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Wednesday
Oct 16th
Home Sections Filipino-Veterans' Lobby FilVets to File Class Action Suit vs. US
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Sections - Filipino-Veterans' Lobby
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 16:41

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

  

Filipino-American Veterans to File Class Action Suit vs. the United States

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – Describing the “lump sum provided to the veterans two years ago as discriminatory, partial and unconstitutional,” Filipino-American World War II veterans and widows will file on Oct. 8, Friday, a class lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) before the United States District Court of Northern California at 450 Golden Gate in San Francisco.

 

This will be the first time that the $787-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 President Barack Obama signed into law will be called into question as veterans from Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco, California, and Washington, D.C., will come together at the site to demand court injunction and declaratory relief on behalf of 17,000 applicants who were denied their lump sum benefits.

 

There have been numerous class action lawsuits filed in various U.S. districts since the fifties and sixties but they were all dismissed for violating the statute of limitation since they were filed out of time.

 

Meanwhile, California state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) will be attending the filing of the lawsuit. He will also sponsor a resolution for full equity. Yee added, “the lawsuit puts another pressure on Congress to act on it.”

 

COMP FOR WIDOWS ALSO SOUGHT

 

L ead Attorney Arnedo Valera said, “The lump sum, provided to the veterans two years ago, was discriminatory, partial and unconstitutional, which leaves them no other option but to pursue litigation.”

 

The lawsuit will seek compensation for most of the widows, who were denied in the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC).

 

Ninety-three years old Nestor Punsalan complained his denial of lump sum due to his non-inclusion in the U.S. official list also called “Missouri List.” Punsalan said, “I have served the U.S. and offered my life, why am I not getting the lump sum that I deserve?”

 

Valera explained that outside the question of recognition, the lawsuit would also highlight the discrimination suffered by the Filipino veterans. The FVEC provided a one-time lump sum of $15,000 for US citizens and $9,000 for non-US citizens.

 

He added that the “quit claim” provision will be questioned in court, too, as this will preclude efforts to pursue full equity in Congress. 

 
SUPPORT GROUPS


O rganizations supporting the lawsuit and full equity include the Justice for Filipino-American Veterans (JFAV), Association of Widows, Advocates and Relatives for Equality (AWARE), Migrant Heritage Commission (
MHC), Veterans for Peace (VFP), American Legions, ANSWER Coalition, Barrio Unidos, Filipino Lawyers Organization of Washington (FLOW) and Washington State WW II Veterans and Widows. Reps. Jackie Speier, D- San Mateo and Mike Honda-D- San Jose promised to co-sponsor an equity bill in Congress early next year.

 

The Daly City Council approved unanimously full-equity resolution. Carson City Council and San Francisco Board of Supervisors are expected to adopt the same resolution soon.

 

During WW II, the Philippines was a colony of the US and Filipinos were considered US nationals. On July 26, 1941, 250,000 Filipinos were conscripted to be part of the US Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) that owe allegiance to the US President and Commander-in-Chief Franklin Roosevelt. The Filipinos were given promise of equal treatment as any American veterans after the war.

 

In 1946, through the Rescission Act, the US Congress took away the benefits and recognition of the Filipino World War II veterans and families out of the 66 nationalities who fought under the US Flag. In the GI Bill of 2008, many veterans received expanded benefits. The US Congress, for the second time denied full recognition and full benefits to Filipino veterans.

 

A benefit dinner will be held on Oct. 8 at 801 Howard St., across Moscone Westside Convention Center in Downtown San Francisco in the evening starting at 6 p.m. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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Comments (1)
1 Sunday, 17 October 2010 20:51
My father (Concepcion P. Bernacil) served honorably in the US Navy during WWII. He was on the USS Indianappolis that was torpedoed & sunk in 1945 by the Japanese. He was one of the survivors. He died in 2002 & my mother passed away in March 2010. He deserved this stipend, but he no longer is with us, nor is his widow. Do his heirs qualify for this one-time payment?

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