Dear Philippine Consul General Cecilia Rebong,
We write this in the midst of preparations for the upcoming and much-anticipated Philippine Independence Day Celebration (PIDC) in New York City! Like the rest of the Filipino community in New York, we are looking forward to commemorating with our fellow kababayan the Philippine Independence from three centuries of Spanish colonialism. In fact, EVERY YEAR we look forward to the sense of genuine community and love of country the PIDC is aiming to cultivate.
We also write to seek clarification on reports calling our attention to a certain talk about a so-called “Magnificent Seven” during a PIDC meeting held at the Philippine Consulate last May 19th. Said our source, the discussion ranged from cautioning others about this group to ways of barring this group in Sunday’s parade and festival.
Surely there are no plans to prevent ANY group from joining the PIDC this Sunday, or plans to infringe on any groups’ First Amendment Rights. But if there is reason for us to believe otherwise, surely the proponents of this within the PIDC and Philippine Consulate would have no problem being above-board and forthright about this with any group they choose to single out.
ConGen Rebong, are we correct in believing this?
For the record, we would like to reiterate that never in our eleven years of participating in the PIDC have we intended to cause trouble or create a ruckus. Our parade contingents have not only been consistently well-received by on-lookers who always cheered at our messages, we have also won awards from the PIDC Committee and Philippine Consulate itself, including the “Most Meaningful Group” Award in 2008. All cases of disruption or commotion, as what happened in 2005 and 2008, were instigated by the New York Police Department and/or Parade Security who, we believe, were acting on Consulate’s orders. In these instances, we were not fully-informed of any outstanding violation we might have committed to PIDC guidelines.
While we fully intend not to provoke another confrontation with the police this Sunday, we hope the Philippine Consulate will perform its official duty of protecting and advancing the rights and welfare of the overseas Filipino community. This includes recognition and respect of our Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly in public places. Any alternative framework stands to ruin the integrity of the PIDC in our community.
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP)
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)
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