By Alex P. Vidal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The tone of his voice when he wanted to explain something during the board meeting may have been high, “but it did not mean that I was shouting,” clarified Amado Mercado, Multicultural Helping House Society’s (MHHS) erstwhile second highest official.
Mercado denied he raised his voice in one of their recent board meetings the reason why a feud ignited between him and director Jose Ong that resulted in the passing of a “unanimous” resolution stripping him of his position as vice president in January this year.
“I just wanted to make a point that not all activities and programs initiated by my committee needed a board resolution,” Mercado insisted.
He was referring to the committee on infrastructure he chaired when the MHHS building was built in 2010 and financed mostly by the Canadian government and private donors in the community.
MHHS president Tomas Avendano said the board was asking Mercado to provide them with copies of the job order in the construction of additional facility — MHHS Newcomer Resource Center — which was finished in 2011.
Avendano agreed with Mercado that “there was no need for the board to squeeze him on the job order since the project has been completed already.”
Avendano assured that “Mercado is clean” saying he did not believe there was irregularity in the construction or any project undertaken under his administration.
“Everything is transparent here and, so far, I have not monitored any irregularity done by anybody eversince I became president,” said Avendano, who confirmed he was present when the board passed the resolution ousting Mercado as vice president.
Avendano, however, stressed that “a legitimate question deserves a legitimate answer.” He did not elaborate.
Mercado maintained the board resolution was “illegal” because the board lacked the number or didn’t have a quorum when they decided to yank him out as vice president.
Avendano, 83, clarified though that Mercado still retains his position as member of the board. The resolution passed by those present “was not official since it was not yet ratified,” Avendano said.
Avendano identified those present as directors Ong, Ric Asistio, Robert Montes, Ching Concepcion, secretary Pocholo Insua, treasurer Michael Cayetano, and himself.
Mercado accused them of “controlling the meeting” protesting that he was not informed of the agenda. He was absent when the board booted him as vice president.
When reached for comment by this writer, Cayetano did not call back. Some of the original members of the board have already resigned, Avendano disclosed.
Mel Cruz, Patricia Diamzon, Roy Ricarse, and Marius Alparaque are the newly appointed members of the board. They were not present when the Mercado’s ouster from vice presidency was tackled.
Avendano also confirmed their financial records are now being reviewed by an external auditor as well as auditors from the Vancouver city government and the British Columbia provincial government.
The federal government, city hall, and provincial government chipped in $500,000 each when the MHHS building was constructed in 2010. The Filipino Canadian Construction Society (FCCS), composed of General Contracting, Trade Contracting, Project Management, Estimating, Plans and Drawings, Drafting, Autocadd, Repair and Renovation, Drywall, HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical works, Painting & Water-proofing, and Sales also donated $6,000 for the three-storey building on Fraser Street.
Mercado snubbed Avendano’s invitation for him to attend the regular board meeting last February 25 saying he was advised by his lawyer to “stay away for a while.”
“I don’t want to have an exchange of words with Tatay Tom (Avendano) kaya huwag na muna akong magsalita (that’s why I will stop from further talking about the issue),” Mercado said.
Avendano clarified that “the board is not at war with Mercado. He is still a member of the board and he is always welcome to attend the meeting — that is if he is still interested to serve!”
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.