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Dec 07th
Home Columns San Diego Happenings Pastor Rivera Plans to Sue the COPAO
Pastor Rivera Plans to Sue the COPAO PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Monday, 18 June 2007 05:39

The images of monies being purloined to the tune of $27,000 and checks being forged under the very noses of officials would be hard to forget. Indeed, Pastor Romen Rivera isn't one to forget, too. He is poised to remind the Filipino community that something is wrong with COPAO, the community's umbrella organization. Rivera has been discharged from the hospital and allowed to recover in his home from the debilitating stroke he suffered after being censured by COPAO.


Pastor Rivera Plans a Lawsuit Against COPAO


Pastor Romen Rivera was discharged from the Paradise Valley Hospital on Saturday (June 16), exactly one-and-a-half months after he suffered a stroke that rendered his left arm and leg paralyzed.

Rivera was in high spirits as he was being readied for release, teasing his wife, friends and the nurses who took care of him, and reminding this reporter that he wasn't done with the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO) yet where he was a vice president for finance in 2003-2004.

Dr. Donna Crowley, medical director of the hospital's South Bay Rehab Center, said Rivera's recovery would take from six months to one year. "It's a long journey," she explained.

Surgeons had removed a blood clot in his brain and the only evidence that he had undergone surgery was the small white patch that had been shaved off on the right side of his head. Hair is beginning to grow again.

Even then, Rivera was as sharp as ever. "He is very talkative," his wife Linda said, sounding like she was complaining. But that was the best indication that his halting speech earlier on is already gone and he talks now more animatedly.

"Hanggang ngayon ba naman hindi pa sila nagsasabi ng katotohanan?," he posed, the question constantly coming back: why hasn't COPAO told the truth until this time?

Rivera was referring to the $27,000 that had disappeared from COPAO's coffers and the extensive check forgeries, allegedly, involving 50 checks, that had carried the signatures of Aurora Cudal, then COPAO president, and Norma DeGuzman, the COPAO treasurer.

Cudal, who now works with Kalusugan Community Services in addition to being "associate editor" of the entertainment paper the Filipino Press, has admitted seeing her signature in 43 of the checks but questioned its authenticity.

"Yes, my name was signed in more than 43 checks, was it really my signature?" she said earlier. How she came up with the figure was never clarified by either Cudal or COPAO despite agitations to disclose the identities of the recipients of those checks.

"Bakit hindi niya (Cudal) patunayan? (Why can't she prove it?) Kung talagang hindi ikaw, patunayan mo! (If she really didn't do it, then prove it!)," Rivera asked, tossing the questions to Cudal and COPAO.

COPAO has decided to set aside the unresolved issues of the missing money and check forgeries but not entirely. In fact, it passed a resolution censuring Rivera and DeGuzman. The resolution had the effect of freeing Cudal and Charito Balanag, the auditor, from any responsibility.

Rivera blamed the COPAO censure for his predicament. He said the physical and mental stress that had been triggered by the censure had weighed him down.

"In all my life I'd never been hospitalized for anything. Just days after that censure was issued, I was hit by this stroke," he stated.

Rivera has temporarily moved to Los Angeles to recover. He indicated his plan to do something about COPAO and what it did to him.

"Pinag-aaralan kong mabuti kung ano ang magandang hakbang (I'm still studying the best course of action to take)," he responded when asked if he was soon filing a lawsuit against COPAO. # # #

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2007 07:51

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