THERE”S MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Just a simple letter from the Department of Fair Trading in response to Jhun Salazar’s letter of complaint as regards his ill-boding, inauspicious, and sinister dislodgement as Public Officer , but when you break it down to the basic premise/proposition, argumentation, and conclusion -- there ‘s more than meets the eye.
In effect, we are faced exactly with the very root as well as the bare realities underpinning the two-in-one APCO problem that has been pestering the Filo commune in NSW for two years now.
Allow me to quote just the last sentence of Ms. Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management, which goes:
“...Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict; I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
Let’s analyse this statement well. As we say in the vernacular, “kung baga may gusot, himay-mayin natin, para mahanap ang lusot.”
Going by the premise or proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference, it appears that...
• APCO is regrettably a small organization
• It now finds itself in a situation of conflict
• All of the parties are encouraged to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.
We can assume, rather explicitly or implicitly, that it should not be logically difficult to support the plain and simple conclusion that all parties (MUST) endeavour to resolve the situation of conflict or internal dispute.
When all is said and done, one thing is loud and clear. The problem of APCO is not within the province or jurisdiction of Department of Fair Trading, nor is it their responsibility to interfere in internal dispute. .
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Where does this bring us? Back to the drawing board.
I take liberties to shift to our lingua franca .Mas mainam kasi kungTatagalugin na lang natin para mas higit na maunawaan at maliwanagan ng higit na nakararami.
Una, balikan natin ang tatlong bagay na hinimay ko sa simula’t sapul na napakasimple at diretsahang sinagot ni Ms. Matheson.
Kung tutuusin maliit na organisasyon lang naman talaga ang APCO kahima’t maraming iba pang samahang napapailalim dito.
Kaso ang problema ang lalaki ng mga “EGO” ng mga taong nasasangkot sa mga usapin.Lahat may ambisyon. Bawat isa may kani-kaniyang ipinagpupumilit o ipinaglalabang prinsipyo kuno. Ang tunay na nangyari sa APCO ay ang pagkabuwag ng pananalig at pananampalataya ng mga dati-rating sunud-sunurang miembro sa mga opisyales na naghari-harian.
Ang resulta nahati ang grupo at nagkampi-kampihan.
Hindi na bago ito sa ating mga Pilipino. Ugali na natin ito. Ang pagkakabuwag ng mga partido, pag-aaway-away ng mga kampo ng maka- Kaliwa o ng maka-Kanan (halimbawa sa Pilipinas ngayon, ang hidwaan ng mga Dutertards/DDS laban sa mga Dilawan) ay ordinaryong kalakaran na sa politika.
Bahagi na ito ng ating kasaysayan, ng ating pinagmulan at kinamulatan kaya paulit-ulit na nangyayari sa iba’t ibang panahon.
Sa kaso ng APCO, lumalim at lumala ang di-pagkakaunawaan nang pinangatawananan ng bawat grupo ang kanilang paninindigan. Umabot na sa puntong ang mga miyembro at opisyales mismo ng APCO ay di na magkasundu-sundo dahil nag-uumpugan ang mga EGO.
Eto ngayon ang tanong? Posible ba na magsipagbaba sa kanilang trono ang mga nagsasalpukang opisyal dahil iisa lang naman ang pinagmulan ng iisang bunga?
Matay ko mang isipin, pwedeng-pwede kung maghaharap muli ang dalawang grupo at magkakasundong mamili at maghalal ng mga bagong opisyal.
Balik-tanawin natin ang pinagmulan ng UNIFICATION MOVEMENT na pinasimulan ng pahayagang ito sa pamumuno ng Tagapaglimbag.
Patapus na halos ang dalawang taon ng bawat kampo. Nairaos din ang kanilang termino kahit nauwi sa malawakang bangayan. Tuloy naisantabi ang mga tunay na simulain at nakaligtaan ang mga proyektong pinaka – raison de etre (reason for being) ng organisasyon.
Ang dapat pagkasunduan ng dalawang kampo ay ito. Kailangang magtakda ng isang araw para sa UNIFICATION at RECONCILIATION kung saan nagkakaisa ang lahat na magsimulang muli – isantabi ang mga di pagkakaunawaan at magkasundong magbuo ng BAGONG PINAGTIBAY na APCO sa pamamahala ng mga bago ring liderato.
Para sa akin, kalokohan ang magtumbang preso pa kayo sa Korte Suprema, gaya ng isinasaad sa sulat ng Fair Trading. Wala naman kayong mapapala. Wala rin kayong mapapatunayan. Ending, bale minasahe nyo lang ang inyong mga ego na naman. At what cost?
TABULA RASA (CLEAN SLATE)
Sa madali’t sabi, iminumungkahi kong magsimula sa zero, parang tabula rasa o yung tinatawag na CLEAN SLATE dapat.
Clean slate begins with the common decision and agreed action of wiping the slate clean. It’s like starting anew, a fresh approach. But the only way to do achieve this is to get rid of the old directors. Anybody who has been elected to the Board for more than two years should give a chance to those who have never served before.
What I believe that can be done is to form a Council of Elders – composed of those who began APCO, all the past Presidents and Vice Presidents and other outstanding past officers and Board of Directors. That way there can be no place `for DICTATORSHIP.
