NEW YORK CITY: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano poses with Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson at the Philippine Consulate General in New York City. The LA Lakers guard visited his Filipino fans there after practice. Cayetano assured Filipinos of government assistance in the wake of the Trump immigration campaign in meetings in Washington, New York and Los Angeles.
By ALFRED GABOT and CLAIRE MORALES TRUE
WASHINGTON/MANILA/PASAY CITY (PhilAmPress) — Undocumented Filipinos in the United States who may be affected by US President Donald Trump’s new immigration policies will get assistance from the government under President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We invite you to come to the Philippines and see for yourselves that the Philippines is not about hatred and violence as being shown in the international media,” the senator said in his message to the National Prayer Breakfast.
He encouraged the foreign leaders to come and visit the country to discover for themselves the natural beauty of the country, and get to know Filipinos who are loving, kind and hospitable.
Cayetano also took the opportunity to discuss to the international community his insights on the Philippine war on drugs.
“The war on drugs is not a war to kill criminals,” Cayetano clarified.
He explained that the anti-drug campaign is not a war against life but a war to fight for the lives of all Filipinos.
Cayetano noted that the Philippine government and even President Duterte have acknowledged that there are law enforcers who abuse their power, but he added that this should not be a reason to stop the entire drug campaign in general.
He said, “President Duterte is being potrayed in the international community as a ‘violent’ man. But a ‘violent’ man does not want peace for anyone.”
He added that, in contrast, “Our President is doing everything to make the peace talks successful, achieve lasting peace, and win the war against illegal drugs,” the Senator added.
He also cited the recent clarification made by US State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner that Filipinos remain welcome in the United States and that the Philippines is not among the countries of concern by the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has not received any information that there were Filipinos rounded up by immigration authorities in the United States.
US President Donald Trump has given the green light to immigration officers to round up illegal migrants working in the US.
“So far, we haven’t received reports of Filipinos being among those rounded up,” DFA spokesman and Assistant Sec. Charles Jose said.
US authorities has started arresting hundreds of undocumented migrants, the first large-scale raids under President Trump, triggering panic in immigrant communities nationwide.
Reports reaching DFA said the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency rounded up undocumented individuals living in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other nearby cities.
The nightmare of illegal migrants started after Trump signed an executive order to deport undocumented immigrants.
Senator Cayetano earlier thanked the new United States Secretary of State for his statement that the US will preserve its long-standing friendship with the Philippines, and that more facts would be needed on the ground before anyone could comment on the Philippine government’s war on drugs.
During the US Senate’s confirmation hearing, newly confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the Philippines needs to “stay an ally,” and that he needs to “act on fact” and “multiple sources” when it comes to the country’s anti-drug war.
Cayetano in a Facebook post thanked Tillerson for his assurance. He meanwhile expressed his dismay that while Filipinos support the war on drugs and view it as protecting law-abiding citizens from drug-related violence, certain groups from within the country continue to spread lies and paint a picture of massive human rights violations.
“It is unfortunate that like steel that is destroyed by rust, it is groups from inside who are affected by the anti-illegal drugs, anti-crime, and anti-corruption campaign who are leading the disinformation campaign,” he stressed.
“Unfortunately, some have judged, believed or condemned without understanding the real situation nor verified facts on the ground. Leading to much misunderstanding and affecting our image abroad,” he added.
The senator lamented how the public had been misled by the efforts of some detractors to discredit President Rodrigo Duterte and his centerpiece platform of government. “There are many spreading lies about the situation in the Philippines, but there are many more who would see for themselves first before they judge,” he said.
Finally, Cayetano reiterated his call for US congressional leaders and other international advocates and “partners” to visit the Philippines, go to the different communities, and see for themselves how the war on drugs is slowly making Filipinos feel much safer.
“We prayed with U.S Congressional leaders in the National Prayer Breakfast. Now I pray that these legislators (our brothers and sisters), as well as other international leaders, would visit the Philippines… hear from the people themselves how they are finally beginning to feel safe, that they can now rely on the law and on their government,” Cayetano said. (Alfred Gabot and Claire M. True/PhilAmPress)