By Gus Mercado
Pres. Joe Biden has, once again, fulfilled his old promise to Filipinos that he would honor Filipino veterans of war. When he was Vice President and Senate President, he helped shepherd a bill to finally recognize and compensate Filipino WWII veterans who had fought under the American flag but denied benefits for 70 years.
This week, he chose a Filipino-American veteran of the Iraq War, Gina Ortiz Jones of San Antonio Texas as the new Undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force.
Gina is battle-tested, not only in the sensitive intelligence warfare in the Middle East, but also in the political arena. It is all too convenient for ultra-conservative critics to overlook Gina’s impressive resume and smear her as a gay person, just as they did during the campaign. We worked very hard for Gina when she ran twice for the US Congress and almost made history against all odds, running in the worst and terribly gerrymandered district that spanned 500 miles from San Antonio to El Paso in a conservative red state. She waged a hard and excellent campaign covering the 500-mile wide district and lost by only 900 votes to an established and well-funded Republican congressman Will Hurd. Independent political analysts say that if not for her being gay, she would have won the district.
Be that as it may, her appointment as Undersecretary of the Air Force, a position that she is eminently qualified for, will be a huge source of pride for Fil-Ams and the Philippines. She will be the first Filipino-American immigrant to hold a high Undersecretary position in the Federal government. Regardless of our own political affiliation, we should all unite behind Gina and support her nomination. It will be a feather in all our caps.
Gina’s nomination looks good but is not guaranteed with the remaining presence of bigoted politicians in the US Congress and Senate who could sabotage it. To overcome this hurdle, we are launching a massive letter-writing campaign to the U.S. Senators to strongly seek their support for the nomination of this very deserving Filipino-American.
YOU WILL BE PROUD OF GINA, BUT SHE NEEDS YOUR HELP
Wherever you are, you can prepare a one-page letter or fax to your two Senators. You can find their mailing address and contact information at this website https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm. If you represent a group, print your letter on your organization’s letterhead. Or you could do it in your individual capacity as a voter in your state. It will be just as effective. Mention Gina’s distinguished service in the US Air Force, having deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Mention also the historical fact that the Philippines and the United States have been strong allies and partners for more than a century. As we speak, both nations have resumed military exercises in the West Philippine Sea. If you need assistance or more information, please email this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.