NYC council commends FALDEF for ‘great work’

FALDEF founder JT Mallonga (right) receives plaque of citation from Councilman Vincent Gentile. With them is Consul General Mario de Leon Jr.

FALDEF founder JT Mallonga (right) receives plaque of citation from Councilman Vincent Gentile. With them is Consul General Mario de Leon Jr.

New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile lauded FALDEF’s immigration advocacy by presenting the organization with a City Council Citation at a March 1 fundraising reception held at the Consul General’s Upper East Side residence.

“You have done the great advocacy for all migrants, not just the Filipino Americans, but all those that come to you,” said Gentile. “You’ve done outreach in the areas of education programs, voter protection and human trafficking. That is great, great work and something I want to honor you tonight and say thank you for your efforts.”

The Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund’s reception drew an intimate crowd of young volunteers, community leaders, journalists, lawyers and government officials who gathered to “celebrate and strengthen” the commitment to the Filipino American community, said a press statement.

Some guests came all the way from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to join the celebration held at the official residence of Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr.

Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein acknowledged the important role of trial lawyers in moving immigration cases.

“Trial lawyers represent the interests of the victims and that all immigrants have an absolute right like any other citizen in the country, to be heard in the court of law – whether they’re an immigrant or undocumented,” he said. “If we, trial lawyers, don’t represent the victims who have been wronged, then we shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.”

Keynote speaker Victor Bolden, New Haven, Connecticut’s corporate counsel, used the numbers 150, 50, and 5 to dramatize the milestones in the campaign for racial equality.

He said, “One hundred fifty years ago last month, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. That one document set in motion changes for that particular time. The concept of freedom: that all people should be free. Equal protection and freedom in itself is not enough, you need equality, too… but equality does not come without the power of voting. It’s not about one race or group but about everyone to do their part to make change.

“Fifty years ago: 1963, there was a great march in Washington. We were not one nation, but divided by color. But they came together in order to move America forward again. The march galvanized the Civil Rights of 1964, the Voting Rights, and the Fair Housing Act.

“Five years ago, FALDEF was launched. A group of Filipino nurses taking a stand sparked the recognition that there needs to be an organization that addressed their issues.”

Merit Salud, FALDEF’s vice president for External Affairs, said the organization is lucky to have the support of the Consulate and the community. “Without the community leaders, FALDEF is just another NGO,” he said.

He recounted how FALDEF gave birth to the Philippine Legal Defense and Education Center (PHILDEC) recently organized and now based in Manila.

“PHILDEC stands for the supremacy of the rule of law and the aristocracy of human dignity. As an NGO initially designed to combat human trafficking from the Philippines to the United Sates of America, it stands on these two underpinning rationales. Rule of law without justice is a farce. Justice not only for Filipino Americans, but for every person.”

The evening’s program featured a screening of the documentary, “Tayo Ay May Karapatan: We Have Rights,” showing FALDEF’S work with undocumented immigrants. The film was produced and directed by Diane Paragas.

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