For Immediate Release
March 24, 2014
Contact: Ivy Quicho, AF3IRM LA
[email protected] | 951-333-4306
NATIONAL– AF3IRM and supporters of the Stand with Grace Coalition celebrate another win, as Grande’s right to pass her last name to her children is preserved. On March 5, 2014 the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that the, “Respondent’s [Antonio’s] position that the court can order the minors to use his surname […] has no legal basis.” Grande’s two sons are no longer forcibly subjected to take on Congressman Patrick Antonio’s surname.
“This is a historic decision that sets precedent for both mother and child,” said Jollene Levid, National AF3IRM Chairperson, “It reinforces that children are not property to be pawns in quests for profit and power. Most importantly, this decision challenges patriarchal familial lineage and preserves the mother’s right to pass on her family name to her children.”
Antonio never acknowledged the boys, now ages 14 and 16, from birth. The court document explains that, “the children were not expressly recognized by respondent [Antonio] as his own in the Record of Births of the children in the Civil Registry.” Levid stated that, “It was not until after Grande left the country that Antonio attempted to claim his two sons whom he saw only as extensions of his warlord dynasty and a means to dominate their mother.”
The two boys submitted letters expressing their desire not to take the surname of their warlord father. They spoke of his absence from their lives and the hurt he has caused them, even stating that they “don’t want a name of a man who hurts people,” and asked the question, “why would I want my last name to be changed to Antonio if he doesn’t even care about me?” The years of abandonment and denial certainly weighed heavily on the children’s desires to be free of their father’s last name.
Antonio even attempted to argue that Grande was “unfit” to serve as the children’s mother, which was proved invalid in the Supreme Court decision- “the rule regarding the use of a child’s surname is second only to the rule requiring that the child be placed in the best possible situation considering his circumstances.”
“I am overfilled with joy and appreciation. Thank you to AF3IRM and the rest of the coalition for continuing to stand by our side. I hope that this decision can help other women in similar situations,” said the Grace Grande.
“The Stand with Grace Coalition thus far has been able to compel both the U.S. and Philippine government to drop the erroneous extradition charge against Grande, support Grace in obtaining full, sole custody of her children, assert the right of her two children to stay in the U.S. through the DREAM act, win over $1 million in retroactive child support, and preserve the right of a mother to pass on her family name. This is what can be accomplished when a woman is determined and has the support of her community,” said AF3IRM LA Chapter Co-Coordinator Gayle Palma.
Grace Grande, with her two sons, had fled a life as a concubine of Philippine Congressman Patrick Antonio. When she came to the U.S., Antonio was able to stalk Grande and her family across borders and tamper with her immigration status. The congressman attempted to extradite Grande back to the Philippines on the basis of an alleged theft charge by an employee of his, but lost the case as Grande’s lawyers, AF3IRM, and the Stand with Grace Coalition stood firm and resolute against him. Grande’s lawyer in the Philippines will be traveling to the Regional Trial Court in Aparri, Cagayan to finalize the surname of the children’s choosing. Grande continues to fight for asylum so that she and her two sons may live a life free from abuse.
As International Women’s Month comes to a close, AF3IRM calls on all to celebrate this victory for women everywhere who have survived economic, physical, and sexual abuse, and for the rights of their children. Let us continue to organize against the systems that breed such violence and corruption. Onward to true women’s liberation and the liberation of humanity!