Hope for veterans still awaiting Equity Compensation
FIGHTING two wars—against the Japanese invaders and against the poverty that imprisoned his family—Juan Abrera, a veteran of World War II, passed away last May 11 due to a lingering illness. He was 94 years and 11 months old. His claim for Equity Compensation has become moot and academic. The claim was under appeal because the Americans who were processing his papers (at the US Embassy) had no knowledge about the ranking system in the armed forces and were confused about his real rank.
In his letter of appeal, Abrera explained that when he was inducted into the Philippine Amy in 1941, his rank was private; but when he was honorably discharged from the military service after the war, he carried the rank of master sergeant. I know whereof I speak because I prepared the letter of appeal based on documents from the Office of the AFP Judge Advocate General, for his signature. Had Abrera been paid the Equity Compensation of $9,000, he would have been brought to the best hospital for treatment and could have enjoyed it before his Creator called him to “that undiscovered country from whose borne no travelers return.”
Hence, this World War II veteran died with a heavy heart knowing full well that the Philippine Scouts who were not actually World War II veterans (since they were only recruited starting in 1945 when the war was about to end, after the United States Congress enacted the Recruitment Act of 1945) were the ones who readily benefited from the Equity Compensation of US President Barack Obama. In fact, a Philippine Scout said he was recruited in 1946 and was pulled out of the country, together with others, and sent to Okinawa, Japan, while some of them were sent to Guam. Unless this error is rectified by the US Congress, World War II guerrilla veterans will remain victims of an injustice.
However, the Filipino Veterans Fairness Bill of Rep. Jackie Spiers filed in the US Congress this year is in the right direction. It is hoped that this bill will be enacted into law. This will benefit the remaining World War II guerrilla veterans, now in the twilight years of their lives, whose names were on the rosters that burned in the Missouri archives. Those lists can be reconstituted from the records of those actually receiving monthly old-age pensions from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.—GODOFREDO O. PETEZA, district commander, Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Camarines Norte Veterans District-Region 5
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