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Home Sections NaFFAAgate NaFFAA Board Member Proposes Fact-Finding Committee to Investigate Alleged Stolen Federation Funds Valued at $450K to $1-million or More
NaFFAA Board Member Proposes Fact-Finding Committee to Investigate Alleged Stolen Federation Funds Valued at $450K to $1-million or More PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:07

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Tuesday, August 25, 2009

 

E stimates ranging from a minimum of $450,000 to a high of more-than one-million dollars may have been "stolen" from the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) in the last 12 years, according to a knowledgeable official and a stern critic of the federation. The alleged improprieties are now beginning to come out in the open. Meanwhile, another NaFFAA official in the East Coast has proposed creating a five-member board of inquiry to probe deep into the organization and conduct fact-finding among all NaFFAA officials. Documents made available to the media showed payments to a company owned by the incumbent chair. The wife of the NaFFAA co-founder also got at least $45,000 for unspecified "professional services".

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

CREATION OF A BOARD OF INQUIRY  PROPOSED:

Alleged $450K to $1-M 'Stolen' from NaFFAA; Lawyer Seeks Probe

 

 

By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ

 

 

The author is a member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and the Asian-American Journalists Association (AAJA)

 

 

S AN DIEGO – A regional official of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is proposing the creation of an independent and fully-autonomous board of inquiry to look into widespread allegations of fraud in the handling of a $.3-million donation by Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Foundation.

 

The squeeze on NaFFAA, the self-ordained "voice" of America's Filipino communities, further tightened as one of its co-founders, Ernesto Gange of Philadelphia, disclosed on Monday (Aug. 24) that the amount of money "stolen" from the federation had reached $450,000.

 

Los Angeles-based journalist Bobby Reyes, however, estimated a much-bigger amount – upwards of one-million dollars or more.

 

Dr. Joy Bruce, the Florida-based spokesperson for NaFFAA chair Greg Macabenta, promptly questioned Gange's claim, and asked for proof. Macabenta himself did not say anything about the latest revelation.

 

An audited financial report released on Monday (Aug. 24) by Dr. Bruce showed that the Macabenta-owned advertising agency Minority Media Services Inc. had been paid at least $1,000.

 

The wife of NaFFAA co-founder Alex Esclamado, Lourdes M. Esclamado, had been compensated twice -- $18,000 in 2002 and 27,500 in 2001 -- for unspecified "professional services'.

 

Then NaFFAA chair himself, Alex Esclamado, had received "stipends" in the amount of $38,000 in 2002 and $20,000 in 2001. He has now retired.

 

What is at stake is no less than the 'dream that is NaFFAA'  and the hopes and aspirations of the larger Filipino-American community it represents as well the tireless and selfless contributions of countless and anonymous NaFFAA volunteers who toil to make this dream come true – J. T. S. Mallonga 

 

T he five-member board of inquiry, as envisioned by its proponent, J.T.S. Mallonga, Esq., chair of NaFFAA Region One, will be purely fact-finding with the authority to require any and all NaFFAA officers and members, past and present, to provide evidence or testimonies.

 

" x x x we owe it to the public, the community at large, and to our NaFFAA members to once and for all put this issue at rest," Mallonga said in a letter on Monday (Aug. 24) addressed to NaFFAA officials, one of whom furnished this reporter with an email copy.

 

"What is at stake," he stressed, "is no less than the 'dream that is NaFFAA'  and the hopes and aspirations of the larger Filipino-American community it represents as well the tireless and selfless contributions of countless and anonymous  NaFFAA volunteers who toil to make this dream come true".

 

Mallonga has recommended Dr. Joy Bruce to chair the board. For members, he proposed three community representatives, namely: lawyers Ian Purugganan of Seattle, Washington;  Arlene Matcheta of Texas; and another to be nominated; and one representative from the media who is not involved in the current controversy.

 

The top officials of NaFFAA were silent on Mallonga's proposal. Except for Dr. Bruce's, the rest of NaFFAA also did not respond, as usual, to request for comments on Gange's and Reyes' allegations.

