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Apr 08th
Home Columns San Diego Happenings Is Rita Andrews Misusing COPAO for Personal Revenge?
Is Rita Andrews Misusing COPAO for Personal Revenge? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Saturday, 01 September 2007 16:01

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Saturday, 1 September 2007

~ The brouhaha by COPAO notwithstanding, the gala event by the Maria Clara de Pilipinas Sorority is all set for tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 2) at 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island Drive near the San Diego Airport. One of the association presidents approached for signature for a petition tells the story about how Rita Andrews, COPAO president, sought her out.


Is Rita Andrews Misusing COPAO for Personal Revenge?


SAN DIEGO - Rita Andrews, the unsmiling and bitter-looking president of the Council of Philippine American Organizations, had been calling presidents of COPAO-member associations to try to get them to sign a petition she and Faith Bautista, the matronly fat-salaried employee of Mabuhay Alliance, had co-authored.

She dialed a number and on the other end of the line, Connie Leyva, the kindly, unassuming and apolitical president of Olongapo Association, answered.

For many years, Leyva had not heard Andrews' voice over the phone. For one, Leyva said, she had no business calling Andrews. She was happily discharging her duties as Olongapo Association president in the quiet country atmosphere of Murrieta in Riverside, northeast of San Diego.

Now, out of the sweltering summer weather, a voice saying she was Rita Andrews had suddenly materialized in her phone, demanding a little of her time, wanting to be heard, pleading for help.

Leyva wasn't sure why she called. The first few minutes of talking were spent on niceties that in actuality were attempts to entice. Andrews was kind of preparing her for the news through a roundabout way, praising her, telling her how good the association was, etcetera.

Maybe after detecting that Leyva was ready to receive her news, Andrews unloaded the exact purpose of her most unusual call. She said she had prepared a petition and was soliciting signatures.

Leyva asked what the petition was. Instead of responding directly, Andrews volunteered that a number of individuals had already affixed their signatures, among them her cohort, Faith Bautista, the seemingly harmless paid executive director of Mabuhay Alliance.

Why Andrews and Bautista teamed up for this venture is anybody's guess.

One thing stands out, though: they are trying to deflect the heat of public scrutiny on their respective organizations -- COPAO for the missing $27,000 and 50 alleged check forgeries, and Mabuhay Alliance for what seems like wanton (?) spending of grant money.

Bautista has yet to admit publicly that she is being paid a full salary (up to $65,000 a year, or higher?) to socialize, network and travel. The impression, strengthened by her claim of a leadership role for work she's paid to do, has always been that she was a self-sacrificing volunteer, which is incorrect.

MCPS sources said Bautista had long wanted to be named in that distinguished list of "ladies of elegance" and her daughter to be included in the equally prominent roster of debutantes. The MCPS simply ignored her overtures.

Andrews, meanwhile, explained to Leyva that the petition was to be presented to Maria Clara de Pilipinas Sorority (MCPS) demanding a stop to a prepared program recognizing Romy Marquez for an article written in 2006 about the late patriot Carlos Riego de Dios Linayao.

MCPS has chosen seven from the media as its honorees, namely: Maria Arcega Dunn, Weekend TV News Fox 6; Romeo Marquez, Village Voice, for photo write up legacy of the late Carlos Linayao; Abelardo Mojica, Philippine Mabuhay News, for Malungay – Tree of Life; Susan Delos Santos, Filipino Press, for Pinoy Family Soak City; Simeon Silverio, Asian Journal, for Dining at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion; Burl Stiff, San Diego Union Tribune Society columnist, for coverage of annual MCPS Ball; and Dr. Barbara Yorobe, Philippine Asian World Report, for promotion and expansion of Filipiniana Library and Museum in downtown San Diego.

The MCPS program tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 2) at the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island near the San Diego airport, has Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon and his wife, Anne Gordon, the vice governor of Zambales province, as the special guests from the Philippines.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison is the guest speaker. San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre is also a guest.

"Nakikiusap siya na pumirma na ako," recalls Leyva of the incident. Andrews was asking her, almost pleading, to sign the petition. But she firmly turned her down.

Though it may not be the intended consequence, Leyva explained, to sign the petition was to make a mockery of the event. It would be an insult to the Gordons and to the many San Diego residents who hail from that city and who are all members of Olongapo Association.

Hearing that, Andrews backed out, according to Leyva.

"But Romy, whether the Gordons were there or not, I still would not sign that petition," Leyva states. There was no justification at all for that piece of paper, she explained.

Leyva said the very thought of isolating a person for doing things that do not conform with the wishes of an organization like COPAO was disgusting. "Besides, you had a point exposing the mess in COPAO," she says.

Andrews has been a faithful friend and protector of Aurora Cudal, now also a signatory, the COPAO president when $27,000 had disappeared and the 50 checks had emerged as forgeries. They were together opening and rummaging through what were supposed to be sealed boxes of documents. Later on, the District Attorney made a finding of a lack of evidence to prosecute the two cases.

Even as she was not identified as a suspect, Cudal had grudgingly admitted being investigated by the police and being made to submit specimens of her signature after she claimed that her purported signature in 43 of the 50 forged checks were not hers.

Mrs. Lucy Gonzales, MCPS founder and CEO, said neither she nor the MCPS was backing out of the decision to recognize Marquez despite the COPAO-initiated boycott, which may or may not happen at all.

Another highlight of the event is the Ako ay Pilipino 2007 Ladies of Elegance selected for the presentation, namely: Ellen Nobles Sexsion, business; Vina Phelps, community service; Frances Lebron, education; Lydia Loristo, government services; Nenita Smith, international; Marilou Hibanada Alcantar, judicial services; LCdr., Cynthia French, MC, USN Military; and Cdr. Violeta Fedora, MC, USN Nursing.

Gonzales said MCPS is bolstering security in the hotel premises. In addition, security people have been alerted to bar Andrews, Bautista and Cudal from slipping into the event.

BREAKING NEWS - A PhilVoiceNews Exclusive

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 Thursday, 25 October 2007 07:44

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