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PIA Press Release

PGMA gets Bush's nod to support two bills for RP vets

Tacloban City (September 9) -- This news will surely warm the hearts of the World War II Filipino veterans who have long been waiting for their benefits from the US government.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo got US President George Bush's promise to support the two legislations that would benefit thousands of World War II Filipino Veterans.

President Bush made the pledge during his second informal meeting with President Arroyo at the sidelines of the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Sidney, Press Secretary Bunye reported.

According to Secretary Bunye, it was Bush who approached President Arroyo for another informal talk before the APEC leaders' meeting with business executives in the region.

Marciano Paynor, chief presidential protocol officer, heard the US leader asking President Arroyo: "Hey Gloria, did you finish everything we talked about?"

Secretary Bunye said the President reiterated her request to Bush for the passage of the legislations for the Filipino veterans. He said the US President expressed resolve to pass the legislations augmenting benefits for Filipino war veterans once they reach his desk.

This news will surely bring hope and joy to about 18,500 surviving Filipino veterans, around 6,000 of who are living in the United States and another 12,000 in the Philippines.

The issue is very important as it will mean the end of the decades-long struggles of the Filipino veterans to be recognized for their important contributions to the campaign for democracy during World War II.

"When passed, the law will finally provide pension benefits for Filipino veterans. It is hoped that once the final version of the veterans' bill is sent to the President, he will sign it," the President said in a statement.

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.

Senate Bill 1315, on the other hand, 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.

As shown in the video taken by government-owned Radio and Television Malacaņang (RTVM), Bush listened intently and took notes while Arroyo was asking support for the two legislations that would benefit Filipino war veterans.

The US leader was also seen sharing a laugh or two with President Arroyo during the brief encounter. (PIA 8) [top]

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