HAGATNA, Guam. A word war has erupted between Philippines and Guam officials over the question of whether Filipinos speak English that’s “good enough”.
Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Abrams reportedly commented about the Filipino’s proficiency in English during a Guam Board of Allied Health's meeting earlier this month.
"I don't like the idea at all," Abrams told the board, which was discussing a proposal to outsource a transcription task to a transcriber in the Philippines.
"Their English is not good enough. You're dealing with a 3rd world country where English is a second language and we're dealing with tapes that are not crystal clear," he reportedly said.
That promptly drew cries of racism from the Filipino community, including Philippine Consul General Bayani Mangibin.
Abram’s alleged derogatory statement surfaced in an anonymous 4-minute-long posting on YouTube.
The Consul General’s office plans to meet with the Guam Bar Association to determine whether Abram’s remarks warrant an ethics complaint.
Abrams went on to reportedly tell the board, "We're dealing with a transcriber who may or may not know anything about legal proceedings and certainly can't pick up the phone… to get clarification as to what they might have said."
He said the video “is an act of desperation. The allegation that I’m a racist is not only erroneous, it’s downright preposterous. I am happily married to a wonderful woman who happens to be a Filipina. It’s sad that these people have to resort to tricks and lies to gain notoriety.”
Filipino-Americans comprise the second largest ethnic group on Guam.