Non-profit organizations like the Filipino Centre-Toronto (FCT) do not belong to a chosen few but to its members, who in our case, represent the Filipino community.
FCT executive council officers and board of directors (BOD) who volunteered their services have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard members’ interests, manage assets of the organization with integrity, and promote the Filipino community’s well-being and image.
In the spirit of good governance, the FCT leadership ought to exercise a policy of openness and cooperation when it comes to legitimate requests or inquiries. For instance, a request for final and audited financial reports for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 should not be met with hesitation, evasion, or derision but rather welcomed since it indicates an interest by concerned members in better understanding FCT operations and FCT leaders’ capabilities. Besides, the FCT Board is ultimately answerable to its membership.
FCT Commission on Election (Comelec) members and FCT Board of Directors (BOD) at the October 2019 Annual General Meeting held at the FCT Centre. Seated: FCT Lawyer Ramon Andal. Standing (L-R) BOD: Lolit Tablang, Jerom Peralta, Alvine Marasigan Flor, Secretary Judith Gonzales, Priscilla Tumulak, Dr. Nenette de Villa, Steffie Stephens, Philip Beloso, Treasurer Wendy Arena; Comelec: Tony San Juan, Dodong Tumulak, Rose Tijam (Chair); BOD: Nitz Rejdik, Mercy Maliglig, Vice-President Theresa Lumanlan, Dr. Victoria Santiago, Chairman Efren de Villa, President and CEO Mary Ann San Juan and FCT member Felino Javier. Not in picture are BOD: Mhel Galleon, Corazon Laraya Coutts and Frank Cruzet
The Filipino community has high expectations that FCT officers and BOD have the professionalism to avoid conflicts of interest, keep official records, define the roles and responsibilities of each executive and member of the board of directors, and exercise diligence in performing their duties, including the issuance of a detailed financial report every year.,
However, until now, FCT has not issued a single final, audited, and member-approved financial statement since 2016. It’s like a festering boil in the seat of your pants since FCT executive council officers and BOD had been promising to deliver the financial statement time and time again, but nothing happened. In the 2019 Annual General Meeting although the 2017 and 2018 financial statements were shown both were qualified as still in draft form with work in process.
Anybody who can read ought to know that nobody wants FCT to fail. What people want is to ensure that FCT is compliant with government regulations and that it maintains proper documentation and it is compliant with its bylaws in support of major expenditures.
The absence of the 2016 financial statement is quite significant since this is the year when FCT’s $5.9-million building was sold with a closing date in January 2017. The ending balance of the final and audited 2016 financial statement should be the beginning balance of 2017.
One FCT insider said that when the sale became official, huge payables suddenly appeared like mushroom. Subsequently the membership in the 2018 Annual General Meeting were dumbfounded when presented these first-time-seen payables that go back many, many years. When questions rose from the floor from members no straight answers were given.
Another interesting question is at the time the invoices of the payables were submitted, were all the members of the Board even aware that those payables existed?
Mary Ann San Juan is now FCT President and CEO. She reportedly runs FCT with an iron hand. Unlike her late predecessor she prohibits the local Filipino media from attending FCT general meetings.
According to FCT’s public statements, several individuals received payments after the sale of FCT’s property on Parliament Street, Toronto. The recipients include: Vicky Santiago-$300,000, Rosalinda Javier-$96,000, Felino Javier-$122,000, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)-$122,000, Wendy Arena-$30,000, and S&J Mechanicals-$8,000.
We hope that the payments are on the level and tax returns were accurately reported as Revenue Canada hates Mickey Mouse accounting
Any violation of government regulations and statutes may require answers from these executive council officers and BOD: Efren de Villa – Chairman, Mary Ann San Juan – President and CEO, Theresa Lumanlan – Vice President, Judith Gonzales – Secretary, Wendy Arena – Treasurer.
Board of Directors Nenette de Villa, Vicky Santiago, Mercy Maliglig, Nita Rejdik, Philip Beloso, Frank Cruzet, Mhel Galeon, Alvine Marasigan Flor, Jerom Peralta, Steffie Stephens, Lolit Tablang, Corazon Laraya Coutts, and Priscilla Tumulak.
President and CEO San Juan needs more qualified help if all she can manage is a stripped-down PowerPoint presentation to simulate a financial report with numbers that may not have supporting information.
Lastly, what about the 2018 AGM member approved motion of engaging an auditor to do a 3rd party independent audit? When is this going to happen? When are the members and the community going to know the complete story and whole truth?
By Socrates ‘Soc’ Moreno