Speedy processing of WW2 veterans' claims for benefits seen
By Rachelle M. Nessia
Dumaguete City (20 February) -- The Philippines and the US have already taken initial steps to ensure that there will be no undue delays to the process of identifying World War II Filipino veterans who are entitled to benefit from the US Stimulus Bill.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that officials of the US Veterans Administration and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) have made initial contacts on how to go about identifying the beneficiaries.
Anabelle Moga who heads the PVAO office in Negros Oriental said that representatives from the US will sort out the paperwork and distribute the forms for the veterans' claims.
Moga said that WW2 veterans in Negros Oriental have dwindled in number over the years as most have succumbed to either disease or old age.
"My estimate is that there now remains less than 1,000 WW2 veterans in the province who can avail of these benefits," said Moga.
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.
Of the $787-billion stimulus package approved by the US Congress, $198 million was provided for a one-time payments to Filipino WW II veterans.
Under the stimulus package, US-based Filipino WW II veterans are granted $15,000, while those living in the Philippines will get $9,000.
The package bill could also spawn more benefits for the said veterans such as educational, medical, or burial assistance in the future.
Assistant Secretary Jerry Adevoso of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Veterans Affairs (OPAVA) explained that by the way the it was written, the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestments Act of 2009 does not rule out any additional ameliorations. (PIA/rmn) [top]