PH embassy confirms 7 Fil-Am families in Newtown
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine embassy in New York is already in the process of determining if there were any Filipino-Americans included among the casualties in one of the deadliest school shooting incidents in US history.
President Benigno Aquino III meanwhile expressed sympathy to the families of those who died. In a statement, he said, "At this time of the deepest mourning over the tragic loss of life in Connecticut, I extend the deepest sympathy and solidarity to the families of those who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School."
He also said, "Together with the entire Filipino people, we stand beside you with bowed heads, yet in deep admiration over the manner in which the American people have reached to comfort the afflicted, and to search for answers that will give meaning and hope to this grim event. We pray for healing, and that this heartbreak will never be visited on any community ever again."
Also in a statement, Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr expressed the government's sympathy, following the shooting incident at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday, December 14.
"We join the Government of the United States and the American people in mourning the loss of so many innocent lives," Cuisia said. "Our hearts go to the families of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy."
Cuisia said he was informed by Consul General Mario De Leon that there are around 7 Filipino-American families registered with the Filipino-American Association of Western Connecticut who are residents of Newtown, a predominantly Caucasian community.
The embassy said the Consulate General got in touch with leaders of the Filipino-American Association of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Police Department upon hearing of the incident but could not immediately verify if there are Filipino casualties because the list of victims has not yet been released.
"From what we know there are no elementary-aged Filipinos or Filipino-Americans going to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Those of school age either go to other elementary schools or are in middle school, high school or college," the ambassador said, adding that there are no teachers from the Philippines in Newtown as most of the Filipinos there are nurses, doctors and engineers.
"Just the same, we want to be sure that all the Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in Newtown are safe," Cuisia said.
According to reports, the incident caused the death of 20 children and at least 6 adults, including the shooter, his parents, and school officials. The authorities, however, are still in the process of determining the exact number of adults who were shot dead in the school premises.
Deputy Consul General Theresa Dizon-De Vega said the incident took place about 15 minutes from Danbury where more than 100 of the estimated 500 Filipino families in Western Connecticut are residing. She said there are 16,402 Filipinos across Connecticut based on the 2010 US Census. - Rappler.com