Guam official’s racist remarks stir Filipino community
The Assistant Attorney General (AAG) of Guam is in hot water after an anonymously posted YouTube video revealed alleged racist remarks he made towards the local Filipino community.
The Philippine Consul General’s Office plans to meet with the Guam Bar Association to find out whether or not AAG Ben Abram’s remarks warrant an ethics complaint, according to the KUAM TV news in Guam.
“The AG (attorney general) expressed his apprehension that the video incident might create a propaganda effect and divert the focused determination of the AGO (attorney general’s office) to prosecute the concerned case with integrity and transparency,” said Philippine Consul General Bayani Mangibin in a statement to the TV station.
The uproar occurred when an anonymous person posted a video showing Abrams refuting an unnamed person’s remarks about sending transcription work to the Philippines.
“Their English is not good enough,” said Abrams. “I don’t think their English is good enough…I don’t like that idea at all… You’re dealing with a Third World country where English is a second language.”
Abrams, whose wife is a Filipina, said the remarks were taken out of context.
He told the TV station the discussions surrounded allegations and concerns about Dr. Joel Joseph, and that the YouTube video is a feeble attempt to get attention, calling the video an act of desperation.
After hearing the reports, the Philippine consulate released a statement to the TV station saying: “It is the responsibility of the Philippine Counsel General to correct wrong impressions about the Philippines and the Filipinos and to make appropriate action against racially discriminating remarks that defame the dignity of the Philippines as a country and the Filipinos as people…Filipinos have intricate understanding of the US legal systems as the Philippine legal system is closely patterned after that of the US.”
The Consul General Mangibin further added statistics from an English proficiency test done by Pearson Talent Assessment showing Filipinos ranked top over Latin America, East Europe and India, according to KUAM.
Guam Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas said he plans to meet with leaders of the Filipino community about the remarks made by his deputy.
Meanwhile, Filipinos in Guam took the net to discuss their frustrations about the assistant attorney general’s remark.
Guam has a large Filipino community, accounting for as much as 25 to 30 percent of the island’s total population.
“I’m a Filipino, and I learned English exclusively from Philippine schools,” wrote PinoyCollossus on YouTube where the video was posted. “Despite that, I know the difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ (see Atty. Abrams’ e-mail). While I know the same can’t be said about other Pinoys (even some Americans), this is an issue of ignorance. Whether or not it is racist is subject to debate.”
“Filipinos are educated and instructed in all public and private schools from elementary up to a Doctorate level,” wrote Davidjr65. “If he is worried about them not understanding legal terms, the Philippine court system is conducted and litigation is done using English/Latin language.”
Others took the online forum and defended Abrams.
“This is not racism,” wrote Ren520. “It was a bit blunt, somewhat ignorant, but nowhere near racist. I don’t know what’s the big deal here.” Joseph Pimentel/AJPress