Community wardens to meet Jan 16 against backdrop of San Bernardino shootingThe Philippine Consulate is holding a General Assembly of Wardens on January 16 at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue. The meeting will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The assembly is being called following the December 2 San Bernardino shooting where a married couple went on a shooting rampage killing 14 people and seriously wounding more than 20 others. The government has called the attack by couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik an “act of terror.”
A month earlier, Paris was shaken to its core by a series of what appeared to be coordinated terror attacks targeting a restaurant and a concert stadium in the heart of the capital. One hundred and thirty people died and more than 360 others were injured. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.
“The Warden System has proven to be an invaluable tool in expanding the consulate’s ability to deliver immediate, first-responder aid to Filipinos in distress in our jurisdiction,” the consulate said in a press statement. “We wish to continue strengthening the abilities of the wardens to meet any type of situation, whether man-made or natural disaster.”
“While 2015 has, for the most part, been a blessedly peaceful year, Paris and San Bernardino, among other places, remind us that tragic events can happen in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected time. There are also other, less dramatic but equally critical events that happen in households everywhere through our region, that require us to act to assure the life and safety of our kababayans.”
The consulate is preparing a program that will share lessons and best practices on how to render immediate assistance in the most common situations. For the program to be fully responsive, the consulate said it is requesting the wardens to prepare a list of the state and local resources available in theirs areas that can respond to reports of sexual assault, domestic violence, labor disputes, immigration, senior citizens’ welfare, and emergency response.
The Warden System was created in 2013, according to Consul General Mario de Leon Jr., as a response to “man-made and natural crises affecting our kababayans in the Northeast.” He is hopeful it will prove to be an effective vehicle to further empower the Filipino American community.
Last Year, De Leon gave a report on the consulate’s Assistance to Nationals services and identified the objectives for the coming year: to identify and tap potential resources in the community in every geographic region, create a contact database of Filipinos, and develop an Operations Manual for wardens.
He cited instances of assistance rendered by wardens. One was the collapse of a Harlem apartment building because of a gas explosion. A warden rushed to the scene to verify if a Filipino was among the injured. Another was when a warden came to the aid of elderly undocumented Filipinos in Queens who are in need of medical attention but have no immediate families.
There are about 50 wardens from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Massachusetts and New York who are available and ready to be activated in case of emergency situations in their states.