PIDCI blames ex-treasurer, reveals no one wants to be Grand Marshal because of lawsuit

Petitioners Nieva Burdick (left) and Juliet Payabyab

Petitioners Nieva Burdick (left) and Juliet Payabyab

By Cristina DC Pastor

The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. washed its hands off accusations it did not file tax returns for four years, stating its former treasurer, Violeta Manarang-McGough, had been delinquent in filing returns for the period from 2013 to 2016.

In court papers filed January 2, 2017, PIDCI claimed it was actually a “victim” and should not be held accountable for the non-filing of taxes. The court documents did not mention Manarang-McGough by name but revealed she resigned “to avoid termination, personal castigation and confrontation with the board.” She, according to documents, repeatedly assured the directors the necessary filings have been complied with.

“That former treasurer has a pending criminal case with the New Jersey State that is based on her alleged actions similar to what she did while she was a PIDCI official…PIDCI is a victim of the act of one of its directors,” according to court papers.

Manarang-McGough of Bergenfield, New Jersey, resigned as treasurer in early 2017 for health reasons. Then PIDCI President Prospero Lim accepted her resignation, and called for an audit of PIDCI’s finances. On October 5, she was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding her employer (an insurance brokerage company) of approximately $900,000, according to a Department of Justice press release.

PIDCI’s response to the complaint — filed in November by United Mindoro International, Inc. led by Juliet Payabyab; and the Philippine Community Center Services for Aging, represented by Nieva Burdick – made numerous revealing statements. Here are some of them:

-Petition has “adversely affected” the reputation of PIDCI. Potential sponsors and donors are staying away;

-A prospective candidate for Grand Marshal withdrew from consideration because of the petition. There is no prospective candidate so far which is worrisome because the identity of the Grand Marshal is usually announced in December;

-Preparations for the Grand Marshal Gala are “in jeopardy;”

The annual Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue is noted for its colorful dances and costumes. Photo by Elton Lugay

The annual Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue is noted for its colorful dances and costumes. Photo by Elton Lugay

-Efforts to raise funds have encountered setbacks;

-PIDCI eventually filed tax returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015 at the IRS office in Parsippany, New Jersey on March 20, 2017. It then applied for reinstatement of its tax-exempt status on March 29;

-Because of lawsuit, some board members are apprehensive they could lose their jobs or business prospects;

-The records could have been made available to petitioners had they “properly and in good faith asked for them” through appropriate channels before going to court;

-PIDCI is asking the court to compel Ronie Mataquel, removed from his position as Membership Chair, to surrender corporate records.

-PIDCI is asking the court to dismiss the petition or order petitioners to “cease and desist.”

-PIDCI said they could not grant Fernando Mendez’s and Laura Garcia’s request to make public the list of PIDCI members because “there is no assurance the list will not be used for Philippine Fiesta Inc.’s financial benefit.” Mendez and Garcia are officers of PFI, which is involved in same kind of activity as PIDCI.

Payabyab and Burdick are suing PIDCI for its alleged refusal to produce annual reports from 2013 to 2016; open its financial records; and nullify the results of the elections of Oct 7, 2017.

The petitioners said the board’s “illegal action and gross violation of fiduciary duties” prompted the petition. PIDCI countered, saying the petition was motivated by the “narrow and selfish interest of two petitioner organizations and their alleged presidents.”

The petition and PIDCI’s response will be presented in session on January 10 at 9:30 a.m. before Justice Barbara Jaffe of the New York State Supreme Court.

© The FilAm 2017

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