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Home Columns San Diego Happenings Filipino Veterans Not Impressed with the $198-Million Compensation
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Written by Romeo P. Marquez   
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 16:04
S pread over 63 years, the exact length of their struggle for equity and justice, the $198-million allotted to pay Filipino veterans for their military service in World War II is literally a drop in the bucket. Better than nothing, many would say. But all it amounts to, in dollar terms, is a pitiful sum – less than $20 a month – for risking life and limb in combat. The battles they had fought in during the war were brutal and painful. Postwar, their struggles continued, slowly, agonizingly, dragging them into the pits of injustice and finally finding succor sixty-three years later. The US will now compensate them for "damages for human suffering" – $15,000 for US citizen veterans and $9,000 for non-US citizen veterans. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Filipino Veterans Not Impressed with the 198-Million Dollar Compensation; Congressman Filner, Other Supporters Claim Victory

 

By ROMEO P. MARQUEZ   

F ilipino veterans quietly celebrated what their supporters loudly proclaimed as their victory in a two-hour ceremony on Saturday that culminated with a grim reminder that their 63-year postwar struggle had come to an end and they, like ancient warriors, were just fading away from the scene.

The author is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Asian-American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the National Press Club of the Philippines-USA. 

Congressman Bob Filner (D-51st), meanwhile, apologized for the six-decades-old delay in meeting the demands of the veterans for justice and equity, saying "we're sorry to have come this late". 

 

Less than a dozen veterans mostly in their late eighties and early nineties showed up at the event, and the few dressed in winter clothes and held canes limped up the three small steps into the cavernous Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park where the commemorative rite took place. 

 

* PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS -  Exclusive
Volume 3, Issue No. 4 / News Without Fear or Favor /

. . . A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice (PhilVoiceNews@aol.com or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public . . .  

 

T he enthusiasm shown by the event organizers failed to stir them from their seats. Not even the presence of Filner, their staunchest supporter and advocate; California Assemblymember Mary Salas and Philippine Consul General Mary Jo Aragon. 

 

"Hindi equity ito. Pam-palubag loob lang ito," said 92-year-old Reynaldo Roque in Tagalog, to mean the lump sum payment was intended to appease them and was not what the veterans had been fighting for and expecting. 

A total of $198 million – inserted in the $787 billion stimulus package signed into law last month by President Barack Obama – was to be disbursed for the less than 20,000 veterans remaining out of the nearly 200,000 Filipinos conscripted into the US armed forces during the Second World War. Under the stimulus package officially labeled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, non-US citizen veterans were to be paid $9,000 and US citizen veterans $15,000. The law says the payment was for "damages for human suffering". 

 

"It's too late too little,"commented Patricia Guevara, co-coordinator of 20 volunteers belonging to the Filipino-American Veterans for Equity, a youth group helping and advocating for the veterans in San Diego and Los Angeles.

 

"Hindi equity ito. Pam-palubag loob lang ito," said 92-year-old Reynaldo Roque in Tagalog, to mean the lump sum payment was intended to appease them and was not what the veterans had been fighting for and expecting.  

 

Indeed, at $15,000 per person spread over 63 years, a US citizen veteran would receive only less than $20 per month for his military service, or $238 per year. No less pitiful is the non-US citizen veteran based in the Philippines who stands to get a mere $11.9 per month, or $142.86 per year for the last 63 years of waiting. 

 

"Right now, it seems like it's the best offer," Ms. Guevara said. Her group is also advocating payment for the widows  

 

On the other hand, Congressman Filner said "we have to see this as a great victory" and a recognition by the US government of their military service.  The Rescission Act of 1946 had stripped Filipino veterans of full benefits even when the Philippines was a colony of the United States and the military draft had been ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

 

Congressman Filner said the lump sum payment was "a belated thank you gift" to the Filipino veterans. 

 

An official of the American Coalition of Filipino Veterans in San Diego, Manuel T Cannu, said his group would continue to wage the struggle, this time for benefits for the widows. The stimulus package stipulates, however, that acceptance of the money by the veterans "shall constitute a complete release of any claim against the United States". 

 

Businessman Tony Olaes and eight community organizations, including a money-courier company, hosted the event billed as a "victory at last celebration" in honor of the veterans. 

 

While some of the sponsors are financially well-off and could have easily afforded a meaningful luncheon meal, the food served the veterans and other guests consisted of slices of chicken adobo, two scoops of rice, a sprinkling of string beans and carrots, and leche flan mixed in a styrofoam container. 

 

The Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO), which has yet to account for the $27,000 missing from its coffers, spearheaded the event. # # # 

 

* This Breaking News is sent by Romeo P. Marquez, editor, Philippine Village Voice, San Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA. 92038. Volume 3, Issue no. 4, March 16, 2009.

 



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 16:15
 
Comments (2)
1 Wednesday, 18 March 2009 17:45
mabuhay
Hello, Mr. Marquez -

Ms. Guevara has put it very aptly: "It's too late, too little."

So now the Filipino veterans who fought valiantly alongside with their Brothers American during the Japanese time have to settle for "crumbs". What they'll receive is no compensation at all for their courage and sacrifice. How truly very sad! Victory? Hardly. Those who call it "victory" are puppets on a string. I still think that the veterans are obviously made "a means to an end" for some politicians who are there only to advance their political ambition and pursuit. We should be grateful? There must be a better and higher cause for gratitude.

What I found heartrending was the kind of lunch served to the now aging veterans which is merely adding more insult to injury... rubbing salt on a wound, I'd say. Magpasalamat at mayroon, maski paano? How debasing? And yet the Filvets do not deserve the "least". Certainly not!.

Thank you once again for bringing up issue of the still unaccounted $27,000. I laud you for staying on top of that with a relentless spirit. Way to go, Mr. Marquez.

Continue writing about the truth without fear.

With my warmest regards and respect.

V.M. CRISOLOGO

(As e-mailed to Romy P. Marquez)
2 Wednesday, 18 March 2009 17:47
mabuhay
Dear Romy,

I would like to congratulate you for your courage. You might be the "lone voice in the wilderness" but I think that's the role you were destined to play in the media, be it ethnic or mainstream. Some powerful Supreme Being has anointed you to be the sentinel of truth and the paragon of virtue in the midst of lies and corruption perpetrated by those people claiming to be Fil-Am community leaders who, in reality, are only out for their own personal glory with their own personal agenda. You, Jesse Jose and Bobby Reyes must do everything in your power to have COPAO account for that missing $27,000.00... That organization with a funny acronym should not be allowed to get away with it.

I know that Jesse Jose and Bobby Reyes join us in opposing the release of this alms provided by the U.S. government that's nothing but nickels and dimes and an insult to our Filvets who fought and died alongside the American soldiers during World War II. I agree with Jesse Jose that we, Filipinos, had dishonored ourselves by going down on our knees for more than six decades begging for this alms that should have been given freely to our long-suffering and deserving Filvets in the first place. Where is our "amor-propio"? Where is our national pride?

To those courageous and crusading journalists in the persons of Romy Marquez, Jesse Jose and Bobby Reyes, just keep fighting in defense of our honor as Filipino-Americans. And down with those soulless crooks who call themselves community leaders. They are nothing but wolves in sheeps' clothing who prey on their own countrymen.

Don Azarias
Bartlett, Illinois

(As e-mailed to Romy P. Marquez with CCs to Jesse Jose and Bobby Reyes)

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