“You have to knock doors, make calls, and build a relationship with voters long before Election Day.” – Keith Ellison
NEW YORK CITY – I have seen these abnormal behaviors of our community leaders in the past not only in New York and California, but also in Canada.
Where can you find an election of supposed Filipino community leaders in a foreign land where police had to be requested to interfere and help defuse a tension?
Only among Filipinos, of course.
So much noise. So much hullabaloo. So much controversy.
“They acted like kids,” remarked Arnulfo San Rafael, an election observer who didn’t like the way some members of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) behaved when they elected their new set of officers in a controversy-marred poll October 7.
San Rafael noted that “it seemed nobody was willing to lose; everyone wanted to win at all cost.”
The election of Antero “Ner” Martinez as the new president became one of the most controversial and, perhaps, the most raucous in the group’s 27 years of existence.
Tension erupted after membership chair Ronie Mataquel was ordered removed from the polling venue on order of Comelec chair Raul Estrellado.
Mataquel had been handpicked by outgoing president Prospero Lim to check the authenticity of the voters’ signatures.
At this juncture, a losing candidate for board member reportedly called 911 but the cops could not install Mataquel back to the polling place.
Martinez beat Olivia David, 49-26. His team also nearly swept the remaining positions.
David’s group, however, contested the results and accused her rival of election fraud claiming PIDCI’s membership had been rigged to favor certain candidates.
Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega, PIDCI honorary chair, nevertheless, proclaimed the winners.
She advised David and other losing parties to file their official protest after the proclamation. The con-gen also requested Martines to resolve and prioritize the issue during his incumbency.
Elected new members of the board were Sofia Abad, Chris de Guzman, Rely Manacay, Joycelyn Aligarbes, Carmela Paredes, Mateo Reyes and Thomas Ludena. Abad was the lone survivor from David’s slate.
The alleged PIDCI missing funds that reportedly reached $300,000 became the central issue during the campaign.
I earlier wrote a story about the issue and outgoing president Lim had vowed to settle the controversy after it became known to many PIDCI members.
The article, which came out before the Independence Day Parade this year, had been shrugged off by PIDCI leadership after Violeta Manarang-McGough had resigned as treasurer “for health reasons.”
Lim had confirmed to this writer in an exclusive interview that the auditing of PIDCI funds, which included donations from the Department of Tourism and other business groups, “was not yet finished.”
PIDCI organizes the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue.