US measures to benefit 18,500 Filipino World War II veterans
Tacloban City (September 9) -- The gesture of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, that of making as priority the asking for the support of US President George Bush in signing the two bills for veterans, is a mirror of her concern for the welfare of the 18,500 Filipino veterans.
The President's move will surely warm the hearts of the World War II veterans and will surely endear her more to the World War II Filipino veterans who have long been waiting for their benefits from the US government.
During the second informal meeting of the two heads of states, at the sidelines of the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Sidney, Australia, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo got US President George Bush's promise to support the two legislations that would benefit thousands of Filipino Veterans, who for long decades have struggled to be recognized for their important contributions to the campaign for democracy during World War II.
It is said that when passed, the two laws will benefit about 18,500 surviving Filipino veterans, around 6,000 of who are living in the United States and another 12,000 in the Philippines. Sad to say, many of these World War II heroes died without receiving the recognition that is due to them.
The two bills in contention are House Bill 760 or the Filipino Veterans' Equity Bill, sponsored by House chair on veterans' affairs Rep. Bob Filner, is specifically intended to cover benefits for Filipinos; and Senate Bill 1315 introduced by Senate chair on veterans' affairs Sen. Daniel Akaka, is an omnibus veterans' bill covering benefits for all US veterans.
The Senate proposal for veterans' benefits enhancement bill has been approved at the committee level and must go to the floor for voting by its entire membership.
If the Senate Bill passed into law, Filipino veterans based in the US will get the same benefits as American war veterans. Filipino married veterans based in the Philippines could receive US$ 375 in pension every month, US$ 300 monthly for single veterans, and US$ 200 for widows of veterans.
The Philippine Embassy in the United States expressed hopes the Senate veterans' bill could be passed within the next few weeks.
The House version of the veterans' bill, on the other hand, is awaiting the vote of the entire membership.
If passed into law, Filipino veterans residing in the US would be given full equity in benefits. For those residing in the Philippines, married veterans would receive US$ 700 every month, US$ 500 for single veterans, and US$ 300 for widows of veterans.
Let us hope and pray that the two bills will be passed by the US Congress and will be signed into law as soon as it reached the US President's desk. This is the least we can do in recognition of the Filipino veterans contribution in achieving the freedom and democracy we are all now enjoying. (PIA 8) [top]