The Council of Elders are supposed to be respected and honoured for their experiential knowledge of the organization not to mention their actual work and life experiences. Factor in their spirituality, teachings, wisdom, and high intelligence --Elders have a deep understanding of people and communities. They are recognized for their gifts, special abilities and distinguished work that make them role models, resource persons, and advisors providing guidance and support to everyone.
Specifically, they shall work in partnership with the various Standing Committees by providing guidance, support, plus sharing of traditional knowledge of wisdom, beliefs and values in a caring and respectful way. Whenever consulted, the Council of Elders will be actively involved in decisions respecting the direction and governance of the organization.
What is more and very promising indeed, is that Constitutional Amendment is in the offing, and should by all means be the order of the day. This is the best opportunity whereby sufficient safeguards can be put in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility.
To this end, and mindful of the lessons learned from the first-hand experience of a disintegrating organization, I am the first to suggest a structural change in the organization by demolishing the Board of Directors and creating instead a more streamlined yet very strong and encompassing STANDING COMMITTEES with a Chair and Vice –Chair.
• ETHICS COMMITTEE need be instituted in place of the age-old and ineffectual GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE so that any and all matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of APCO and its members shall significantly fall under this all-important Committee.
Inevitably, this committee should encroach on and include Accountability of Officers and Proper Conduct of Investigations of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of APCO. Thus every APCO member is intrinsically tasked to report alleged wrongdoings of its officials and its attached agencies, including the management, control, and use of its owned equipment and facilities if any.
B.) COMMITTEE ON PEACE/UNIFICATION/RECONCILIATION shall handle all matters relating to peace, internal conflict resolution, political negotiation, cessation of hostilities, including integration and development thru national unification and reconciliation with other Filipino-Australian organizations.
C.SPECIAL PROJECTS COMMITTEE
All matters relating to SPECIAL PROJECTS
In the following areas :
-- The preservation, enrichment and evolution of Filipino-Australian ARTS and CULTURE.
_ ADVOCACY projects in public health in general not to mention IMMIGRATION issues, concerns, policies and programs affecting individuals and their families, as well as matters relating to the YOUTH, WOMEN, and FAMILY RELATION
--Establishment and maintenance of libraries, mini- museums, shrines, monuments, and other historical sites and edifices; training programs and cultural and artistic programs
BREAKING DOWN DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
Finally my one last statement about what happened to APCO is akin to a death by a thousand cuts. This is a figure of speech that refers to a failure that occurs as a result of many small problems. Death by a thousand cuts could refer to the split within an organization such as APCO as a result of a tangle of individual egos concretised in the battle between two ladies each claiming to be rightful President.
To paraphrase Hamlet, the failure to come to terms or to reach mutual agreement, that is the question! Both parties failed to begin to or make an effort to understand, accept, and deal with a difficult or problematic person, thing, or situation. As such, the problem blew up to uncontrollable proportions and resulted in spewing several small issues rather than one major one.
Perhaps readers will understand the phrase better and my application of it in the case of APCO, when you consider the term was originally used to describe an ancient form of torture wherein the condemned person was subjected to a number of minor wounds until the accumulation of damage became fatal. This hyperbole, so to speak, refers to the idea that while a single small cut may not be all that fatal but the total cumulative effect may eventually cause a person to bleed to death.
This is what I’m afraid may happen to APCO eventually.
Hindi naman kasi ang mga taong napakatataas ng lipad, bilib na bilib sa sarili, at pagkalalaki ng mga ego (mas malaki pa sa organisasyon) ang sadyang nasasakal at unti-unting kinikitil ng walang pinatutunguhang pag-aaway ng dalawang kampo kundi ang APCO mismo.
(Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)
By Mars Cavestany
The response of Fair Trading to the two warring camps in APCO is loud and clear: that it is none of their business to interfere in an intrinsically internal dispute that must be resolved following the constitutional provisions by the parties involved if not raised to the level of the Supreme Court.
NOT WITHIN THE DOMAIN OF DFT
Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management of the Department of Fair Trading wrote more explicitly of Fair Tradings’ non-involvement in matters not within their domain.
“The Association is registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, which is administered by NSW Fair Trading. The Act is designed to find a balance between freedom and flexibility for associations to establish themselves and to operate while ensuring there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility. It follows that the legislation does not provide the Registry with the authority to intervene in matters relating to the internal administration of an association.
For your information I have attached information on Fair Trading’s powers to enquire and investigate and areas for which Fair Trading does not have responsibilities.
The committee is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the association is operating in accordance with the legislation generally and the association’s constitution specifically. Fair Trading has no jurisdiction to determine the facts at the base of an internal dispute or an alleged breach of an association’s constitution, the only body with this jurisdiction is the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
It would appear the Association may be subject to an internal dispute regarding the validity regarding the identity of the validly appointed public officer and those responsible for the management of the Association. This is not a matter Fair Trading can determine, in such cases where such a dispute arises the association must resolve it by agreement, through the dispute resolution provisions in the Association’s constitution or ultimately by order of the Supreme Court.”
DOCUMENTS NOT ACCEPTED ANYMORE
As a result of the two different sets of protest letters with matching evidential documents being presented by two camps to Fair Trading, they ruled no to accept anymore documents lodged from both parties. Ms. Jamison further explains:
“In such cases, until Fair Trading has evidence of either an agreement or an order by the Court determining the matter the Association may be noted as being ‘in dispute’ on the Register of Incorporated Associations. In these circumstances Fair Trading will inform all parties to the dispute that no documents will be accepted for lodgement on behalf of the association.
Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict, I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The internal dispute within APCO grounds began when the appointed and not duly elected President Violetta Escultura was removed from her post following a vote of no confidence from the Board and general membership.
Consequently Cora Paras won in the new elections to replace Escultura but the latter refuse d to step down and thus caused a rift and a split between two camps,
Trouble further ensued when the Escultura camp was quick enough to lodge their own documents to the Department of Fair Trading. They submitted a list of new Elected Board of Officers and even replaced the Public Officer to one of their own.
The documentation Escultura’s group received from Fair Trading effectively gave them further access to withdraw 12 thousand of APCO funds reportedly deposited in a new account for safeguarding.
THE BATTLE CONTINUES AS BANK ACCOUNTS AND DOCUMENT MOVEMENTS ARE FROZEN
Cora Paras’ camp which, from all legal indications and implications, appear to be the real legitimate APCO Board, did not take the Escultura group’s legerdemain sitting down.
Complaint/protest letters were filed to both the Fair Trading and Commonwealth Bank where proper investigations are ongoing.
Meanwhile, the final resolution to the seemingly never ending conflict has been offered by Fair Trading to let the Supreme Court rule over matters that cannot be resolved internally and amicably between the two-in-one APCO.
Needless to say, there are costs involved for lawyers’ fees and all other expenses. The big asks remain: Who shall make the first move? When and where will all these end?
The Great Divide
TWO IN ONE
Two sets of Board of Directors in one APCO body
By Mars Cavestany
The protracted battle between APCO Inc’s two warring camps -- the Paras-Salazar group versus that of Escultura-Amores – continues to drag for seven months now since its controversy-ridden election of officers in 10 March 2018.
2 BOARDS BOTH CLAIM LEGITIMACY
The first to create a new Board is the Paras-Salazar group following a reshuffle of officers by effectively removing the unconstitutionally appointed President Violetta Escultura and PRO, Ralph Improgo via a Board Resolution-cum-vote of no confidence with matching complaints of abuse of power and authority.
On 26 August 2018 this majority group elected and replaced the two ousted officers with Cora Paras, President and Richard Ford, PRO respectively.
On the other hand, based on its series of coordinated social media pronouncements, the Escultura-Amores group issued one public announcement after another in open defiance of the new Board claiming themselves as the true and legitimate APCO group.
After issuing suspensions and revocations of membership to the Paras-Salazar group, the Escultura-Amores group created an Ad Hoc Committee and hastily submitted a new set of Board of Directors to the Department of Fair Trading, using the DFT’s acknowledgement to make alleged unofficial transactions at the bank practically depleting APCO funds and its coffers running dry.
As of press time, PCHN learned that, APCO’s bank account has been frozen once again following the second alleged contestable withdrawal made by the Escultura-Paras camp. (See related interview story on Page 17 and 41 )
MEMBERSHIPS REVOKED, VICE VERSA
What is more, each camp citing specific provisions of the APCO Constitution has practically revoked the memberships of those who have aligned themselves to the other group, vice versa. .
A public statement on 8th September by Escultura cited the Paras-Salazar group as comprising of a number of “dissenting and dissatisfied officers and members who had been sowing seeds of division and discord among the APCO membership””.
As of 2 Oct. another Escultura statement was circulated in social media declaring her removal as a total disregard of due process thereby “vexatious and frivolous and therefore null and void.”
Thus, the vigilantly unrelenting Escultura issued suspensions to some and absolute revocation of membership to others in emails individually sent to the Paras-Salazar office bearers dated as early as the 13th of September 2018.
The common standard demand in these emails letters “to dispute via the grievance committee in 14 days” fell on deaf ears.
As far as the Paras-Salazar groups is concerned, Escultura’s orders are baseless having been earlier officially stripped of her position and rights as President. Her separate emails to the original Board officials outside of her camp comprising a greater majority who have persisted on functioning in their rightfully elected posts had unanimously ignored and treated Escultura’s marching orders as a “big joke and a great mockery of herself and those who connives with her” They further stated that Escultura’s claim to having been “legitimately elected President at the AGM is fraudulent and gross misrepresentation of the truth.” The quotes are from the open letter of Jun Salazar to Charles Chan (acting as Head of the Grievance Committee in his capacity as Junior VP) as posted by Richard J. Ford, (APCO PRO’s) in his FB account on 17th September.
WHO’s WHO at EACH BOARD?
The new Escultura-Amores Board is now composed of the following with mention of the group(s)/affiliations they represent if not stand-alone as an individual members.