 

Reyes volunteered to provide notarized true copies of his formal complaints lodged with the Internal Revenue Service, the Attorney General of California and the US Department of Justice.

 

Dr. Bruce explained that data contained in the statements "is based on copies of receipts, checks and other documents that were carefully examined by a professional external auditor unrelated to NaFFAA".

 

She cautioned against "smoking guns", which are actually documents culled by Reyes and labeled as such, because they may, she said, turn out to be nothing but smoke".

 

"Anyone who has a copy of the audited financial statement that I have, and who is observant, astute, and sensible enough to examine, not just at the contribution or income, but also on the expenses incurred for that year -- will see where the money went. There is nothing to hide," Dr. Bruce explained. # # #

 

This “Breaking News” was sent by Romeo P. Marquez, editor, Philippine Village VoiceSan Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA. 92038.

 

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News

BREAKING NEWS -  Exclusive

Volume 3, Issue No. 19 / News Without Fear or Favor /

 

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

 

  

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:20
 
Comments (8)
1 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 14:58
mabuhay
Dear Manong Ernie and Friends and Foes in the NaFFAA:

For whatever worth the documents may serve the NaFFAA Board, I will provide you -- on your request -- with certified true copies of my complaints (as notarized) with the Criminal Prosecution Division of the IRS, the Attorney General of California and the United States Department of Justice -- after they have been filed. You can also read copies in several Filipino-American publications, aside from our www.mabuhayradio.com.

I hope that you will not pre-judge the case that I am building up for the Feds and the State of California. I have been working on these scandals for almost 10 years now -- from the Ballygate, the Menorgate and the NaFFAAgate. It is only now that I have obtained copies of the "Smoking Guns" that the authorities required me to obtain, so that they could be provided with the necessary pieces of evidence. You have to let justice run its natural course.

If you want me to testify and be subjected to a cross-examination, I will gladly do so. You only have to tell me the date, the time and the venue.

Thank you finally for deciding to investigate the scandals that I have reported to the NaFFAA officers and members since October 2000 and which the Ruling Clique refused to even to acknowledge.

For the record,

Mabuhay,

Lolo Bobby M. Reyes
Editor
www.mabuhayradio.com

CC (In a Separate e-mail): Chicago e-mail list
2 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 15:04
In a message dated 8/24/2009 10:13:41 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it writes:

Hi Greg, JT, Joy, Gus, Tocayo Ernie -- NaFFAA Colleagues -- Bobby & Romy --

Greetings! My apologies, Greg --- I'm currently in the Philippines dealing with both family matters -- and other business. I'm in Pangasinan -- and accessibility to the internet is intermittent. But here's wishing you a belated Happy Birthday -- may you have many more Happy B-Days!

Anyway -- I wholeheartedly support Region I Chair JT Mallonga's wise and superb proposal towards a NaFFAA Board of Inquiry. Let's do it the way he proposed. Let this Board be composed of "independent-minded" FilAm leaders who are not alleged to be involved in this 2000-2002 "questionnable" expenditures.

The problem that's turning this situation into becoming a "moro-moro" zarzuela is that
we received two or more sets of numbers -- namely, one that our esteemed leader Joy Bruce shared with us last week that, according to her, was drawn from NaFFAA Treasuer Ludy Corrales' fiscal report. Then -- there is another set of numbers that my tocayo Ernie just shared with us through his most recent e-mail -- alleging questionnable expenditures.

Or there may be some other sets of numbers lurking around somewhere.

My logic tells me that these two sets of numbers may not be right at the same time. Either one is wrong -- and the other is right. Or -- the TRUTH about these numbers may be embedded in the reconciliatin of these numbers that must be arrived at -- by hook or by crook -- by this proposed NaFFAA Board of Inquiry.

Hence, I'd strongly suggest that the findings of JT's porposed NaFFAA Board of Inquiry be the final arbiter of the Financial Audit Report for those years in question -- i.e., 2000 to 2002.

