PCCM apologizes for delays
and clears up allegations
UPDATE: FEBRUARY 5, 2014
Financial details released
WINNIPEG – The Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) released financial details today of its Typhoon Haiyan relief fundraising. The organization has been widely criticized in the media due to its delay in sending collected goods and money to the Philippines.
Lou Fernandez, PCCM Spokesperson and Vice President, said in a press release, “The reporting may be untimely but we can assure everyone that every single penny has been accounted for.” He also stated the PCCM and its board of directors “have no malicious intention of defrauding” donors.
Fernandez cited the current difficulties of the PCCM, operating with no paid staff, as part of the reason for the delays. “We have no choice as our priority was to clean up unpaid bills. This should not be seen as an excuse but a situation [in which] we have to sacrifice. We have been relying mainly on volunteers who speak less but work hard and tirelessly.”
In addition to the documentation attached to the press release (see images below), Fernandez promised, “In the coming days, we will also publish a written confirmation from the Philippine Red Cross and Operation Tulong, a relief agency in Manila, to ensure that interested individuals, groups, and members of the media are well informed.”
According to the documentation in the press release, of the $72,416.53 in financial donations the PCCM received, $60,696.53 was wire transferred to the Philippine Red Cross on January 25, 2014. The largest part of the $11,720-difference was due to two dishonoured donor cheques amounting to $8,000. Shipping charges of $3,710 and a bank charge of $10 accounted for the remainder of the expenses.
| Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba
Liquidation of Donations Received
|Total Donations Received||$72,416.53
| Returned Cheque #741
|Returned Cheque #743|| $6,324.25
| Bank Charges
| Shipping cost of Relief Goods
($70 per box for 53 boxes)
| Total Cash Transferred to PNRC
|* Shipping Cost of 53 boxes||$3,7010.00|
|Cost of unused boxes ($10 x 2)||$20.00|
|Excess payment (refundable)||$20.00|
|Total Payment (as per receipts)|| $3,750.00
The following is the full text of the PCCM press release issued on January 27, 2014, regarding its Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.
Typhoon Haiyan Relief Funds sent to Philippine Red Cross
Scanned receipt for wire transfer of $60,696.53 from the PCCM to the Philippine Red Cross dated January 25, 2014
Last week, PCCM volunteers packed and shipped 53 extra-large boxes filled with canned goods, clothing, diapers and other supplies to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Boxes of donated goods were sent to Operation Tulong, a relief organization in the Philippines. PCCM would like to thank the Filipino community and Winnipeggers for generously giving to those in deepest need and for being patient as this massive amount of donations was sorted and packed. There were delays to get boxes to the Philippines as community members dropped off goods throughout all of December. A large number of volunteers were needed to sort and pack donations, and it was difficult getting all of this in place before the holidays.
Members of the Filipino community and Winnipeggers generously donated a total of $72,416.53. Many made individual donations, others collected donations from co-workers, and there were even several fundraising dinners and concerts that raised funds for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Due to an honest misunderstanding of regulations regarding matching funds and having signatories out of town, PCCM was only able to send funds to the Philippine Red Cross on January 25, 2014.
“We realize that a mistake was made… and we are very sorry… we hope that the members of our community could still work together to attain our united goal of helping our kababayans in time of need,” said PCCM president Lito Taruc.
PCCM Board members and volunteers apologize for the delay but are thankful that Operation Tulong will soon distribute the large shipment of goods; and the funds sent to the Philippine Red Cross to support their relief efforts on the ground will get to the people.
“Sadly, when devastation like this occurs, it will take time for the people and for the Philippines to rebuild. We’re thankful that these supplies and the money that was raised will still be able to help. It’s not too late to be useful..” added Taruc.
In the past week, Winnipeg media and a few Filipinos publicly criticized PCCM for delays and some even made unfounded claims against the management of the Centre. Board members and volunteers would like to take this opportunity to respond to these claims head on.
