PCC Reaches an Impasse

May 12th, 2020 · No Comments

By Benjie de Ubago

Mistakes are made; and no doubt, problems occur.  However, true community leaders act immediately to resolve a problem. They do not ignore their members nor do they turn a blind eye to the problems that may pop up.

The last election saga of the Philippine Community Council of NSW (PCC-NSW) has dragged on more than anyone cares to know about.  With the Corona Virus health crisis on everyone’s minds, nobody wants to know about the “petty” little problems.  However, it’s the opportune time for the leaders to lead with integrity, fix things before the problems expand beyond repair.  But how can the leaders lead when all trust and respect has been lost?! 

Soon after the elections which were held on February 16, 2020, the barrage of complaints started. First to complain was the Bicol Association who was disenfranchised.

On March 12, 2020, eight concerned past presidents met to discuss the issues concerning PCC, with the hope of resolving the issues. Two past presidents were unable to attend the meeting but sent emails expressing their agreement to go with the consensus of the group, but one has flip-flopped since.  Five past presidents did not attend.

On March 17, former president Manny Diel sent a letter on behalf of the concerned past presidents stating that the presence of Alric Bulseco (President) and Serna Ladia (immediate past president) together on the current PCC Board was clearly in breach of the constitution.  Both Bulseco and Ladia are representing Australian Mindanao (AusMin). Ladia was representing AusMin when she was the sitting president in 2017/ 2018, and in 2019 as the immediate past president, as evidenced by her nomination for Bulseco in 2020.

Alric Bulseco & Serna Ladia, both representing Australian Mindanao.

The constitution clearly states that no two people should represent the same organization on the Board at the same time. The resolution desired was for Bulseco to step down and allow the Vice President external to take over.

Diels’s letter on behalf of the concerned past presidents  further stated that some of the Board of Directors emailed their nominations which is in direct violation of the election rules, i.e. “Send by hand or by post.”  Bulseco played pedantic and refused to accept Manny Diel’s complaint as it did not have the signatures of the past presidents. 

 On March 18, Serna Ladia replied to Diel’s letter stating that she was not representing AusMin and was instead representing the Filipino Cooperative.  “There is no case at all,” she emphatically declared.  However, Ms. Kate Andres, president of the Filipino Cooperative argued that Ladia cannot change affiliations midstream and cannot claim to represent the Filipino Community Cooperative without permission from the Chairperson of the Board. Ladia is not an officer of the FilCoop Board. She is only a member of the FilCoop Board and is tasked to prepare the financial statement with remuneration.  

A second letter of complaint from Kate Andres was sent on March 19.

On March 24, Collado requested the Filipino Cooperative Board to authorize Serna Ladia, an officer of the organization to represent the Filipino Cooperative in PCC.  On March 25, the members of Filipino Cooperative headed by Kate Andres took a vote whether to approve Ladia’s representation in PCC or not.  The result was a resounding “NO.”  Request for representation should have been made prior to the PCC elections.

On April 29, 40 days after sending her letter, Kate Andres received an unsigned letter from “The Philippine Community Council of NSW” advising her that no decision had yet been made by the Board.  Note that the letter was unsigned and is a clear example of Bulseco’s double standards. 

On May 2, Jun Relunia sent a follow up letter questioning the status of the complaint. Serna Ladia quickly responded on the same day stating that she was now representing Campbelltown & Region Filipino Community Council (CRFCC), an organization based in Campbelltown.  Considering that Ladia resides in Lewisham.

In a phone interview with Ladia, she was adamant that there was no constitutional breach and the constitution should be amended in the future to address the problems. She stated, “I am a member of many groups. I’ve been a member of CRFCC for a long time.”  Ladia further alleges that she discussed representing the Filipino Cooperative prior to the PCC elections with Elsa Collado and Espie Pogson, who is not a member of the Cooperative.  Furthermore, Ladia is of the opinion that club membership automatically entitles an individual to representation which is not the case.  Surely, out of respect, a request should be made to the association prior to the intended representation. 

 Also important to note, as per the email trail –  from February 16 to March 20 to May 2 – Ladia has shifted from Australian Mindanao to the Filipino Cooperative and now to CRFCC.  That’s around the club circuit in 76 days. Isn’t that obviously, Club shopping or Club hopping?

If Ladia was so sure that she was representing CRFCC, why then did she not state that in her email of March 20?  Why did she have to request permission from Filipino Cooperative on March 25?  According to Ms.Lourdes Kaisser, President of CRFCC, Ladia’s representation request was approved by the CRFCC Board but it would seem that they were not fully informed of all the facts. So when did Ladia ask CRFCC representation authority?  When did CRFCC grant Ladia permission? 

When asked about the issue of emailed nominations, which was clearly stated in the election rules that nomination be made “by hand or by post”, Ladia replied that she had not read the 2019 election rules. She also added that the Department of Fair Trading had changed the rules in 2016 and now allows digital correspondence. “This overrides the constitution. If they are leaders, they have to be more resourceful,” said Ladia.  If it were her, because, she knew, she would have asked for other options to submit her nomination. But the question is:  why then was the information not disseminated to the affiliates?  Why did the election rules not state it?”   To date, only one director has accepted culpability on the basis that Bulseco “allowed it.”  Why then, was this not relayed to the rest of the candidates and affiliates?  Selective or are the rules only for the chosen few?  Does that mean that any correspondence from PCC must be double checked and not fully trusted? If compliance to the rules means putting the affiliate in a compromising situation then perhaps, they should add the clause “Subject to change without prior notice.” 

When Ateneo resigned from PCC in 2013, Bulseco lost his representation but ignored all rules and remained on the Board. He’s been club hopping since then.

To date (May 11), the Bicol Association have not received any response to their request for a meeting (they can kiss that goodbye);  the letters/emails from Diel, Andres and Relunia have had no resolution. The corona virus is no excuse to deny people of a decent response or propose a resolution. All people concerned got was the D-E-W effect (deny-evade-withdraw)!

Why was it not done prior to the elections?  Because the 2019 officers, were also the candidates and the self appointed election committee.  Nominations were directed to Bulseco and Dingle. The list of voting affiliates and their representatives was also not read at the time of the election and no one was allowed to ask questions.

Furthermore, no independent Grievance committee had been formed.  Bulseco is the person in question, and also the judge and jury.  Nobody moves on inch from their fragile egos to resolve the issues affecting the organization. 

Bulseco’s twists and turns may have just reached one too many.  People have awakened now from their deep slumber and are clamoring for resolutions.  Enough of the excuses! No more sweeping under the carpet!  If the Board wants to be respected, they should act with integrity and now.  They should fix and repair PCC NOW – not next week – not next month – and most definitely not next year!  As one affiliate said “parang linoloko na nila kami.” (It seems like they are fooling us.) The honourable thing to do is for Bulseco to step down.  He may just get a little more respect then.

 A breakthrough is awaited by all. But, I’d say don’t hold your breaths. By that time, relations may be too frayed and far beyond repair.

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