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.”