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Aug 17th
Home Columns San Diego Happenings New Fil-Am Scandal Brews in San Diego
New Fil-Am Scandal Brews in San Diego PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Monday, 14 May 2007 02:09
COPAO Throws a Lavish Party Amidst the Scandals; Board of Supervisors Asked to Look Into Money Grants
By Romeo P. Marquez
The Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO) will throw a lavish party for its members, friends and sympathizers on May 19 amidst the still-unresolved scandals of the missing $27,000 and check forgeries that it had decided to just sweep under the rug.
The timing of the annual extravaganza appears to be way off, too, as a potential problem may arise out of the paralyzing stroke that had stricken Pastor Romen Rivera, a former vice president for finance, whom COPAO had censured along with Norma DeGuzman, the ex-treasurer whose whereabouts are unknown.
COPAO, according to published announcements, will honor its money-makers for this year in four categories, namely: Miss Philippine Faire, Mrs. Philippine Faire, Miss Teen Philippine Faire and Little Miss Philippines. Each has a "royal court", as COPAO calls it, consisting of runners-up or those who didn't raise enough money to be able to land at the top.
COPAO has yet to make a public accounting of the amount of money it made off with the fund-raising beauty contests and where the money was going to be spent. It has not made a list of those receiving commissions from the events, either.
Earlier on, Pastor Rivera had made the charge that COPAO took money from the annual grant of the County Board of Supervisors to pay off its lawyer who, at the latest, was reportedly compensated with $20,000 at least.
The Board of Supervisors is looking into the allegation. Such an act, if true, violates the conditions attached to the money grant, called Community Enhancement Fund, which is solely intended for the community celebration of Philippine independence in June.
A spokesman for Rivera, a pastor of the Gospel Life Ministry branch in National City, said the "stress" caused by the censure was responsible for his health predicament. "It was too much for him," he stated.
The censure had the effect of putting the blame for the scandals on Pastor Rivera and DeGuzman, and consequently, exonerating two others, namely, Aurora Cudal and Charito Balanag.
Cudal was the president and Balanag the auditor of COPAO when the $27,000 went missing and the check forgeries occurred. Cudal, DeGuzman and Pastor Rivera were the check signatories, the latter signing only when neither Cudal or DeGuzman was available.
Cudal has admitted that her name was signed in 43 of the 50 allegedly forged checks. During an investigation by the police, Cudal was asked to provide specimens of her signature. She confessed that she gave them the required signatures a hundred times.
Pastor Rivera has said that his name and signature did not appear in any of the 50 checks in question and he was cleared by the police. DeGuzman has not been heard from since the scandals surfaced.
Cudal is currently "associate editor" of the entertainment paper the Filipino Press which has run stories about COPAO's upcoming party but not a word about the scandals.
The fact that he was being effectively blamed for the scandals had triggered so much of a stress on Pastor Rivera, his spokesman said.
"Pastor Romen (Rivera) suffered a stroke and has suffered physical and emotional distress in connection with your censure," read the letter to COPAO and signed by Ralph Posadas, secretary of the Gospel Life Ministry of San Diego.
Pastor Rivera has demanded that COPAO rescind its censure which, Posadas said, "he believes has damaged his reputation and professional integrity".
In the same letter to COPAO, Pastor Rivera expressed gratitude for Vina Phelps and Ed Danico for objecting to the censure, knowing it was "improper, self-dealing and detrimental to his professional integrity".
Phelps has written the Board of Supervisors asking it to investigate the reported misallocation of grant money to activities other than it was intended for.

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Please watch the tribute to our Filipino veterans as narrated by Lou Diamond Philips and forward it to your friends: AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH - US ARMY FILIPINO REGIMENT.

The full video documentary may be viewed at, - click UNTOLD TRIUMPH

We also honor two Filipino-American veterans who served two grateful nations: Saturnino Palicte and Armin Posadas.

Take a video break and watch this tribute brought to you by CACN NEWS.

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(For details and other news, please read the May 2007 issue of the Philippine Village Voice. An online version is available soon at This Breaking News may be posted online, broadcast or reprinted, but not edited, on condition that the author and the paper be credited. By Romeo P. Marquez, Editor, Philippine Village Voice). 14 May 2007.

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Last Updated on Monday, 05 November 2007 15:03

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