Always a Bridesmaid (How to "Reinvent" the Philippine Lobby in Washington, DC) Print
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Columns - JGL Eye
Thursday, 10 January 2008 18:11



By Joseph G. Lariosa


CHICAGO, Illinois (JGL) –

After World War II, the Filipino veterans did the Philippine government a favor:  Allowed the U.S. government to park millions of dollars in the custody of the Philippine government as the U.S. Congress tried to escape responsibility from the payment of billions of dollars due the veterans.


Instead of passing billions of dollars to compensate the services of 240,000 Filipino veterans, the US Congress reduced their benefits to a mere $200-M in passing the First Recession Act of 1946. Later, the same Congress also passed the Philippine Rehabilitation Act (P.L. 79-370), which appropriated a measly “$620-Million to rehabilitate the Philippines and (pay for) war damage claims.”

Now, that the Philippine government was able to stand on its feet after the veterans brought back peace and democracy to their country, the Philippine government is again teasing the veterans by putting the veterans benefit issue in the back burner. 

I am referring to the reported $500,000 lobby money being dangled by the government of President Arroyo to a mainstream lobby group in Washington, D.C., the Covington & Burling, LLP, as payment for its lobbying effort for the Philippines in the next six months.

If you convert it into the resurging Philippine pesos, it will be cool 20 million pesos, an amount attractive enough to pay whistle-blowers of corrupt leaders in the Philippines.


According to Los Angeles, California community activist Bobby M. Reyes the lobby deal could ultimately cost the Philippine government millions of dollars “plus reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses per annum.”

Instead of channeling the scarce Philippine pesos to this American lobby group, the half-million dollar budget could have been “used to build additional classrooms or to fund further the charitable activities” for calamity fund or even for the Philippine National Red Cross headed by Sen. Richard Gordon.

It is hard to quantify the future benefits the Covington & Burling will bring to the table of the Philippine government at this time since terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed.

(Editor's Note: Mr. Lariosa is the Chicago-based representative of the National Press Club of the Philippines. He is also the correspondent of the Manila Bulletin and Tempo newspapers of the Philippines.

But this U.S. lobby group is touted to take a share of the pie from the largess of billions of dollars the U.S. government distributes to hundreds of countries every year that implements its “carrot and stick” diplomacy.

Reyes, however, is asking the government of President Arroyo to give his think tank a chance as an alternate to the Covington & Burling if his Filipino-American Lobby Task Force (FALTF) is allowed to be set up with the blessing of her government.

In a letter to the President coursed through Philippine Ambassador Willy C. Gaa, Mr. Reyes said his lobby group will “undertake the proposed long-term lobbying campaign in the corridors of power in the United States without any cost to the Philippine” provided it is allowed to “raise lobby funds pursuant to a legal and politically-correct formula.”


He said, the “lobbying firm hired by the Arroyo government will be cancelled out by efforts of the anti-Arroyo forces in the United States. One of the most effective means of getting the attention and cooperation of the American politicians, is to donate to their  Political Action Committees,” which cannot be done by Covington & Burling because foreign governments are not allowed to donate money to the U.S. Elections. But the Filipino American dual citizens, who can help in his lobby effort, can vote in the U.S. elections, which I, wholeheartedly agree.

But for another lobbyist of a different stripe, Father Prisco E. Entines, who filed class action suits in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., seeking benefits for veterans, and in the District Court of Columbia, seeking grant of “instant U.S. Citizenships” for Filipino veterans born in the Philippines while the country was under American Occupation, he would like the lobby money offered by the Philippine government to Covington and Burling to pay for the lawyers who can handle his cases.

“The Filipino veterans have already paid their dues with their lives and their sacrifices in the services of the Philippines. I don’t see anything wrong if the Philippines asks the lobbyist being hired by the Philippine government to lobby for the passage of Filipino Veterans Equity Bill before the U.S. Congress or to subsidize the lawyers who handle my cases, which can bring benefits to the veterans. These veterans are dying by the dozens everyday. They are like bridesmaids, ladies in waiting, but never a bride.” Father Entines, a Catholic priest on leave, said. (


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Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2008 15:53
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