What was supposed to be just a candidates forum, turned into an explosive look into the soul of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Incorporated, or PIDCI, the organization behind the biggest Filipino independence parade outside the Philippines.
This October 7, PIDCI is electing officers who will be at the helm of the 2018 parade.
Three candidates running for president made their case at this forum, organized by the Fil-Am Press Club of New York.
“I wanna harness all the knowledge and the experience the I learned to level up the organization,” said candidate Antero “Ner” Martinez.
“I think it’s about time to come back, because we have to change the PIDC now,” said candidate Gani Puertollano.
“I want to be a president, because I want to continue to serve the community,” said Ollie David.
PIDCI is also filling seven board member positions.
Most candidates are promising for a clean and honest election, financial transparency and accountability in 2018.
Past officers confirmed that some money went missing, but how much and how it was lost are still not clear.
“The lawyers have been retained and due process, due process of the law, and if the there is guilt, we have to go after that,” said Martinez.
PIDCI, a not-for-profit organization, is tax-exempt from the IRS.
But officials say PIDCI has not been compliant with their financial returns for 3 years now, and that’s why their 501-c-3 was suspended. A request for reinstatement was filed earlier this year.
“The board of directors is the governing body of PIDCI, that means they are the watchdog, so I think everybody is liable, they don’t do their duty, their fiduciary duty, that’s a negligence,” said Puertollano.
Organizers say PIDCI has to raise at least $250,000 to keep the parade alive each year.
But the challenge now for voters is to elect the right officers who will make sure the organization gets back on track.