By Ron Cantiveros
Empty seats dominated the 2014 PCCM Annual General Meeting and board elections earlier this month. Based on the dismal attendance and lack of notice in the community, it would seem to suggest that the PCCM board didn’t want to take any questions from the community.
In front of their own peers of no less than 21 members, the PCCM board quietly held their AGM and elections on Saturday, January 11. The members in attendance were affiliated with the Philippine Association of Manitoba (PAM) and Tau Gamma Phi fraternity. Twenty-one people may meet quorum rules for the AGM, but fails miserably to represent the collective interests of the 65,000 Filipinos in Manitoba.
The decision to limit notice of the AGM seemed bizarre. The board claimed enough notice was provided based on constitution guidelines which amounted to a single bulletin board poster at the centre, a membership mail campaign and on-air announcements on CKJS. In previous years, AGM and election notices were sent to all community newspapers, including the Filipino Journal.
Speaking with faithful CKJS listeners, many couldn’t recall any on-air AGM announcements. As for mailing AGM notices, several members claimed that they received nothing in the mail. I hope the election committee has a receipt for the stamps used to mail the notices.
While PCCM members occupied the front seating areas of the room, observers were physically segregated to the back of the hall, well behind the main seating area. Non-voting observers with no speaking rights at the AGM included Kelly Legaspi (Sikaran Arnis Academy), Aida Champagne (Manitoba Filipino Street Festival), Fred Arrojado (CTICS), Ley Navarro (Artista Magazine) and myself. We were denied the opportunity to buy new memberships, renew expired memberships, or contest valid memberships before the AGM.
The January 11th AGM started with Lito Taruc’s scripted President’s Report, followed by brief building and financial reports. The final agenda item was the election for five open board positions. Conveniently, only five candidates were presented including one candidate who was absent due to medical matters. As voting was not required, all candidates were quickly acclaimed as directors.
Even more surprising, all motions at the AGM were carried and passed with no questions or debate from the floor. As far as financial records, a Profit & Loss statement (April 2012 to March 2013) and Balance Sheet (as of March 31) were the only records presented. No financial records for the remainder of 2013 were disclosed. Yet, the motion to approve the financial report passed.
The entire AGM took an hour to complete. Previous AGMs at PCCM have normally attracted 100s of community members, multiple candidates seeking PCCM board positions and have lasted anywhere from 3-4 hours.
Two observers, Fred Arrojado and Kelly Legaspi managed to throw questions to the board on several matters. Rather than answering the questions, several directors called for order, one called the contract security guard, while another simply waved the constitution.
The PCCM board can wave the constitution as much as they want to validate their decisions on all AGM matters. The real question is when will the PCCM board be open, accountable and transparent with the community they think they represent?
Let’s go through the 2013 AGM Annual Report. Several items just don’t add up. Annual membership fee of $12 collected, systematic elimination of elected directors, selective director appointments, a not-so-well publicized AGM and virtually closed board elections and incomplete financial reports. Why was there a contract security guard? There are a lot more questions and very few answers.
We’re asking for is accountability, transparency and engagement on all matters. We simply want the PCCM board of directors to host an open community meeting and address all any community concerns and questions.