Image Source: philippinesnow.org

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania – Vice President Leni G. Robredo told a press conference here last Saturday (Aug. 6) that the “extra-judicial killings” in the Philippines have got to stop, “but I’m just one voice even if I am the vice president. I think media can do a lot as far as creating a mindset that this is not right. There have been few voices already out there against extrajudicial killings.”

Her travel here in the US was her second trip outside the Philippines since her election as vice president.
Attorney Robredo said, “But I think the public outcry is not there yet. I think all of us should do our share in making sure that this has to stop. The President (Duterte) has made several statements that the rule of law and due process would be honored.”

The vice president was the guest of honor, speaker and inducting officer at NaFFAA’s (National Federation of Filipino American Associations) 12th National Empowerment Conference held on Aug. 4-7 at the Valley Forge Casino & Resort in King of Prussia, 19.4 miles (26-minute drive) northwest of Philadelphia.

“But you know everyone of us should have a stake in this. Just last week, I lost two of my friends. One is a barangay captain, one is a sheriff to senseless deaths. I was in the wake of a high school teacher, who was a batchmate of my second daughter.”

“The high school math teacher in Ateneo was gunned down outside his house. Until now no lead. The barangay captain is in his late sixties or 70s. Very simple, very humble man. No enemy. He was also gunned down by motorcycle-riding men. Parang (it seems) there is pervading culture of impunity.

“Not only that. If you look at social media, there is also a sense of culture of hatred already. Parang kakaiba ngayon, di ba? (It’s very odd this time, isn’t it?) Parang (it seems) I think this started during the campaign period.

Speaking candidly but haltingly, the vice president said, “Parang hindi naman tayo ganito. (It seems, we were not this way). And you will ask yourself, saan ba tayo, parang may nag-snap sa ating lahat. (Where are we, it seems as if something snapped). But if you will also look around the world, I think we are not alone in this.”

She added, “Parang (it seems), there is a global phenomenon right now — that there is a culture of hatred going around. Pero (but) we should not feel helpless. It’s scary. If there is not enough outcry, that brings a sense of hopelessness, and you ask yourself, is this really what the majority wants?

“Ako naman (for me), (I’m) very vocal about it. But people have been grateful about it. Pero (but), our voices are not enough, eh. We should be more (vocal). Medyo kakaiba (It seems very odd). Tama po kayo (you are right), it’s scary in the sense that maraming nangyayari (many things are happening).

During the event, the Vice President inducted into office the following newly elected NaFFA executive officers: Branden Flores, national chair; Emraida Kiram, vice chair; and Marialla Fletcher, treasurer; and Steven Raga, Brad Baldia, Marie Cunning, Giselle Rushford and Bing Branigin, members of the board of governors.

As a fund-raiser, NaFFAA collected $100 from each guest who met and greeted with photo-op with the Vice President. This netted nearly $3,500, which will go to the Vice President’s poverty-alleviation program.

At the press conference, Robredo thanked the Filipino voters in the United States for letting her win in the election. The Philippine Consulate General in New York, which covers Pennsylvania, arranged the press conference through Consul General Manual de Leon.

She later flew to San Francisco, California where she is scheduled to speak before Filipino American organizations.

Before she travelled to the US, Robredo had just returned to Manila from Thailand where she attended the celebration of Thai Women’s Day and received the Queen Sirikit’s recognition as one of the “Honorary Outstanding Women of 2016.”

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.


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