Pinay nurse’s assault, death in NY trigger calls to address safety in the city

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MANILA — The Philippine Consulate General in New York released a statement confirming the death of Bayonne Medical Center oncology nurse Maria Luningning Ambrocio on October 9.

On October 8, Ambrocio accompanied a friend to the Philippine Consulate to have lunch when she was knocked to the ground by a mentally disturbed homeless man, Jermaine Foster, who was being chased after snatching a woman’s cell phone.

According to police, Foster crashed onto Ambrocio as he fled while the latter hit her head on the pavement and was rushed to the Bellevue Hospital.

In a report by The Philippine Star, Ambrocio’s brother Carlito Sta. Maria confirmed through a text message to the New York Post that her sister was taken off life support after sustaining traumatic brain injury on October 9. 

In a statement, the Philippine Consulate General said that the incident “is the latest in the series of violent acts committed by mentally-ill individuals against members of the Filipino Community in New York City since the start of the year.”

“We have joined calls for authorities to take the necessary steps, including heightened police visibility, to protect the public after we noted the surge in anti-Asian hate incidents that targeted some of our kababayan,” the Consulate General added.

“We also supported calls for authorities to take the necessary measures to address mental health issues, especially among the homeless.” 

“We reiterate these calls as we mourn our loss but we also ask ourselves: How many more Maria Ambrocios do we have to mourn before the streets would be made safe again?” it said.

In a Twitter post, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Sec. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. asked Consul General in New York Elmer Cato to help the victim’s family.

“Oh my God. Elmer, go to the family. How can we help? We can take her home. That is our vow and our duty. This is so sad. And after Biden praised our nurses for their compassionate, competent, caring work,” Teodoro said in a tweet.

Cato said he already got in touch with the Ambrocio’s family and conveyed their condolencesand offered assistance.

In a report by GMA NewsBayonne, New Jersey Mayor James Davis called for prayers for Ambrocio hours before she was taken off life support. 

“I’m asking for all Bayonne people to say a prayer for Maria Ambrocio. Maria, an Oncology nurse at Bayonne Medical Center, was viciously attacked in an unprovoked assault by a deranged man in Times Square yesterday. Please keep Maria and her family in your thoughts through these difficult days,” Davis said on a Facebook post.

On October 11, Malacañang through Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque appealed to the US government to probe the death of Ambrocio. 

“We appeal to the US administration to investigate and prosecute the killer of this Filipino nurse. We call upon the US government to do what is incumbent upon any state where there is a killing,” Roque said, noting that “all victims of violations of the right to life are entitled to a speedy domestic remedy.”

Last August, Consul Gen. Cato issued a statement calling on New York City authorities to “take additional measures to make our kababayan and other Asian-Americans feel safe when outside their homes by increasing police presence especially in the subways.”

Cato has told GMA News’ Dobol B TVthe Philippine Consulate in New York has received at least 18 cases of hate crimes against Filipinos so far in 2021. 

“By now, we should have siguro mga 18 cases of anti-Asian incidents reported to the Consulate since the start of the year,” Cato said.

“These have taken place already in the United States pero dito sa New York mas prominente,” he added.

Two recent incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes involving Filipinos have been reported in the past week in New York, with Filipina nurse Potri Ranka Manis sustaining bruises after being attacked while distributing face masks to subway commuters while theater actor Miguel Braganza was mugged on his way to his apartment. 

Cato said the two cases were isolated, noting New York is also experiencing a surge in gun violence incidents amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“‘Yung sinasabi natin dito, these are isolated cases — sporadic, unprovoked incidents — that take place in any city, any country, in the world where medyo mataas ang crime rate,” he said.

In a report by CNN PhilippinesUS President Joe Biden signed a bill called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in May to “create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite review of potential COVID-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level.”

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