WINNIPEG – The Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Election of six new board members on Sunday, December 14, 2008.Over 70 PCCM members braved a -43 C wind chill to attend the AGM and vote for their candidates. Acting PCCM President, Hon. Dr. Rey Pagtakhan presided over the meeting, which began at 2:30 p.m. Several members voiced their concerns and suggestions regarding some of the reports presented by the board in the almost four-hour meeting. At times, the exchange of opinions became heated but Dr. Pagtakhan was able maintain order and the election was conducted without incident.
Of the 10 candidates in the running, six were elected. They were (in alphabetical order): Carrie Barroga, Rod Cantiveros, Irene Guzman, Leah Magsino, Clarita Nazario and Lito Taruc.
In his President’s Report, Dr. Pagtakhan informed the members that in the four weeks that he presided over the PCCM board, three initiatives were born. It was resolved that there was a need for audit work and appointment of Auditor; need for greater transparency, accountability and community engagement; and need for the creation of a Legal Committee and Advisory Committee.
In his speech, Dr. Pagtakhan sadly noted that, “There is a crisis of confidence in the PCCM that threatens its survival. Its debt load is life threatening… there are many more petty rivalries, jealousies, idle talks and gossip mongers than competitions for hard work, humility, serious dialogues and bearers of goodwill; there are many more who talk of doom yet lift no finger to help prevent a doomsday.”
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PCCM to be audited
One of the highlights of the AGM was the announcement that independent auditors, Lazer-Grant LLP, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, will officially audit the organization.
“The audit work will provide the basis for restoring trust and confidence in the PCCM,” declared Dr. Pagtakhan.
Lazer-Grant will do PCCM’s multi-year operations audit, as well as an audit of building costs. They will also be the external auditors for 2009. This was approved during a board meeting on November 10 and was subsequently passed by the members during the AGM.
According to Dr. Pagtakhan, the board has also asked Lazer-Grant to undertake consulting work on 10 specific related tasks apart from the audits, namely:
1. To examine PCCM’s obligations under the Registered Charities Act to ensure that its charitable status is not compromised by any of the activities held of the PCCM;
2. To examine PCCM’s obligations to the bank according to the mortgage agreement and to other parties to make sure that these are met in a timely manner;
3. To examine the obligations of the PCCM under the Manitoba Corporation Act;
4. To review fundraising procedures and controls for the current and previous fundraisers, and to provide a list of findings and recommendations;
5. To examine lease agreements with commercial tenants and prepare a schedule – listing rental fees, lease termination date, property tax, terms of the lease and other items according to PCCM needs;
6. To examine revenues from the rental of the multipurpose room for proper documentation and authorization of use and fees;
7. To prepare a schedule of salaries paid to PCCM staff and any casual workers;
8. To examine the salary amounts against employment contracts and board approval;
9. To examine the financial arrangements between the PCCM and Philippine Association of Manitoba, and the PCCM and the Philippine Honorary Consul in Winnipeg (past and present) with regard the use of respective offices at the PCCM; and
10. To review insurance coverage and advise whether it is adequate based on the prevailing experience of auditors and business advisors.
“The audit and evaluation will cost the PCCM approximately $15,000,” said Dr. Pagtakhan, “The results…will provide definitive recommendations based on sound accounting principles, [for] good governance, property management, efficient and effective administration, controls on fundraising procedures and stewardship of the PCCM.”
Other AGM highlights
1. A copy of the PCCM Constitution and By-laws will be made available to members for their information.
2. A PCCM Legal Committee was created. Lawyers Alona Mercado, Reis Pagtakhan and Orlando Santos have agreed to serve; and
3. A PCCM Advisory Committee was also created. The core members are Perla Javate, Rev. Neil Parado, Li Buenaventura, Philip Pascual, Dr. Roland Guzman, Joy Lazo and Dr. Rey Pagtakhan.
PCCM Board Meeting – Open to the public
The public is invited to attend the new board’s first meeting. It will be held on Friday, December 19, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the PCCM Board Room.