Puertollano (in blue shirt) joins Ollie David's team to put together their plans. | Photo credit: Juliet 'Astoria' Payabyab/Facebook
NEW YORK – PIDCI candidate for president Gani Puertollano has withdrawn his candidacy effective Oct. 3, 2017. He sent his notice of withdrawal to Comelec chair Raul Estrellado on the same day.
The Philippine Daily Mirror has also learned that Tambi Wycoco, candidate for a board of director seat, has endorsed Ollie David for president and so has Puertollano. Earlier, Wycoco also withdrew his bid for the presidency and formed his own slate of candidates that included himself.
“It appears they have formed an alliance to win this election,” commented a community leader from Jersey City when reached by this reporter. In response, another one from Parsipanny, NJ said that “regardless of their (David, Puertollano and Wycoco) alliance, Ner Martinez and his team will win. They already have the numbers in their favor,” he said. “Every year, it is an exercise (election) in futility. We already know who will win.”
Elections will be held on Saturday, October 7, at the Church of the Holy Trinity – Draesel Hall, 316 E 88th Street, New York, NY 10128, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Questionable membership list
According to Estrellado, there are 98 member-organizations that are eligible to vote. Although this list was not made available to candidates, a leaked copy was obtained by the Philippine Daily Mirror. This list contains several organizations registered to the same person and address and some have names that cannot be verified; they do not even exist in social media or search engines in the Internet. Also, some of the addresses are either incorrect or outright phony.
In addition, contrary to requiring member organizations to have at least one activity published in newspapers to be accepted as a member, most of the organizations in the list do not have an activity published or is known by the community to have been held.
In withdrawing his bid, Puertollano told the media: “After three weeks of studying and analyzing the situation of the 96 renewed members of PIDCI, both Olivia and myself would end up losing. Instead of dividing the votes, I decided to withdraw and give my support to Ms. Oliva David.” He wished David to win in this election.
During the Candidates Forum hosted by the Filipino American Press Club of New York (FAPCNY), Puertollano implied that only about “30 to 35 are real organizations in this year’s current list.” Candidate Fernando Mendez shared the same speculation.
This year’s election is marred with many unresolved issues, foremost among which, is the alleged missing funds. The previous treasurer, Violeta McGough, has resigned citing health reasons. A new treasurer, Nora Galleros, has been appointed to replace her. She now has been given the responsibility to update PIDCI’s financial record which apparently has to be presented at the annual election meeting this Saturday.
PIDCI in the red
Current board members also said that PIDCI is now operating on deficit but do not know the amount. Several vendors have not been paid, which Prospero Lim, PIDCI president, noted in his email to board members that they (vendors) “could get nasty to PIDCI and we will all feel the heat.”
He informed Board members that PIDCI is “in the red.” He said that PIDCI’s last fund raising “came out ok but not enough to retire our debts and asked them to suggest any fundraising they could try to raise money, short of begging.”
He also told them that once the audit is done “we will file a case.” However, he cautioned them that “we have to be sure as to how much we are missing so it can be stated in this case.” He further enjoined them to provide him with whatever accomplishments PIDCI has done good with the community, “the things we missed, any scandals you think or feel is happening.” He asked them to send him what they really think of PIDCI, “not sparing anyone’s feelings.”
“We cannot continue to hide ourselves behind the good wishes of others. We have to be honest with ourselves. We owe it to our members and to the remaining board members who will continue to work with ConGen and the community,” Lim emphasized in his email.
Lim also said he will collate “our responses and put it in cohesive writing. We may have to come out with it before the election in October.”
When asked if the parade would still go on despite its financial situation, Joycelyn Aligarbes, secretary and a candidate herself as board director, responded that PIDCI is continuing its fund-raising efforts and that the parade will still be held.
“We are continuing to raise funds,” Aligarbes said. “When we first came in (as directors), we were already in deficit.”
Conduct of elections
Besides the alleged missing funds, there are other issues shaking PIDCI’s credibility not only on ensuring appropriate checks and balances of its operations but also on how it conducts elections that many consider as “biased against those who are opposed to a particular group.”
As a result and as election nears, these “underdog” candidates have ventured into prying into personal circumstances of fellow candidates to discredit them. To win, playing dirty seems to be taking place instead of looking into all years of service these candidates have invested in the organization and the community.
If that were the case, many believe, these ‘frustrated’ candidates are shooting themselves in the foot. While they accept that improvement or changes in PIDCI are necessary, the overarching responsibility of everyone is for a parade to be held with unity of purpose in mind and commitment to the goal of promoting the best of our people and the country we all come from.
Newcomer candidate Liza Galon said: “I am willing to give my time and talent to help. You know, PIDCI is the greatest, biggest organization that holds a beautiful parade. Everybody is saying that including the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) that this is the biggest in the world.”
She then pleaded to everyone to not let PIDCI “go down the drain. We have to make it grow bigger, better and more beautiful.”
According to a candidate, the media will be barred by PIDCI to cover the election. Puertollano was asked about it but has not confirmed the reliability of this threat.
The result of the election may be a foregone conclusion, one community leader said. “Now that we all know what the problems are, we should also be united in providing solutions. Whoever is elected should be transparent and have an open mind to accept as many volunteers into the organization to help address crucial issues for the good and benefit of all.”
Another one said, “they should strive to focus this time not only on the parade itself but also in ensuring transparency, checks and balances, and governance are put in place. No amount of bickering, complaining and whining can resolve that. This has to begin by day 1.”