$198-M compensation package shows America's great respect for Filvets - US Embassy
Manila (19 February) -- The $198 million US compensation package is a manifestation of America's "great respect" for the Filipino veterans who bravely fought under the American flag during World War II, the US Embassy said in a statement.
"These new benefits further reflect the United States' great respect for the bravery and service of Philippine WWII veterans and for their partnership with the US military in defending freedom," the embassy statement added.
For over 60 years, the veterans have been campaigning for equal treatment of US and Filipino service members who fought alongside each other to defend the Philippines, then a US colony.
The compensation package is part of the $787 billion economic stimulus measure signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
The US Embassy in Manila said it will start accepting applications next week for lump-sum payments of $15,000 for veterans who have become US citizens and $9,000 for non-US citizens.
Applications must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2010, and claims by spouses, widows or children of veterans will not be accepted, it said.
Only living Filipino veterans will benefit from the stimulus package passed by the United States Congress which provides lump sum payments amounting US$ 9,000 and US$ 15,000 for Filipino veterans based in the Philippines and US, respectively, the United States embassy's Veterans Affairs Department said.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has hailed the benefits as a long-overdue victory for the aging and ailing veterans and a move by the US Congress "to correct historic wrong."
More than 250,000 Filipinos served alongside US soldiers to defend the Philippines from the 1941 Japanese invasion and resist subsequent Japanese occupation.
The US estimates about 18,000 Filipino veterans are still alive and eligible. The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office puts the number at more than 36,000, plus nearly 80,000 surviving spouses.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said there are around 250,000 Filipino veterans originally listed to receive the benefits, but the number went down to 18,000, 13,000 of whom are residing in the Philippines. (PIA 8) [top]