Re CSA Mafia
News front. PH article of Patricia de Leon
(disclaimer: opinion not of MTC's)
The CSA Mafia
Hunting Grounds Masthead.jpg
Colegio San Agustin (CSA) recently found itself in the news when reporters from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) beat intimated that the structure and legitimacy of their current board is far from authorized. Apparently, the manner by which the school set up this “new board” is so sketchy that one of my reporter friends went as far as calling them a “bunch of clueless fall guys”.
Of course, this got me intrigued. Fall guys for what?
Upon further investigation, I learned that CSA has allegedly been turned into a fiefdom (and milking cow) of three unscrupulous individuals, collectively known as the “CSA Mafia”.
Fruits from the Apple Tree
At the top of this CSA Mafia – the capo di tutti capi, to use the correct term of La Cosa Nostra – is a Roman Catholic priest sardonically referred to as “Fr. Apple” by the alumni, and “boneless bangus” by the faculty. Supposedly, this man of the cloth has all but forgotten about the virtues of simplicity and frugality, and spends most of his time driving his luxury sports car (a Jaguar) to his various tennis matches around the city. In order to sharpen his formidable tennis skills, he had the CSA tennis courts built to world-class, tournament-level specifications.
Directly under the control Fr. Apple are his two capo bastones or sotto capos. The first is often referred to by the moniker “barquillos”, although she is far from the sweet and delightful Spanish wafer of the same name. Technically, barquillos is a consultant of the CSA, although she still occupies the same office she did when she was an official employee.
The thing is, barquillos actually appointed herself as the “Director of Academics” by changing the CSA administrative manual (contrary to CSA by-laws and without any board approval, mind you), and this was upheld by Fr. Apple. Armed with this self-given power, she now has the authority to dictate the salary scale of teachers, which she uses to control them into submission.
The second capo bastones – aptly nicknamed “dikitan”, or the Filipino word for “adhesive” (since she sticks to the money) – is also technically a school consultant. Like barquillos, she still occupies the same office she did when she was an official CSA employee, albeit with a lot more clout.
Evidently, dikitan is the be-all and end-all of CSA when it comes to financial matters and the release of funds. Akin to barquillos (are you beginning to notice a pattern here?) she appointed herself “Director of Finance” without any board approval, and now heads the CSA Accounting Department.
This is very curious, since a) dikitan is not an accountant,
the “CSA Accounting Department” is almost entirely manned by an outsource agency, none of whom are accountants, and c) dikitan is currently being investigated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for tax evasion.
The current set-up at CSA opens itself to a lot of questions – if not raised eyebrows. Why are consultants seemingly in charge of key administrative and financial positions? Are they bound by tenure, or will they hold on to those positions forever? What about actual CSA employees and staff who deserve the position?
For years, the alumni have exchanged stories about how they suspect mismanagement (even alleged fraud) when it comes to CSA funds. The most prevalent among these allegations involves frequent school fund drives for contributions, the accounting of which is never released. Indeed, donors are often left in the dark as to how much was raised, and where the funds went. Will Fr. Apple, barquillos, and dikitan ever provide a clear and transparent report on these?
Another sticky (bad pun intended) issue involves the large scale sale of CSA car stickers to non-CSA students and/or parents. I personally know a friend who claims that he paid a handsome sum just so that he can park his car in the CSA parking lot every working day. These are obviously under-the-table dealings, and if totaled, amount to significant cash. Are these earnings in the books?
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – how can CSA actually tolerate a “Director for Finance” who is currently being investigated by a government agency? What hold does dikitan have over the school’s hierarchy that allows her to stay on? Does she hold the secrets of the CSA Mafia, that if uncovered, could lead to a huge scandal?
I believe that the time has come for the CSA alumni, their parents, retired and current teachers and employees, and the Parent Teachers Associations to weigh in on this situation. Indeed, the light of social media has exposed many anomalies, and this will hopefully lead to a much better learning institution.
March 11, 2019"
"It’s been a few months since my – ehem – rather controversial column regarding the so-called Colegio San Agustin (CSA) Mafia came out. Not surprisingly, the school reacted quite heatedly about the blind item, with official statements made, meetings convened, and unpleasant labels thrown my way.
Here’s the thing, though: before a juggernaut like the CSA focuses their energy on online opinion writers, perhaps they should concentrate on the pending case they have before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Apart from the SEC, the same complaint has been sent to the Office of the Archbishop of Manila, the Papal Nuncio, and the Head of the Agustinian Orders in Spain and Rome. Clearly, there’s something going on amidst their hallowed halls of learning.
Based on the now-very-public document, several red flags came to light when the complainant – a former member of the CSA Board, no less – was assigned to create the 3-year CSA Corporate Plan. While reviewing operational procedures of the school, the complainant discovered “shortcuts and illegal transactions of the school operations, committed by the previous boards, together with several school officials.” He was shocked and dismayed, of course, and noted that “these unlawful acts continue up to the present, and are condoned by the respondent CSA Board.”
The most controversial transgressions include some administrators involved in alleged “pilferage of CSA students’ donations for World Mission Sunday” back in 2017. Attached in the complaint’s annexes are documents revealing that the CSA collected a total of PhP 436,032.85 in donations for the benefit of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
For the sake of transparency, the list of donations was posted around the CSA campus. However, they were taken down, purportedly due to the insistence of CSA Director of Academics Dr. Amelia Ronquillo and CSA Director of Finance Vicky Tan. When the donations were finally remitted to the Pontifical Mission Societies, a document showed that only PhP 217,900 was turned over to the charity organization. Where the rest of the money went is anybody’s guess.
Incidentally, the word is out that one these two ladies has already confessed to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and is seeking a plea bargain in exchange for lighter penalties.
Other issues that came to light include the alleged use of pirated Microsoft OS software and the identical tuition fee rates for CSA Makati and CSA Bulacan. If true, the latter is quite distressing, considering that the Bulacan campus needs to comply with the provincial tuition rates mandated by the DepEd.
And, finally, there are the items involving Fr. Julian Mazana, who, according to the complaint, is painted as the “godfather” that runs the CSA Mafia and has done many acts “unbecoming of a man of God.” Apart from purportedly running the board like his own personal fiefdom, there are also allegations of immorality against the priest – hence the identical copies of the documents sent to the Archbishop, the Papal Nuncio, and Heads of the Agustinian Orders.
In fact, in very vivid detail, the complainant put on record his encounter with Mazana, who at one night came to the former’s residence asking for help. According to the documents, the priest claimed that someone (supposedly a security guard from Dasmariñas Village) was constantly trailing him. When the complainant inquired what was wrong, Mazana admitted to him: “I have a problem, you don’t know? I have an affair with a CSA employee. Pictures have been taken of us in a compromising situation in my car, and I think I am being blackmailed.”
Shocking? Well, just to give you an idea, the complaint has a 43-page annex. One can only imagine how thorough and revealing a document of that length is.
The formal papers have been with the SEC for several weeks now, but things are still hazy in terms of a resolution. Until then, the respondents in the complaint – including Fr. Mazana – continue to sit on a CSA Board that they illegally and forcibly established. In the meantime, just like Mission donations collected in CSA, there’s just no telling where this will end up going. "