‘Everyone belongs here,’ PH envoy in US says as Fil-Am’s attacker face NY judge
MANILA, Philippines — “Everyone belongs here,” Manila’s top envoy in New York said as the attacker of a 65-year-old Filipino-American appeared before a criminal court in Manhattan after being charged with assault.
“Today, Brandon Elliot will appear in this Criminal Court, and to him we say Vilma belongs here, Asians in New York belong here, everyone belongs here,” the Philippines’ new consul general in New York, Elmer Cato, said in a statement.
Elliot, 38, was arraigned last week on two charges of second-degree assault as a hate crime and one count of first-degree attempted assault as a hate crime.
This, after police arrested him in his New York residence after he was identified as the man who violently attacked 65-year-old Vilma Kari last Mar. 29.
Cato’s message was read on his behalf by Phil Wong, president of the Chinese-American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY), during a rally in front of a Manhattan criminal court, where Elliot appeared before a judge on Tuesday (Manila time).
“All of us saw how Brandon Elliot, a 38-year-old convict who is out on parole for killing his own mother, kicked the helpless Vilma without provocation and stomped on her face while yelling at her ‘You don’t belong here!’” Cato’s message read.
“I can see in Vilma the face of my own mother and other elderly Asian women living in New York, who, due to the recent spate of violence against Asians, would not even want to leave the safety of their homes anymore for fear that they, too, would be violently assaulted,” he added.
According to Cato, the attack against Kari was “particularly distressing to all of us” considering Asians “revere our elders.”
“It is part of our DNA to look after our elderly,” he said.
Further, Cato refuted what Elliot had yelled at Kari during the assault.
“Vilma and the rest of the Asian- American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community belong here. Our community contributes significantly to the greatness of this city,” the envoy said.
“The New York City Metro Area has the largest number of AAPI residents in the country, with more than 2.4 million people who contribute more than $6.2 billion in state and local tax revenues,” he added.
“Our contribution to the city does not end here,” he pointed out, as he cited the contribution of Filipino nurses on the frontlines of the United States’ battle against COVID-19.
“Filipino nurses remain in the frontline against the pandemic,” he said.
Citing data from National Nurses United, Cato said that about 30 percent of the almost 200 registered nurses who died from COVID-19 are Filipino.
“Twenty-five percent of Filipinos in New York work in the healthcare industry. It is, thus, ironic for Elliot to insist that Vilma and the AAPI community she belongs to do not belong here,” he added.
Cato reiterated his call to victims of anti-Asian hate crimes and those who witness such incidents to call 911 and report to the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Crime Stoppers hotline.
“Filipino victims of hate crimes are also encouraged to get in touch with us at the Consulate General,” he added.
Cato expressed gratitude CACAGNY for organizing the rally to demand justice for Kari.
“We take this opportunity to thank the NYPD and its Asian Hate Crime Task Force for their dedication to their work and their quick action in apprehending Elliot,” he also said.
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