President - Violeta Escultura, Filipino Women Support Group Inc
Senior Vice President - Mariam McCauley, Club Filipino Illawara Inc
Jr Vice President - Charles Chan, Sedgwick Housing Co-operative Ltd
Secretary - Carmen Fraser
Treasurer - Jimmy Lopez, NARRA Co-op Ltd
Auditor - Marissa Collins, Global Ilocanos Australia Inc
PRO - Ralph Improgo
Director - Cora Bojarski, Fil-Oz Liverpool
Director - Emma Braceros, Filipinas Dance Group
Director - Pitz Dorninger, Illawara Filipino and Multicultural Women’s Group
Director - Rose Lay, Filipino Women Support Group
Director - Glorina Papaiannou
Director - Zeny Piosik
Director - Albert Prias, Flagcom
Director - George Torres, Plaza Filipino Inc
Public Officer - Ruben Amores, Kapitbahayan Co-operative Ltd
Adviser - Cen Amores, Kapitbahayan Co-operative Ltd and Past President APCO
Meanwhile, the recently completed Paras-Escultura Board with new officers elected to fill in the gaps during the special meeting held last 21st October at the Marconi Club. There was a motion to remove the 'breakaway' officers on Sept. 16, 2018 because, they were not attending the required meetings and was confirmed on the 21st Oct 2018, when the election of the new officers finally transpired:
President: Cora Paras
VP Senior: Fe Hayward
VP Junior: Jhun Salazar
Secretary: Linda Price
Treasurer: Rita Agostino
Int. Auditor: Mick Miguel
PRO: Richard Ford
Board of Directors:
1. Doug Myers
2. Pet Storey
3. Linda Trinidad
4. Edna Voros
5. Dian Ford
6. Frank Floro
7. Roberto Sacilotto
8. Larry Perez
The Paras-Salazar group is now awaiting the most crucial official response to their complaint letter to set the record straight at the Department of Fair Trading.
As we go to the press, we received copy of Cora Paras' reply to the text sent her and members of her groupwhich we reprint here in full:
On 22nd October 2018 at 11.16pm, an anonymous person sent an unsigned message to me, Jhun Salazar, Richard Ford and others. Below is the complete message. Lucky I copied it straightaway, now it’s been deleted.
“Hi, Jhun Salazar and C. Paras group, what history is being repeated you’re claiming? You can repeat the history by having a different name, create your own logo and start from zero finance. Cora P. didn’t you disagree on the unification and published in E. Zaragosa’s newspaper? What made you change your mind? Is it to become popular like the Amoreses. They work hard and have the brain to think of projects sponsored by the government and not using the publics, contestants and member’s money to go to the P.I. Start from scratch to show and prove to the community how brilliant you are too. Or are you only jealous of the achievements of the original APCO?
The reply of Millie of Kalatas shows her being Christian and moral values – by not dragging others down and keep internal issues within the association. Have you been yet to CJC? Or you’re scared to find out the truth?
I am open and would like my answer to be seen by everyone. Obviously this sender hides behind the screen, to harass and invade people’s privacy in representing the breakaway group – Escultura / Amoreses, hiding behind our backs, lacking Courage to face the Truth and showing their Cowardice and Weakness to cope with the Truth. Finally, by losing the plot and self-control, resulting in tantrums like a spoiled brat.
1. What history? The split and spill history from PCC NSW was because Cen Amores couldn’t accept being defeated (like now) and not welcomed.
2. We will not have a different name, nor create a new logo and the group will need to pay the $12,000.00 back.
3. I did not disagree on the idea of unity. Unification has raised meanings of uniting if you are using your “brilliant” mind. There were options given. I did not agree on the Dissolution of the two (2) Peak Bodies to form One Body. I agreed on the two (2) Bodies staying as is – with own identity but collaborating and working together as a team in carrying out the goals and objectives for the common good. Collaboration, Harmony, Friendship and Teamwork can achieve unity and one voice for the Filipino-Australian Community. I haven’t changed my mind and we have started the harmonizing and team working promise with the PCC NSW and other Organisations.
4. You never see me in front of any newspapers seeking popularity with the Politicians like the Amoreses, Publicity-seeking gestures. I do community work quietly with no flash bulbs and pomposity. Until Cen Amores ran to the Police to file false physical assault charges against me, which have been dismissed as a closed case, a while ago, for lack of evidence, I was just a selfless community leader, happy to work with no fanfare. Cen Amores made me popular! Thanks to her tantrums. Because of this too, the road was opened for the Truth to come out.
5 A. Brains? Where did they get their Brains? Many are startled, surprised and are asking – how did she get her “Dr” before her name? When?
The Teachers Group in APCO including Pet Storey and me, are all recognized and qualified teachers of the Department of Education and Training in Australia. I have been teaching here for nearly 40 years plus the 15years I taught in the Philippines before coming here.
5 B. Hard Work? Oh, yes, working hard to get grants/funding from the Government putting the cheques through APCO Bank account and withdrawing them for their own perusal, sometimes the next day. Ruben and Cen Amores did not have to think of Projects. You’re right when you said, “they are Projects sponsored by the government.” The projects are there they first have to apply for them. Easy! With their manipulative means, they get them; use them for their own benefits, not APCO’s. Cen Amores haven’t initiated any project of APCO. With ASCON, Auburn now Cumberland Council maybe, but not with APCO. The Haiyan Typhoon Fundraising through Bucket Collection – train stations were done by APCO members and friends, not only by herself and Ruben. There are other unanswered questions regarding money that are not answered clearly by the Amoreses. We are still waiting for receipts.
