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PIA Press Release

Capiz veterans excited over upcoming benefits

by A. Lumaque

Roxas City (18 February) -- A total of 248 living veterans in Capiz are hoping to be would-be beneficiaries for the additional benefits from the United States government for Filipino veterans of World War II.

Veterans Federation of the Philippines Regional Vice President Antonio Collado said he has not received official communication about the forthcoming package but admitted he knew it through national television news.

"I heard that a team will be put up by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) to process and identify the beneficiaries," he noted.

"That will be an advantage for us because some of our veterans are already too weak," he added, noting that one of their colleagues died the other day hoping to receive the long over due benefits.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Philippines and the US have already taken initial steps to ensure that the process of identifying the beneficiaries will not encounter undue delays.

The beneficiaries will have to be identified first before they can receive the new benefits under the US stimulus legislation.

Ermita said officials of the US Veterans Administration and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office have made initial contacts on how to go about identifying the beneficiaries.

The USVA is sending a representative to Manila to sort out the paperwork on the veterans' claims "upang maumpisahan na agad kung sino ang mga legitimate na mga beterano na dapat makatanggap (to start immediately the process of identifying the legitimate beneficiaries of the additional benefits)," he said.

He added, however, that identifying the legitimate beneficiaries should not take long since the US had already come up with a list in Missouri of the Filipino veterans entitled to the benefits.

Of the $787-billion stimulus package approved by the US Congress last Friday, $198 million was provided for a one-time payments to Filipino WW II veterans.

More than 250,000 Filipinos fought side-by-side with the American soldiers to defend the Philippines against the Japanese during the war.

There are now an estimated 18,000-20,000 surviving WW II Filipino veterans, 13,000 of whom are in the Philippines, while the rest are living abroad, mostly in the US.

Under the stimulus package, US-based Filipino WW II veterans are granted $15,000, while those living in the Philippines will get $9,000. (PIA) [top]

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