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Home Sections Politics Presidents Obama and Aquino Meet at the White House, as Groups Push Passage of Bills in the U. S. Congress
Presidents Obama and Aquino Meet at the White House, as Groups Push Passage of Bills in the U. S. Congress PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Sunday, 10 June 2012 15:49

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III to the White House for an scheduled 20-minute bilateral meeting that started after 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Friday (June 8) (2:00 a.m. Saturday, Manila time).

 

According to a “daily guidance and press schedule for Friday” released by the White House Press office, the Philippines is a long-standing friend and ally of the United States, and President Obama looks forward to discussing with President Aquino “for the close strategic, economic and people-to-people ties between our two countries, and our cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.”

 

The press statement said, “The two leaders will also discuss ways to deepen bilateral cooperation. There will be a “pool spray” at the bottom of the bilateral meeting.”

 

A pool spray is a very brief photo opportunity in the Oval Office that lasts about 30 seconds, including 12 seconds inside the Oval Office.

 

According to the guidance, the bilateral meeting started at 2 p.m. and the Oval Office Pool Spray at the bottom followed. A “final gather” was held, as scheduled at 2:20 p.m. at the Brady Press Briefing.

 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. disclosed that members of the Filipino-American community in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area warmly welcomed President Aquino as he arrived Thursday, June 7, at the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for a two-day official working visit. 

 

STUDENTS OVERJOYED WHEN PRESIDENT AQUINO SHOOK THEIR HANDS


A rriving hours before the President’s plane was scheduled to touch down, the Filipinos trooped to eastern
Maryland despite the unusually cold summer weather.

President Aquino was met at the airport by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and his wife, Victoria, as well as Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun of the State Department.  He was accompanied by eight Cabinet officials and several Filipino businessmen, who are looking into increasing economic activity between the Philippines and the U.S.

“We are excited and look forward to seeing the President. I want to congratulate him for the wonderful job that he is doing,” said Ador Carreon, who chairs the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, a Filipino American organization that sponsors community activities, which showcase Philippine culture. “We understand that his visit here is short, but I hope that it will be a memorable and significant one,” he added.

Hoping to just catch a glimpse of the President, the well wishers were overjoyed when President Aquino walked past his designated vehicle to shake their hands, sending a pack of Secret Service agents scurrying down the tarmac.

Among those who came to greet the President was a group of ten young students from George Washington University (GWU).  "Never in a million years did I think that I would have the opportunity to meet the President of the Philippines while still in school. The Philippine Cultural Society of The George Washington University came out because we wanted our community to know that the Fil-Am youth is a powerful and aware voice. We were honored to welcome President Aquino and wish him success in his upcoming meeting with President Obama," said Chris Cordero, a GWU B.S. Economics candidate in 2013 and active leader of a Filipino American student association.

GROUPS WANT TO ADD AGENDA TO THE BILATERAL MEETING


A fter the meeting with President Obama, President Aquino is also scheduled to have meetings with several
U.S. companies, attend a reception organized by U.S. Senate leaders, serve as the guest of honor at the launch of the U.S.-Philippines Society, and be feted at a luncheon hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

Meanwhile, some Filipino American groups hope the 20-minute bilateral meeting of President Aquino with President Obama can cover some long-standing economic, veteran and other issues.

For instance, they want an endorsement of President Obama to U.S Congress to pass the following pending bi-partisan bills:

1. S. 1244, Save Our Industries Act, introduced by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye [HI-D], which got the support of six other co-sponsors, namely, Sen. Roy blunt [MO-R], Sen. Harry Reid [NV-D], Sen. Pat Roberts [KS-R], Sen. Charles E. Schumer [NY-D] and Sen. Ron Wyden [OR-D]; Its related bill in the House, H. R. 2387, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott [WA-7] had 20 co-sponsors, and is pending before the Subcommittee on Trade;

2.    H.R. 210, The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier [CA-12], which had 93 co-sponsors. It has been referred to Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. It seeks to overturn the Recession Acts of 1946 that deprived Filipino World War II of benefits equal to those received by their U.S. comrades. This bill also allows the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to receive benefits applications even if the applicants’ names are not listed in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The VA may accept records elsewhere like those from Philippine Armed Forces or those from the U.S. Department of the Army; And 

3.   House Concurrent Resolution No. 18 introduced by Rep. Bob Filner [CA-51-D], urging the President to authorize the return to the people of the Philippines of two church bells that were taken by the United States Army in 1901 from the town of Balangiga on the island of Samar, Philippines, and are currently displayed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

 

PUSH THE BILLS OR SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDERS, OBAMA URGED

 

If President Obama cannot endorse these bills for passage in the U.S Congress, he can always sign Executive Orders that will be based on the contents of those bills. For instance, Nevada State Sen. Shirley A. Breeden, chair of the Legislative Committee on Senior Citizens, Veterans and Adults With Special Needs, urged Mr. Obama, to sign an “Executive Order to allow for other options of verification for military service for 24,000 WW II Filipino veterans who are being denied benefits by the Veterans Administration due to difficulties in verifying their service records maintained by the National Personnel Records Center.”

Meanwhile, Fr. Prisco E. Entines, son of a Filipino veteran, also hopes that President Obama create of an “Ad Hoc” Special Team-Committee to revisit and conduct an unbiased analysis for permanent and final compensatory, payment and reparation to Filipino veterans.


Entines said since the Philippines was a U.S. Commonwealth from 1934 to 1946, Filipinos at that time were “legally presumed ‘en masse’ U.S. naturalized.”


He added that since Filipino soldiers were later demoted as “U.S. nationals” and were subjected to death penalty under Articles of War in case of desertion, they were stripped of their benefits under the Recession Acts of 1946. They were also stripped of their U.S. citizenship although they qualify as such under the “jus soli” and “jus sanguinis” principles.

The Visiting Forces Agreement should be reviewed so that it would provide that if U.S. G.I’s run afoul with Philippine civil and criminal laws, they should be charged before Philippine civilian courts and jailed in Philippine prisons after findings of probable cause.# # #

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

 



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