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Filipino health workers push back, accuse UK tabloid of racism

By: Melissa Legarda Alcantara | INQUIRER.net US Bureau/UK Correspondent

LONDON — Hundreds of National Health Service nurses, predominantly Filipinos and their supporters, on Saturday, May 30 demonstrated outside the Daily Mail headquarters here to protest the newspaper’s “racially abusive coverage” of Filipino healthcare workers and nurses following the conviction of Philippine-born nurse Victorino Chua for murdering several patients.

Following the conviction of Chua last month, the right-wing tabloid Daily Mail, London’s second most purchased newspaper, depicted Filipino healthcare workers as potential murderers with its headlines and articles. Its May 21 headline read, “NHS STILL HIRING FILIPINO NURSES,” followed by, “It’s NOT racist to worry about foreign nurses.”

Ironically, the Daily Mail reported in its original articles on Chua that he became a naturalized British citizen in 2008. Critics noted, however, that the moment the news of Chua’s conviction broke, the paper pounced on his original Philippine heritage and used the isolated incident to defame the country as a whole.

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Filipino health workers in the UK demonstrating in front of Daily Mail offices in central London. Photo by: Inquirer.net

Some 300 people turned up at the central London protest organized by Filipino healthcare worker Araial Ilustre, waving Filipino flags and holding up printed signs that read “Filipino Nurses Proud To Serve With Care.”

The demonstration’s official “Position Statement of Organizers” stated, “We believe that the nationality of the perpetrator of these wicked crimes should be irrelevant… We would accept a reference to Chua being of Filipino ethnicity within the body of the story. However the Daily Mail referred to Chua as a ‘Filipino serial killer’ in the title of the news article [which] is uncalled for.”

The statement then went on to criticize the tabloid’s article[s] as “malicious and degrading” and said the Daily Mail “should be ashamed of its biased, partial reporting that is inciting racial hatred which we believe is a crime in the United Kingdom.”

The organizing committee’s statement also decried Chua’s shocking crimes, ending with: “[We as a nation] send our deepest condolences and prayers to the families of the victims.”

British native Malcolm Conlan, affectionately nicknamed the “Pinoy by Heart” by the Filipino community in the UK, handed the position paper to the Daily Mail’s Head of Security to pass on to higher management.

Protesters chanted slogans throughout the event, including “Stop the racism now.” The Filipinos in the audience also proudly sang a rendition of the nationalistic song Bayan Ko.

Filipinos in London accuse tabloid of fomenting racism with inflammatory headlines.
Filipinos in London accuse tabloid of fomenting racism with inflammatory headlines.

Cedric Abellar, a young Filipino boy whose OFW parents are both healthcare workers, read a stirring speech.

“Today is very important and special for all Filipinos,” Abellar declared. “My mom is one of the hardworking, caring Filipino nurses in the world and she provides tender love and care to her patients at her hospital where she is based [here].”

Abellar continued: “Daily Mail, please apologize to my mom and to all Filipinos in the UK.” The young Abellar ended his speech with: “I say to you, Daily Mail, Filipinos united will never be defeated.” This resounding final statement drew loud, supportive cheers from the crowd, most especially from the Filipino demonstrators.

The demonstration was covered by UK news outlet London Live, as well as Philippine television news and Pinoy Radio UK. Whether the Daily Mail editors received the statement, or will issue a response is yet to be ascertained.

 

 

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