New PIDCI Board meets, elects new officers; Martinez vows to address issues

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – Almost a week after a controversial PIDCI annual election, PIDCI president Ner Martinez convened a meeting of the board of directors on Oct. 12 to elect the 2018 officers, among other items in the agenda. Elected were: Rely Manacay, vice president; Joycelyn Aligarbes, secretary; and Nora Galleros, treasurer. Nonoy Rafael, who ran for vice president, lost receiving 5 votes.

According to a majority of the board members including the president reached by the Philippine Daily Mirror, the meeting went on a smooth ride and with a strong desire of members to address issues raised in the elections.

Martinez defends PIDCI, invites community to unite

“People must understand that we are transitioning, we have to organize as a board, set our goals and priorities and plan how to achieve them,’ Martinez said. “We are in the process of rebuilding the organization and create a new, positive direction.”

Martinez added: “Election and membership issues will be further discussed and processes will be reviewed. A list of recommendations is being compiled based on various suggestions and will be considered. ConGen’s [Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega] letter and Ollie’s [David] letter will be addressed.”

He also said that “a workshop on goal setting, financial procedures, budgeting, project management, and team building are in the works for board members” to equip them better in leading and managing the organization which has grown in numbers and complexity.

“The task is not easy and we are committed to take that challenge. Over the years, our focus was mainly on delivering an independence day celebration to the streets of Manhattan to raise the profile of our country and our community. We’ve been successful at that and we cannot ignore that fact and neither can our community. And we also acknowledge that certain aspects of our work have been overlooked. Now is the time to correct all these and I stand firmly on that promise,” Martinez said.  “I invite and encourage everyone in the community to be one.”

Committee assignments were deferred to the Board’s next meeting. “Board orientation was done and everyone was given a copy of the bylaws to read, understand and know,” Martinez said.

One of the results of the meeting was the appointment of two directors to key positions as suggested by Nonoy Rafael, a continuing director. Sofie Abad and Matt Reyes, newly elected directors, were appointed assistant treasurer and secretary, respectively. “I believe we were also looking for a PRO, which is also important,” Rafael said.

Feedback from Board members

Abad echoed what Martinez said of the meeting. “We have to think positive. Gagawin namin ang lahat ng paraan upang maituwid and hindi tama, (We will do everything possible to straighten out what is wrong),” she said. “This cannot be done overnight. Our goal is to make everyone in the community satisfied and happy again.”

“Often times people remember only one bad thing and not the many good things that PIDCI has done over the years,” Abad said.

She also acknowledged that there was no tension at the meeting. “I believe everyone understood what had happened and what we need to do,” she said. “It is a big challenge for all us but we have to move on to carry out the best parade next year. That’s what everybody wants – PIDCI and the community.”

Rafael said there was a bit of discussion that went on between Mataquel and Estrellado but everyone shook hands with each other after the meeting. As to the question of whether PIDCI should be retained or abolished, he said: “I leave it to the public.” When he was reminded that PIDCI is based on membership, he corrected himself.

He also said that he wants to be assigned as chair of either the membership committee or the Comelec.

With regard to the membership list, Rafael said that a compromise was reached. Due to privacy concerns, a list will be provided but it will only contain the names of organizations. “A written request to the secretary will be required and a response to the requestor will be made within 7 days,” Rafael said. “This is the first step and we expect to further improve the process.”

“Life goes on, I want to be at peace and enjoy my vacation,” Ollie David, who lost to Martinez, told the Philippine Daily Mirror, before she left for a trip on October 9. “I am not interested in pursuing a protest about the elections.”

Ronie Mataquel, the former co-chair of the membership committee who was hailed as a “hero” for standing firm on his ground during the elections, also thought there was no tension. He said that the directors were surprised to find out that former president Pros Lim had instructed him to be at the proxy table.

“I know I was just doing my job — what was expected of me,” Mataquel said. He felt disappointed that Lim did not clarify or communicate it with Estrellado beforehand. As a result, the Conflict Resolution Committee upheld Estrellado’s decision.

In 2016, Mataquel was appointed by Lim to fill a vacant seat in the Board. He thought his term of office was co-terminus with the president unaware that it was for two years, this incoming year (2018) being his last. He has high hopes that these challenges of PIDCI will be resolved in due time.

Mataquel said that Martinez discussed with the Board his plan about holding workshops for board members to enhance their skills and improve governance of the organization. “I like the idea of having each Board member set his or her goals and compare it to their performance at the end of the year,” he said.

David formally writes to PIDCI

Meanwhile, Juliet Payabyab, who lost with David, sent the Philippine Daily Mirror a copy of David’s letter. David is the only signatory in that letter despite having “and all community supporters” mentioned in it. The letter requested “for a complete review of Proxy voters who registered at the proxy table.”

Reached by Philippine Daily Mirror at her home in Florida, David said, “this is not a protest, but merely a request for a review of proxies. If PIDCI did not discuss this at their meeting last Thursday, that should be the end of it.” She also said that she let Payabyab “take care” of the letter after signing “two blank sheets of paper” before she left for vacation. “I have faith in Juliet and trust her,” she said.

Payabyab said they were following instructions publicly announced by then-president Lim and then-Comelec chair Raul Estrellado during the election as captured in “various videos and witnessed by the community.” “We are now submitting our written request,” she said.

Whether such letter will be treated by PIDCI as a protest or a review is a question which PIDCI’s legal counsel may need to look into. But Payabyab said that her group has “up to stage 3 to pursue their request” until they are satisfied and prove to the community what transpired.

“Give the new crew a chance”

Troi Santos, a freelance photographer affiliated with Getty Images and a member of the Filipino American Press Club of  New York (FAPCNY), gave his two cents over this issue. He said that the community will never run out of people who thirst for attention who will do anything to partake in these “fantasy balls where they can be royalties for one night.”

“We know what’s happening. We know who among our friends side with either party. The truth is, we all benefitted from PIDCI, one way or another. Some, more than others. There is nothing wrong with that,” he said.

Santos continued: “The good side is, it gives us a chance for one day to be proud of our heritage. They [PIDCI} spend countless hours preparing the whole year for the big event and they give an opportunity to the community to live their dreams and promote our culture and show how beautiful our people are.”

Santos wants to give the new crew a chance to run their term. “We already put them in notice. Who knows, they may actually start to clean up their act. Some people don’t like people who do not fit into their box,” he said. “If they don’t clean-up their act next year, we will shove that box up their a**.”

“Fake” or real

May Tumulak-Durano, apparently president-founder of “ByTumulak Sr. Foundation Inc.,” also sent a copy of her letter to Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega to the Philippine Daily Mirror. In her letter, she said she was the “campaign-manager of one of those presidential candidates about 5 years ago.”

She proposed to Dizon-de Vega to “make the election null and void due to unresolved issues” and “create a committee to audit the finances of PIDCI.”

A check with the leaked list of PIDCI member-organizations, the Philippine Daily Mirror found that the organization which Durano said she represents is not a member. Five years ago, which was the last contested election, Rene Ballenas lost to Fe Martinez. Despite Ballenas’ plans to introduce reforms in PIDCI, Martinez won by a wide margin of 97 votes, 157-62.  Ballenas is reportedly the founder and president of Team United Maharlika Foundation Inc., a community organization established in October 2011, which is  also not listed in PIDCI member-organizations.

A call to Ballenas to confirm Durano’s claim and identity was not returned. Another call was made to his known office but this reporter was told that Ballenas has not worked there since 2014.

Ballenas voted in the PIDCI elections last October 7. A photo of him was taken and also when Mataquel was arguing his case with the Conflict Resolution Committee.


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