"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Coup de grace of the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill

By Jenny L. Batongmalaque, M.D.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Abraham Lincoln, 1865
Inaugural Address

Finally, upon the stroke of a pen of the 44th President, Barack Obama, the fight for recognition of services of the Filipino WWII Veterans has been vindicated amid a contentious Stimulus Bill. The one time lump sum of $15,000 to the surviving Veteran residing in the US as a citizen, or permanent resident, and $9,000 for the non-citizen has been included by none other than the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the illustrious, Senator Daniel Inouye.

"This was passed and appropriated by Congress last year, only no money has been authorized," Senator Inouye said. By the grace of the Stimulus, this Filipino Veterans Enhancement Act has been included in between the covers of the 1100-page draft. The Republicans, the detractors, the skeptics have alluded to the Filipino Veterans bonus as having no place in the stimulus bill, only more spending bill instead.

For one whose lifelong passion is to vindicate her father's service to the United States Armed Forces in the Far East in WWII, the inclusion of the Filipino Veterans Enhancement Bill is not even a consolation prize, on the 63rd anniversary of the Rescission Act of February 18,1946, which had unconscionably denied my father, and all like him, 185,000 of them, who now belong to the ages. They are all gone now, so are most of the widows, my mother included. There are still 50,000 surviving widows who are not included in the equation of this new law, better known as the Stimulus package.

This one time lump sum bonus which the surviving WWII Veteran, estimated to be 15,000 left, will claim for, is the coup de grace, particularly to those who fought hard for full rights and benefits. Nonetheless, they are finally recognized for their service, after all these years of being rejected and denied.

But what about the widows who languish prior to this new law of recognizing the surviving Veterans? If President Lincoln were alive today, would he have defined which widow of a Veteran gets compensated?

"It doesn't sound right that the widows are not included," Robert Saxon, director of the VA service office of the County of Los Angeles. "We need to wait for the directives of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the final word on this matter. But we are ready to service the Filipino WWII Veteran, and have allotted Tuesdays and Thursdays to those who will seek claims." Call the Filipino Veterans Foundation (213-746-9093) located at the same office, at 2615 So. Grand Ave., Room 100, Los Angeles, 90007 for further assistance .

Photo provided by the Filipino Veterans Foundation

Caption: Filipino veterans watch on TV at the Filipino Veterans Foundation Meeting Room in Los Angeles as the president signs the Stimulus Bill on February 17, 2009.

Note: The author is executive director of the Filipino Veterans Foundation, which can be reached at Tel. No. 213-746-9093 or FAX 213-746-9050. Web site is www.erbfoundation.org

For more information on filing for FilVet claims click on US Embassy on New Filipino WWII Veterans Benefit
Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.

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