World War II Veterans Last Hope in the Forthcoming State Visit of Pres. Arroyo to the United States

Manila Bulletin, May 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

World War II Veterans Last Hope in the Forthcoming State Visit of Pres. Arroyo to the United States


AT the conclusion of World War II, there were about 400,000 surviving veterans. Since then, that number continuously diminished because of old age and sickness and by this time there are only about fifty thousand.

But despite their decreasing number, WW II veterans' strong resolve to struggle for recognition and honor by the United States as a component of the then United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) has never waned. On the contrary, it grows stronger and more tenacious each passing day.

History shows that even before the outbreak of the war between the United States and Japan on December 7, 1941, the military forces of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines pursuant to the Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 26, 1941 were inducted into the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). So during the war the Filipino soldiers fought as American nationals and were committed into battle against the Japanese invasion forces of the Philippines. The valor and heroism displayed by these Filipino soldiers side by side with the fellow American soldiers in the defense of Bataan and Corregidor and in the reconquest of the Philippines, especially the guerillas, under the most difficult odds and desperate circumstances are legendary and highly cherished by freedom-loving people as shown in several films and history books.

Strange as it may seen, the Recession Act of 1946 was passed providing that the services of the military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines "shall not be deemed to have been service in the military or naval forces of the United States or any component thereof, for purposes of any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges, or benefits" This proviso, shocking as it is, has denied benefits to Filipino World War II veterans.

Consequently, the Filipino veterans did not receive the benefits of what their American counterparts like the death benefits and monthly pension for life recovered. They were left behind as abandoned relatives.

Never daunted in war, so also in peace. Since the passage of the Recession Act of 1946, our government had organized and sent to the United States delegation after delegation for recognition and honor of Filipino WW II veterans and the repeal of the Recession Act. Though benefits may have been extended to them because of these various representations in the past, like eligibility for American citizenship and some medical benefits yet they are cramps compared to what their Americans counterpart have received and are still receiving like a monthly pension of about $800. …

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