Let’s all focus on the Independence Day parade: PIDCI

PIDCI President Antero Martinez, board member Joycelyn Aligarbes. Photos by Alex Drogeanu and RodElma Castillo

PIDCI President Antero Martinez, board member Joycelyn Aligarbes. Photos by Alex Drogeanu and RodElma Castillo

By Cristina DC Pastor

PIDCI President Antero ‘Ner’ Martinez voiced optimism the lawsuit filed by two organizations — United Mindoro International, Inc. and the Philippine Community Center Services for Aging – against the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. will result in better understanding within the community.

“We believe that both parties did what had to be done in order to foster understanding within the community,” he said in a statement issued to The FilAm.

He said the legal action will not distract PIDCI from still proceeding with plans to mount the Philippine Independence Day celebration in June with a parade along Madison Avenue.

“We still aim to have a memorable celebration of the commemoration of the declaration of Philippine Independence,” he said in a statement to The FilAm.

Said Martinez, “The parties came up with a stipulation to settle certain issues. The stipulation was agreed upon by the parties voluntarily and not something the court imposed on the parties.”

In the end, he said his hope is that all parties will “strive to ensure a successful commemoration of the declaration of Philippine Independence and promotion of Philippine culture and heritage.”

PIDCI board member Joycelyn Aligarbes echoed Martinez.

She said, “We need to focus on the coming Independence Day parade that we are celebrating this coming June,” adding her hope that “both parties can agree on what is good for the community and not what is good for certain groups or individuals.”

United Mindoro, led by Juliet Payabyab; and PCCSA, represented by Nieva Burdick, brought a case against PIDCI before the Supreme Court of New York. The first hearing, lasting three hours, was held in the morning of January 10. Petitioners are asking the court to compel PIDCI to respond to the following:
-produce annual reports from 2013 to 2016;
-open the financial books and records;
-nullify the results of the elections of Oct 7, 2017.

At the hearing, Justice Barbara Jaffe ordered PIDCI to “immediately hand over” its financial records, list of voting members, minutes of board meetings and other pertinent documents. The legal definition of the term “immediately” indicates a sense of urgency as in “at once” or “now,” meaning the deadline is a matter of days not weeks. A failure to comply with the court’s order constitutes contempt of court, said petitioners’ lawyer Lara Gregory.

Sought for comment, Payabyab stressed that “from the get-go, the lawsuit is about transparency and accountability.”

“When there is blatant lack of accountability and transparency as indicated by the lack of a PIDCI annual report since 2013, there should be no hesitation on our part to demand and compel it,” she said. “The order of the Judge is an affirmation of the rights of the members to transparent and accountable leadership.”

PIDCI is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the community whose members are organizations not individuals. Its mandate is to organize and mount the annual Independence Day Parade, a massive, colorful event that brings in tens of thousands of FilAms to Madison Avenue. Last year, PIDCI discovered that funds were missing, the amount believed to be anywhere from $200K to $300K. Its treasurer resigned over health reasons. An audit was conducted but PIDCI has not filed charges against anyone.

© The FilAm 2018

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