Pelosi Deserts WWII Filipino Veterans

 
The Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) coordinator Arturo P. Garcia expressed this stand and say they are seriously disappointed with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Bob Filner, head of the House of Representatives Veterans Committee who said that "S. 1315 is dead because the Democrats do not have the 2/3 majority votes needed to pass it."


Seattle, WA—The Filipino community and its veterans say PASS THE HOUSE VERSION OF SB 1315, now! SB 1315 is an omnibus bill enhancing benefits to most US veterans. The passage of this bill would have also provided pensions to Filipino veterans who fought alongside US soldiers in the US Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) Program. The US Senate passed S.1315 on April 25, 2008, with a vote of 96-1. However, it has stalled in the House of Representatives. Pelosi is unwilling to use her power as Speaker of the House to fight for veterans.

The Philippines was the first and only direct colony of the United States government acquired through a violent takeover at the turn of the 20th century. At the time of World War II, the Philippines, then a US Commonwealth, provided Filipino men under the US Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) Program. At the time, Filipinos were considered US nationals. Filipino soldiers fought valiantly alongside US soldiers in defeating the Japanese Imperial Army. However, the US government did not fulfill its promise of pension benefits once their service to the United States was completed.

In 1946, the same year the Philippines was granted nominal independence from the US government, Congress and President Truman passed the infamous Rescission Act, which voided Filipino veterans who served alongside US soldiers in the same cause to receive pension benefits. It stated -- "the service of Filipinos shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits."

The original 200,000 Filipino World War II veterans who fought side by side with the US veterans are now mostly octogenarians and barely 18,000 are alive. For more than half a century, the Filipino World War II veterans have been seeking for just and equal recognition as US veterans. A provision in S. 1315 affords Filipino WWII veterans in the US the same benefits as the US veterans they fought alongside. Filipinos residing in the Philippines would receive a special pension of $300 dollars a month, if the bill is signed into law.

The Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) coordinator Arturo P. Garcia expressed this stand and say they are seriously disappointed with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Bob Filner, head of the House of Representatives Veterans Committee who said that "S. 1315 is dead because the democrats do not have the 2/3 majority votes needed to pass it."

JFAV also expressed disenchantment with the democrats when Filner further said, "Speaker Pelosi can crack the whip for the 40 or so Democrats holding out but she won't. She is concerned that their (40+ Reps) re-election bids will be affected by this vote. [Filner] does not agree but [he] does not have the whip.

JFAV believes that we should not change the objectives in the midst of our efforts." They further said:

" We in JFAV want to remind Filner of the failed efforts of then President Fidel Ramos and Alex Esclamado of NaFAA, who asked, then US President, Bill Clinton for a $20,000 lump sum for the Filipino veterans in 1997. That effort failed. JFAV asked Filner not to repeat this same mistake.

JFAV does not see the logic of asking for a lump sum when the Democrats led by Filner and Pelosi who cannot first pass the House version of S. 1315.

JFAV further said as a Filipino-American community, always appreciate Filner's efforts for the Filipino veterans, JFAV do not agree with the direction you are taking. But, we will ask you to go an extra mile for our cause and let it not be you who will let it go to waste after 18 years of long, hard struggle. "

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