By Joseph Pimentel, ABS-CBN North America Bureau and U.S. News Agency / Asian
There were prayers, followed by tears.
On Thursday, at a press conference at the Historic Filipinotown, Grace Grande, who claims to be the former mistress of current Philippine congressman Patricio Antonio of the AGBIAG party list, spoke about their tumultuous 10-year relationship and how he has allegedly brought criminal charges against her in the Philippines.
Grande said the reason she is speaking is because she may possible be forced to leave the United States in a few weeks.
She faces a final hearing for asylum next month and trying to gain public support.
“I don’t have money to fight,” she said. “I know I have God on my side. This has got to stop. I am not out for revenge. I just want justice for what he has done to me and my children.”
This case started in 2007 when Grande decided she had enough with Antonio, and fled the country with their children.
That sparked a complex legal case, which led to Antonio filing for child custody in the U.S. and the Philippines, and Grande seeking asylum to remain here.
In her asylum case, Grande alleges that Antonio used his powerful political connections to bring criminal charges against her. She said there’s a “qualified theft charge” against her, which means no bail.
She said she will pay the ultimate price if she and her children are sent back to the Philippines.
“If they send me back it will be the end of me and my children,” she said. “They will never be the same again.”
Grande approached Mariposa Center for Change and AF3IRM earlier this year to help her with her case.
The group has created a “Stand with Grace Campaign” including an online petition to build public support for her to remain in the U.S.
As of Friday, 520 people have signed the petition.
Ivy Quicho, the executive director of Mariposa, said they want public support to ensure Grande’s safety
“It’s very important that the community come out and really stand with her to ensure that she will not be deported back to the Philippines,” said Quicho.
Grande said her hope is to remain in the U.S. with her children and to escape possible prosecution.
Sources close to Patrick Antonio called Grace Grande’s press conference a publicity stunt and a last ditch effort to remain in the U.S.
When asked what her chances are of winning asylum, the source said slim to none.
Grande is due back in court on September 24 for the court’s final decision on her asylum case.