6. Who are you referring to as using “the publics, contestants and member’s money to get donation for the P.I.?” Do you mean the VAA? Look through the FB pages and see the pictures of 500+ School Children enjoying the Feeding Programs, receiving the distribution of School Supplies, smiling faces of students helped through Scholarships and the grateful families helped through the Livelihood Program. During the AGM on 10th March 2018, I suggested to pass the hat around to give something for the good cause of the Feeding Program in May for the VAA, an affiliate member of APCO. Cen Amores first tossed the nose up and disregarded the suggestion and instead used the hard-earned money of the Pet Storey administration to subsidise new members and their partners and friends to pay for their tickets to the Premier’s Harmony Dinner. Then when she saw the photos of VAA’s very successful Humanitarian Programme, she hastened to congratulate them. Hypocrisy at its best!
7. You’re asking – am I jealous of the achievements of the original APCO?
Of course not! I don’t get jealous of any organisation. I think you meant the Amoreses. APCO under the leadership of the Amoreses did not achieve anything beneficial to its members or the Filipino-Australian Community. Achievements were for themselves, self-promotion, and popularity, self-glory, self-fame and false power. No one is jealous, surely not me! Writing their own awards, nominating themselves and asking people/members to endorse and sign their nominations are what they are good for.
8. You say, keep “internal” issues within the organisation!
With Cen Amores running to the Police, laying false assault charges against me without any evidence just because she didn’t get what she wanted. Do you call that keeping internal issues within the organisation and not “dragging others down?”
9. Have I been to the CJC or is scared to find out the truth? No, I haven’t been to the Community Justice Centre, but will gladly welcome dialogues with you. I have nothing to be scared about because the Truth is with us.
I hope you have been enlightened now. Open your eyes and see the Truth.
“Open your eyes and see the Truth. The Truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Yours in Truth,
President APCO Inc.
After an overwhelming vote of no confidence APCO appointed President Violeta Escultura has been unanimously voted out by the official Board of Directors effectively reinstating Cora Paras, who was originally voted as President but declined the position and settled for the Senior Vice Presidency instead.
Ralph Improgo, another unconstitutionally appointed officer acting as PRO, has now been replaced by Richard Ford.
The case of both Escultura and Improgo were eventually deemed deft-of-hand appointments deliberately made by APCO past President Cen Amores and have been deemed unconstitutional and subjected to the right course of action by the new Board.
In righting the wrong, investigations appeared that both Escultura and Improgo are in truth technically not regular APCO members because they only paid their membership dues during the actual Election Day. Furthermore, they do not represent any affiliate group to which they are acting as President for them to be officially qualified for nomination to the APCO Board of Directors which elects and selects the top 15 of the highest contenders who eventually convene to vote amongst themselves the President and other specific positions as is mandated by the APCO Constitution and By-Laws.
Article 11.2.3 - Nominations to the Board positions are open to regular members who shall have continuously been a member of the Association for at least one (1) year prior to the election and who is in possession of good moral character as defined under the law of the land.
Art.17.2.1 - Only regular members of the Association are entitled to this process.
CHANGE OF BANK SIGNATORY
APCO's bank account has been frozen as when the duly elected treasurer went to the bank, her name was deleted as a signatory to the account and changed to 'Assistant Treasurer'.
Art 16.7 - The President and the Treasurer shall operate the Association's account with the Senior Vice President and the Public Officer being made alternate signatory.
“I AM STILL PRESIDENT”
Quite defiantly persistent, via an email immediately executed first thing in the morning of the following day, 27th August at 7:27 AM declares to one and all:
“You may have received this communication from Jhun Salazar and to avoid confusion I would like to let you know that officially I am still the President of the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations, Inc.
Please be guided accordingly.”
“RETURN TO NORMALCY”
The above was Escultura’s leaving no stones unturned reaction in reference to Jhun Salazar, APCO Public Officer and Senior Adviser’s initial email as follows:
“This is to inform you that APCO Board at its meeting convened on 26 Aug 2018 at Club Marconi has elected a new President to lead the organisation to 2020.
This may come as a surprise to many of you, however, the change of leadership was essential to ensure APCO continues to serve the community and return the operation to normalcy.
Cora Paras, VP Senior of APCO was summoned to the Police Station to report her side re: alleged assault complain filed by Dr. Cen Amores, First President of APCO. On the 18th of June 2018, Cora Paras gave her statement and some of the Board Members present during the “Officers and Board Members’ Meeting only” were also interviewed by the police.
Cora Paras and some of the Board Members present during the meeting called PCHN as “There are untrue and incorrect rumours spreading in the community which I feel damaging my character and reputation, as well that of APCO.”
Cora said, “On the 20th of April 2018, the officers and members of the Board of APCO, Inc. a non-profit local Filipino organization, held a meeting at the Library in Liverpool starting at 6:00pm.
This meeting was approved and agreed upon by the Board as “Officers and Board of Directors’ Meeting Only”.
A week prior to the Meeting, a Reminder/Notice was put on the APCO loop by the Public Officer that Advisers (the Past Presidents should not join the Meeting to give Autonomy to the newly-elected Board of Directors to conduct their meeting independently with no interference and influence from any of the Advisers. They will be consulted for Advice only when needed. Cen Amores was one of the advisers.
Dr. Cen Amores who was insistent to go inside the meeting room. Cora said, “I politely told her, “No, Cen, sorry. Please read the Notice. We will call you when needed.” Unable to go inside the meeting room, she went to the police station with the alleged assault complain against Cora Paras.
PCHN requested Dr. Cen Amores to give her comment but her response as of this writing,, “At this stage, I have no comment.”
