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Dec 07th
Home Sections Filipino-Veterans' Lobby Dr. Ernie Ramos Reports on the FilVets' Lobby Progress
Dr. Ernie Ramos Reports on the FilVets' Lobby Progress PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Filipino-Veterans' Lobby
Thursday, 05 July 2007 14:34

Part VII of the Filipino Veterans' (FilVets') Series

MabuhayRadio Editor's Notes: Dr. Ernie Ramos sent this e-mail to us. It also addressed to his colleagues in the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) and the National Alliance for Veterans' Equity (NAFVE) and his fellow Filipino Americans. We are publishing the letter in its entirety. Dr. Ramos is appealing to readers for help in lobbying members of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate to support the pending legislation for the Filipino World War II veterans.

QUOTE. Dear Bobby -- my NaFFAA and NAFVE Colleagues -- and Kababayan:

Greetings! Premising my remarks ". . . with charity towards all, with malice towards none . . ." I just want to go on record and say that I'm A-OK. I've been out of circulation temporarily, tending to my better half Judy, who suffered a heart attack and a stroke. I was in and out with her at both Regional Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

It's been rough and tough -- but we'll be OK, God willing!

I'm sharing this with you not to gain sympathy -- but to underscore the fragility of life -- and the necessity of reaching out always to our loved ones -- telling them how much we love and care for them. They're here today -- and may be gone tomorrow.

Our NaFFAA Vice-Chair Rozita Lee went through the tragedy of losing her beloved sister in a car accident not too long ago. We extend to her our condolences and our prayers.

Despite the best of times giving way to the worst of times in our lives -- our commitment to NaFFAA in our quest to uplift our community continues unabated. Please know that, under NaFFAA Chair Alma Quintans-Kern's leadership, I continue to be fully engaged with NaFFAA's agenda to pass our WW II FilVets Equity legislation in the current 110th Congress.

Indeed, our milestone achievement in the June 28th successful MARK-UP (i.e., recommended funding) of S. 57 under the aegis of Sen. Dan Akaka of Hawaii evokes a historic victory for all of us!

Looking back -- I vividly recall that, under the auspices of Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa and NaFFAA Chair Alma, some 26+ FilAm Veterans Advocacy Groups and their leaders willed ourselves to so unite and spend a weeklong Veterans Summit held on Dec. 4-9, 2006, at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC That historic gathering led to the formation of the National Alliance For Veterans Equity (NAFVE) -- with our good friends, Ben de Guzman, Irene Bueno, Charmaine Manansala and Vida, at the helm. Forgetting past differences -- we demonstrated the guts and the common sense to come together under one umbrella and under one cause -- to bring to fruition the passage of the WW II FilVets Equity legislation during this 110th US Congress.

As a result -- our FilVets legislation (HR 760 under US Rep. Filner's sponsorship, and S. 57 under Sen. Inouye's sponsorship) has had its historic hearing by the respective House and Senate Veterans Committee -- topped by the June 28 MARK-UP of the Senate bill. Now -- we're looking forward to US Rep. Filner's MARK-UP of HR 760 in mid-July -- as soon as the 110th Congress reconvenes on July 16, 2007 -- after Congress' July 4th recess.

Frankly -- in a matter of merely 6 months -- we've managed to achieve quite a bit -- especially when seen against the backdrop of some 61 long years with the US Congress ignoring our collective pain of injustice caused by the infamous Rescission Act of 1946 which the 80th Congress passed on February 18, 1946, -- obliterating all benefits to our WW II Filipino veterans. Any objective observer of the legislative process in the Congress would measure our collective efforts on S. 57 and HR 760 a remarkable feat indeed!

But despite the above wins in our battle to right the wrong perpetrated against our remaining aged and infirm 20,000 veterans -- we could yet lose the WAR -- if we become complacent and just bask in the sunshine of these small -- but historic -- victories.

As of today -- July 5, 2007 -- we only have 82 co-sponsors out of the 220-plus votes we need to pass HR 760 in the House. Likewise -- we only have 15 co-sponsors out of the 51-plus votes we need to pass S. 57 int he Senate.

So -- is there work still for NaFFAA, NAFVE and other bona-fide FilAm veterans advocacy groups and FilAm organizations across the U.S? You bet! And this work must be aggressively pursued at the Congressional Districts of our respective Senators and Congresspeople.