With all due respect to Greg's suggestion, I propose that this Board be chaired by Joy Bruce, as proposed by JT -- not our esteemed Vice Chair Rozita -- for obvious reason.
I just don't want our friends/critics Bobby and/or Romy accuse us of a "lutong macao" finding -- but rather a bona-fide set of numbers that are arrived at -- independently and objectively. Joy has wisely brought this allegation into its right perspective -- though it was questioned by both Bobby and Romy.

The point is -- either we accept the Board of Inquiry's findings. Or we reject them.
But we just cannot go on with all these punch-ciunterpunch arguments That's why I could understand Joy's recent frustrations -- and I feel bad for her. Please -- Joy -- don't give us -- -- NaFFAA needs your wisdom and guidance.

Bottom line -- I'll repeat what I have espoused in past e-mails -- we cannot resolve this issue with "ad hominem" accusations -- back and forth, back and forth ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Our personal statements in favor of NaFFAA leader Greg -- and those
of Bobby Reyes and Romy Marquez against Greg- -- will not resolve the issue at hand..

You can rest assured that our statements -- pro and con -- will only serve to exacerbate our alreadfy-hurt NaFFAA image.

Accordingly -- JT's proposed Board of Inquiry will hold the timely solution to this current challenge.

Once an official Fiscal Report for 2000-2002 is arrived at by this NaFFAA Board of Inquiry -- then the NaFFAA Board will have to vote on it -- or reject it.

And then we move on -- and damn the torpedoes! Frankly -- we're spending too much
time on this issue. Conversely, there are many crucial issues we in NaFFAA and the FilAm communitiy across America must be spending our time on --

1) the National Healthcxre Legislation which will affect all of us-- we in
NaFFAA should come with our official stance -- as soon as Congress
reconvenes in early September 2009;

2) the forthcoming Comprhensive Immigration Reform Act which should be
coming up in mid-October or mid-November 2009 -- which will impact
some 200,000/plus overstaying and/or undocumented Filipinos in the
U.S.;

3) NaFFAA's role in helping pass the WW II Filipino Veterans Family
Reunification Act, which is now pending and should be discussed
and/or debated by the US Congress in mid-October or mid-November 2009; NaFFAA should be gearing up soon to get co-sponsors for this bill on both
the US Senate and House ASAP;

4) NaFFAA's position on the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) and
Dual Citizens' participation in the May 11, 2010 Elections in the
Philippines;

5) NaFFAA's position via our FilAm Vote Campaign in the forthcoming
Nov. 2, 2010 Congressional Elections in the U.S.; and

6) NaFFAA's participation in the decennial 2010 Census

Frankly, we cannot afford to sing and be merry anymore while Rome is burning -- if you know what I mean. Thank you for sharing with me your precious time. I rest assured we all are about the serious business of serving our beloved FilAm community -- especially those in need.. Best regards to everybody -- and God bless!

Ernie Ramos
in Binalonan, Pangasinan
3 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 15:08
On Mon, 8/24/09, JT Mallonga wrote:


From: JT Mallonga
Subject: Urgent Request For Special Board Meeting on Aug. 27 To "Create Board of Inquiry"
To: "Greg" , <
Date: Monday, August 24, 2009, 5:30 PM


Date: August 24, 2009

To : Greg Macabenta Rozita Lee
National Chair National Vice-Chair

Subject: Request for Special Board Meeting

In the light of certain highly publicized news items relative to allegations of NaFFAA's non-accountability OR failure of accountability of moneys received from Wells Fargo in 2002, we owe it to the public, the community at large , and to our NaFFAA members to once and for all PUT THIS ISSUE AT REST. What is at stake is no less than the "dream that is NaFFAA" and, the hopes and aspirations of the larger Filipino American community it represents as well the tireless and self-less contributions of countless and anonymous NaFFAA volunteers who toil to make this dream come true. The most recent news item appeared in the August 21-27 edition of Filipino Reporter (a widely read ethnic publication in the East Coast) which put an above-the fold front page "report" entitled "NaFFAA nearing Bankruptcy: report" under by byline of a certain Romeo P. Marquez.

