Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Apology issued over relief money

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The Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba says it's sorry for a delay in sending cash and goods to stricken typhoon victims in the Philippines

In a news release sent late Sunday, the PCCM offered an apology.

"We realize that a mistake was made... and we are very sorry... we hope that the members of our community could still work together to attain our united goal of helping our kababayans (fellow Filipinos) in time of need," said PCCM president Lito Taruc.

Earlier this month, the centre confirmed for the last two months it had been sitting on more than $70,000 in relief money, plus goods to be shipped overseas.

Taruc, president of the centre on Keewatin Street, said the delay was due to a misunderstanding.

The committee in charge of relief efforts applied for matching federal funds by the January deadline and were waiting for word back and the funds from Ottawa, Taruc said. They didn't know they were supposed to send their money to the Philippines and not wait for the federal funds, he added.

The relief effort began soon after typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on Nov. 8.

In the news release, the PCCM said this week volunteers shipped 53 boxes filled with food, clothing, diapers and other supplies to help victims of typhoon Haiyan.

"There were delays to get boxes to the Philippines as community members dropped off goods throughout all of December, a large number of volunteers were needed to sort and pack donations and it was difficult getting all of this in place before the holidays," the PCCM said.

Aida Champagne, president of the Filipino Seniors Group, was critical earlier this month of the PCCM.

"It is kind of surprising and very alarming that for the past two months they've been sitting on this money. And they said they were waiting for matching funds?" Champagne said.

"Not to know the process is a lame excuse, and I don't buy it. A lot of people have questions about the Philippine Canadian Centre, and it's not just about that."

Her concerns were echoed by Jon Reyes, president of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council.

"The Philippine Canadian Centre is supposed to be the face of our community and a lot of non-Philippine people in the mainstream believe that's what they're supposed to be, but they're not representative of our community," the business leader said earlier this month.

"In our culture, we're very open, hospitable and welcoming. I don't see those good-natured values practised there."

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2014 A6

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