NEW YORK – “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” says an English proverb. Perhaps, that is a rallying cry of Juliet Payabyab’s pursuit of justice. This popular adage is interpreted that if a woman feels like something unfair happened to her, her anger will be limitless.
With less than a month before another election is supposed to be called in the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), Payabyab and her co-complainants have filed a “Notice of Appeal” to the Supreme Court of the State of New York “to renew, to reargue and to amend the petition.” The appeal was filed on June 29, 2018.
The complainants’ latest action is in line with Payabyab’s plan, which she promised her supporters she would pursue, shortly after Judge Barbara Jaffe had dismissed their complaint on May 29, 2018. Judge Jaffe ruled that the complaint was “premature” for the failure of the petitioners to exhaust the internal remedies to resolve grievances provided for in PIDCI by-laws. The court’s decision was issued four days prior to the commemoration of the 120th Independence
Day on June 3, 2018, which PIDCI had organized.
In a text message to her supporters, Payabyab told them that they “already won that part” whereby PIDCI was required to provide complainants 2013, 2014, 2015 general ledgers, balance sheets, profit and loss statements and all minutes of the board in 2017.
She said that she had sent copies of these documents to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate them if “PIDCI complied with IRS rules for non-profit.” She also said that she will submit these to the Attorney General to investigate. “This doesn’t happen overnight but be patient, I promise to stay to the finishing line,” Payabyab said.
She also informed her supporters that because of the revocation of PIDCI’s tax exempt status by the IRS, “not too many are willing to give financially to PIDCI.”
Now she is pursuing her third step of action, as she outlined in her plan. She wrote, “the election which was denied yesterday because we have a missing link that we are now working with Atty Lara to file a Motion for Reconsideration.”
“We are entitled to do it,” she wrote. “It is not true that the whole case was declined for how the court can undo their mandatory court order on Jan. 10.”
According to new court documents, they are seeking a “reversal of the decision” and for the court “to reinstate the case and to schedule the same for hearing so that the questions of fact can be properly addressed.” Payabyab and Olivia David, who ran for president but lost was not a party of the original complaint, submitted their respective affidavits. Whether David’s affidavit is the “missing link” or not, is still subject to the outcome of their appeal.
No internal remedies provided
In her new affidavit, Payabyab claimed that PIDCI did not take internal remedies to address their concerns despite:
- Two separate letters sent to PIDCI requesting a copy of the membership list
- PIDCI’s failure to act on David’s motion to inspect the proxies to determine the qualifications of voters following the annual membership meeting and elections on October 7, 2017
- PIDCI’s failure to name members of the Grievance and Dispute Resolution Committee (GDRC), “much less the specific procedures of the Committee”
Payabyab also alleged that PIDCI violated its fiduciary duties whereby PIDCI, from 2013-2015, made yearly payments a sum of $900 or a total of $2,700 as “consultant fees” to a vendor and numerous “Pay to “Cash” checks reflected in PIDCI’s ledgers.
On the other hand, in her affidavit, besides restating some of the statements made by Payabyab, David acknowledged that as a board member, there was no resolution appointing members of the GDRC. She said that she was “away recuperating and traveling outside of the US when the original complaint was filed “due to the strain and stress” she experienced. She cited three instances in their attempt to exhaust internal remedies:
- Request made by Fernando Mendez of Fiesta America for PIDCI to provide a list of members qualified to vote even prior to the elections
- A motion made by her during the membership meeting and election held on October 7, 2017, to inspect the proxies
- Two letters sent to PIDCI after the elections reiterating her group’s request to inspect the proxies
PIDCI filed its response on July 27, 2018, opposing the motion of the complainants, which included supporting affidavits of Raul Estrellado and Antero Martinez. PIDCI said that “A motion
to renew must be based upon matters not offered on the prior motion that would change prior determination or upon demonstration that there has been a change in the law that would change the prior determination.”
PIDCI claimed that the petitioner’s submission of the minutes of PIDCI Board meeting on October 12, 2017, and the Affidavit of Olivia David are “not reasonable justifications to support a motion to renew.”
According to PIDCI, the letter sent by David was “not in accordance with the requirements provided in the Bylaws.” Antero Martinez, in his affidavit, said that “demands or requests by officers of a member organization must show that they were authorized by the member organization concerned.” Membership in PIDCI is open only to an organization, not individuals.
PIDCI also said that David was aware of a plan to file the petition even before she left for her vacation citing her statement which was quoted in a Philippine Daily Mirror report. David was present at a meeting held on September 12, 2017, when the membership list was approved by the Board, but she did not object to such list. The list was presented by Ronnie Mataquel, the only member of the Board of Directors not named as a respondent in the complaint.
In its motion to deny the complainant’s Combined Motion for Leave to Renew, to Reargue and to Amend the Petition, PIDCI cited previous court rulings to support its opposition.
PIDCI emphasized that “[a] motion to reargue must be based on matters of fact or law allegedly overlooked or misapprehended by the court in determining the prior motion.” “…[it] is not designed to provide an unsuccessful party with successive opportunities to present arguments different from those originally presented.”
PIDCI also said:
- The court marked the motion as “fully submitted as of 1/24/18” in its Interim Order
- The complainants did not manifest any objections on that Interim Order In a Memorandum of Facts and Law
- The actions of Payabyab, “before, during and after the elections,” have not been “no good faith intention to avoid litigation.”
PIDCI claimed that when the demanded documents were provided to the complainants, “there was no attempt on their part to meet with an officer of PIDCI to clarify or explain those documents.”
According to Raul Estrellado’s affidavit, David has given repeated false information in the Certificates of Candidacy (COC) which she filed when she ran for director in 2012, and again, two years thereafter. “The same situation happened in 2017 when she ran for PIDCI presidency,” Estrellado alleged. “She was no longer a president of Tarlaquenos Inc.,” and her COC should have been signed by its incumbent president.
Complainants motivated by malice and ill-will
Regarding “cash” payments recorded in the general ledger, PIDCI quoted its Internal Auditor, who said that these represented “debit card transactions, bank fees, wire transfers and payments for some operating expenses to vendors.” It added that “they may be recorded as cash in General Ledger, however, the supporting documents indicated the payee and reason for the payment.”
“It would be a waste of time of the court and taxpayers’ money,” PIDCI said, “if complainants will demand a hearing for everything that they notice as “violations” in the documents provided to them. A disagreement on how entries in a ledger should be identified does not and should not justify a motion to renew, to reargue and amend the petition or motion.”
Those “violations” can be explained properly and sufficiently,” PIDCI said, “face to face, outside the courthouse, if the complainants were not or are not motivated by malice and ill-will in filing the case.”
Both parties are waiting for a court’s decision. With speculations swirling around in the community about the cost being incurred by the complainants in their lawsuit, some threw in a conservative estimate of between $10,000 and $15,000. While some say it is a matter of principle, others are considering it as a continuing story of PIDCI’s dysfunctional history. It is more than just a parade.