Conflict in PCC-NSW

The changing of the guard in PCC, from Atoy Sayas to Elsa Collado, has apparently caused disunity in the board of the Philippine Community  Council of NSW. While Sayas handed over the presidency to Collado on a silver platter when he opted not to contest the top post for the sake of peace and harmony, it appears that things are far from peaceful and harmonious within the group. The current leadership is under fire with a deluge of complaints from Collado’s own Board.

Complaints were raised when Ms. Collado, advised the Board that they had “borrowed” from the PADER account $3,300 to pay for the deposit of the Philippine National Day Ball at Rosehill which was held on June 9. It was alleged that the Board was advised only a week after withdrawal was made and was done without Board approval. In defence, Vice President External, Alric Bulseco responded: “the President has the executive power to juggle funds.”

The PCC operates two accounts: the Commonwealth Bank account for administrative purposes and the Westpac account which holds the PADER (Philippine Australian Disaster Emergency Response) funds. The PADER account had been allocated in a Board Resolution in August 2011 and in compliance with the Charity Act 1991 of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing. The OLGR states that funds raised for a specific purpose cannot be used for any other purpose other than the charitable event for which it was advertised. It further states that proceeds from any fundraising must be held in a separate account.

The funds were returned with the President’s own money immediately the day after questions were raised. But the question remains as to why the Board was not advised of the decision in the first place.

Passionate to the cause of PADER, the 11 volunteers of the PADER committee held a meeting and immediately sent a letter to the PCC Board.  The letter was presented to the Board but Mr. Bulseco tore the letter at a recent board meeting, dismissing it as “rubbish.” One PADER committee member switched sides and sent a letter to Ms. Collado retracting her signature but failed to advise the committee prior nor was copy of the letter provided.

A day after receipt of the letter, Treasurer Millie Banan sent an email to the Board and to the PADER committee admitting issuance of the cheque in question from the Westpac account on her own accord. She claimed that the President  had no knowledge of her actions. Banan’s admission raised more questions as to why only one signature was used for the cheque. Both PCC accounts, (the general administration and the PADER account) have been operated with two signatories as mandated by the PCC Constitution and the Department of Fair Trading.

Upon checking, it was discovered that the account had been changed from two signatories to only one signatory on 31 October 2012 without the knowledge of Atoy Sayas, the then 2012 PCC President. Neither the 2012 nor the 2013 Boards have passed a resolution to effect the change. Who was responsible for the change in signatories remains a question waiting to be answered.

According to internal sources within the board of PCC, this irregularity in signatories has been brought to the attention of the current PCC President and the Board and for the internal auditor to immediately investigate Despite the gravity of the matter, the investigation has been delayed to allow for the PND Ball preparations.

Mr. Bulseco maintains his stance that there is nothing wrong and that the monies in both accounts belong to PCC. However, he fails to explain why approval was not obtained in the first place and the refuses to see the legal implications.

Furthermore, there have been allegations of misconduct by the External Vice President. Some of the Board members have expressed feelings of intimidation and harassment. It is not unlikely that a vote of “no confidence” might  happen for the purpose of expelling Mr. Bulseco for his behaviour.

Tendering methods for specific cost projects of PCC have left much to be desired. Specifications for requirements of the PND Ball were leaked to other potential bidders. Double standards appear to be in place where quotations are requested at times and other times not necessary depending on personalities.

PCC Affiliates have also complained that they have not been informed of what’s happening. “It seems that the people sitting only care about showing off. We don’t know a thing.” said one affiliate. Then again, the same Board members themselves are complaining that they are not fully informed. Decisions are being made without their knowledge but for which they would all be held accountable and liable. As one board member said: “parang barkada lang sila.”

It seems that the current leadership is focused only on the Independence Day celebrations in the last few months, while many of the questionable issues were happening. Meantime, letters of complaints are piling up unanswered; the PADER and account signatory issues and other complaints were placed in the back burner “for discussion in the next regular board meeting” reflecting a nonchalant attitude towards serious allegations that could have serious ramifications to the PCC and some of its officers.

Now that the PND Ball is over, will Ms. Collado face her current Board and ultimately the fifty-odd affiliates of the PCC to provide answers to the many questions resonating among the directors? Whether such discussions would bring to a close the current problems remain to be seen. ©

Breaking News: While this article is being written, news broke out that the PCC board pardoned Bulseco, Banan and Collado for all their misdeeds. Was it for grave misconduct? Does a pardon really wash away their “sins?” Find out in a related article in the July issue. © (by Dino Crescini)