Biden appoints 3 Filipino-Americans to panel to promote equality, curb xenophobia

Biden appoints 3 Filipino-Americans to panel to promote equality, curb xenophobia
People hold candles during a vigil organized by Nailing It for America for those who have died from COVID and to 'Stop Asian Hate' in Fountain Valley, California in March 2020.

MANILA, Philippines — US President Joe Biden this week appointed three Filipino-American women to his advisory commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. 

In a statement, the White House said the advisory body will advise Biden "on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity and opportunity for every Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community." 

Amefil Agbayani 

"Dr. Amefil (Amy) Agbayani is an Emeritus Assistant Vice Chancellor for student diversity and equity, University of Hawai’i at Manoa," a statement released by the White House reads. 

Agbayani was born in the Philippines and studied at the University of the Philippines, the East-West Center and the University of Hawai’i. 

"She is a former chair of the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission, conducts research on AANHPI in higher education, member of the Patsy T.Mink PAC and The Legal Clinic for immigrant justice Hawai’i," the White House said. 

Teresita Batayola 

International Community Health Services CEO Teresita Batayola was also appointed to the commission.

The White House said ICHS is "Washington state’s largest Asian and Pacific Islander non-profit health center providing comprehensive health care to all those who need affordable care, especially immigrants and refugees."

It further described Batayola "an advocate for health care access, equity, and addressing social determinants of health."

Batayola in 2019 won the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award which was presented by the Women’s Network in Paris, France. 

Luisa Blue 

The third Filipina appointed to the commission is Luisa Blue, who retired from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) last year after serving as executive vice president for four years. She was one of the highest-ranking AAPI officials in the labor movement.

Per the SEIU website, Blue was recognized as among "The 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World" in 2015, the same award received by Batayola four years later. 

"Luisa continues to be active in the community and serves on the Asian Health Services Community Board, a Trustee on Alameda County Health Systems Board of Trustees, and Vice President of the AAPI Victory Alliance Board," the White House said. 

The full list of appointees can be found here

What is the advisory commission for? 

In addition to advancing equal opportunity for the AANHPI community, the White House said the commission is "charged with advising the president on policies to address anti-Asian xenophobia and violence."

It is also tasked with formulating "ways to build capacity in AANHPI communities through federal grantmaking and policies to address the intersectional barriers that AANHPI women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities face." 

A wave of anti-Asian attacks rose in the US along with the spread of COVID-19 last year. The violence was largely perceived to be the consequence of the racist language surrounding discussions of the pandemic. 

Stop AAPI Hate, an American coalition that tallies and responds to racially motivated hate crimes against the minority groups, in its September report tracked a total of 10,370 attacks against AAPI persons since the pandemic began. — Bella Perez-Rubio 

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