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Apr 05th
Home Columns San Diego Happenings Charge Cudal for COPAO’s Missing Funds
Charge Cudal for COPAO’s Missing Funds PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Friday, 14 December 2007 01:46
The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Friday, December 14, 2007 

The year is almost over and the Filipino community has yet to find resolution to one of the pressing problems that's giving it a bad mark -- the disappearance of $27,000 and 50 check forgeries in COPAO. An outsider has been invited to investigate. When he accepted, COPAO officials turned into mutes and never spoke of the scandals again.




COPAO Stonewalls on Reinvestigation of the Missing $27,000; LA Newsman Suggests: 'Charge Cudal for Negligence'  

It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities

-- Sir Josiah Stamp 



The author is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the National Press Club of the Philippines-USA.  

A Los Angeles-based investigative reporter has suggested to the Filipino community's umbrella organization in San Diego, California, to bring charges against its former president for "negligence and utter fiscal irresponsibility" in the disappearance of $27,000. 

The recommendation was made by Bobby Reyes, editor of the popular online news journal Mabuhay ( in a brief letter to Vina M. Phelps, an official of the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO), early this month.

Phelps, COPAO's ever vigilant watchdog, has offered Reyes information and records that could shed light on the missing monies and the accompanying 50 check forgeries which both happened in 2003-2004 when Aurora Cudal was COPAO president.

Cudal currently works as "associate editor" of the entertainment paper the Filipino Press and moonlights as paid consultant of a COPAO competitor, the Kalusugan Community Services. She still sits in COPAO as its immediate past president.

Phelps' unrelenting demand -- despite Cudal's steadfast refusal -- for an audit of COPAO has forced the organization to submit to fiscal scrutiny, leading to the discovery of the alleged forgeries and the disappearance of the monies. 

"Even if she (Cudal) did not steal the council's funds, she should be made responsible for the loss due to her negligence and utter fiscal irresponsibility," Reyes told Phelps in an e-mail.

Cudal has not reacted to that statement. Reyes has been invited by Cudal to investigate the improprieties. Though she probably didn't mean to let him in but nonetheless let out a bluff, Reyes quickly accepted.  He then asked an official authorization from COPAO to secure bank statements and copies of financial transactions to start off his investigation. COPAO officials, including a stunned Cudal, have not responded to Reyes' request made two weeks ago.

"The COPAO can and should file a civil case against Mrs. Cudal and her then treasurer (Norma DeGuzman) and immediately attach their assets while the suit is pending," Reyes said. He proposed that COPAO's Executive Council (the equivalent of a board of directors) initiate the civil action against Cudal and DeGuzman.  

COPAO, which has about 50 community associations under its wing, receives funding from the County of San Diego and raises money from the public through activities like its annual beauty contests.

Reyes said something was "wrong" if Cudal did not inform COPAO's depository bank (Wells Fargo) about certain queer transactions going on while she sat as president. 

Only after the discovery of the missing monies and forged checks did Cudal tell police investigators that the signatures in 43 of the 50 checks in question were not hers.  Her claim was challenged by then COPAO vice president for finance, Pastor Romen Rivera, who has stated that he found her signature authentic when shown some of the checks. 

Reyes' entry -- should COPAO concede to it, which appears very unlikely -- becomes troublesome as it would reopen old and sensitive wounds that COPAO officials had tried to heal a few months back. That was when COPAO rushed and voted to censure Rivera and DeGuzman for apparent negligence but left Cudal and Charito Balanag, COPAO auditor, untouched.

The censure had caused untold worries on Rivera, Cudal's adversary in COPAO's Executive Council, who subsequenly suffered a paralyzing stroke and is presently recuperating outside San Diego.

The censure had the effect of clearing Cudal and Balanag of any complicity -- something that the San Diego District Attorney's office has not done even as it said that there's not enough evidence to pursue the case in court.

The DA decision meant rejecting the recommendation by the National City Police Department, which conducted the earlier investigation, to prosecute unidentified COPAO officials.

In July, however, a ranking official said the District Attorney may take a second look at the COPAO fiasco.


PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS -  Exclusive
Issue No. 97 / News Without Fear or Favor /

. . . . . 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 Friday, 14 December 2007 02:12

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