Filipino-American community leader Rene Ballenas was arrested early last week on charges of burglary and grand larceny after being caught on video taking more than USD7,000 worth of items that were to be auctioned off for the benefit of sick children. According to investigators, the items Ballenas allegedly took were likely to be ultimately destined for the Philippines to be sold for cash.
In a 23rd September 2012 article published on AsianJournal.com, Ballenas was profiled as “an accomplished leader with a Passion for Community Service [who] has built extensive relationships with Philippine American organizations in the US and in the Philippines through his dedicated involvement and various capacities as Officer and memberships in different socio-civic and religious organizations both local and international.” He was also reported as being employed as a “Risk Administrator” at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, though following the breaking of the news of his arrest, it seems to have been established that he provided no more than clerical duties to his employer.
Ballenas is accused of taking more than $7,000 worth of valuables from the Childrenâ€™s Cancer and Blood Foundation offices on East 38th Street.
A worker there told police she saw surveillance video of Ballenas going into locked rooms and storage areas that belonged to the charity when the office was closed. The complaint said he stole iPads, a purse, shirts, printer equipment and bottles of wine.
The charity said Ballenas was not allowed on its premises off hours.
Ballenas served from 2009 to 2010 as Treasurer of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) and was once a member of its Board of Directors. He mounted a bid for the presidency of the PIDCI under the “Team United” banner in 2011 but lost. In what looks to be a reflection of the broader character of politics in his native homeland, Ballenas reportedly threatened to launch a “breakaway bloc” after losing that election to continue to pursue introduction of the “reforms” on the organisation promised during his campaign. Along with his bloc members Greg Agulan, Nida Cortez, Pancho Bernaldez and Luis Pedron, Ballenas envisioned “a Filipino community that has a voice in all aspects of the Tri-State Areas.”
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On its official website, the PIDCI through its current President Fe Martinez, is described as “the organization of organizations that plans, organizes, produces, executes, manages directs and presents the annual commemoration of Philippine Independence to the Filipino and Filipino-American and the mainstream community.”
Together with the Filipino American community, the Philippine Consulate General in New York created the Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIDC) to commemorate the birth of Philippine Independence.
Established in 1990 during Consul General Hermenegildo Garcia’s term, PIDC was an ad hoc committee with a life cycle of one year. All consuls general would later become honorary overall chairperson. The position of overall chairperson was elected every year. The winner in the election then appointed the rest of her/his executive committee. In 2003, the PIDC was incorporated creating the PIDCI which is no longer under the direct management of the Philippine Consulate in New York.
[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article â€œPhilippine Independence Day Paradeâ€ in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.