Ner Martinez wins PIDCI election marred by calls to 911 and howls of protest (Part 1)

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Consul-General Tess Dizon-De Vega administers oath to new PIDCI officers led by President Antero ‘Ner’ Martinez. Photo by Jocelyn Bernal-Ochoa

Consul-General Tess Dizon-De Vega administers oath to new PIDCI officers led by President Antero ‘Ner’ Martinez (second from left). Photo by Jocelyn Bernal-Ochoa

By Cristina DC Pastor

At an Upper East Side Episcopalian church, some PIDCI leaders said election fraud was committed.

The chairman of the Membership Committee was bodily ejected from the polling place, prompting a 911 call…Business cards or photocopies of IDs were accepted as voting ID …Too many proxy voters in the polls. These are just some of their complaints.

Amid howls of protests from losing candidates and their supporters, Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega inducted Antero “Ner” Martinez of Team Innovators as the new president of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc., the organization that stages the annual Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue. Also inducted are the new members of the board Joycelyn Aligarbes, Chris de Guzman, Carmela Paredes, Mateo Reyes, Rely Manacay, Thomas Ludena, and Sofia Abad. Everyone, except Abad, belongs to Martinez’s slate.

NYPD officers interview Ronie Mataquel about his removal from the polling floor carried by three security volunteers. The FilAm photos

NYPD officers interview Ronie Mataquel (in white shirt) about his removal from the polling floor carried by three security volunteers. The FilAm photos

Dizon-De Vega noted how “emotions run high.” She said there is a mechanism for filing protests, as she urged the PIDCI leadership – soon to be led by Martinez – to address the concerns of the party led by losing candidate Olivia David.

“In your first meeting,” she said, “all these concerns should be addressed.” As if she was giving the PIDCI leadership a deadline, Dizon-De Vega said it should not wait for the next parade to address the issues.

Issues raised
As the voting was in progress, David’s Team O noted some questionable procedures. One, was the peremptory removal of Membership Chairman Ronie Mataquel from the polling place. Mataquel was handpicked by PIDCI President Prospero Lim to review the authenticity of the voters’ signatures, a decision that had the support of the Consul General, who is PIDCI’s Honorary Adviser. Comelec Chairman Raul Estrellado opposed the presence of Mataquel and said he had people in place to double-check voters’ IDs and signatures. Mataquel argued his case before a Board of Resolution composed of lawyers Leopoldo Abad, Manuel Quintal, and Felix Vinluan. The board upheld Estrellado’s decision, and Mataquel was hustled out of the room by three security volunteers. Independent candidate for board member Fernando Mendez called 911 because of the forcible manner of Mataquel’s removal he described as “harassment.”

Candidates Olivia David and Antero Martinez draw lots on who should speak first.

Candidates Olivia David and Antero Martinez draw lots on who should speak first.

David’s team also called attention to some voters showing photocopy IDs and business cards in lieu of the standard government-issued IDs. The Board of Resolution said voters not having the standard photo IDs were disqualified from voting, but this was disputed by some witnesses, who said others with spurious IDs were allowed to vote.

At the heart of Team O’s concerns was the list of PIDCI member organizations, a secret roster composed of 96 organizations, many believe to be bogus. According to those who have seen the list, only about 30 to 35 organizations are considered legitimate and the rest are made-up clubs with no members, no history, and no track record of activities. The FilAm magazine was shown a copy of the membership list, and multiple organizations are listed as headed by former PIDCI President Fe Martinez, her family, and close allies. Attempts to purge the list of fake clubs are being blocked reportedly by certain leaders.

Volunteers secure the counting process.

Volunteers secure the counting process.

Comelec chairman Estrellado insisted that the PIDCI election was conducted fairly and followed procedures stated in the organization’s bylaws. “Wala kaming tinatago, at walang dayaan,” he told the crowd of about a hundred people.

Amidst furious cries of protest, outgoing PIDCI President Prospero Lim called for calm and civility. He urged everyone to accept the results of the election. For candidates who wish to make a complaint, he said the proper procedure is to submit their arguments in writing.

David, who lost to Martinez by 23 votes – 26/49 – said her team would want to review all proxy votes. They wanted to halt the proclamation but Dizon-De Vega proceeded to induct the winning officers.

Crowd gathers outside the polling place at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Crowd gathers outside the polling place at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

“It’s not my place to pass judgement on complaints and concerns,” said the Consul-General. “We move on but let’s not lose sight of the issues that must be resolved.”

When asked to comment on his victory, Martinez (No relation to Fe Martinez) exclaimed, “I am happy. All the election jitters are gone.”

NEXT: Treasurer says PIDCI not in deficit, has $5,301 in cash; Violeta McGough arrested

The name of Isagani Puertollano, who withdrew from the race, is covered after concerns were raised his name might confuse voters.

The name of Isagani Puertollano, who withdrew from the race, is covered after concerns were raised having his name there might confuse voters.



2 Comments

  1. What in the world we are coming to?

  2. Freddy Panes wrote:

    what else is new about pinoys besting one another during elections? elections are the cause of deep pride and emotional wounds that are stays for a long time. BUT the only glimmer of hope is that when pinoys disagree: another association is formed. thanks for posting this article. interesting and both a funny read knowing pinoys! christina, you should also cover elections in philadelphia.

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