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Home Columns Op-Ed Page The Revenge of the Missing $27,000
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Thursday, 02 August 2007 04:54

The News UpFront: (Commentary in lieu of TOP STORY) as of Thursday, 2 August 2007

~~ "Hatred is not in my vocabulary," says the multi-faced, multi-hatted and self-conflicted "associate editor" of the entertainment paper the Filipino Press in a moment of pique. Is she worth believing, this person who preaches the bible in her column the way Judas professed his love by betraying Him?

COPAO' FIGHTS BACK

The Revenge of the Missing $27,000

By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ

SAN DIEGO -- In the midst of a two-week visit to Chicago late last month, I received an e-mail from Mrs. Aurora Cudal, the erstwhile president of COPAO, who's also "associate editor" of the entertainment paper the Filipino Press and part-time employee of Kalusugan Community Services.

From out of nowhere she wrote, and my mind started to wander back in time if I had written something that would prompt her to do what she did.

I said it must be the story about my interview with an official of the San Diego County District Attorney who said the DA might take a second look at the check forgeries and the disappearance of $27,000 from COPAO.

That was the most plausible reason I could think of. Maybe my mention of Mrs. Cudal as having made a confession (that she was investigated by the police, that she was made to provide signature specimens, etc.) had agitated her again.

Those were facts that in the writing of the story had to be told again and again to provide substantive content to the developing news which, as far as COPAO and its officers are concerned, would rather be dead and buried and forgotten.

How can one forget $27,000? To a poor man like me, it's huge. But the real value of that money rests not in what it can and can't buy, but in what it represents in the community. To steal that money is to steal from the community.

Nobody, not even COPAO, should be allowed to turn a blind eye while its coffers, the community's coffers, are being raided by unscrupulous officers of the very organization that gets its sustenance from the public.

And then there's the unmitigated check forgeries. Who turned a blind eye, who pretended to be deaf and dumb as to allow 50, yes, that's fifty, checks to be forged over long periods of time when Cudal was COPAO president?

Mrs. Cudal's signature --which she disowns -- and that of another person, Norma DeGuzman, appeared in 43 of the 50 checks; were they really fraudulent? Again, what COPAO official would allow such things to happen if there's at least some respect left for the organization?

I can see that respect is the last thing in the minds of the present leadership of COPAO. How else could one explain the rush to entomb the whole episode under the pretense of a happy COPAO family that needed to move?

Yet in the act of burying it, COPAO under incumbent president Rita Andrews had to sideswipe a man of God, Pastor Romen Rivera, the vice president for finance, whose name and signature did not even appear in the questioned checks. Is that respect?

Andrews and her cohorts had to find somebody to blame, a scapegoat, and Rivera just fits perfectly in the whole scenario. So, using the instrument of vengeance and disrespect, they censured the man. Not long after, Rivera suffered a debilitating stroke that paralyzed half his body.

The revenge was on. Andrews and her cohorts succeeded, to say the least, in crippling Rivera, thus temporarily halting his demand for a resolution of the check forgeries and the disappearance of $27,000.

Cudal was COPAO president when those scandals happened, so why was she spared the ignominy of a censure that Andrews and others so happily slapped on Rivera? Has friendship between Andrews and Cudal got in the way?

Now writes the multi-faced, jackie of all trades, etc. Mrs. Cudal: "Hatred is not in my vocabulary".

What? Whether or not hatred dwells in her everyday lexicon does not bother me. Whether or not she speaks and acts it all the time does not faze me either.

The issue is her role in the missing monies and the check forgeries. It's that simple.

Why she had refused to be audited, why she had evaded discussions relating to COPAO's financial health during her term, why she makes a career of distorting the truth -- those are the issues. Come clean and honest, please, and people might believe her.

By saying "hatred is not in my vocabulary", Cudal is effectively refracting it. The converse is that she's blaming me for harboring hatred in my stories. What gall this person has!

Now that a week has passed since Cudal sent her e-mail, a more fundamental reason for her no-hatred statement has emerged. It now seems it's an oblique warning of worst things to come and she's already distancing herself.

If I were to believe the stories going around, some people in COPAO are soliciting signatures to oust me from this country. It's nothing new, of course. In fact, the same things already happened many years ago when I exposed other crooks in the community.

I must really be creating havoc in COPAO with my exclusive stories about the shame and scandal in that happy family to be lavished with so much attention.

One thing I love in America is freedom. The freedom to say and do things and engage in them according to one's conscience and beliefs.

Having said that, anyone and everyone can do what they want to do. I'm not going to interfere. Nor would I be worried. It's freedom at its finest!

BREAKING NEWS - Commentary
Issue No. 51 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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