Another long-time Filipino-Australian organisation is now in crisis. Members of the Filipino Association of Victoria Inc. (FAVI) led by the 2012 elected Vice President, Divine Basa are complaining after they alleged the recent election was rigged. FAVI has been in existence for 55 years now.
The election “was done improperly and therefore the FAVI Election was NULL AND VOID,” Basa wrote in her letter of complaint to Mila Cathery, FAVI President.
“On behalf of some FAVI members, we would like to express our disappointment and frustration about the way FAVI’s annual general meeting (AGM) and election were carried out,” Basa wrote.
Basa added: “It was done in a very unprofessional and unethical manner and no order at all. I have never ever seen one conducted the way you have done it and your follower members. It was a total disgrace to the Filipinos and to the Australian members who attended our AGM.”
“It was further confirmed to me by some of the FAVI committee and members that there were 5 of Mila Cathery’s follower members who were present on the 24th April 2016 FAVI AGM and Election, were not legitimate FAVI members but were allowed to vote on that day by Mila Cathery,” Basa testified.
“Three of Mila Cathery’s follower members stated to some members and friends before the scheduled AGM and Election that they were not officially FAVI member, and 5 of them did not pay their registration fee.”
The election is under dispute because “Cathery did not comply to the proper election process set forth by the Consumer Affairs Model Rules of Associations Incorporation Reform Regulations 2012,” Basa told The Philippine Times.
The supposed leadership of Cathery, according to Basa, is more than just the all-out winning of Cathery’s group over her opposing group as the complaint consists not just about the election but other seemingly anomalous transactions within the organisation itself under her supposed leadership. This time, involving finances.
Basa’s group said they already filed a formal complaint to the Consumer Affairs Victoria against Cathery’s not submitting FAVI’s Financial Statement for four years.
“We have not agreed and approved the 4 years’ financial statements based on the questions raised about the bank statements gathered from the Internet banking and some financial records,” she further explained.
Furthermore, she added in her letter to Cathery: “We have not completed our examination for the accuracy and correctness of our Financial Statement 2014-2015 and we have not even started checking the 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 due to absence of the 4 years of bank statements and financial records which you promised to provide the members at the AGM.”
“Therefore, FAVI’s four years of financial statements are not accepted and not approved by most of the members.”
Basa told The Philippine Times that the current FAVI head has a lot of explaining to do. Those needing urgent answers from Cathery, she said, are: a) Why she was holding three positions at the same time (President, Secretary, and Treasurer of FAVI); Why did she list her name as Registered Secretary with Consumer Affairs when FAVI had an elected Secretary; Why did she close and open FAVI’s bank account alone without consulting the committee and members?; Why did she manage alone FAVI’s Fixed Term Deposit without consulting the committee and members?
Cathery’s response: “No anomalous bank transactions”
While the email exchanges between Basa and Cathery have been epic in proportion, in Cathery’s defense, she briefly explained to The Philippine Times:
“The financial statement for 2011 to 2015 were submitted pre AGM on 5/4/2016.”
“To be compliant with CAV requirement, financial statements were presented to the members at the AGM which was held on the 24/4/16. CAV will now be notified of the result,” she further explained.
“We are not aware of any anomalous bank transactions as alleged.”
“The election process was conducted by a show of hands in a correct and proper manner. This was achieved despite the disruptive conduct displayed by Divine and some members. We do not recognise the relevance or application of the various bodies or regulations as cited by Divine.”
“We continue to comply with CAV Association Incorporation Act 1981,” she added.
“Whilst it is true that attempts were made by Divine to create an unwarranted crisis, the election outcome clearly demonstrated that I continue to have the support and confidence of the members for which I am truly humbled.”
“We are currently in the process of soliciting nominations from worthwhile and suitable charities who meet our selection criteria and who are in need of financial assistance,” she added. The current cash balance of FAVI is around $30,000 and members of Basa’s group are asking for receipts and detailed bank transactions.
Cathery said the new set of officers elected during the last AGM are: President: Mila Cathery; Vice President: Helena Thomson; Secretary: Cecile Pamamull; Treasurer: Francis Solier; Assistant Treasurer: Grace Deverala, and Auditor: May Dyball.
She added that FAVI will be having its annual Post Independence Ball on 27 August 2016 at Langham Hotel.
FAVI’s 55 years of existence
FAVI is an incorporated association registered with the Consumer Affairs under the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 and is one of the oldest Filipino organisations in Victoria having been founded in 1961.
When FAVI registered with the Consumers Affairs, in 1983, it was registered with the following statement of purposes:
– To provide facilities and opportunities for social activities for the Filipino Community and their friends.
– To promote greater awareness of the needs and problems of Filipino immigrants and their families.
– To assist in solving some of the areas of concern of the Filipino Community in Victoria.
– To promote friendly relations between Filipinos and other nationalities in Australian community.
– To provide information, support and assistance (in conjunction with the Department of Social Welfare and other similar bodies) to families who have adopted or wish to adopt Filipino children; and
– To act as an advisory body in supplying information to Filipinos and their families from organisations such as the Migrant Resource Centre, relevant government department and others.