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NY consul, Fil-Ams bring agenda to U.S. senator’s reps    

/ 04:25 AM March 17, 2016
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George Helmy (second from right) state Director for Sen. Corey Booker, and Dinesh Surawasnshi (far right) agree to relay to Sen. Booker the issues and concerns raised during their meeting with Consul General de Leon, Merit Salud (far left) and JT Mallonga of NaFFAA. CONTRIBUTED

NEW YORK CITY – The Philippines’ consul general met with top representatives of U.S. Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey to discuss collaboration on Filipino community concerns, particularly pending legislation beneficial to Filipino veterans of World War II.

Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. met with George Helmy, state director for the Office of US Senator Booker at the Philippine Consulate General on Tuesday, March 8. Joining meeting was Senator Booker’s Constituent Advocate Dinesh Suryawanshi and National Chairman Atty. JT Mallonga and Region-1 Chair Atty. Merit Salud of the National Federation of Fil-Am Associations (NaFFAA).

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De Leon reported the community’s attempts to get legislators’ support for Filipino veterans, particularly Senate bill 1555 or the Congressional Gold Medal Award for Filipino Veterans of World War II. He emphasized how such a recognition would honor the valor and service of Filipino veterans who now number less than a few thousand still alive in the U.S.

Mallonga noted that the Filipino veterans were the only notable minority group not recognized for their contribution to Allied victory in the Second World War, unlike the Tuskegee Airmen, Japanese Nisei, Puerto Ricans and others who have been honored for their service.

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De Leon and Mallonga also reported on an initiative to increase the number of Filipino American voters for the U.S. general and local elections this year and beyond.  There are currently about 3.4 million total of Filipino Americans in the U.S., out of which 340,000 reside within the Northeast U.S. region, and 120,000 in New Jersey.

Thus far, only 23,000 Filipino-Americans within the Tri-State region have registered to vote, according to Mallonga, who said his group is holding registration drives throughout the year.

 George Helmy remarked that the Filipino American population in New Jersey was well-educated, community-oriented and well integrated into the New Jersey public and that Sen. Booker was very keen on forging closer ties with the community.

De Leon cited the presence of several Filipino-owned small businesses in New Jersey and also brpight up the ongoing diplomatic row with China on the maritime entitlement issues of the West Philippine Sea. Helmy and Suryawanshi promised to relay the community’s concerns with Sen. Booker. 

The meeting with Sen. Booker’s representatives stemmed from a meeting the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. last January, in which the New York Consulate General and NaFAA agreed to partner in forging the Filipinos community’s ties with U.S. legislators in pursuit of Filipino American concerns.

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TAGS: Consul General Mario L. De Leon Jr., Filipino American empowerment, Filipino American voters, Filipino veterans WWII, George Helmy, National Chairman Atty. JT Mallonga, Office of US Sen. Corey Booker, Region-1 Chair Atty. Merit Salud of the National Federation of Fil-Am Associations (NaFFAA), Senator Booker’s Constituent Advocate Dinesh Suryawanshi
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