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26/03/2014: TALAKAYAN SA KONSULADO TACKLES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S MONTH

Resource speakers for the Talakayan sa Konsulado addressed the audience on the topic of domestic violence (l-r: Lt. Randy Caturay of the San Francisco Police Department, Mr. Raymond Tang, District Attorney Investigator, Mr. Glen Sylvester, Filipino American Law Enforcement Officers, and Mr. Robert Yabes, Program Director at the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.)

“One out of four people is or will become a victim of domestic violence,” Lt. Randy Caturay, member of the San Francisco Police Force and the Alliance for Community Empowerment, informed the audience at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, addressing them as a resource speaker for the Consulate’s monthly Talakayan sa Konsulado (Consulate Open Forum).

As part of their activities for International Women’s Month, the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco and the Philippine American Press Club partnered with the Filipino-American Law Enforcement Officers (FALEO), the Alliance for Community Empowerment (ALLICE), and the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County to organize a Talakayan that addressed the issue of domestic violence.

Lt. Caturay emphasized during his talk that domestic violence is considered a crime in the United States, and that the police will file criminal charges once it has been established that violence has been committed by one partner against another.

Mr. Raymond Tang discussed the role of the District Attorney’s Office in assisting victims of domestic violence.

“The first step is calling 911,” District Attorney Investigator Raymond Tang reminded the audience.  “Calling 911 is the number one deterrent to the cycle of domestic violence.”  Both officers emphasized that charges could be filed against an offender regardless of the victim’s civil or immigration status in the United States.

Mr. Robert Yabes, Program Director and Ms. Roela Vasquez, Immigration Counselor at the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County supplemented the talk with information on immigration solutions for victims of domestic violence.  “A U-visa may be issued for [undocumented] persons who have become victims of a crime,” Mr. Yabes said.  On the other hand, victims who are permanent residents or are married to US citizens are covered under the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act).  Both courses of action provides immigration relief to immigrants and undocumented or out of status individuals who have become victims of domestic violence by providing them with options that would facilitate their applications for legal status in the US.

Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon joined the speakers during the open forum.

The resource speakers welcomed questions from the audience following their talk, including one from a woman whose niece was in an abusive relationship.  Acting Head of Post, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon, thanked them for their time and informed the audience that they would be available for a short time afterward for private consultations.

“Our view on the matter has always been that domestic violence is not just a women’s issue – it’s an issue that deeply affects our entire community,” Deputy Consul General Ascalon said.  “However, we are aware that domestic violence is one of the problems that stem from unequal treatment of women, particularly in the home.”

“We also wanted to let people know that if they find themselves in an abusive relationship, there are ways to empower themselves and get out – regardless of their immigration status, civil status or gender.  In that context, we deeply appreciate our community partners – FALEO, ALLICE and the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County – for coming out here and sharing valuable information with our community.”

Talakayan sa Konsulado is a monthly forum held at the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco and organized in partnership with the Philippine American Press Club (PAPC) to discuss issues relevant to the Filipino community in the Bay Area.  For updates on upcoming Talakayan topics, the public may contact cultural@philippinessanfrancisco.org, subject line: TALAKAYAN, or follow the Consulate’s site on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PCGSF.