Dr. Cen Amores was recently awarded the Auburn Local Woman of the Year 2018. She was appointed one of the People of Australia Ambassadors (January to December 2012) during the term of former PM Julia Gillard.
(Related Story on Page 2)
LETTER TO THE PCHN PUBLISHER:
To the Publisher
Philippines Community Herald Newspaper
Ms Evelyn Zaragosa
This is to cover the written Report/Statement to the Police I gave you after my Interview last June 18, 2018, in response to the Allegation of Assault filed against me by Cen Amores on the 20th of April 2018 . This was supposed to happen during our Officers and Directors Only Meeting on the 20/4/18 presided by Violeta Escultura, APCO President.
Most of the Directors and members present in that Meeting ( Mick Miguel, Rita Agostino( Treasurer), Fe Hayward, Linda Trinidad, Linda Price, ( Secretary) Richard Ford (Auditor) , Violy Miguel, Dian Ford and Roberto Sacilloto willingly went with me to the Police Station to be interviewed as well.
Untrue rumours already widely circulating around the Pilipino Community and local Organizations have reached me even before the Police confirmed and saw me about the Allegation. However, I did not react or comment about these rumours until after the Police Interview.
To clear my name and correct these rumours ruining my reputation and character, I deemed it necessary and my right to publish the true story.
I hope this will clear my name and APCO’s image.
Thank you for your attention and fairness to my request.
Vice President Snr.
“On the 20th of April 2018, the officers and members of the Board of APCO, Inc. a non-profit local Filipino organization, held a meeting at Liverpool Library starting at 6:00pm.
This meeting was approved and agreed upon by the Board as “Officers and Board of Directors’ Meeting Only”.
A week prior to the Meeting, a Reminder/Notice was put on the APCO loop by the Public Officer that Advisers (the Past Presidents – Cen Amores, Jhun Salazar, Ruben Amores, Pet Storey and Jimmy Lopez) should not join the Meeting to give Autonomy to the newly-elected Board of Directors to conduct their meeting independently with no interference and influence from any of the Advisers. They will be consulted for Advice only when needed.
A few days before the Meeting, Cen Amores called an Advisers’ meeting. During their meeting, majority confirmed non-attendance, respecting the “Officers and Board of Directors’ Meeting Only” except for Cen Amores who insisted to attend, “just in case.
A list of the Directors’ names was posted outside the door of the glass-enclosed mini-Conference Room together with the Reminder/Notice that Advisers will be consulted only when needed. Jimmy Lopez came, did not come in but only informed the Directors that photo shoots for APCO’s Souvenir Programme will start with the Affiliate members. Then he left.
Cen Amores with her husband, Ruben Amores came with the President, Violeta Escultura with 2 Board Members, Glorina and Ralph. Cen Amores and husband stayed outside the Conference Room. The President upon entering, and without greeting the Directors, asked why Advisers are not allowed to join in the Meeting – saying, Quote – “I invited them. I want them here, I am the President. This is my meeting. I want my way,” unquote.
I, as the Vice-President Senior, reminded her of the agreed nature of the Meeting. The President insisted that they come in, saying, “No, I want them here.”
I then put a motion to adhere to the agreed nature of the Meeting - “Officers and Board Members Meeting Only”. This was seconded by Mick Miguel, Votation followed. Eight (8) Directors voted “Yes” and three Directors voted “No”.
Majority won but the President again ignored it and said, “No, this is my meeting”.
At this instant, Cen Amores was approaching the door, obviously to get in, after Ralph Improgo came in to fetch a bag for the President outside the room. I was sitting near the door and stood to close but Cen Amores was insisting to get in. However, I politely told her, “No, Cen, sorry. Please read the Notice. We will call you when needed.” She was outside the door and I was inside holding on to the door knob with my left hand and locking it with my right hand. The door opens inward, so when I locked it, I couldn’t possibly touch her or physically push her as she alleged. I went back to my seat and because the President would not listen to the voice of the majority and was conducting the meeting with no decorum and in an undemocratic way, I wiih the Board’s agreement declared to walk out of the Meeting Room and wait for her to call for another meeting after.
The Librarian then came, as we were getting ready to go out and asked how many we were in the room. We said, 11. As the room only required 8-10 persons, she said, we exceederd the number and had to vacate the room. We all went out. On the way out, a few members (not on the Board) waiting, told us that Cen Amores with her husband went to the Police Station. We all asked, “Why?” Dian Ford with Roberto and Helen, said, “Because Cora Paras pushed her.” We were all surprised as we were not aware of that incident happening. Two Directors, Charles Chan and Cora Bojarski just came (late) and saw us leaving and asked, where we’re going. We said, we’re leaving. So, we went.
After a week, I received a phone call at 8:17pm on the 28th of April 2018 from the police station. I was asked to answer questions about the alledged assault claim against me. I said, I am not aware of such an assault and didn’t assault anyone. I am not answering any question and if he was really a Policeman, I will go to the Police Station and look for him with someone with me. He agreed.
After a month, on the 28th May 2018, I received a message from (Info Tech Svs), Thinking it was an harassment call, I ignored it.
On the 9th of June 2018, after 7pm, while I was out, 2 Constables went to my address and handed a card to my husband for me to call them.
