Case of missing funds electrifies NY PH Independence Day council elections
NEW YORK — The case of missing funds is generating keen interest in the October 7 election of officers of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc.
In PIDCI’s 27-year history of organizing the annual Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue, a record number of individuals – more than 20 — have filed certificates of candidacy, some from professionals who confidentially told The FilAm they want to help “clean up” the organization.
Three community leaders are running for PIDCI president, and one of them would like to see an investigation. Sixteen individuals are aspiring for the seven open board seats.
The PIDCI Committee on Elections, headed by Board Director Raul Estrellado, released this week the official list of candidates.
The candidates for president are: Olivia David; Antero ‘Ner’ Martinez; and Isagani Puertollano. David said she would like to see an investigation and a return of the missing funds because “it’s money PIDCI could use.”
There are 16 candidates for the seven board seats. They are: Sofia Abad; Joyce Aligarbes; Archie Alvarez; Chris de Guzman; Stevenson Van Derodar; Liza Galon; Aida Gamolo; Carmeli Garcia; Laura Garcia; Thomas Ludena; Rely Manacay; Fernando Mendez; Juliet Payabyab; Leonidas Pulido MD; Mateo Reyes Jr.; and Tambi Wycoco.
“It’s a record number,” said a PIDCI member. “There were times we barely had enough candidates for the board seats.”
PIDCI has had a long and troubled history. It began in 1990 as an informal, ad hoc group, PIDC, assisting the Philippine Consulate in mounting the annual parade. It became an incorporated organization, PIDCI, in 2001. It adopted a constitution and began to elect a set of officers, who enforce a set of bylaws. The consulate was reduced to an advisory role.
PIDCI began to raise funds to “organize, produce, execute, manage, direct and present” the annual celebration of Philippine Independence in New York City. They hold the following fundraising events: the Independence Day Parade; Street Fair and Cultural Festival; Mrs. Kalayaan and Diwa Ng Kalayaan Pageants; PIDCI Grand Marshal Gala; and the Philippine Independence Ball.
Many in the community have called for oversight of PIDCI’s financial reporting. Greater transparency and the missing money, estimated to be in the amount of $300,000, are the big issues in this year’s election.
Many in the community are angry. They want to see individuals held accountable. Former Treasurer Violeta Manarang McGough has resigned, citing health reasons. PIDCI President Prospero Lim accepted her resignation. An independent investigation is said to be in the works, but the results have yet to be released.
A long-time PIDCI voting member shared her thoughts:
“There’s a lot of rumor going on about some hundreds of dollars missing and the public should know about it before another election. I am afraid that the issue will be buried under six feet of documents again because those who are running are friends of friends of the top echelon of PIDCI. Please insist on the reporting of finances before the election, otherwise it will be the same problem again.”
Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega, in her capacity as Honorary Adviser, suggested that PIDCI make a report on the organization’s work in the previous year. In an August 25 letter to PIDCI President Lim — copies were also sent to the officers and members of the board — she congratulated PIDCI on a successful Independence Day Parade in June. She also said that an annual report is “standard procedure” for organizations, and they usually include information on operations, administrative and logistics. The letter says it is to PIDCI’s credit to inform its member groups about “significant developments” in the organization.
Dizon-De Vega reiterated her continued support for PIDCI.
Elections are scheduled at the Church of the Holy Trinity’s Draesel Hall, 316 East 88th Street on Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 12:00 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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