Other loyalists condemn violent mob
IN a last-ditch effort to rally against and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, hundreds of rioters on Wednesday, January 6 stormed the U.S. Capitol grounds — and among the mob were several Filipino American Trump supporters.
Amid the sea of American flags, MAGA hats, camouflage outfits, and brandished guns, one individual — clad in an all-black outfit and accessories like a U.S. flag as a cape, helmet, goggles, and an upside-down flag mask — was captured by Agence France-Presse staff photographer Saul Loeb.
Though still unidentified, the supporter’s wielding of a walis tambo (a broom common in Filipino households) underneath a homemade Captain America-esque shield, bearing messages like “Coup Flu Fighter,” caught the attention of social media users who speculated that the person could be of Filipino descent.
Dubbed by some users as “Walis Man,” the pro-Trump Filipino — who as of this writing remains a person of interest for unlawful entry according to the FBI and Metropolitan Police Department — reportedly hails from Ilocos Sur, Philippine Star editor Jonathan de Santos posted on Twitter.
“Walis Man was pretty easy to find on Facebook and is apparently from Ilocos Sur,” Santos wrote above posed images from the person’s Facebook page, which has since been deactivated.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also weighed in on the images from Wednesday’s insurrection.
“Walis to clean up the government. Okay. It has a symbolic purpose but the skinned buffalo head and horns? That’s not insanity but smarts. They came looking like a circus because no one would think of shooting clowns. What would the kids say,” Locsin said in a tweet.
Other comments speculated why Filipinos would heed the outgoing president’s call to protest.
“I suddenly wanna hide… why would Filipinos protest too? as if you guys are important to him. I would rather spend my time to raise awareness than to waste my time protesting to one of the selfless men in the universe,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another user named Ally Vega said, “Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. There were Filipinos present at yesterday’s failed coup d’etat. We’re not playing when we say the impacts of colonization run DEEP.”
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez on Thursday, January 7, confirmed that some of the Fil-Am Trump supporters traveled to Washington, D.C. from different states, where the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were holding a joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
“Ang balita namin merong mga iba na Trump supporters and nakita namin galing din sa ibang states dito sa Amerika pero hindi namin sigurado kung ilan sila (We have news that there were some Trump supporters and we saw that they came from different states here in America but we do not know how many there were),” Romualdez said in an interview over GMA’s Unang Balita.
Despite the fervent loyalty to Trump, several Fil-Am Republicans denounced the violent events on Wednesday that left five individuals, including a Capitol Police officer, dead, and dozens more injured.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was the chair of the Trump re-election campaign’s Asian American and Pacific Islander advisory board, wrote on Twitter that “There is no place for violence in our political discourse, even over the most serious issues and disagreements.”
“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the acts of violence at our nation’s Capitol Building today. I pray for the safety of law enforcement working to keep order, for legislators of all parties as well as other civilians who are protesting peacefully,” he said in another tweet.
Ron Falconi, Brunswick, Ohio mayor and a member of the re-election’s AAPI advisory board, told the Asian Journal that the scene that came out of the nation’s capital was “a combination of horrifying, sadness and disgust.”
“They don’t represent me or any Republicans and conservatives that I know,” Falconi said. “I thought their actions were reprehensible and think they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Rudy Asercion, an elected member of the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee, told the Asian Journal that “January 6 was a sad day for America” as he watched the news coverage.
“Such violence is unacceptable and un-American,” Asercion said, adding, “Those who broke the law must be punished. And we call on all peace-loving Fil-Am voters to promise: We will never let this happen again.”
Later on Wednesday evening, Congress resumed the electoral vote count certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory with 306 votes versus Trump’s 232. The day before, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock came out victorious in the Georgia runoff election, solidifying the Democrats’ control of the Senate.
With Trump leaving office in less than two weeks, Republican leaders and supporters alike will be left with handling the future of the party.
“I believe the [Republican Party] will still be united against the positions of the Democratic Party and the Biden-Harris administration,” Falconi said. “The positions made by Biden will be a rallying point to stop these policies for our country.”
The 2020 Asian American Voter Survey, released by APIA Vote, AAPI Data, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC in September of last year, revealed that 34% of Fil-Ams support Trump — the second highest support among Asian Americans following 48% of Vietnamese voters, as previously reported by the Asian Journal.
U.S. democracy remains ‘strong’
Despite the violence that occurred, Locsin Jr. believes that the U.S. democracy is still “strong to the bone.”
“I hope the enemies of liberty among mock world powers don’t believe and won’t peddle the line that the U.S. is done for. U.S. democracy is strong to the bone,” he said in a tweet, adding that the country will “still emerge [the] world’s leading power.”
“It would be a nightmare of authoritarianism which is mortally wounded by such upheavals. Saw this before. Democracy is elastic steel,” he added.
Malacañang, for its part, backed the foreign chief’s sentiments.
“The secretary of foreign affairs has spoken. Our secretary of foreign affairs is confident that the democracy in America won’t fall because of this brief melee that we saw,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque also said that the Philippine Embassy and consular offices in the U.S. were ordered to monitor the situation to see if any Filipinos were injured.
“What is important is to ensure that no Filipino would be caught in that mele,” he said.
“Our embassies and consular offices in Washington, D.C. have been directed to monitor and report immediately if a Filipino is hurt or is caught in the melee,” the spokesman added.