In the Winnipeg Free Press article “Filipino leaders voice suspicions about centre” (Jan. 21), officials from the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and the Filipino Seniors Group said that a $70,000 deficit in PCCM’s recent annual statement adds to their concerns about the centre’s management. The Winnipeg Free Press report indicates that: “there is nothing to suggest the deficit is connected to the $70,000 the group has been holding back from relief agencies.”
The net loss of $70,965 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 is the result of a non-cash item of depreciation and amortization of fixed assets of $120,992. If one will only account for cash items, PCCM has in fact made a net profit of $50,027. This net profit before depreciation (non-cash item) is the result of prudent spending by the current PCCM administration during the fiscal year.
In the online Global News article “UPDATE: Local group finally ready to send relief money to Philippines” (Jan. 16), it states that: “PCCM has had ongoing structural and financial problems. The organization owed almost $50,000 in back taxes to the City of Winnipeg last October.”
It’s true that there have been structural and financial problems in this organization’s past and there are still struggles today. However, it is not true that almost $50,000 in back taxes were owed to the City of Winnipeg last October. Currently, PCCM is in a much better position financially because this board has improved financial reporting and the organization is no longer in arrears with the City. In the annual report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, there is $162,485 appearing under the accounts payable line of the balance sheet. This includes the unpaid arrears, penalties and interest on property taxes that were carried over from previous administrations. The total amount of $153,289.01 was paid off in May 2013 directly from PCCM’s account at Entegra Credit Union. Since 2011, this board has regularized payments (bills, tax arrears) and are only paying current taxes owed.
In the same online Global News article, it states that “[i]n 2009, an audit was ordered by the board. It cost $12,000 but four years later there’s still nothing to show.”
It’s true that an audit was contracted by the previous PCCM administration in 2009. When the current administration took office in 2011, they contacted Lazer Grant for the formal audit report as they hoped that it would give a clear picture of PCCM’s financial situation at that time. That was when the current administration discovered that PCCM owed Lazer Grant $11,451.70 for fees and accrued interests from late payments. After making numerous inquiries regarding the audit, and never receiving any formal audit report, PCCM stopped all business dealings with the company in 2012. The current administration paid off the balance amount of $18,133.70; this included arrears of $11,451.79 dating back from 2009 and additional professional services of $6,681.91 incurred in 2011 due to inquiries about the audit.
In the online Filipino Journal article, “Are the PCCM board of directors afraid to face the community?” (Jan. 20), PCCM is criticized for “quietly [holding] their AGM and elections on Saturday, January 11… [i]n front of their own peers of no less than 21 members.” The article goes on to say that: “[t]wenty-one people may meet the quorum rules for the AGM, but fails miserably to represent the collective interests of the 65,000 Filipinos in Manitoba.” The columnist also asks why representatives of Filipino media and others “were denied the opportunity to buy new memberships, renew expired memberships, or contest valid memberships before the AGM” and were “segregated to the back of the hall… with no speaking rights.”
According to its Constitution, which was ratified by the previous administration on December 19, 2010, PCCM is a corporation. The AGM was not a secret as its date and time were posted on PCCM’s bulletin board days before the AGM was held, which is within the bounds of the Constitution. The idea behind posting it on the bulletin board is so that PCCM members – those who regularly go to the centre and who support and participate in the goals of PCCM – will be notified. How can someone who does not regularly visit, participate in or support programs at PCCM be interested in becoming a member or even a board director? Furthermore, in Article 3.1 c) of the Constitution, there is a clause that states that “[n]o error or omission in giving notice of the Annual General Meeting (or any adjournment of it) will invalidate the meeting or void any proceedings taken at the meeting.”
To clarify, the Constitution states that the primary objective of PCCM is “[t]o administer, manage and operate the ‘Centre.’” The only right and privilege of members are to vote at all meetings of the general membership, which basically means that they are able to nominate or be nominated for a position on the board. So, despite having a large population of Filipinos in Winnipeg, a membership boasting over 100 members can fulfill these duties and would be more appropriate for managing the Centre than thousands of people.