Pursuant to Section 4, Article IV of the NaFFAA Constitution and By-Laws, I respectfully request that a special meeting of the Board be called on August 27, 2009 to vote on a motion which the undersigned - in his dual capacity as Region One Chair and a member of the Board - will introduce for Board approval. Under said provision, only the National Chair OR the National Vice Chair can call for such a special meeting.

I will move that a resolution be passed by the Board to create an independent "Board of Inquiry" to look into the allegations of NaFFAA's non-accountability OR failure of accountability of moneys received from Wells Fargo in 2002.

That said "Board of Inquiry" shall have the following paramenters:

One, that it will act as a FACT-FINDING commission that shall gather all the facts and evidences on the said allegation(s).

Two, that it shall be vested with the FULL AUTHORITY to require any and all NaFFAA officers/members (current or former) who may have knowledge of the transaction to provide evidence and/or testimonies thereon.

Third, that it shall be given FULL AUTONOMY to conduct its fact-finding mission which shall include but is not limited to establishing its own procedures and methods of inquiry, calling of witnesses and, creating a mechanism by which the public and non-NaFFAA persons likewise could submit their own evidence and/or testimonies.

Fourth,that said Board of Inquiry will have until December 15, 2009 (or as is practicable) to submit its factual findings to the NaFFAA Board for its consideration and action.

Fifth: that the Board shall appoint at least FIVE members of the Board of Inquiry who shall consist of persons of proven integrity and of a certain stature in the community and, will represent various sectors, namely:

a. Media Representative: a non-involved media persona (open nomination)
b. NaFFAA Board Representative: I nominate Atty. Ian Purugganan of Seattle, Washington
c. Community Representative: I nominate Dr. Joy Bruce of Florida
d. Community Representative: I nominate Atty. Arlene Matcheta of Texas
e. Community Representative: (open nomination)

Sixth. In the case of unexcused absences and/or failure to perform its assigned duties by any member of the Board of Inquiry, the Chair of the Board of Inquiry may recommend that the NaFFAA Board appoint alternate members.

I strongly nominate Dr. Joy Bruce of Florida as CHAIR of the Board of Inquiry. Of course, said nominations are dependent upon a) acceptance by the nominee and b) subject to Board approval. My personal apology for putting on the spot the persons whom I have nominated as they have not been previously contacted by me for said responsibility.

Consequently, may I respectfully request that a special meeting be called on August 27 (or such other date as may practicable) and that the same be participated in ONLY by the voting members of the Board.


Very truly yours,

JTS Mallonga, Esq.
Chair, Region One
4 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 15:11
Pareng Romy,

Good job! I am proud of you, pare. You and Bobby did one heck of a job. Both of you are true investigative journalists. You guys were relentless and it finally paid off. Both of you exposed a sordid scam and a crime perpetuated by NaFFAA leaders kuno ... now they must pay for their crimes.

Also, what you said in your email to Dr. Bruce, who is obviously a defender of Macabenta, that you're not going to be "silent" at all ... pare, THAT to me, was admirable! Salud!

Jesse
5 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 15:13
Pareng Jesse,

While I really want to celebrate with you, let's just put it on hold for now, until the matter is finally resolved. There still accusations and counter-accusations (if I may), going on and, believe you me, I, myself, am getting lost in the maze. I want you to know that I never lost my faith in the zeal and integrity of both, Romy Marquez and Bobby Reyes, but we also have to consider the preponderance (greater number and greater weight) of evidence.

However, I'm letting it be known, that the courage and convictions of hard-boiled journalists like Romy Marquez, Bobby Reyes, Jesse Jose, Bart Tubalinal, Yoly Tubalinal, Joseph Lariosa, Ting Joven and Lourdes Ceballos are what set them apart from the rest. I'll try to be like one of you one day.

Don Azarias
6 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 15:16
Pareng Jesse and Pareng Don,

Maraming salamat sa inyong pagtitiwala! Salud! Ngarud!

