By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Just before the Philippine Independence Day Council could begin canvassing ballots for its annual elections, presidential candidate Olivia David aired her protest to the conduct of elections which was allegedly marred by anomalies.
The already hotly contested PIDCI elections further escalated in emotional exchange between David together with candidate Juliet Payabyab and outgoing president, Dr. Prospero Lim.
Lim insisted that David’s team officially file a complaint before the Resolutions committee and that the canvassing begin.
In a public pronouncement, David registered her protest, sought the review of proxy voters and asked for the deferment of proclamation of winners.
Comelec chair Raul Estrallado nonetheless declared the winners: Ner Martinez for president and seven Board of directors: Jocelyn Aligarbes, Mateo Reyes, Carmeli Garcia, Rely Manacay, Thomas Ludena, Chris de Guzman, and Sofia Abad (lone candidate from Team Ollie David). Consul General of New York Tess de Vega had inducted them to office and reminded them of transparency and accountability, in a long emphatic speech.
The most telling of all public suspicions in the October 7 elections was when Comelec chair Estrallado forcibly ordered membership chair Ronie Mataquel out of the election premises.
Three security men of the Comelec physically carried Mataquel out of the hall of the Episcopalian Church of the Holy Trinity while sitting on a chair.
Mataquel said he was doing his job to check on the veracity of proxy voters in the early stage of the electoral process, in compliance with Lim’s order. Jen Castaneda, an official of Pafcom organization, commented that they have physically removed a man of integrity.
The Resolutions committee, headed by lawyer Manny Quintal, upheld the decision of the Comelec to remove Mataquel from the election area.
Estrallado told media that he had already assigned people to check on proxies and Mataquel was not necessary.
Like in the past years, many voting members remain shrouded in mystery and officers who made it in elections put up bogus organizations just so to muster the majority of votes.
In this election, the issue on authentic membership votes continue to haunt PIDCI and put to question the integrity of the conduct of elections.
Reports of some voters using business cards as identification and one whole family voting under one organization were noted. Under PIDCI rules, only the president of the member organization can vote or upon his appointment, a proxy in his/her absence.
The PIDCI is the biggest Filipino organization in the east coast which conducts the annual Independence Day parade in June, fund raising events, and charitable programs. It was organized by the Philippine Consulate in 1990 and later evolved into a private organization in 2002 with a current membership of 96 organizations.
It also needed to publicly present an audited finance report, likely since 2013 to the present. The IRS revoked the 5O1 c3 status for failure to submit finance reports.
Many community leaders like May Durano and Mario Garcia have expressed on Facebook the need to stop elections pending the release of financial reports. (Featured photo: Mataquel on a chair being carried by Comelec security outside the election hall.)