To respond to the claims that some people, including the Filipino Journal columnist, “were not allowed to buy memberships on the day of the AGM, were seated at the back and did not have speaking rights,” again, this is within the bounds of the Constitution. In Article 3.1 i) it states that “[t]he only persons entitled to be present at an Annual General Meeting are the Members in good standing, the present Auditor, and legal counsel appointed by the Board. Other persons may only be present with the consent of the majority of the Members in attendance at the meeting.” The fact that non-members were allowed to be present for the AGM was because the majority of the members in the meeting sanctioned it, and because it truly was not a secret meeting. As such, the Constitutional requirements for the AGM were upheld. The question then is not that the AGM was held and conducted improperly but that perhaps the Constitution needs to be revised. The Constitution was ratified by the membership under the previous administration of the Filipino Journal columnist’s father.
“Frankly, there have been tremendous financial and structural problems inherited from previous administrations. As well, there was no proper transition from one administration to the next. Financial statements, receipts and records were missing. Also, the password and administrative rights for the Centre’s website www.pccm.ca were never released to the current administration even after several repeated verbal and written requests to the past PCCM administration,” said PCCM President Taruc.
Requests by the board to the former PCCM president have gone unanswered. As a result, the current board has not received emails from government and other organizations, and communication channels have been disrupted. Please do not refer to www.pccm.ca as it has not been updated since 2006 and communication from the public sent through this website is not being received by the proper personnel. The board has decided to register for a new domain name and is currently working on the official website.
For the last three years, PCCM has been working hard to clean up and organize the Centre. In its Constitution, PCCM’s objectives includes “promot[ing] the development, maintenance and growth of Philippine Cultural Heritage in Manitoba [and] provid[ing] programs and services which are of benefit to all persons residing in the Province of Manitoba.” We believe that PCCM is now in a position to truly be a meeting place and a community centre for Filipinos in Manitoba. Since 2012, PCCM has hosted visiting keynote speakers and numerous community forums; Kapit Bisig with the participation of the Winnipeg Police Service and the Winnipeg Fire Department - an orientation and welcoming program for newcomer immigrant families; consular outreach programs by the Philippine Consulate Group – Toronto allowing thousands of Filipino citizens to renew their Philippine passports. Since 2013, PCCM has hosted the Philippine Consulate, which gives the community access to consular services four days a week.
This administration and its core of volunteers have spent the last three years repairing and fixing everything from the building to the books. They are proud of the accomplishments they’ve made in these past few years:
- Clearing property tax arrears and unpaid bills from previous years
- Adopting a computerized accounting system for proper bookkeeping
- Obtaining an appraised market value of the building
- Installing an alarm system and CCTV cameras throughout the Centre
- Increasing engagement and commitment from board members and volunteers
- Hosting events, info sessions and outreaches for the community
- Becoming the new home for the Philippine Consulate office
PCCM is not a perfect organization but it has been working hard these past three years to serve the Filipino community in Manitoba.
About the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba Inc. (PCCM)
The Phillipine Canadian Centre of Manitoba is a non-share corporation and a charitable organization registered with Canada Revenue Agency that handles administration, management and operations of Philippine Centre facility located at 737 Keewatin Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
For more information, please contact:
PCCM Spokesperson and Vice-President, Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba, Inc.
Excerpt of the wire payment instructions from TD Canada Trust showing the path of the donation funds from the PCCM to the Philippine Red Cross account #375283500034
Image of registered cheque payment for shipment of relief goods, received by Neil Te of Forex Cargo, January 28, 2014
Receipt from Forex Cargo for $200 deposit, dated January 16, 2014
Donor cheque #741 (name withheld) dishonoured due to mismatch of English and numerical amounts:
Donor cheque #743 for $6,324.25 – dishonoured, name withheld