Romy Marquez
7 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 17:05
Mr. Marquez and Mr. Reyes,

I have been very disgusted with your style of writing and the way you manipulate the truth as expressed in the responses that many supporters of NaFFAA have sent to you. Joy did not write it the way you are now putting it down in your paper. Please be fair and objective when you report the news. Your attempt to fill your news stories with intrigue only serves to protect your friend and not the community. Both of you are twisting the truth and the issues. I strongly believe that any news reporter should be objective and be responsible for what he writes. A good reporter brings out both sides of the issues without any stain of manipulation.

My plea is this: please do not use your writing talents to condemn anyone. Better yet, please stop using your paper as a pulpit to bully others. Our talents are given to us to make this world a better place to live. I know that my plea will not matter to either one of you because you do not know me. How will my plea change your mind when you have failed to listen to those who are respected in our Fil-Am community here and at home? And though this plea may fall upon your deaf ears, at least others will know that I am one Filipina who admires the hard work put forward by others so that our Fil-Am communities can be recognized for their peaceful contributions to this country. Huwag na huwag ninyong ibibilang ang sarili ninyo sa kanila.

I am not a journalist, nor a writer, but I am an objective reader who can easily decipher what is right or wrong. I am a member of NaFFAA and have been very thankful to be a affiliated with the foundation . When you find the time to read what you have written, you will hopefully realize that your misguided accusations will bring NaFFAA you are bringing down and not the select people with whom you have a grievance. There are leaders of NaFFAA who have well-meaning intentions and are good people and they should not be part of your blanket accusations. I am very thankful I was given a chance to have met them through NaFFAA and, like me, there are others who look up to them and who are thankful they are working as the voice of the Fil-Am community to make a difference in this world.

Mr Marquez and Mr. Reyes, writing is a talent, please use it fairly and wisely and stop insulting our intelligence.

Flor Liza Obana
Region 5, NaFFAA
8 Tuesday, 25 August 2009 17:07
Ms. Obana,

Thank you for your comments, they are well noted. I'm quite thankful too that you took the time to read my story and tried to decipher the many meanings in it.

I can see that you are taking issue with my writing style. Were I not a Filipino doing the same kind of writing, would you have complained that I'm manipulating the truth, or I'm trying to condemn anyone?

The facts speak for themselves, and I have not even interpreted those facts for the greater understanding of those who see nothing wrong in NaFFAA and its officials.

If there is an allegation of impropriety, of thievery, of abuse, of taking advantage of us, it is because the facts speak of them. I did not ask those people to do what they did, they did it on their own.

I am a reporter, not a twister of facts, not a manipulator of events, not a fabricator of lies. The NaFFAA people, some of them at the helm, are all of those, and I'm so sad that you're being taken for a sweet ride to defend NaFFAA at all costs.

I wish you would take pause, reread this and past stories, and you would see how truly biased are you against those who bring out the truth in our community. You, I'm sorry to say, are not defending the truth; rather you are defending your friends in NaFFAA.

I have not accused anyone of wrongdoing. What I did was to report the wrongdoing, the people who committed the wrongdoing and the other people who complained about the wrongdoing. It's not really difficult to understand that. But for someone whose mind is already set, no amount of impartial reporting could change their perceptions.

If there's anyone out there who insults our collective intelligence, it is the top officials of NaFFAA. Twelve years and running and now comes Bobby Reyes and I standing up for the truth, for transparency and accountability. How come it didn't happen before?

If you loved NaFFAA you would have done the same thing we're doing -- expose all the crooks in NaFFAA and their dirt. Did you mean that all this time, you have buried your head in the sand, not wishing to see the illuminating power of knowing what's going on?

I am a Filipino but I do not wish the crooks and the scam artists to speak for me. I do not wish to be represented by them in any manner. I do not want to be identified with them, nor be associated with them.

Of course, it's your choice to stay true with your friends, blindly and unquestionably. That's where we differ. I'd rather, as the adage goes, light a candle than curse the darkness. And if by lighting a candle all the imperfections come out, then so be it.

I do appreciate your candidness. Thanks and best regards,

Romy Marquez

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