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End the political exclusion of more than 7 million of the nation's "modern-day heroes"!   The 1987 Constitution requires Congress to pass a law enabling overseas Filipinos to vote! After 14 years, where is that law?

  Last modified:  03/12/2005 07:27:28 AM

In Memory of Joe "Alimasag" "Islip les sa Seattle" Pascual

A Great Family Loss

… And by “family” I mean the absentee voting campaign family.

It is with great sadness that I share this terrible news:  Joe Pascual (in cyberspace, a.k.a., Alimasag and Islip les in Seattle) passed away last year.   Toni, the wife, was understandably too distressed to inform us of his sudden and tragic bout with lung cancer. 

For those of us who have followed the absentee voting campaign on the Internet, Joe was a pioneer.  Together with Armand Oliveros, he helped form the Global Alliance of Filipinos for Filipinos way back.  I personally first learned about organized efforts to push the AVB issue after reading the group’s postings and e-mails. 

Joe was very active in online forums—spending countless hours in front of the computer, often arguing the merits of passing an absentee voting law.   [He once confessed to unfairly competing with his kids in the use of the family computer.]  Even more notable than that, he was results-oriented.  When we started our Web-based effort to enlist broad organizational support back in 2001, Joe was one of the first to deliver, and he delivered big time:

“On behalf of Mr. Rick Q. Beltran, president of the Council of Filipino-American Organizations of the Pacific Northwest (an umbrella group of 8 major Filipino organizations in the State of Washington) and the concurrent chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations - Region VII (representing 20 affiliate member organizations in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska), I [Joe Pascual] am pleased to inform you that in our joint meeting on March 5, 2001, the Council and the NaFFAA regional chapter passed a resolution unanimously supporting the worldwide campaign urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately re-certify as urgent House Bill 10720, otherwise known as the Overseas Absentee Voting Bill.”

When we organized the delegation visit that met with GMA and Philippine lawmakers in 2001, Joe was sorry he could not join because of difficult personal circumstances at the time, but even then, he sent a check for the campaign kitty and provided us with contacts in Congress (Toni is the niece of Rep. Violago).  He told me it was his “dream” to bring the issue all the way to Malacaņang.   Despite his passion, he was patently self-effacing, preferring to use “handles” in online forums.  Apparently, he learned about his ailment right after our Manila visit, but he did not want to burden us with the grave news.  In his last note to me, he said:

“Marvin, I am not in the best of health … Congratulations on a job well done ...  Whatever you do, please update me … Toni and I would lay low until things get back to normal.  Regards.”

Well, Joe, things won’t get back to normal for you, but here’s an update:  Both the Senate and the House have passed their separate versions of the AVB—I’m very sorry you weren’t around when those milestones happened.   Now, as the bicameral committee iron out the kinks, we’re vigilantly waiting for our lawmakers’ sense of fairness to prevail.  Let’s hope that they’ll see the compelling wisdom of enfranchising ALL overseas Filipinos who have a legal and moral claim to suffrage—to make Filipino citizenship, regardless of one’s status in a foreign land, as the primary basis of absentee voting.  Even after living in the States for many years, you held on to your Filipino citizenship, in the hope of one day participating in Philippine elections.  That, too, is no longer possible for you, but rest assured that we will continue to push the campaign to a successful end—as a human rights issue and for the sake of our people, and now, for those of us who had the pleasure of knowing you, in honor of your memory.   


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