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JFAV lauds US lawmakers who introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2018 to Congress

Filipino Americans demonstrate along Hollywood Boulevard to seek justice for Filipino World War II veterans. Photo was taken on November 2016 during an annual rally organized by the Justice for Filipino Veterans (JFAV). Photo © Abner Galino

THE Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) recently lauded Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for introducing the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2018 before the United States Senate.

The proposal has already been read at the Senate floor and referred to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The bipartisan legislation seeks to restore benefits due to Filipino World War II veterans that were unjustly taken away from them by the Rescission Act of 1946.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced just before February 18, the anniversary date of the Rescission Act of 1946 which stripped the benefits that were due to Filipino veterans 72 years ago.

Art Garcia said the JFAV praised Senators Schatz and Murkowski for caring and understanding the issue of the Filipino WW II veterans.

JFAV us thankful to these senators for sponsoring this bipartisan legislation. We are optimistic that the US Congress would step up and correct the great injustice done to Filipino veterans 72 years ago,” Garcia added.

During the introduction of said bill, Schatz said “time is running out, and for some, it is already too late. We must act quickly to pass this legislation and fully honor the men and women who fought with us and served so bravely when we needed them.”

For her part, Murkowski said “many served under the U.S. flag and bravely put their lives on the line in defense of our nation’s interests. But after the war their substantial contribution to the U.S. effort has been diminished in history. The time to recognize these brave veterans for what they were – veterans of the United States – is long overdue.”

On Sept. 28, 2017, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2017 (HR 6538) at the US House of Representatives. It has now been co-sponsored by 32 congressmen.

More than 250,000 Filipinos served under the U.S. flag in the Pacific during the Second World War. As citizens of a U.S. Commonwealth during the war, Filipinos were promised full veterans benefits for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. There are still an estimated 17,000 Filipino veterans of World War II, who are mostly in their 80s and 90s.

The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2018 would fulfill the moral obligation of the U.S. to take care of its veterans and their families. It would also eliminate the distinction between the “Old” Philippine Scouts and the other three groups of veterans — Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerrilla Forces and New Philippine Scouts.

Also, Filipino veterans’ spouses and children would qualify for the same Dependency and Indemnity Compensation that current U.S. veterans receive.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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