PH Consulate in Los Angeles advises Filipinos to be vigilant over ‘heightened threat environment’ across the US

Published February 21, 2021, 10:19 AM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippine Consulate General’s office in Los Angeles has advised all Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in Southern California, Southern Nevada and the State of Arizona to be “vigilant” and exercise precautions following a “heightened threat environment” across the United States in the aftermath of the Jan. 21 Presidential inauguration.

Los Angeles (Unsplash)

Quoting a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) bulletin issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, the Consulate said, “information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objection to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”

The NTAS bulletin takes effect from January 27, 2021 to April 30, 2021.

“Filipinos and Filipino-Americans are therefore advised to exercise vigilance, take safety precautions, avoid areas of protests, heed local government bulletins, and to carry emergency and medical contact details,” the Consulate said in an advisory posted on its official social media account and website.

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Congress building in Capitol Hill descended into chaos and violence as hundreds of pro-Donald Trump rioters stormed the building, leaving four people dead and forcing lawmakers to evacuate to safety, including then Vice President Mike Pence.

The US Homeland Security department has raised concern that a range of issues that motivated Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) will remain through early 2021 and some may be emboldened by the Jan. 6 insurrection in the US Capitol to target elected officials and government facilities.

Among the issues that may drive the DVEs to carry out violence includes anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force.

Since the onset of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, attacks and racial slurs against Asian Americans have increased, according to the group Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate.

The group said it received more than 2,808 first-hand reports of anti-Asian hate across 47 states and Washington, D.C. from March 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.

Data gathered by the AAPI for the nine months period in 2020 showed that roughly 71 percent were cases of verbal harassment while shunning or avoidance made up about 21 percent. About 9 percent of the incidents involved physical assaults, and 6 percent included being spit on.

Just last week, an elderly Filipino woman was attacked while on a San Diego trolley. Witnesses helped her report the incident to the police while the victim was treated at a local hospital.

In a separate incident in New York City, 61-year old Filipino-American Noel Quintana was slashed on his face with a box cutter inside a subway train while his assailant escaped.

Aside from the Stop AAPI Hate movement, various advocacy groups and even Hollywood stars have joined the cause to speak out against violence targeted towards Asian Americans during the pandemic 

On Jan. 27, or less than a week after he assumed office, US President Joseph Biden called the rising anti Asian-American xenophobia as both “unacceptable” and “un-American” and ordered the US Justice Department to partner with the Asian-American community to prevent the further occurrence of hate crimes.