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Home Columns JGL Eye Will a FACCgate in Chicago Follow in the Footsteps of the NaFFAAgate?
Will a FACCgate in Chicago Follow in the Footsteps of the NaFFAAgate? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 19:37

 

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(Journal Group Link International)

  

Thousands May Lose Non-profit Status; Are NaFFAA, FACC and Others Far Behind?

 

 

C HICAGO (JGLi) – Last month, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service served noticed that 200,000 small nonprofits across the nations are days away from losing their tax-exempt status because they haven’t filed a new form (Form 990) with the IRS.

 

Because of the election issues in the Philippines, some of the very-visible Filipino American non-profit community organizations have gone under my radar.

 

But now that the Philippine elections are over, I like to revisit the financial issues plaguing some of the local nonprofit organizations like the Filipino-American Council of Greater Chicago (FACC) and the national nonprofit National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

 

 

Editor’s Note: To view the articles about the NaFFAA, please visit our NaFFAAgate section by clicking this hyperlink, www.mabuhayradio.com/sections/naffaagate.html 

 

The heads of both of these organizations are both my friends but Jose Rene Abella, the president of the FACC, seems to be playing hard to get.

 

Instead of asking help from the Filipino-American media on how to handle controversies afflicting his organization, Rene kept on ignoring my entreaties. 

 

MEDIA SHY

 

 

He is friends with Anong Santos, local publisher of Pinoy Monthly, to whom he can get some advice on how to be transparent and to get his press release published in other outlets. But he prefers to keep silent. Or he can call some press-relations agencies listed online or in the phone books and pay them handsomely to publish his explanation why the Rizal Center was closed. But he has other ideas.

 

I emailed him, copy-furnished his predecessor, Mr. Herminio “Ka Miniong” Poblete, and his “mentor,” Atty. Al Bascos. But he never responded to my email when I was asking him to comment why the FACC’s Rizal Center was padlocked last December.

 

As a result, it prompted me to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Chicago City Hall, whose Health Department informed me that it issued a closure order of the Rizal Center and fined the FACC $1,040 for Municipal code violations, including the presence of “vermin and insects.” I would later learn that the FACC did not contest the penalty and promptly paid the fine.

 

By keeping his mouth shut, Rene Abella thought City Hall would help him keep his violations a secret.

 

I emailed him and Atty. Bascos, requesting for a financial report of the FACC now that Rene’s term as president is winding down. But I did not get a response. I snail-mailed them a letter through the U.S. Postal Service but they never responded.

 

 

FINANCIAL QUESTIONS

 

 

T his prompted me to call up the financial records of the FACC from the GuideStar, an online nonprofit directory, which showed that the FACC submitted Forms 990 for 2006, 2008 and 2009 only last June 29, 2009.

 

In the 2006 and 2008 Forms 990 (note there is no 2007 Form 990), Mr. Poblete was still listed as the president while Mr. Abella was vice president as a result of the election protest filed by losing FACC candidates.

 

But in the 2009 Form 990, Mr. Abella was listed as president and his vice president, Rudy Tapalla.

 

What I like to know if there has been a copy of the minutes of the FACC board meeting approving the following expenses: in 2006 Form 990, the FACC claimed to have spent $3,369 in legal fees; in 2008 and 2009 Forms 990, the legal fees ballooned to $10,500 and $9,500, respectively.

 

There are also identical entries of maintenance of J. Rizal Monument, the small bust image, near the door of the center, for $11,314 for 2006 and 2008 Forms 909 but the expenses disappeared in 2009 Form 909 and replaced with $36,051 as “Other” and "Misc Expense," $11,343.

 

I want Mr. Abella to produce those minutes authorizing the legal fees that will pinpoint, the times and dates, the officers/members of the board met and approved those legal expenses because I heard he is running again in the May 30 FACC elections.

 

If Rene is qualified to run for re-election that will be for his opponent to take the matter to court.

 

And I like to know who were the recipients of the salaries in wages, annually listed at $13,712, $14,597, and $17,165 although records show that there is no “compensation for officers, directors, trustees, key employees, highest compensated employees and independent contractors.”

 

If Rene does not want to explain the details of the financial reports, any FACC voter can take these Forms 990 to the Illinois Attorney General, where Mr. Abella and his auditor, Mr. Severino Villanueva, can satisfy the public’s curiosity.

 

One question that the public really wants to ask Rene is this: Has Atty. Bascos really paid his monthly rental for his law office in the Rizal Center? The financial records do not reflect if there is any “exchange deal” for Atty. Bascos’s legal services. If so, how much was the monthly payment and when did the payment start? Is the "deal" supported by an FACC board resolution or minutes?

 

As to the NaFFAA, which last filed its Form 990 in 2006, I guess it will be one of the 200,000 small nonprofits, which are likely to lose its tax-exempt status but that will be the subject of my other column.

 

According to the IRS, nonprofits reporting $25,000 or less in income, excluding churches, may find out that they lost their tax-exempt status on Jan. 1, 2011. But those who missed the filing of Form 990 last May 17 are still being encouraged to file their Forms 990. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)  # # #

 

 


Last Updated on Thursday, 20 May 2010 20:21
 

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