By Rhony Laigo

Dr. Manny Calayan (center) with his attorney David Hakimfar and Filipino actress and daughter of Helen Vela Princess Punzalan, the new endorser of the Calayan Surgicentre Corp. (Photo: Rhony Laigo)

LOS ANGELES – Contrary to reports, the Calayan Surgicentre Corp. never stopped operations despite a reported sting last August by the California Medical Board that alleged that the clinic of the famous Filipino plastic surgeon was conducting illegal surgical procedures at their Los Angeles clinic.

In a news conference held Wednesday at the new Barrio Fiesta restaurant in Glendale, California, Dr. Manny Calayan told reporters that rumors about his clinic being shut down were not true. “It never happened,” Calayan said. “Our clinic was never closed down.”

Calayan  was responding to an article that was published by The Los Angeles Times last year that stated that the Medical Board of California’s Operation Safe Medicine has received “351 complaints” about an unlicensed medical activity in their Sunste Blvd. clinic.

He said although a criminal case was indeed filed against him, it wasn’t because there were victims. “There were no victims,” Calayan said as he blamed an employee for the mess that resulted in the reported shutting down incident. The LA Times said surveillance were conducted at the clinic located at Sunset Medical Tower, 9201 Sunset Blvd., “after receiving complaints that an unlicensed staff had injured patients during laser treatments” quoting a statement from the Medical Board. The clinic has since moved to 1101 South Robertson Blvd., Suite 201, Los Angeles, CA 90035.

Calayan said a plea bargain was reached last Jan. 3 and the charges were dropped, but that he was cited for misdemeanor and is on probation for 36 months. Calayan’s criminal lawyer, Atty. Sean Tabibian said the Attorney General recognized that the Calayans are renowned physicians in the Philippines. What was committed were just plain “technical violations.

Another lawyer of Calayan, Atty. David Hakimfar, said Dr. Calayan cooperated with the authorities and “he opened himself to discoveries.

The only violations that Dr. Calayan admitted to were related to “business and professions code.” The Calayans were charged last September with four counts of criminal conduct relating to allegations that it was operating without a proper medical license.

“There was no jail time and no restitutions were required of Dr. Calayan,” Hakimfar said. “The criminal element were just allegations. They were not facts.” There were also no penalties other than a $5,000 court, according to Tabibian.

The LA Times said Manny Calayan and his wife, Dr. Pie Calayan, posted on their website that they had “Filipino medical school diplomas and certificates of membership in U.S. medical associations that admit doctors licensed overseas.” It added that the Calayans also posted “articles implying that the Calayans are U.S.-trained.”

The paper added that “An article on the clinic’s web site said Manny Calayan was trained in Los Angeles and ‘specializes in cosmetic surgery and does nose lift, eye bags removal, dermal fillers for laugh lines, cheeks or chin augmentation, deep wrinkle treatment, deep-setting of the upper eyelids, face lifts, breast enlargement and liposuction.’”

But according to Christine Valine, a board spokeswoman, medical board records indicated that the couple “are not licensed to practice medicine in California,” the LA Times said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Manny Calayan announced that they have filed a $2.5 million civil suit against his own employee, Aida Arceo, and her husband, Rolando Arceo. Aida Arceo is the same person that Calayan blamed was responsible for the incident at his former La Cienega clinic and whom he claimed to have defrauded them in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Calayan said it was Arceo who was cited in the report as “acting in a doctor’s capacity by state regulators.” Not only that, Calayan accused Arceo of embezzling their money in what turned out to be a botched sale of his clinic to what seemed to be a fictitious person in the name of one Teresita Gomez.

In his complaint, Calayan said Arceo brokered the supposed sale of his La Cienega clinic to Gomez in the amount of $170,000. Although Calayan said he never met Gomez, he trusted Arceo – who worked as his treasurer, secretary and vice president at his Los Angeles clinic – and even gave her $200,000 that Arceo requested because Gomez will need the money as initial working capital to continue operating the clinic under the new name of Beverly Hills Surgery and Aesthetic Center.

However, a check in the amount of $10,000 that was supposed to represent the first of monthly payments for the purchase of the clinic bounced and that the account was closed when Calayan inquired from the bank. Soon after, Calayan learned that the sale was fake and upon investigation he also found out other misappropriations done by Arceo on behalf of his company, including monthly double salaries paid to herself – one from him and another from his wife.

Balita contacted Arceo’s lawyer Atty. Mariano Alvarez on Friday, who filed a demur on behalf of Arceo claiming that “there weren’t enough facts” to prove Calayans’ allegations.

According to Arceo’s lawyer, the Calayan couple doesn’t have a “legal standing to prosecute the claim” because the “funds involved in this action are income allegedly belonging to the business of a corporation.” Alvarez argued that since the Calayan couple are individuals and that the corporation has a “separate and distinct legal standing from its officers and shareholders” they don’t have a “standing to represent the interest of the corporation.”

Her lawyers added that the Calayan Surgicentre Corp. “does not exist and has likewise no standing to bring the action before (the) court.”