By Cristina DC Pastor & Marivir Montebon
New York – As we were poring over several reams of financial documents, ledgers and minutes of board meetings – over several weeks — we came across numerous items that raised some red flags. One of them is an item in the ledger showing a former Grand Marshal making a contribution in the amount of $10,000 — $5000 from him and another $5000 from his son.
The Grand Marshal said it was more. During his term, he was able to mobilize about $70,000 in contributions for the Independence Day parade during his time, with resources coming from his own pocket, his friends, more than 60 pages of advertising in the journal, and a full-packed Grand Marshal Ball of 450 people.
That amount was not reflected in the ledger.
There were items in the ledger showing payment to board members, volunteers and other officials and their families. We reached out to most of them and did not hear back. Nonprofit organizations, like PIDCI (although technically they’ve lost their tax-exempt status in the last couple of years), are not supposed to be providing compensation to their officials.
Another item has a “lifelong volunteer” appearing to have received a $200 monthly fee from PIDCI. We asked her if this was true.
She said, “All I can say for now is it seems I have been clearly violated, improperly taken advantage of and a victim of (ex-official’s) crime!!!”
It was not the former treasurer who prepared the ledgers. It appears in the document that they were prepared by Roland David, identified as Assistant Secretary of PIDCI, and lifetime partner of four-time PIDCI President Fe Martinez.
She added: “Due to the sensitivity of any PIDCI matter I cannot comment on this shocking, appalling ‘fake news,’” said the “lifelong volunteer.” She called our series “fake news.” The “lifelong volunteer” said she will consult a lawyer before speaking further.
It is unfortunate that PIDCI chose not to speak for this report. In our emails requesting for an interview, or at least to respond to a set of questions, we said we wanted to present a report that is balanced and well-rounded, and this could be achieved if both sides would be heard.
Many in the community sent private emails with more interesting observations about PIDCI and the way the organization is run. We also received encouraging comments.
“Amazing work,” said one professional.
“Look at where the community is now, more people are coming out, the beauty queens have spoken, the Consulate is asking questions. I believe that if you get the biggest organization to adhere to good governance, others would follow,” she said.
Businesswoman Mita Quiogue said electoral fraud, election manipulation, or vote rigging is illegal. “I can’t believe we have it here during the PIDCI elections. I know somebody who allowed herself to be used for this kind of fraud.”
Traveling nurse May Durano said, “The Consulate should be actively pursuing this mess. It is an embarrassment that we bring this ‘corrupt’ system to the U.S., and they think they can get away with it.”
Ludi Hughes of the Filipino American Festival, Inc. of Bergen County, said, “Only credible leaders should run this organization, people who are in good standing in the community. PIDCI is not a cash cow, not a place to make money. It is a community organization and cannot be a business. Once it becomes a business, then the Philippine Consulate should step up and cut the relationship.” (Featured photo: L-R Fe Martinez, 4-time PIDCI president, and former treasurer Violeta McGough with some participants to an Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue)