WASHINGTON, D.C. - Twenty-five year old Greg Cendana beat four-time DC mayor, now council member Marion Barry to the Democratic National Convention that will choose the top democratic candidates in September. It was another sign of Barry’s waning influence especially after he attacked Chinese businessmen and Filipino nurses in the district, roundly condemned by Asian American groups and even Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia.
Fil-Am community leaders say Barry is playing with fire by pitting immigrant against native workers.
“We think they were very divisive. We think not only of Filipino nurses but immigrants in general who have contributed a lot to the DC economy and for him to target this specific group of people to make them sound sub-standard was very deplorable and we want an apology,” said Katrina Dizon, who heads the DC chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.
Cendana said they were surprised by Barry’s anti-Asian remarks. Barry has a record of working closely with the Asian community and still chairs the city’s oversight for the district’s minorities.
“He actually helped start the office of Asian Pacific islander affairs so for me, part of the reason why i’m so shocked is because when he was mayor of DC he felt it important enough to focus on the Asian American pacific islander community,” Cendana said.
Some Fil-Am leaders say Barry appeared to be addressing DC constituents, many jobless and homeless like this group who rely on donated food and live in a park just a stone’s throw away from the White House.
The spokesman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NAFAA) says Barry may have good intentions but bungled the message.
“There is already an anti-immigrant sentiment so he should know better than to speak with xenophobic sentiments like I said, he is a civil rights champion but being too long in politics maybe it’s time for him to retire,” Jon Melegrito said.
Barry has asked to meet with Ambassador Cuisia. DC officials tell ABS CBN’s North America Bureau that he is reaching out to the Fil-Am community, but there are few signs he is about to apologize.