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N+ ex-chairperson details complaints; most of alleged involved people stay mum

The ex-chairperson of N+ detailed to Outrage Magazine the extent of his complaints. Former vice chair says new Board of Trustees being held accountable for errors of past leaders.

BY MICHAEL DAVID C. TAN
and STEPHEN CHRISTIAN P. QUILACIO

The former Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the beleaguered Network of Positive Advocates of the Philippines, Inc. has detailed to Outrage Magazine the extent of his complaints against the group also known as Network Plus Philippines or N+.

It can be remembered that after holding the top position in N+ for only approximately two months, he hastily resigned and alleged that N+ lacks independence, is grossly mismanaged (and has issues with ineptitude, and malversation within), and has a “willingness to turn a blind eye to these issues for the sake of maintaining a positive public image.”

The Vice Chairperson followed the lead, and at least eight member organizations dumped N+, with Positive Elders Philippines, Inc. (PELP), an organization of elder Filipinos living with HIV, stating that it saw fit to withdraw its membership “due to the ongoing discord and unresolved organizational and financial issues plaguing the network.”

The former chairperson lamented the seeming focus on turning the issue into ‘personalan (personal issue), instead of about unliquidated funds and outside influences, including of non-PLHIV in a supposedly HIV network.

In the spirit of fairness, with the names of the chairperson and vice chairperson withheld to protect their identities as persons living with HIV, Outrage Magazine has decided to – similarly – not divulge the names of the other members of the Board of Trustees until this case enters public records.

All the same, as many steps as possible were taken to get the sides of the story of all the persons named by the former chairperson of N+.

ALLEGATION 1: The Board of Trustees (BoT) refused, and still refuses to release the financial statements and audit result

The former chairperson claimed to have started making a request for N+’s financial statements and audit result since June 28, with an email sent again to N+’s Corporate Secretary on July 1.

“It is sad, more troubling to be sure, that since the release of the official statement of the BoT that there has been a ‘thorough internal audit’ and that all funds were utilized and accounted for, the Board refused, and still refuses, to release the financial statements and audit result. That instead of facing the issue head-on with respect to transparency, the Corporate Secretary… has been sending private messages to member organizations telling them, among others, to be open-minded, that they are focused on interventions to resolve the unliquidated funds and NOT the final finances, and that all these are ‘personalan’. Evidently, this is evading responsibility and a resort to dirty tactics which, I surmise, is to gain sympathy,” the former chairperson stated.

He added that “the auditor who is the authorized person who allegedly did the ‘thorough internal audit’, refuses to submit the audit report. I have proof that as of June 29, they are still working on the finances. Their refusal to release the financial documents can only mean one thing: The Board is lying when they said there was a ‘thorough internal audit’ and that ‘all funds were utilized and accounted for’.”

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N+ is actually mandated by law to produce the request of the former chairperson. Section 74 of Republic Act 11232, or the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines, states that “A corporation shall furnish a stockholder or member, within ten (10) days from receipt of their written request, its most recent financial statement, in the form and substance of the financial reporting required by the Commission.”

Outrage Magazine has reached out to the corporate secretary (and now OIC), who said that they will eventually release a statement regarding this issue after clearing things internally.

Outrage Magazine has similarly reached out to the auditor via Messenger; the message remains unseen. Another Messenger message was sent to the Facebook account of the organization of this person, but this was only “seen” and no response was received.

The other remaining member of the BoT is currently unreachable after locking her Facebook account, and leaving all GCs (group chats) she belonged to. Her current role in N+ is undisclosed.

POINT FOR EMPHASIS

For his part, the former vice chairperson wanted to reiterate that the past BoT should be held accountable for the issues plaguing N+ now, considering this new BoT only took office in April.

Outrage Magazine has reached out to the former chairperson of N+’s BoT; no response was received via his personal Messenger account, while the Messenger message sent to the organization he is affiliated with was already seen even if no response has been received as of press time.

The former vice chairperson added: “The past BoT is accountable for everything that happened under its term. The new BoT should enforce accountability. But what happened that put the new BoT in a hot mess is, instead of making the past BoT accountable, the person in the new BoT in charge of finances chose to issue a clearance for all. That is the reason they are in the spotlight now.”*

(SOME) BACKERS’ POSITIONS

In an earlier communication via Messenger with UNAIDS Philippines Country Director Lui Ocampo, he stated that “the review of the financial books has been ongoing for a few months already. Based on the latest review as of June 26, all project funds have been accounted for.”

Asked again about this issue after the chairperson released his statement to Outrage Magazine, Ocampo said that “to respect the process of the community, we will refrain from issuing statements.” Instead, they are “helping to facilitate processes to address this situation.”

Reached via email, Ray U. Angluben, director for Global Fund Programs at Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), which is one of the backers of N+, said that “it is unfortunate to hear such news about the organization. I do not have personal knowledge on the details, but I do hope a resolution will be achieved at the soonest possible time.”

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Angluben added that PSFI doesn’t have any institutional arrangement with N+, and so “we do not directly provide funds to N+ organization.  We have, however, supported activities where N+ organization members were primary participants such as the Positivity Summits and N+ general assembly in the previous year. In all of these events, as per our standard practice, no monies were provided to the N+ organization to conduct this. The monies are advanced by PSFI staff and disbursed directly by the staff to the hotel provider (for accommodation, event meals, and venue use), paid directly to airlines for tickets, and disbursed directly to the individuals participating as reimbursements for their travel and incidental expenses.”

Angluben also said that “as to the manner of how financial decisions are arrived at or the process of how the funds are accessed within the N+ organization… I could not comment much on its correctness or legitimacy. I would think that the reference should be the organization’s by-laws as well as in its finance and operations manual.”

Outrage Magazine also reached out to another N+ backer, the Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc. via its Facebook account and publicly-listed email (achieve_hiv@yahoo.com), but no response was received as of press time.

ALLEGATION 2: No legal basis for the role of “technical advisers”

The former chairperson wrote that “I have been called by the so-called community/technical advisers to a meeting to ‘contain the conflict’. I refuse to oblige for the simple reason that there is no legal basis for their role. The by-laws and the MOP of the network do not provide for these positions. I have checked the entire drive of the network and there has been no Board Action creating the same. Where are they getting their authority to intervene in an organization that has a personality created by law and is, therefore, bound to conform with the latter?”

He added: “Granting for the sake of argument that these three hold valid office – What was the process and the criteria in qualifying them for their role? The Network has been firm that only PLHIV-led orgs (sic) should be admitted to the network and yet, surprisingly, we have an adviser who is not PLHIV himself.”

The non-PLHIV adviser was asked for a comment, but only stated that he will “provide feedback once available.”

Earlier, the Positive Action Foundation, Inc. (PAFPI) also released a statement to distance itself from N+ after one of these advisers was allegedly identified with it. A Messenger message was sent to this same adviser, but no response was received as of press time.

One other adviser is allegedly intervening in the affairs of N+, even if there is an alleged conflict of interest. Outrage Magazine has communicated with the person in the past via Messenger, but this time, a message sent to him remains unseen. Outrage Magazine has also reached out to the organization that this adviser is affiliated with; no response was received as of press time.

STANDING CHALLENGE

For the former chairperson, “I am challenging the Board to release the financial statements and the audit result. That after the release, there should be a third party audit to ascertain the veracity of the documents. That the Board should be independent. As one convenor pointed out in one of their meetings: We are leaders, who are we to be manipulated?”

Again, as the Corporate Secretary/OIC stated, a statement will be released by N+ eventually.

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All communication lines remain open for those involved in the N+ issue to reach Outrage Magazine.

*An additional statement was made by the former vice chairperson of N+; it was added accordingly on July 3, 3:00PM.

THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY; UPDATES WILL BE MADE WHEN NEWER INFORMATION IS RECEIVED

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