By Marivir R. Montebon
Jersey City — There is after all a Filipino-American Vote, hence leaders here are rolling their sleeves to harness it. Lawyer JT Mallonga, president of the National Federation of Fil-American Associations (NAFFAA) encouraged Filipinos nationwide to go out and vote in the November 2016 elections and the May Philippine elections.
In a town hall conducted at the New Jersey City University by the Philippine American Friendship Committee (PAFCOM), Malongga said that the Filipinos is the second largest Asian group (next to China), hence, the need to exercise the right to vote. PAFCOM, together with NAFFAA and the Philippine Consulate General of New York have kicked off a voter’s education campaign this election season.
In the East Coast, New Jersey has the most number of registered voters at 116,000, followed by New York at 105, 335. In California, there are 1.2 million registered voters.
Malongga invoked Sec. 203 of the Voting Rights Act that mandates the appointment of a coordinator for a county or municipality which has more than 10,000 voters of the minority language. “We are successful in our bid in San Diego. We should be doing this too in San Francisco, New Jersey, and New York.”
Steven Raga, president of NAFFAA New York, underscored the importance of local and national elections in responding to issues that affect Filipinos, whether in business or service.
Jersey City councilman Michael Yun encouraged Filipinos to harness their political voice as a minority group in NJ. “Being able to vote means we are a part of this great country. So keep encouraging more Filipinos to vote. Who knows, Council president Lavarro will be the next Jersey City mayor,” he told participants.
Jersey City council president Rolando Lavarro came to the town hall to lend his support to the Filipinos as the education campaign took off.
PAFCOM chair Ledy Almadin said her organization will continually provide education services to its members. “PAFCOM will have its own separate committee to implement NAFFAA platform . We’re on our planning stage on how we’re going to implement the NAFFAA platform in Jersey City, including the educational part of it.”
NAFFAA for its part will hold town hall meetings in Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Boston.
Consul Kerwin Tate of the PCGNY during the town hall meanwhile explained the process of overseas voting for Philippine elections which begins on April 9, 2016 and ends on May 9, the actual election day in the Philippines. He encouraged dual citizens to cast their votes and be fully informed on how this could be done through www.pcgny.org.