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Increasing racial hate crimes

BABE’S EYE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON D.C. - Ambassador B. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2021 - 12:00am

The rising incidents of violence against Asian-Americans in the United States, particularly those that involve Filipino-Americans, have become alarming that we were compelled to send a note verbale to the State Department expressing our serious concern. We also wrote to several senators, foremost of whom is Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, as well as subcommittee on criminal justice and counterterrorism chair Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and ranking member Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

We requested for assistance in bringing to the attention of appropriate state and federal authorities the need to ensure the security and protection of people of Asian descent, most especially Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. We are pleased that the matter of increasing number of hate crimes allegedly perpetrated by white supremacist groups was tackled during a Senate judiciary committee hearing with FBI director Christopher Wray.

Hate crimes, which are actually a high priority for the FBI because of their impact on families and communities, have been happening in the US for a long time, even as far back as World War I. The height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s was also turbulent with threats coming from such groups as the Ku Klux Klan that targeted black civil rights workers, a number of whom were abducted and murdered. Over the years, particularly during the 1990s and 2000s, members of the LGBT community have also been subjected to violence, with many ending up raped and murdered.

This time, there is escalating hatred being directed against Asian-Americans because of the “China virus” label attached to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in job losses and the death of thousands of Americans due to COVID. Many Filipinos are of Chinese descent, resulting perhaps in being mistakenly attacked. A recent incident was that of 61-year-old Noel Quintana who was attacked in a subway in New York City, his face slashed from ear-to-ear, requiring several stitches.

According to reports, attacks against Asian-Americans have risen by 150 percent in major cities, a number of them in California where we have a big Filipino-American population. New York City, which is home to the largest Asian-American population, registered the highest increase in hate crimes, particularly in areas like Queens and Astoria, with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stationing additional officers in subways and other places where attacks are likely to happen.

The situation has become so serious that New Yorkers staged a rally dubbed as “Rise Up Against Anti-Asian Hate” to protest the escalating attacks against Asian-Americans, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joining the rallyists and calling for the hate to stop. In fact, the NYPD has formed a task force to investigate hate crimes against Asian-Americans following a spike of unprovoked attacks since last year.

We are hoping, however, that as efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic get better with the US vaccine rollout currently in full swing, the number of hate crimes against Asian-Americans will decrease – although “hate” is something that will be difficult to control due to the fact that there are a number of white supremacist groups continuously fanning the flames of hatred against many minorities.

The Philippine embassy continues to monitor the situation, with our consulates all across the US coordinating with local authorities, ready to assist Filipino-American community members who may need help. We also advised some Filipinos who recently engaged in verbal exchanges with haters not to listen or talk to them and just report these incidents immediately to the right authorities.

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Mike Toledo for senator in 2022

Many of Mike Toledo’s friends recently called me, telling me they would like to see qualified people like Mike in the Senate next year. Like our mutual friends, I am convinced Atty. Mike is definitely more than qualified to become a senator, especially with his background and experience.

Mike, who was recently named managing director for Government and Public Affairs by the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), served as press secretary and spokesperson in the administration of president Joseph Estrada. A graduate of the UP College of Law with a Master of Laws in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, he started his legal career with ACCRA Law where he was a corporate, litigation, labor, intellectual property and criminal lawyer. His work with the late Senate president Ed Angara – the “A” in ACCRA – gave Mike a firsthand look at legislative work on many aspects such as health, finance, education and energy.

Atty. Mike is well known in business circles and is undoubtedly a “man about town,” extremely well liked by so many people. He is smart, amiable, charming and personable. I saw firsthand how Mike has a natural way of talking with people from all walks of life, easily relating to ordinary folks and very often showing his deep and sincere concern for their situation.

No doubt, he has done a great job in heading the media bureau of the MVP Group, polishing his natural PR skills when he headed the multinational communications firm Weber Shandwick Philippines (now known as WSP Incorporated) where he was president and CEO.

An added asset is Mike’s singing prowess. He certainly won’t need any celebrity entertainer on the campaign trail because he himself can serenade voters with his great singing voice. I have no doubt, Mike Toledo will get a lot of support from his numerous friends in government and the private sector, most especially his boss Manny Pangilinan.

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Email: babeseyeview@gmail.com

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