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Feb 07th
Home Sections NaFFAAgate NaFFAA Sympathizers Issue Threats Against, and Hint at Violence Directed at, Investigative Reporters
NaFFAA Sympathizers Issue Threats Against, and Hint at Violence Directed at, Investigative Reporters PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - NaFFAAgate
Monday, 07 September 2009 21:52

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Monday, September 7, 2009 

T hreats come in many forms. Sometimes they are ill-disguised. Sometimes, they're so brazen. Sometimes they are embedded in innocuous messages. Two NaFFAA sympathizers could not hide their displeasure at the sight of flowing stories about NaFFAA and its top officials. At the very least, the stories are embarrassing high-ranking people, especially those who project themselves as the "bleeding hearts" of the community but who are, in fact, the very ones bleeding the organization dry. A worrisome threat comes from a Northern California man, a character who had pleaded no contest to felony charges sometime ago. This guy was thinking of enlisting the right-wing Minute Men, the notorious illegal immigrant bashers in the Southwest. Another threat originates from a bumbling news distributor, also based in Northern California, who has been exposed for his ridiculous claims. He's a fake, a bogus journalist as bogus can be. What had begun as a simple story detailing NaFFAA's sorry plight a month ago must have hit a raw nerve and is now turning into a full-scale caper.



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NaFFAA Sympathizers Issue Threats, Hint at Violence 




Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty. -- Thomas Jefferson





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


S AN DIEGO -- Within two days of each other, veiled threats of considerable significance have emerged last week from two individuals with close links to top officials of the beleaguered National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).


These individuals of questionable motives may be acting independently on their own, or they may be paid hacks entrusted with the job of stilling my pen and silencing my voice. Whatever it is, I thought I'd share these insights with my readers.


To me, their messages contain implicit warnings to stop the reporting. Or, if that's not possible, be physically removed, or wasted?


It must be quite annoying to read the unpleasant articles that have been flowing since almost a month now -- stories that, to many people in and outside the Filipino community, are eye openers. To those in NaFFAA and their friends, however, the same stories are unpalatable revelations of dirty linen.  


"Let us ask the help of our illegal alien watchdog organization (Minute Men) get this divisive 'terrorist' person out of our community and country," exhorts Ben Menor, the community organizer in San Jose who had been indicted for grand theft and later pleaded no-contest to other charges.


I could have dismissed Ben Menor's statement as an impulsive reaction to my articles but his use of words like "illegal aliens" and "terrorist" is a signal -- a code -- that turns my warning lights on.


The T-word is not taken lightly in these parts. It launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; it sparked conflicts among peoples of faith; it triggered security tightening all over the country.


It's the codeword that could agitate the vigilante groups like the Minute Men, the rednecks, the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan and other similar white supremacist societies.


The irony is that Ben Menor -- who calls himself "a proud American" -- is not lily-white in skin color nor in reputation; he's descended from brown people in the hinterlands of northern Philippines.


That he broached the idea of seeking support from the Minute Men because I write articles antagonistic to his friends in NaFFAA shows the depth of his frustrations, his helplessness even, that he had to get succor from suspected thugs.


It alerts and sickens me at the same time, for here we can see how a misinformed man can rush to conclusions (that I am "illegal and therefore a "terrorist") and virtually take the law into his hands to protect his and his friends' interest. What's in NaFFAA? Is that really a gold mine?


Then there's Sacramento news distributor and dying-to-be-journalist Perry Diaz, friend of NaFFAA chair Greg Macabenta, who I have exposed for his deceptions. He resents the truth that he's incompetent, clumsy and no better than the human version of a Xerox copier.


Unable to take criticisms that his body of work consisted mainly of published stories recycled to fit his blog, he growls: "It's incumbent then that Filipino-Americans should clean up our community of Romy Marquez and other scumbags who are giving our community a bad name. Let's get Romy on board CON-AIR soon".


I am not sure if Perry Diaz meant to include Rodel Rodis, Greg Macabenta, Lorna Dietz and Ben Menor in the "other scumbags" category, which he of course, leads. 


Rodis is the lawyer who was arrested on suspicion of passing what had been believed as a bogus $100 bill. Dietz is the advertising solicitor of Macabenta who established a link between the $300,000 grant from Wells Fargo and the financially-ailing Filipinas magazine owned by Macabenta? Menor is the "no-contest" pleader.


Perry Diaz's urging is undoubtedly a call to arms. It has the same message as Ben Menor's, which is to get rid of me, possibly, by any means.


The clear implication that Diaz was making was that I am a criminal -- which is not true, and I strongly deny it again and again -- who should be arrested, then disposed, or moved by air, to some far-away place.


Perry Diaz has improved on his lies, not his writings, to capture attention. I've been in the US 15 years and there's not a single violation of law that I have committed. To believe Diaz and my critics is to believe that I've been deported that many number of times!


Diaz phrases his appeal in such a way that I looked like I was besmirching the Filipino community. Well, the truth is that "bad name" is appended to the community because of the bad people who run community organizations. And I'm merely reporting it!


I have no active role in San Diego's Council of Philippine American Organizations where $27,000 vanished during the incumbency of Mrs. Aurora Cudal, who was also a NaFFAA regional chair. I wrote about it many times.


Some NaFFAA insiders claimed at least $450,000 have been "stolen" from the federation. I am not a member of NaFFAA in any way but as a fully-engaged working journalist, I reported it.


Official documents now unsealed after being kept secret for seven years showed that NaFFAA co-founder Alex Esclamado and wife Lourdes M. Esclamado (current assistant national treasurer) received a total of $103,500 from NaFFAA. Again, I merely reported it.


The same document contained an entry that said the Minority Media Services Inc. owned by incumbent NaFFAA chair Greg Macabenta got at least $1,000 from NaFFAA. I also reported it.


I hate to say it but it seems that the emerging pattern here is that missing monies are equated with NaFFAA officials.


Would my reportage constitute "terrorism" in the eyes of Ben Menor? Should my kind of reportage be construed as "giving a bad name" to the community as stated by Perry Diaz when he doesn't know what reporting is?


Why turn on me when I'm just a reporter? Why don't Menor and Diaz run after their friends who are "milking the cow" that is NaFFAA?


This isn't the first time that such evil omen comes to me. In the last 15 years the threats have grown from insensible tongue lashings to lawsuits to actual physical harm.


Even as I have become accustomed to them, I never let my guard off, always exercising caution at every turn before, during and after a news coverage while prepping myself for that possibility that one crazy mercenary would do a hit on me.


The acceptance of that possibility -- however remote it might be in the US, unlike in the Philippines where it may likely happen -- has eased my worries a bit. I know that deep in my heart, such will not occur without a fight. # # #



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


PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
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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 Monday, 07 September 2009 22:01

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