PHL officials push plea for action on Asian hate crimes as Fil-Am assault victim dies


PHILIPPINE officials in New York have reiterated their appeal to city authorities for action to stem the tide of apparent hate crimes against Asians, and incidents of assault by locals with mental health problems.

The appeal was made by the Philippine Consulate General after the death, from head injuries, of a 58-year-old Fil-Am health worker, who was knocked down by an apparently deranged man on the sidewalk of New York after she visited the Consulate.

“We grieve with the rest of the Filipino Community over the death of our kababayan, Maria Ambrocio, a 58-year-old health frontliner from Bayonne, New Jersey, who is the latest victim of deranged individuals on the loose in New York City. Maria’s passing was announced shortly after she was removed from life support a few hours ago,” said a statement by Consul General Elmer G. Cato.

On hearing of the news, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. instructed Cato to help the victim’s family.  Cato replied that the consulate general had conveyed its condolences and offer of assistance.

According to Cato’s office, Maria “had been on life support for the head trauma she sustained on Friday afternoon after she was knocked down by someone who was described as a mentally disturbed homeless man. Maria was walking with a kababayan near Times Square after visiting the Philippine Consulate General when she was struck by the suspect who was reportedly being chased after grabbing a mobile phone from someone.”

Cato, who was confronted with the rash of Asian hate incidents soon after assuming his post in New York, had actively lobbied both police and civil authorities, drawing support from some US lawmakers, in seeking decisive action on the rising cases of attacks involving Fil-Am victims, as well as other Asians.

He told BusinessMirror, “We are third after the Chinese and Koreans among those being victimized”

Just for 2021, there were 20 cases involving Filipinos as victims “reported to or monitored by the consulate,” he added.

In the Consulate General’s statement at the weekend, it noted that Maria’s death “is the latest in the series of violent acts committed by mentally-ill individuals against members of the Filipino Community in New York City since the start of the year. Beginning January, we have seen several of our kababayan, most of them senior citizens, violently assaulted by individuals with mental health issues.”

Cato recalled: “We have joined calls for authorities to take the necessary steps, including heightened police visibility, to protect the public after we noted the surge in anti-Asian hate incidents that targeted some of our kababayan.”

Meanwhile, he said, “We also supported calls for authorities to take the necessary measures to address mental health issues, especially among the homeless. We reiterate these calls as we mourn our loss but we also ask ourselves: How many more Maria Ambrocios do we have to mourn before the streets would be made safe again?”

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