By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Leaders of the expelled organizations of the Philippine Independence Day Council cried foul over the dismissal of their groups by the Membership committee on the grounds of being a detriment to the organization and having less than ten members.
“The termination is purely an act of harassment – biased and unfair. UNIFFIED has been up to date in its membership dues. With more than 500 members, it is a legitimate organization with a duly recognized 501 c3 status in good standing,” said Ronie Mataquel, president of the nationwide teacher’s organization UNIFFIED. Mataquel was the Membership committee director for PIDCI in 2014-2017.
In the 2017 elections, Mataquel was ejected while seated on a chair from the PIDCI election premises upon the order of Comelec chair Raul Estrallado. Three members of the security men carried him outside the election hall for insisting to check on the names and persons of the proxy list as they come inside to vote. This was upon the order of then Pres. Prospero Lim and honorary chair then Consul General Tess de Vega.
The Grievance committee however upheld Comelec decision to refrain Mataquel from checking the proxy list before the proxy could vote.
“If you are serving the community in good faith, you don’t deserve to be ejected while seated on a chair doing a noble, a voluntary job. Last year’s incident was an eye opener to all members and to the community. We found out that PIDCI is no longer a 501 C 3 organization due to non-filing of tax returns, finance reports. For me, those are the acts deemed to be detrimental to PIDCI,” the Mataquel statement said.
Aside from UNIFFIED, the Fiesta in America, Inc., United Mindoro International, and the PCCSA were expelled from PIDCI. This came about a week before the October 6 elections.
The leaders filed their candidacies as Board director, except for Mataquel, who filed for the presidential post, opposite the incumbent Ner Martinez who’s seeking reelection. They were surprised to have received through the mail the non-renewal of their membership applications and subsequent denial for the candidacy of elective positions.
The Membership committee signed by Matt Reyes and Chris de Guzman cited that the renewal of membership of Mindoro International was denied for its pending case against PIDCI, citing Art. 6, Section 2E. Board of Directors. The section states as qualification and requirements of those running for Director: “Must have no pending suit against PIDCI or any of its incumbent directors.”
PCCSA, on the other hand, had been denied the renewal of its membership for it had less than 10 members, a violation of PIDCI’s Art. IV Sec. 5.
The United Mindoro International and the PCCSA filed two cases before the Supreme Court in New York in January this year to petition for the release of finance and organizational documents and to declare the 2017 elections null and void. Judge Barbara Jaffee immediately stipulated the release of finance and organizational documents and denied the petition to declare the elections null and void in May 2018.
Burdick and Almonte on the other hand wrote: “PIDCI is an organization that receives contribution from its members. Its officers should not be immuned if asked for transparency and fiduciary responsibilities. Where is our Filipino integrity taught to us?”
Juliet Payayab, president of UMI and one of the original incorporators, argued that she never did any disruptive behavior deemed detrimental to PIDCI. In a statement, she said: “How can PIDCI assess that I am detrimental when the only act done was to raise awareness, be an advocate of transparency, ask for accountability of funds which they failed to provide the community, be compliant to IRS rules. The four of us were all terminated by the stroke of a pen and approval of a few directors. No committee was assigned to deliberate and assess their definition of being detrimental to PIDCI. We did what is good for PIDCI and the Fil-am community.”
Fernando Mendez, CEO of Fiesta in America, said that “ownership of PIDCI ultimately belongs to the community that it purports to serve.” He advocated for the opening of the elector’s list to the public so that scrutiny can be made as to the legitimacy of organizational members.
Mendez said that there may be a substantive number of doubtful organizations listed under PIDCI, mostly with one president and one member, and some groups actually from the Philippines. He opts for a thorough probe on membership.
Talks are rife that Mataquel had been booted out by the Comelec from checking the veracity of proxy voters because the proxy list contained shady members. When sought by Judge Jaffe to submit the Proxy list along with finance reports and ledgers to petitioners Burdick and Payabyab, PIDCI defense counsel Atty. Manny Quintal said PIDCI could no longer provide the proxy forms for these had been destroyed.