Saturday, February 11, 2012

Time to expose you, Mr. Bander

For the past 20 years, your favorite Balita newspaper has been providing you with news and information that serves both you, our dear readers, and our clients, who in their most honest way have been doing business in the Filipino community. And thanks to you, after two decades, Balita has become a habit, a tradition if you will, and has become a part of the Filipino American culture in the U.S. because of the trust that was built over the years between you and us. Sadly, in the past several weeks, a certain person wishes to destroy this trust. But what's worse is that some in the Filipino community, who use the might of the pen, think that they're doing the community a favor by working with that person, who has harmed the very same Filipino community they're supposed to serve.

By publishing his own newspaper, Atty. Joel Bander, launched a relentless attack on Balita and our CEO, Ms. Luchie Mendoza Allen, our leading advertiser and Bander's competitor in Atty. James G. Beirne, and all of our advertisers. But in a pending court case involving Bander, he accidentally exposed himself to the very same truth that he and his staff are claiming to be promoting in Pinoywatchdog – the tabloid that Bander and a few fake journalists had put up in an effort to smear Balita and Balita alone.

As you may have read in today's headline, it is clear that Bander launched Pinoywatchdog to malign Balita, Ms. Allen and especially Atty. Beirne. He has been since their first issue came out back in September and ever since Balita exposed what homeowners called a loan litigation "scam" by his firm, the Bander Law Firm. In all other issues since then, an article or two were about Beirne and his alleged but unfounded legal malpractices, and about Ms. Allen.

Bander and his minions have also been manufacturing lies after lies. They even claimed that a newspaper in the Philippines – People's Tonight – retracted an article about Mr. Bander's sexual molestation case. We at Balita dared them to produce that particular People's Tonight issue. To this day, they have never been able to come up with that article. And this was in their first issue, where the fake writers claim they were investigative reporters and boasted that they will be the vanguards of truth.

In the same sexual molestation case against Bander, which occurred in 2006 when Mr. Bander reportedly attacked a Filipina by the name of Cristina San Jose in a Manila condominium, the fake Pinoywatchdog investigative reporters also claimed that Ms. San Jose was fictitious. But what these fake reporters didn't know was that before a complaint becomes a criminal case, the complainant must submit herself to the police to report the incident and later face the prosecutor for an inquest. 

In our earlier issues, we presented evidence and documents where the prosecutor stated that the victim, Ms. San Jose, swore before him. Not only that, the prosecutor conducted an inquiry if there was merit to the case since:
a) A bogus complaint is a waste of taxpayers' money, the court's time and other resources;
b) The complaint seems minor, however, still classified as a criminal case;
c) There have been several cases involving Americans and other foreigners abusing Filipinas; and
d) The Philippines has been a haven of American criminals who have fled the United States and hiding in the Philippines.

As it turned out, a warrant of arrest was issued against Mr. Bander a year later. It was only in 2011 that he got the case dismissed but not after hiring one of the most expensive law firms in the Philippines and not after the victim no longer showed up in court. It should be recalled however that the victim first came to Bander in 2006, or five years earlier, to seek his help in securing a U.S. visa, meaning she has been wanting to leave the Philippines to seek greener pastures. For all we know, the victim may have already been working abroad after the incident, which is not unusual since there about 10 million Filipinos working all over the globe.

Actually, we here at Balita found out about Mr. Bander's criminal case in the Philippines way back in 2007 when the arrest warrant was issued. But we couldn't verify the report. We could only inquire from Mr. Bander, who was here in the U.S. at that time, but didn't give us any statement. 

Then a year later, in 2008, Bander representing a newspaper competitor suddenly filed a civil complaint against Balita, claiming that we have not been forthright to the community, to our readers and to our advertisers, that our claim to be the leading Filipino newspaper in Southern California was misleading. 

The case was never tried in court, however. It has been dismissed and the claims by our competitor were never proven. The parties have since settled the case, but not after Mr. Bander, who in his "hatred" against Balita, wrote to all our clients stating that we were dishonest and that they should become their witnesses against Balita. No client of ours of course entertained Bander and his evil motive.

Huh?! Did we just mention evil? Actually, that was the word used by many Filipino homeowners who lost their homes when Mr. Bander and the Bander Law Firm neglected them and hundreds more in the infamous "Save Your Home, Sue the Banks" loan litigation campaign that ultimately led to the demise of his own firm. Interestingly, according to his very own lawyers, the the main reason that forced the Bander Law Firm to file for bankruptcy in 2010 was due to Bander's "obsession" to Balita and Atty. Beirne.

If you may also recall, these poor Filipino, Korean and Armenian homeowners paid Bander $8,000-$15,000 each, hoping that Bander can save their home as advertised in full pages in the same newspaper that he represented in the case against Balita. In our our investigation, however, it showed that Bander failed to attend to the homeowners' cases because: 
a) He was too busy going after Balita to the point that he made his attorneys and staff work on that case; 
b) He was obsessed with our CEO and Atty. Beirne as revealed by Bander's own lawyer, Timothy Umbreit, in a testimony that was submitted to the federal court; and 
c) Of his negligence as told by yet another lawyer in his own firm, Atty. Norberto Reyes III, in a declaration to the court that the poor homeowners while paying thousands of dollars where not even informed by Bander that their properties have been already foreclosed.

As much as we want to avoid sensationalized news or that talks about scandals, it is still our responsibility to expose the truth, especially when the truth, which is being twisted by Bander and his newspaper, involves our very own staff.

But they cannot fool the community. They know who you are Mr. Bander. Your bullying tactics may have worked before, but enough is enough. When push comes to shove, you will see that we will always be at the forefront to make sure that you, as have your failed programs and lost cases have come before you, will never do us and the Filipino community any more harm. 

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