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Home Columns San Diego Happenings San Diego County Cuts Down Grant to COPAO
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Tuesday, 14 August 2007 02:19

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Tuesday, 14 August 2007

~ One blow after another. The air has hardly cleared when comes this latest news that the County Board of Supervisors has cut down its annual financial grant to COPAO to a measly $5,000. That's an unprecedented fall from grace sparked perhaps by the worst scandals to hit San Diego's top Filipino community organization.

AMIDST THE WORST SCANDALS

COPAO Suffers a Big Blow, Loses (Almost)

Money Grant from Board of Supervisors

By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has pruned down its yearly monetary grant to COPAO (Council of Philippine American Organizations) in the wake of the worst scandals in the umbrella organization involving check forgeries and the disappearance of $27,000.

The Board has decided to allocate a measly $5,000 from its Community Enhancement Fund, which is just a little less than a third of its annual cash outlay solely intended for the community celebration of Philippine Independence Day in June of every year, officials said.

Over the years, the grant money has dwindled. Last year, COPAO got a share of $17,000 which was spent for this year's celebration at Kimball Park in National City.

There was no immediate official explanation for the drastic cutback.

But coming at a time when huge monies had vanished from COPAO without a trace, and no COPAO official has claimed responsibility for the fiasco that also includes 50 check forgeries, the action by the Board of Supervisors could be taken as a big slap on COPAO.

The Board has received complaints from the public and from unnamed officials of COPAO about the alleged wanton waste of taxpayers' money by COPAO.

Pastor Romen Rivera, a former COPAO vice president for finance, had made the claim before he had suffered a stroke that the leadership of COPAO had dipped its hands into the funds given by the Board of Supervisors to pay off lawyer's fees.

COPAO has neither denied nor confirmed Rivera's allegation, which is basically a violation of the grant agreement.

But months after he had aired the complaint, COPAO passed a resolution censuring Rivera for alleged dereliction of duty. COPAO also censured its former treasurer, Norma DeGuzman.

While COPAO rushed to rebuke Rivera and DeGuzman, and at the same time officially bury the scandals, it left out its former president, Aurora Cudal, and former auditor, Charito Balanag, both of whom, according to some COPAO officials, should also be held accountable under the principle of command responsibility.

Cudal , who had firmly rejected attempts at an audit during her term as COPAO president, has admitted seeing her name signed in 43 of the 50 allegedly forged checks. She disowned the signatures.

During an investigation by the National City Police, Cudal confessed that she was asked to provide signature specimens, to which she obliged and gave investigators at least a hundred signatures.

Cudal was a former chair of the San Diego chapter of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). She is currently "associate editor" of the entertainment paper the Filipino Press and moonlights as a part-time employee of another community organization called Kalusugan Community Services.

COPAO has not made any report about its most recent activities, including its money-generating beauty contests and the annual feast called Philippine Faire.

Insiders said COPAO lost money because of the poor turnout and it had to pay the City of National City an estimated $8,000 for the use of Kimball Park. In previous years, the City had allowed COPAO free access to the park.

Apparently, the City realized that COPAO had the money after all since it could afford to lose $27,000 without pinpointing responsibility.

(For more details of this developing story, please see the August 2007 issue of the Philippine Village Voice, coming out soon).

BREAKING NEWS - A PhilVoiceNews Exclusive
Issue No. 55 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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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2007 07:45
 

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