"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

Stimulus law belatedly recognizes Filvet's war service

The recent stimulus package otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is extending critical uplift to qualified Filipino veterans of World War II especially at this time of difficult financial situation. Equally significant, its Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation provision finally recognizes their service during that war as active military service in the Armed Forces of the United States, something that was unjustly denied them by virtue of the Rescission Act of 1946.

The new law may not be perfect. Nothing is. There are some who question the sly way it was being earmarked into an economic stimulus package; that it is too little too late because of the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who served, only about 15,000 are still living -- 12,000 in the Philippines and 3,000 in United States, according to some reports.

Additionally, many veterans say they would have preferred a monthly pension instead of lump sum payouts. According to Dr. Jenny Batongmalaque, executive director of the Filipino Veterans Foundation, the benefit "is not even a consolation prize" because most of the widows are not included. Asst. Secretary Jesus Terry Adevoso of the Veterans Affairs, Office of the President, pointed out that the amount is payment of "damages for human suffering" and "therefore cannot be considered as part of the equity package of compensation long sought by our world war II veterans." Col. Romy Monteyro, Ret., agrees. A known confidant of Rep. Bob Filner, Monteyro told this writer, "you can assure the FilVets that I will continue to fight for their rights on Capitol Hill until full Equity is won."

Whatever its defects, veterans and friends deserve their celebratory mood these days. Bent with age and many sickly, their ranks grossly decimated by natural attrition, veterans concerned -- at least those who are still with us -- can at last bask on the glory of their courage and sacrifices. Sixty-three years late. In the words of Adolfo Paglinawan, a former diplomat and current chair of the Association of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities-Washington, "I have watched closely how this fight went for the past 23 years and I am elated that I saw its victorious culmination in my lifetime."

Photo Caption: A photo-op with Filipino WWII veterans and friends. Center front in red is Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, eldest daughter of former Congressman Edward R. Roybal who, according to Franco Arcebal (third from left), a vice president of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, also helped the Filipino veterans cause during his term. Inset is L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti thanking the veterans for their service. Garcetti defined his own advocacy for Filipino veterans "not only because it is the right thing to do; it is a family affair." His father was a U.S soldier who saw action in the Philippines in that war.

Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.

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