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PIA Press Release

2 bills to benefit Filipino vets being considered in US Congress

SYDNEY (8 September) -- Two bills that are expected to benefit Filipino World War II veterans when finally signed into law, are now being considered in the United States Congress.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is attending the 15TH Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' summit here, expressed the hope in a message she sent to US President George Bush at the sidelines of the ongoing APEC Leaders meeting that once the two bills are passed by the US Congress, her American counterpart would immediately sign the two measures into law.

The two bills -- the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007 (HR 70) and the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 (S. 1315) will finally provide pension benefits for Filipino veterans.

"Passed into law, this will be a profound gesture reflective of the deep and abiding relations between the Philippines and the United States and the Filipino and American peoples' shared commitment to uphold the values of democracy and justice for all," she said in her message to Bush.

The issue, according to her, is very important for the Philippines and the Filipino people, as it will finally mean "the end of a decades-long struggle for Filipino veterans to be recognized for their meaningful contributions to the campaign for democracy during the Second World War."

The Filipino Veterans Equity Act, which is sponsored by chairman of House Veterans Affairs Committee Rep. Bob Filner, is a stand-alone bill specifically intended to cover benefits for Filipino veterans.

The Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, which was introduced by Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Sen. Daniel Akaka, is an omnibus veterans bill covering benefits for all US veterans.

If ever, the two laws will benefit about 18,500 surviving Filipino veterans, around 6,000 of whom are living in the United States and another 12,000 in the Philippines.

As a stand-alone bill, the House version provides more benefits specifically for Filipino veterans.

On the other hand, the Senate version authored by Senator Akaka is an omnibus veterans bill which he put to a committee vote when he realized that the Senate version of a stand-alone measure for Filipinos veterans would not have enough support in the Senate. (OPS/PIA) [top]

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