By Ron Cantiveros
Immediately after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013, Winnipeg’s Filipino community scrambled to raise money through fundraising drives, benefit concerts, relief socials, school donation drives and workplace 50/50 raffles. The Government of Canada also stepped in with a federal matching program to encourage Canadians to give generously. We all gave generously.
Some of those fundraising efforts were eventually directed to the Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM). At their recent AGM, they announced that over $72,000 in donations were collected.
Based on several media reports on Global Winnipeg and CBC Manitoba, PCCM president, Lito Taruc admitted that they were still sitting on the donations and waiting for the federal government to match the funds. It was days after that Taruc apologized and claimed that they were unaware of the process involved in the matching program. Nearly two and a half months after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, the money is still waiting to be forwarded to the Philippines.
A joint PCCM-CKJS Radio 810 radio-thon held on November 16 at Garden City Shopping Centre raised more than $16,000. That money could have been sent that weekend to help the aid and rebuilding efforts of lead aid agencies on the ground in the Philippines. A lot of families in the Philippines could have benefited from that radio-thon money. Unfortunately, PCCM didn’t send the money.
Corporate and community donations continued to flow into the fundraising campaign. Even a visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a fundraising social at PCCM in late November raised over $8,000. November month end, PCCM didn’t send the money.
PCCM could have sent accumulated donations on December 9th, which was original federal matching deadline before it was extended to December 23rd. The opportunity to lift the spirit and hope for typhoon victims going through the holidays was missed because PCCM didn’t send the money.
On January 9th, the PCCM fundraising committee submitted the federal matching documentation. As of Monday, January 20th, PCCM still hasn’t forwarded the money.
As president of PCCM, and veteran news director at CKJS 810, Lito Taruc should have been well informed and aware of all the deadlines, and policy details of the federal matching program. There are also board members with professional backgrounds that should have been able to understand the policy. The program details are simple and summarized on the Government of Canada website.
The Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund is separate from the funds raised by charities and will be administered separately by the Government of Canada. This means that a charity declaring the amount of eligible donations raised does not receive a matching dollar from the Government of Canada.- Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website
The entire Winnipeg community rushed to support the massive Typhoon Haiyan relief effort. Every single individual, organization and business that donated to PCCM trusted that their hard earned donations would help the urgent need for monetary donations.
This reflects poorly on the collective efforts of every single Filipino in Manitoba that raised money for Typhoon Haiyan relief. The integrity of the Filipino community as a whole is weakened. When the next calamity hits the Philippines, individuals will be less willing, less generous and less trusting of any disaster relief fundraising at PCCM.