cooperative in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur was inaugurated.
In the field of Allied Services, the SOEMCO Consumers Store had been expanded and strengthened and the Barangay Food Terminal (Barangay Bagsakan Center) Program and Farm Tractor and Corn Mill Projects were implemented in partnership with the Department of Agriculture.
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