WWII Philippines in Today's News Jul 18, 2012 10:36:17 GMT -5
Post by friscohare on Jul 18, 2012 10:36:17 GMT -5
Filipino WW II vets face-off with US Congress[/u][/url][/size]
(Asian Journal, 07/17/12)
PENSACOLA, FL — “I have valiantly defended this country in Bataan during the war amidst lack of arms supplies and formidable enemies. In my remaining years, I will fight to the last drop of my blood in Pensacola, to demand full recognition of my service as an American veteran,” says Regalado Baldonado, a WW II guerilla and leader of the Justice for Filipino-American Veterans (JFAV) during a national phone conference of veterans and widows.
Leaders and advocates decided unanimously to ask R-Rep. Jeff Miller, Pensacola, Florida, to bypass the sub-committee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA), and hold immediately a public hearing of the HR 210, “The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011,” by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs that Miller heads as Chairman.
“The situation is very urgent. Time is of the essence. The Filipino veterans and widows are dying. Of the 250,000 who fought in WW II, less than 41,000 are still alive and ten people die every day,” says Arturo Garcia, national coordinator of JFAV.
Veterans will kick-off Operation USAFFE Week from July 25-August 1 with the introduction of Resolution in New York City Council July 25, visits to different local districts July 26, Campaign in Pensacola July 28, and culminating in the Congressional lobby with the members of the House Committee members headed by NY youth leader Chevy Evangelista August 1.
Remember USAFFE, pass Equity Bill now
On July 26, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt through a proclamation conscripted 120,000 Filipino soldiers to the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) headed by the Supreme Commander General Douglas McArthur. The defense of the Philippines, an American territory then, culminated in the final battle in Bataan by Filipino and American soldiers.
After 20 years of lobbying in the US Congress for full equity and full recognition, veterans vowed to continue their last stand in Pensacola, a district whose population are 20% veterans and with many Filipinos.
The US Congress through the Rescission Act of 1946 took away the recognition of the US military service of Filipino WW II veterans who fought alongside Americans. Of the 66 Allied nationalities who fought for the US, the Filipinos were singled out not to be recognized as full American veterans.
Equity Bill stalled at Sub-Committee DAMA“It is very cruel for the office of sub-committee DAMA Chairman Jon Runyan to stall the hearing for HR 210, therefore the only way to resolve this impasse is for House Committee Chairman Miller to call a hearing in his own committee,” says Garcia. He adds,
“Other bills with three or even zero cosponsors were provided hearings, why can’t they afford the same courtesy to HR 210 with 93 cosponsors? This is not the way the US should treat its veterans. Is it because we are Filipinos, that they should treat us this way?
“There are many constituents including many American veterans in Burlington County (Runyan’s district) who support the cause of equity for Filipino who served the US,” says Emmanuel Goce, a son of USAFFE veteran. Runyan is running for re-election this year against Democratic candidate Shelley Adler in Third District, New Jersey.
District community leaders ask Miller
Ten community leaders in Pensacola signed a petition addressed to Representative Miller to expedite the committee hearing of HR 210 so that the bill van be marked up and put to deliberation in the plenary immediately. “Veterans nowadays either go to the emergency rooms or to funeral homes. We cannot afford to witness them die without seeing the light of recognition. This is an issue of all veterans and Americans,” says Divina Herrera,
President of Filipino-American Association of Pensacola.
The current Congress will end in November. There are currently 93 cosponsors and if the bill fails to get approved this year, it may be reintroduced next year but the number of cosponsors will start from zero.
Congressional lobbyist Ago Pedalizo from San Francisco will visit Pensacola constituents to educate, build political case, and ask for more petitions. “It is election time and people are more politically engaged than any other time. Rep. Jeff Miller is running for re-election. Let’s talk about fair share and doing the right thing for the vets,” adds Pedalizo.