By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Dec. 6, 2013
LOS ANGELES – It’s going to be a cheerful holiday season for Grace Grande, the woman who claims to be a former mistress of AGBIAG Rep. Patricio Antonio.
The Philippine and U.S. governments have dropped extradition charges against her allowing her to continue her quest for political asylum.
“It feels like a heavy load on my shoulders was lifted and I’m just so happy and overjoyed and so grateful for everyone that has helped me throughout this battle,” Grande said.
Grande was in the process of filing for political asylum last year. However, hearings were halted as one of Antonio’s employees filed theft charges against her.
For the past year, Grande has denied what she described as trumped up charges believing it was retaliation by Antonio, who is the father of her children.
“What has happened to me has not been fair or just. I fought and endured it all. The fight is not over it yet but through it all I found strength through my supporters. With all of you and God by my side today, I am a step closer in my struggle for freedom and justice,” said Grande.
Federal Public Defender Alyssa Bell described Grande’s case as “exceptional.”
“This case has been exceptional from day one when the United States of America, through the United States attorney handling the case, agreed to stipulate to a reasonable bond for Grace so that she would not be incarcerated while the extradition was pending,” Bell said. “She would be permitted to take care of her sons. A dismissal like this is extremely rare.”
Grande claimed she was physically and emotionally abused by Antonio.
She eventually fled with their two sons to the United States seeking political asylum. Last year, the two sons were granted deferred action from the Obama administration.
Activists said this recent twist in Grande’s seven-year saga is not only a victory for her but for other women in similar situations.
“Grace is one of many women who have fled from violence but it’s also key to point out her circumstances were unique,” Jolene Levid of AF3IRM said. “Her batterer is a millionaire, a congressman who has enough capital to stalk her across borders. Quite frankly, her life is still at stake if she doesn’t get granted asylum.”
Grande and her team are uncertain if the theft charges remain, but they are just happy the extradition order related to theft charges has been dropped as they now patiently wait for the asylum case to be reopened.
For Grande, the dropped extradition is not only one of the best holiday presents, but it also takes her one step closer to her freedom and it keeps her dream of a better life for her and her children alive.
You can contact Steve Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.