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Jul 13th
Home Sections Filipino-Veterans' Lobby NaFFAA Gets A Share in Veterans' Campaign Fundraising
NaFFAA Gets A Share in Veterans' Campaign Fundraising PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Filipino-Veterans' Lobby
Saturday, 04 August 2007 15:08

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Saturday, 4 August 2007

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) stands to get a paltry sum from fundraisings by the newly-formed National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE). Target of the money drive is $100,000, about a quarter of which has already been raised.


NaFFAA Gets a Share in Veterans' Campaign Fund-raising


For every dollar that the recently-established National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) receives in donations, eight-and-a-half (8.5) cents will go to the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

This money-sharing scheme is part of the deal reached by the two organizations in March, just three months after NAFVE was born out of the summit meeting of advocacy organizations in December 2006 in Washington, DC.

NAFVE targets to raise $100,000 to finance its lobbying efforts in Capitol Hill and to pay sundry expenses, including the salaries of three individuals hired to work on the labyrinthine process of pushing through legislation that would grant full equity benefits to Filipino veterans of World War II.

"NaFFAA receives 8.5 percent of money raised by NAFVE," says Jon Melegrito, co-chair of NAFVE, and also communications director of NaFFAA.

While Melegrito discloses a critical element in the deal, Ernesto Gange, a founding member of NAFVE who now works as its consultant, says otherwise.

"No part of the money raised by NAFVE will go to NaFFAA," Gange states in response to queries by this reporter.

The conflicting statements of Melegrito and Gange seem to belie Melegrito's claim that NAFVE speaks as one voice with one unified message.

Melegrito said that in typical fiscal sponsorship, administration cost is 20 percent.

" . . . But the NAFVE-NaFFAA arrangement is only 8.5 percent," he stressed, explaining that the money is intended "to defray NaFFAA costs of administering the restricted fund and performing its obligation to NAFVE . . . "

For purposes of the campaign for equity benefits, NAFVE looks like an umbrella organization with about 27 veterans, advocacy and community-based groups.

NaFFAA, however, dominates the organization by holding the top position and the four of the 14 seats in its steering committee, the largest number assigned to a single member-organization.

Key positions in NAFVE held by NaFFAA officials include Melegrito, co-chair; Doy Heredia, Ernie Ramos, Rozita Lee and Jerry Clarito. The other co-chair, Lillian Galedo, is executive director of Filipinos for Affirmative Action.

Melegrito admitted that NAFVE is a "grassroots campaign", not a registered lobby organization even though it's being marketed as a lobbyist.

"Its main purpose is education and advocacy on the issue of full equity for Filipino World War II veterans," he explains.

NAFVE has hired the services of three individuals, namely: Ben de Guzman, who will be paid $4,000 a month as national coordinator; Charmaine Manansala and Irene Bueno, each paid $5,000 a month as legislative consultants.

Administrative expenses, including maintaining an office, website, etc. run up to $15,000 a month, according to Melegrito.

De Guzman was most recently project manager of Leadership Education for Asian Pacific Inc. where he oversaw local, state and national community leadership development programs. "He has a longstanding track record of political advocacy and service to the Filipino American community," his background bio says.

Manansala is an experienced political strategist, having worked with members of Congress, including with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "She first got intimately involved in the push for Filipino veterans in 1999 during her tenure at the White House Initiative on AAPIs," according to her bio brief.

Bueno, on the other hand, has expertise in developing and implementing legislative, policy and communications strategies on various issues, and was a former official in the Clinton administration. Before her White House stint, she a deputy assistant secretary for legislation at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Most of the funds received from the public are in small denominations of $20 and an in-kind contribution. The biggest donor so far is former magazine publisher Monalisa Yuchengco who gave $10,000.

Though the campaign for benefits appears unified under NAFVE, another group, the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACVF), has pulled out of the alliance owing to differences in money issues.

ACFV headed by its president, Pat Ganio Sr., and managed by its executive director, Eric Lachica, claims to have 4,000 members, some of whom are veterans, supporters and sympathizers.

"I was told by General (Delfin) Lorenzana (head of the Veterans Affairs Office at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC) that ACFV resigned from NAFVE," said Ernesto Gange, one of the three consultants of NAFVE.

"They (ACFV) told the General that NAFVE's fundraising is in conflict with theirs," he explained in a statement to this reporter.

Lachica has been denounced by Congressman Bob Filner for bilking veterans of their monies, an activity that Filner had said amounted to a scam. The San Diego lawmaker has also asked Lachica to account for his collection.

One of Lachica's ardent supporters and staunch defenders, an amateur internet poster named Perry Diaz, is a member of NAFVE's steering committee representing a shadowy group called NFFAR.

Lachica has not responded to questions from this reporter. However, in another periodical in San Francisco, the Philippine News, Lachica reportedly stated his stand that the ACFV is "not bound by law to open (our) books to just about anybody x x x or to provide accounting of (our) funds".

The pullout of ACFV indicates cracks in the fragile NAFVE coalition, according to some San Diego veterans who still contribute money to ACFV.

BREAKING NEWS - A PhilVoiceNews Exclusive

A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice ( or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2008 02:10

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