Former Fil Am Chamber Investigative Committee Chairman Speaks Out About Adrian Lecaros
Chamber officers and members maintain a tight-lipped stance
By Joel Bander and the PinoyWatchDog.com investigative team.
In response to the recent PinoyWatchDog.com story “Olaes would have found the truth about Lecaros and Umayam, if only……….” (See http://www.pinoywatchdog.com/tony-olaes-adrian-lecaros-darna-umayam), I received a call from San Fernando Valley real estate broker James Dullas, a former board member of the Fil-Am Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles, wanting to tell me his ‘Adrian Lecaros story.’
Dullas is the best person to provide truthful fact as he was selected by the Chamber in September 2011 to head the investigative committee looking into a vast array of allegations regarding Lecaros’ conduct.
I had known about these general allegations for quite awhile, but the Chamber members were quite closed mouthed about the circumstances, including even PinoyWatchDog.com’s own Joe Arciaga, then executive director of the Chamber, responsible for drafting the charges against Lecaros. He sat steadfastly mum to this paper’s ongoing inquiries about the Chamber/Lecaros affair. Arciaga, a U.S. Army Desert Strom veteran, often told me he “was concerned about the image of the Chamber” without stating more in a stoic sense of duty to the organization.
However, Dullas, a Philippine Military Academy graduate and former naval officer, bravely broke that window of silence in a recent interview. Dullas, and now others providing information to the PinoyWatchDog.com investigative team, have detailed ten separate charges against the Board that sought to investigate Lecaros. Among the charges were Lecaros’s allegedly performing actions not within the scope of board membership, such as using the Chamber for his own personal gain, negotiating sponsorships without board approval, disruptive actions regarding the administration of the Miss Beauty of the Philippines 2011 Pageant, causing loss of revenue and goodwill to the Chamber, and seeking to monopolize the obtaining of sponsors for Chamber events.
Dullas put it more succinctly in our interview that Lecaros generally sought to “impose what he wants on everybody by yelling, disrupting and general bullying.”
One of Lecaros’ more bold statements in these series of incidents was his August 13, 2011, email to board members that “I too am an original founder of the chamber! The fact remains that when we started almost ten years ago I was the first secretary!!!” Chamber President Emeritus Noel Omega stated that Mr. Lecaros was not the first secretary of the Chamber.
Oddly, Lecaros stated under oath in December 2011 that he had been in the United States for ten years. One Lecaros detractor told me “that would have meant that as a new immigrant Adrian went straight to creating a Chamber of Commerce. How could that happen?”
Dullas stated that he gave Lecaros two opportunities to address the investigative committee regarding the charges. However, Lecaros never appeared for either meeting. “He never came around anymore and that was the end of it,” Dullas said. “We put it in the records that the charges were not answered by Lecaros.”
Dullas Had More Problems with Lecaros Outside of Chamber Business
Dullas also related that in July 2011 he paid Lecaros $240 for six tickets to that year’s White Fashion Show party. But when Dullas arrived at the event with his family and friends he was advised that his tickets were no good. “I told them I paid Adrian but they said they asked him to attend a meeting about his tickets and he did not show up,” a statement Dullas attributed to the White Party admission personnel.
After Dullas shelled out another $240 that night he later confronted Lecaros. “He doesn’t seem to care that he just took the money from me,” Dullas said.
Dullas’ story does not end there. Earlier, Lecaros told Dullas he was putting up a Filipino newspaper, Kabayan, with two friends. Lecaros asked him to advertise, set a price for an advertisement and promotional article. Dullas paid his money, but alas only the article appeared, without the paid for advertisement. When questioned, Dullas said Lecaros blamed his partners.
“Lecaros was never a partner of Kabayan” newspaper, former publisher John James Sacramento exclaimed. “We found out that Adrian would go around stating he was part of the paper. And we never even saw the money he collected from Dullas,” Sacramento decried.
Lecaros refused to be interviewed for this article.
Why is the Chamber So Concerned About its Image?
A corollary to this story the Chamber’s long running resistance to discussing this matter in the past is Arciaga’s statement, saying, “My first obligation is to the Chamber,” Arciaga explained for his tight-lipped policy to the very newspaper he is a contributor. In essence, the view was, if the circumstances of an errant member was made public it would cast the Chamber in a bad light.
PinoyWatchDog.com’s Executive Editor said “From all the facts I see, the Chamber was overly patient and accommodating to Mr. Lecaros, maybe more than they should have been. They offered him due process with two hearings that he never appeared in. They were professional and disciplined.”
At the Chamber’s mixer last week in Van Nuys I probed for more information from Rodel Lumanog, a former Chamber President, and even though it was obvious that I had all the information necessary he was maintaining the same zone of silence. When I told him it was the view of PinoyWatchDog.com that the Chamber acted most appropriately, and if anything, was too patient with Lecaros, he seemed relieved and thanked me. When I asked him why the Chamber was so sensitive about this matter, he just smiled.