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Home Columns San Diego Happenings Community Activists Lobby for a Filipino to Replace a Resigned Councilman in National City
Community Activists Lobby for a Filipino to Replace a Resigned Councilman in National City PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Friday, 12 December 2008 03:54

T he coalition was in the talking stage yet but now comes this opportunity for the Filipino-American community to come together and show some muscle. A month after the Nov. 4 election, an incumbent councilman decided to quit his post effective next month. The move caught many by surprise, including Filipino-American community activists who were gearing up for the election in 2010. The chance to rally behind a common candidate presents itself. True enough, the Filipino Voters Coalition unanimously agreed to support businesswoman Ditas Yamane in this new bid for public office. 

 

A TEST OF FILIPINO-AMERICAN POLITICAL MUSCLE


Community Activists Brace for New Electoral Contest

Following Resignation of Councilman in National City

 

 

By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ

 

The author is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and National Press Club of the Philippines-USA.

 

F ilipino community activists, invigorated by the lessons of the last polls, are bracing for a new electoral contest following the announced resignation of a sitting councilman in a San Diego suburb.

 

Rising from the dismal defeat of two Filipino candidates, organizers of the Filipino Voters' Coalition agreed on Wednesday (Dec. 3) to support and lobby for Ditas Delos Santos Yamane, a local businesswoman, who lost in the Nov. 4 election for a council seat in the City of National City.

 

A new opportunity came up for Yamane after incumbent National City Councilman Luis Natividad announced on Tuesday (Dec. 2) that he was resigning his seat effective January 5, 2009 to join the federal government in a new job.

 

In an interview later, Mr. Natividad explained that he wasn't quitting because of petty intramurals or his big disappointment at being passed up for the position of vice mayor in the last four years.

 

"Our relationship (within the council) has deteriorated a little bit," he said, though he claimed "it was not a reason to leave". Neither was his being ignored for vice mayor, a symbolic post that rotates every two years among the council's four other members.

 

There's still two years left of Councilmember Natividad's tenure. After he formally gives up his seat, the five-member City Council will decide how to fill it up, either by calling a special election or by appointing a new member from a list of applicants. Historically, the Council just appoints to save time and money.

 

In either case, the Filipino Voters' Coalition, on a motion of one of its founders, retired university professor Rizalino Oades, Ph.D., unanimously agreed to extend its full support to Ms. Yamane in what may be regarded as a first test of its emerging political muscle.

 

None of the existing Filipino PACs (political action committees) was successful in electing Filipino candidates mainly because of a lack of solid voter and financial support from the Filipino community.

 

The coalition, which is still polishing its organizational structure, is committed to change that through a process that calls for voter registration, education and the creation of a fund from which to draw expenses to support candidates of its choice.

 

By accident of Mr. Natividad's surprised decision to relinquish his post, Ms. Yamane would be the first beneficiary of the coalition as it gathers the entire Filipino community into one powerful political machine.

 

Lending support to Ms. Yamane would be consistent with Professor Oades'  belief that political empowerment begins at the grassroots – at the local level – rather than nationwide as what the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is doing.

 

"I am not impressed, even with NaFFAA," Dr. Oades said. "Personally, I have misgivings in terms of going nationwide."

 

Romeo P. Marquez is also the editor of the Philippine Village Voice, San Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA. 92038.

 A seat in the City Council of National City occupied by a Filipino is important since Filipinos comprise 18 percent of its population. In the last two years, a Filipino, Fideles Ungab, held the position. But Councilmember Ungab, who lost in the Nov. 4 election, was generally seen as not doing much for Filipino interests and causes.

 

Previous to that, another Filipino, Fred Soto, occupied the post. However, he was forced to quit after a Filipino newspaper, the Diario Veritas, exposed his wrongdoings, including bilking his clients of thousands of money. He gave up his law practice under pain of being criminally prosecuted by the State Bar of California.

 

Presently, no Filipino serves in the City Council, which is composed of one White (Mayor Ron Morrison) and four Hispanic (Rosalie Zarate, who is half-Filipino; Frank Parra, Luis Natividad and new entrant Alejandra Sotelo-Solis)

 

Ms. Yamane's entry, either through election or appointment, could improve representation and tilt the balance of power. # # #



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Last Updated on Friday, 12 December 2008 04:01
 

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