I rang the police station and we agreed to meet on Monday, 18th of June 2018, 6:30pm to give my statement and to interview some of the Board members present during the “Officers and Board Members’ Meeting only” held on the 20th April 2018
The Philippine Community Council, New South Wales (PCC NSW) and Alliance of Philippine Community Organizations Inc. (APCO), two of the leading and opposing Filipino-Australian organizations confederating many allied groups under each umbrella in NSW recently elected its officers for the next term of office.
The separate elections came immediately after 7 years of cold war that climaxed in an open-ended joint statement signed by both groups affirming their commitment to effectively serve their respective constituents and the Filipino community at large whilst pledging to continue working with the Consulate in promoting and protecting the interests of all Filipinos in NSW.
The PCC NSW elected officers 208-2019 are comprised of: Serna Ladia, president; Alric Bulseco, external vice president; Ethel Singzon, internal vice president; Rod Dingle, secretary; Judith del Prado, treasurer; Mercy Jones, internal auditor; Angelina Jenkins, public relations officer; Sheila Collantes, Espie Pogson, Lilian de los Reyes, Emily Rudd, Precy Santos, Darell Swadling, Rowena Turnbull, directors.
APCO elected officers for 2018 to 2020 include: President (Violeta Escultura); VP Senior (Cora Paras), VP Junior (Charles Chan); Secretary (Linda Price); Asst. Secretary (Rita Agostino); Asst. Treasurer (Alma Middlebrook); Auditor (Richard Ford); PRO ( Ralph Imbrago) and Board of Directors (Cora Bojarski, Emma Braceros, Fe Hayward, Josie Maynard, Mick Miguel, Glorina Papaiannou, Albert Prias, and Linda Trinidad).
AGAPI scores change to PCC NSW oath-taking
We publish here in full a relevant and related press release from Evelyn Opilas.
The Association of Golden Australian-Pilipinos Inc (AGAPI) has scored a change in the way elected officers of the Philippine Community Council of NSW are sworn into office, clearly demonstrating the important contribution seniors can make to the community.
In a motion presented to the PCC NSW annual general meeting 25 March in Marayong, AGAPI moved that newly-elected officers of the peak body take their oath of office in front of the members, with the returning officer swearing them into their respective roles.
Public figures, such as politicians and diplomats, previously inducted PCC NSW officers-elect to commence their roles.
The Sydney Australian Filipino Seniors Inc. (SAFSI), represented by its president Angie Belleza, seconded the move.
The motion, passed overwhelmingly without further debate, brings to the fore the clamour for procedural changes besetting PCC NSW in recent years.
“I am glad AGAPI was given the opportunity to initiate this change,” said AGAPI president Dorothy del Villar, who is recuperating from surgery, and has appointed PRO Evelyn Opilas as her proxy to the PCC NSW annual general meeting.
The AGAPI motion presented a three-point rationale, namely: that PCC NSW was formed to promote the interests of the Filipino community in NSW; that PCC NSW gets its mandate from affiliate organisations in NSW; and that PCC NSW, while composed of volunteers, is accountable to its affiliates, hence it is only proper that elected officers take their oath of office in front of the body they have sought to serve with the returning officer inducting them into office.
Such move enables elected officers to perform their tasks immediately without having to wait until they are inducted by politicians or diplomats of choice.
Rey Manoto, coincidentally a councillor at Campbelltown Council, inducted the elected officers, being the returning officer for the PCC NSW elections.
UNSOLICITED KUDOS, HOWLS, & PROTESTS OVER MOSTLY REELECTIONISTS AND OVERSTAYING OFFICERS
In much the same way as APCO which may have a new President, PCC retained many of its long-standing officers who keep running year in year out in different posts leaving practically no room or chance to other aspiring leaders thus causing a lot of muffled howls and election protests.
The reality is that it will always be a numbers game so that new candidates who are hardly known and don’t really have the opportunities to campaign never get elected.
The ‘fury over the jury’ (the elections per se) became more evident and vociferous in the case of PCC this year, who by the looks of it, chose to close ranks and re-elected its former President Serna Ladia, making her the second to Elsa Collado, another Ilocano who was also re-elected in a row of two terms, in much the same pattern as Kate Andres had served as President three times at different intervals. These three ladies -- Ilocanas all -- compose the long list of Ilocano-dominated PCC past Presidents which also includes Malynne Andres-Chun, Ric de Vera, Jimmy Lopez and Ruben Amores.
PCHN gathered that many people questioned the winning of Mercy Jones, a long-standing PCC officer who has served the organization year in, year out in varying roles, this time as the new Auditor. Whilst everybody acknowledges Ms. Jones’ long-involvement and solid contributions to PCC, the “sayang na sayang naman” (loosely translated as ‘such a great loss’) general lamentation is really a hue and cry over the notion of letting good chances of discovering new people go by in reference to another new candidate who many opined should not have been wasted and given the opportunity to serve and offer new insights and experience given his professional background.
Ms. Jones was quick enough to post her credentials online in a bid to tone down the strong reactions.
Reacting vehemently to Ms. Jones, a Bicolana by the name of Demi Robinson who also ran for the post of VP Intl but lost, informed PCCHN that Ms. Jones sent her a “ Reference Letter from her Affiliate, the Illawarra Women’s Migrant Group as if justifying her win for the position of Auditor against a CPA/Lawyer.”