Hence -- when all the Members of the Congress (435 in the House and 100 in the Senate) come home tomorrow for their July 4th recess -- I strongly recommend that we commit ourselves to call -- or better yet -- to knock on the doors of our respective Senators and Congressman the week of July 9 thru the 14th. We must DEMAND their support to co-sponsor S. 57 and HR 760. We have ONE FULL WEEK to make a difference in the lives of our WW II veterans -- who gave the full measure of their young lives so that we -- and millions of other Americans -- can have the peace and freedom we now enjoy. Dying at a rate of 8 to 10 veterans per day, this ONE FULL WEEK is what our veterans are asking of us to give them their Final Day of Redemption before they all fade away into oblivion. This ONE FULL WEEK is but a minuscule time -- compared to what they suffered since they got drafted on July 26, 1941, and pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag to fight with America against imperial Japan -- 5 full months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the inception of WW II..

Then -- when our Members of Congress get back to Washington, DC, the week of July 16 to reconvene the 110th Congress -- let's call them again and/or visit with them -- reminding them of their co-sponsorship for S. 57 and HR 760.

If they don't -- then let's warn them (that's right -- WARN them) that OUR VOTES for next Election Day --November 4, 2008 -- will register our genuine anger to those who did not vote for our interests. Under the aegis of Co-Chairs Gloria Caoile and Perry Diaz, NaFFAA's FilVote shall serve as our vehicle for registering new FilAm voters -- and our battlecry for aggressively getting out the thousands of registered FilAm voters, come Election Day!. We will make a concerted effort to vote for the Members of Congress who helped us -- and we will refuse to vote for those who refused to help us.

As our good friend, Raul Izaguirre, President/Founder of La Raza, the nation's premiere Latino organization, would always exhort the millions of Hispanic voters across the US -- come Election Day: "Voten -- para que nos respeten!" (Let's vote -- so they will respect us!)

This should be our quid-pro-quo strategy to make good America's REPRESENTATIVE form of government. Those Members of Congress who vote for S. 57 and HT 760 truly REPRESENT us -- but they who refuse to vote for S. 57 and HR 760 DO NOT REPRESENT us. The denial of benefits to our remaining veterans defines the lack of RESPECT that past US Congresses (from the 80th Congress to the 109th Congress last year) have thus far shown us since that infamous 1946 Rescission Act.

Simply put -- the passage of the WW Filipino Veterans Equity Act evokes the ONE CAUSE that should stir and unite all of us -- the 3-million/plus FilAms and immigrants in the United States. Its passage would symbolize the US Congress' respect and recognition for our community; its denial represents Congress' utter rejection for us.

We could not put our bill's passage -- or denial -- in any other perspective. So -- let's DEMAND the support from our Senators and Congresspeople when they come home to their respective Districts during this July 4th recess. Let's not be oblivious of the fact that we too are their constituents, their taxpayers and their voters! We claim that our Senators and Congresspeople are powerful men and women in the Congress. If that's so -- we'd expect -- and we'll inspect and verify their representation of us.

And let's remember that power seldom yields itself to people without a demand. As previously indicated -- let's make the current 110th Congress a truly REPRESENTATIVE seat of power "of the people, for the people and by the people." And this should include us -- FilAms and the cause we're fighting for!.

Kababayan -- this is no time to be contented with simply just being "nice and sweet people" -- as one Florida Southern gentleman-politician (a WW II veteran assigned to the Philippines) quipped to me not too long ago as I was sharing with him the injustice of the 1946 Rescission Act. He said -- and I quote:

"You Filipinos are such nice, sweet people . . . but the Congress will not pass any godd________ bill for you -- if you're contented with just being nice and sweet. Tell you what --- you better kick some a______ with your Congressmen if you want this bill passed . . . soon!"

Well -- folks -- I think we know what this Southern gentleman is telling us. Let's follow his advice from July 5th thru July 14th -- and get our Senators and Congresspeople to co-sponsor S. 57 and HR 760.

Frankly, if there's ever ONE CAUSE and ONE OPPORTUNITY that should unite and dignify us as a people, it's focusing all the efforts we can muster to seek passage of our FilVets Equity legislation. Let's reach out to one another and go forward with the NaFFAA spirit of TEAM -- Together Everybody Achieves More. And let's DEMAND -- knocking on the doors of our respective Senators and Representatives the week of July 9 thru the 14th -- and get them to truly REPRESENT us in the 110th Congress by co-sponsoring S. 57 and HR 760.

That's how crucial this legislation is for all of us! Its passage due to our unified efforts and perseverance -- or its denial due to our divisiveness and unbriddled egos -- will infallibly define our legacy to this nation's young generation of FilAms -- and the 88-million folks back home in our birth-country.

With all due respect to all -- let's truly kick some a______ with our Congresspeople during this July 4th recess at our respective Congressional Districts. We owe it to our veterans -- we owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the FilAm generations yet unborn.

Salamat po -- Happy 4th of July -- God bless and Godspeed!

Ernie Ramos, chairman -- Region IV NaFFAA and the WW II FilVets Legislation Committee UNQUOTE.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2007 16:09

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