By Alex P. Vidal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The former vice president of the Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) here has disagreed with the decison of the board of directors to strip him of his position saying he would bring the matter to court if necessary.
“I will consult my lawyer (regarding this matter),” the emotional Amado Mercado boomed in an exclusive phone interview on February 20. “What they did was illegal and this will reflect on the image of the (Filipino) community.”
Mercado lamented that he was never given a due process even if “I have been serving the MHHS for 12 years now as a volunteer.”
Mercado said the board did not have a quorum when they convened to remove him as vice president. “And besides, there was no vacancy,” he stressed. “It’s a long story. For the meantime, I will confer the matter with my lawyer.”
Mercado’s name has been stricken out as vice president but he is still member of the board, confirmed MHHS president Tomas Avendano.
“He was not removed,” Avendano explained. “He is still a member of the board.”
Avendano said under the MHHS constitution and by-laws, the board can remove all officers, including him as president, for loss of confidence.
He did not elaborate. Avendano did not disclose the reason why Mercado’s position was supposedly abolished but confirmed “there is no more (position of) vice president.”
“I can not comment on this issue further because the minutes of the meeting did not yet reach my table,” said Avendano, 83, who just arrived from Ottawa as awardee of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal “for his commitment to helping new immigrants on Canada’s West Coast to integrate into Canadian society” on February 6.
Avendano admitted he was aware of the board’s decision and blamed Mercado for not attending the meeting held before he flew to Ottawa when the matter was discussed. Avendano denied he did not protect Mercado during the board meeting saying “as president I have to be neutral and will only listen like a presiding judge.”
Formerly called as the Filipino Canadian Support Services Society (FCSSS) until renamed to MHHS in 2001, the non-stock, non-profit organization was founded in 1996.
According to its website, the society “sought to establish a new center to serve as a one-stop-shop to serve its clients and by 2003, the MHHS inaugurated its main center on Fraser and 32nd Avenue. The three-storey edifice hosted temporary accommodations for newly landed immigrants, respite housing, as well as staff offices, rooms for meetings, counseling, and training/workshops. The expanded support services included settlement, job assistance, and programs for the youth, seniors and families.”
The Society’s services reportedly outgrew its facility, and a second office was established by 2009. The second site hosted the Fast Track employment services program, as well as workshops for EI clients, skills development programs, job creation partnerships, targeted wage subsidies and self-employment assistance.
With financial support coming from all three levels of government – Federal, Provincial and City – the society began to construction to expand its main center in 2010.
The board is composed of directors Ric Asistio (medical supplies representative), Tita M. Bognot (business owner), Rebecca Delos Reyes (retired), Limbania Deza Lau (retired nurse), Roberto Montes (welding inspector), Jose Ong (IT consultant/realtor), and Danilo Pizarro (business owner). Secretary is Pocholo Insua (mortgage broker) and treasurer is Michael Cayetano (certified general accountant).