“This is incomprehensible and I think the Filipino Community needs to know”, Ms. Robinson decried.
Following is the rest of Ms. Robinson’s letter:
...In retrospect, I will start with what I saw as imperfections in the Election Processes. For all you know these ‘flaws’ in the systems may have contributed to my unsuccessful bid.
Notwithstanding, the wider Filipino community should be informed in regard to the standing procedures/systems prior and during the election. Why, because PCC-NSW Inc is the peak body Filipino organisation and for me this peak body is accountable to the community. Besides, we all purport visibility in the Community.
In a nutshell this was how the procedures went this year:
• The President and/or Secretary received nominations for candidacy 7 days prior to AGM/Election.
• A Working Bee within the Board convened to prepare the ballot paper 4 days before the Election.
• A Returning Officer was appointed to conduct the election 5 days before the election.
• A Reception Committee during the AGM/Election is appointed to authentic registered and financial Affiliates who will cast their votes.
It is my view that the nomination forms were not properly scrutinised/examined according to the Constitution and that some candidates background were not checked as to their suitability to the position. Further, an email to the Board and Affiliates was sent by the Secretary prior to the AGM re names of candidates but without the names of Affiliates who nominated them. How do we know the legitimacy of the nominations from Affiliates when these documents were vetted only by the President and the Secretary who were both running as Office-Bearers for 2018?
I am of the opinion that an independent person/s comprising a Committee on Elections (Comelec) must be appointed at least 4 weeks prior to the Elections, to ensure impartiality, transparency, accountability, accuracy, and most of all, data integrity. If the 7 days ruling is in the Constitution, then it has to be changed and develop new guidelines. Further, the preparation of ballot paper should be handled by the Committee on Elections and the appointment of the Reception Committee should be selected by the Comelec
I do not wish to judge the Reception Committee this year; however my view is that the executive power vested on the President was exceeded by President Serna Ladia by appointing Elsa Collado in the Reception Committee as Chair. Ms Collado, President of the Affiliate Ilocano Association was casting her vote and I saw a conflict of interest in her role as Chair. The Committee was tasked to scrutinize paperwork and to distribute the ballot papers. Aside from being a financial member in 2018, a form must indicate the Affiliate activity/ties for the year. However, what is written on the form may not be the truth or perhaps no forms were submitted at all. How does the Reception make an informed decision in allowing an Affiliate to vote if these requirements are not met?
Furthermore, and please correct me if I am wrong, Elsa Collado was given a Representative Form from another Affiliate (after the registration process has ceased) to cast a vote has, to authenticate her own paperwork co-signed by the other member of the Reception Committee.
NOT THE LAST WORD
In the same vein as taking PCC and Ms. Jone’s particularly to task, PCCH publisher Evelyn Zaragoza emailed Ms. Jone’s reinforcing other’s congratulatory messages re. Ms Jones background certifications displayed online at the same time prognosticating: “I hope with your 'Certificate' there will be a much better, more improved PCC, NSW.” Furthermore she underscored: “I also congratulate all the newly elected and re-elected officers. I wish all the elected officers PERFORM THEIR DUTIES/RESPONSIBILITIES ACCORDING TO THE 'TITLE' THEY ASPIRED FOR and they will be more VISIONARY, ACTION & RESULT-ORIENTED. Looking forward to seeing PCC, NSW's activities more 'unique' from what their affiliates are already doing. REMEMBER: 'PCC NSW is the PEAK BODY.PCC; NSW's involvement should extend to the greater Australian community and be able to utilize its resources which will benefit PCC's affiliates and the wider Filipino-Australian community in NSW. Be more ACTIVE in involving PCC NSW to the Ethnic Communities Council (ECC, NSW); FECCA and other policy-making body.
REMEMBER: PCC NSW is the PEAK BODY.”
YET ANOTHER FEEDBACK
Meanwhile, in fulfilment of our promise in the last issue that we shall ’ print other important feedbacks to the never-ending talk about the famous PCC-APCO reconciliation, here is one more incisive comment from Ms. Evelyn Opilas: “My apologies for the delayed response – it took me a while to process what happened because up to now, I cannot imagine how the Embassy and the Consulate got involved in the seeming mess between PCC NSW and APCO only to come up with a ‘statement’ confirming the status quo.
Reality check: It is not in the job description of diplomats to straighten out so-called wrinkles in a community that is not within their jurisdiction.
Am I correct in assuming that both PCC NSW and APCO are groups formed within Australian rules?
Then the two groups should have gone to an Australian arbitration/mediation body if they wanted their sad, sorry state to be straightened out, not run to the Consulate or the Embassy looking for ‘solutions’/ ‘reconciliation’/ etc. That’s not their job but then again, many so-called Filipino community leaders march to the Phil Consulate/ Embassy for recognition as if such gives them an imprimatur for effectiveness, ‘lakas’, and ‘karapatan’.
I can only say ‘Nakakahiya. Nagsayang pa kayo ng oras.’
Where is the integrity of purpose, stature of leadership, respect for process? How can you reconcile/ equate/ liken an apple with an orange that PCC NSW and APCO seem to have been? The only common ground would be that both have seeds, and assuming they grow, the plants would still produce apples and oranges. To her credit, the Ambassador’s letter seemed kind and non-committal.”