ED LIBRANDA.

STRAIGHT TALK

 

BY ED LIBRANDA

Fundraising campaign for Taal victims, but what about Ondoy victims?

The eruption of Taal Volcano, second most active volcano in the Philippines with 33 recorded historical eruptions and is located 50 kilometers south of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines has erupted again on Sunday afternoon, January 12, 2020, spew an ash column measuring 100 meters, prompting PHIVOLCS to upgrade the alert status to Alert 3 at 4pm that Sunday eruption.

Residents around the crater, notably from all the municipalities of Balete, San Nicolas, and Talisay in the province of Batangas, and other towns within the shores of Taal Lake were evacuated and brought to evacuaation centers outside of the 14-kilometer danger zone.

Ashfall from the volcano was also experienced in Cavite and Laguna and reached as far as Metro Manila, and Pampanga.

Given the continuous eruption of Taal Volcano, it has generated a tall 10 to 15 column with frequent volcanic lightning that rained wet and ashfall on the general north as far as Quezon City and Caloocan, the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (FACCGH) through its newly inducted president Mei Frias, has mobilized its organization through the coordinated effort of its mother organization, the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce. and its president Marie Cunning.

The FACCGH has put up a fundraising activity via the GO FUND ME https://www.gofundme.com/f/taal-volcano-eruption-relief-and-recovery?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

where donors can send their donations. Besides the Go Fund Me website, FACCGH president Mei Frias and her vice president, Cerlito Salarda, as of this writing, are now in San Antonio, collectively enjoining all the Filipino American residents to contribute to the cause of all the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

"BUFFET FOR A CAUSE! HELP FOR TAAL" (www.lagunacafesa.com) organized by the owners of LAGUNA CAFE (Where Comfort and Fusion Food Meet) through the coordination of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston wherein all proceeds go directly to the victims of Taal Volcano

Fundraising campaign whether it is done locally as in Texas or elsewhere, or nationwide reminded me of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) where various Fil-Am organizations such as GABRIELA USA and the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC) through its former president, now Philippine Honorary Consul  Ethel Reyes Mercado, mobilized all its members (FPACC) to undertake a fundraising drive using the name of her organization, the Federation of {hilippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC) and availing of its 501c3 not for profit tax-exempt that has been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under its charitable programs such as the TYPHOON ONDOY FUNDRAISING DRIVE.

But a further journalistic investigation by the Philippine Sentinel, and based on reliable sources from the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC), the effort of then-president Ethel R. Mercado of FPACC in the Typhoon Ondoy Fundraising Drive generated $38,000, or almost Php2 million to benefit the victims of Typhoon Ondoy.

At that time, Ms. Ethel Reyes Mercado, was aspiring to become the honorary consul of Texas, whose Philippine Consulate General office in Houston, Texas headed by then-Ambassador Juan "Johnny" Saez, and whose prior appointment to Houston, Texas, was the Philippine Ambassador to Moscow, Russia from 1989-1991, was closed in 1992 after the demise of its Philippine Consul General Juan Saez.

Based on reliable information gathered by the Philippine Sentinel, Ms. Etherl Mercado's resume' needs to be developed more to enhance it to be at par with the rest of the applicants vying for the honorary consul position in Texas.

Through the "bullying and power-hungry" effort of her husband, Gus Mercado, Ms. Ethel Mercado, and after the hierarchy of the federation acceded to the proposal for her to assume the presidency of FPACC, was finally placed at the helm of FPACC.

Ms. Mercado's placement as FPACC president was predicated on the condition that as soon as she is appointed and takes over as honorary consul in Texas, she would relinquish her position as FPACC president.

The departure of Ms. Mercado as FPACC president happened without any ruckus as "Ethel wanted to stay on as president of FPACC and finish her term, but that was against the deal she made with the officers of FPACC...so she was forced to step down after her appointment as honorary consul."

Now, back to the amount of $38,00 that was raised by FPACC using their tax-exempt 501(c)3, and according to my sources, the said amount was deposited in FPACC Foundation bank account, but was withdrawn by Ms. Mercado without any approval from FPACC, when she stepped down as FPACC president.

Ms. Mercado has no legal right to cause the withdrawal of the Ondoy funds intended for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines, and generated via FPACC, even if Ms. Mercado was instrumental in the Ondoy Fundraising Campaign, the money donated and deposited under the name of FPACC Foundation, is the legal property of FPACC and not of Ms. Mercado.

Accordingly, based on the information, it was alleged that the donated Ondoy funds were purposely withdrawn to be paid back to its donors and not to the Ondoy victims.


With the combined effort by the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (FACCGH) and its umbrella organization, the Federtation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC), I hope this time, funds donated for the victims of Taal will go directly where it should be.


The Philippine Sentinel is still awaiting any response from the Honorary Consul Ethel Mercado.

 

 

© Philippine Sentinel 2019

The First Filipino-American Community Newspaper in Texas Since 1987

Opinions expressed herein are those of the bloggers and do not 

necessarily reflect the position of The Philippine Sentinel.

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