Filipino vets finally to get their due?
“Obama vows to reverse tide of inequality in US” (Front Page, 1/30/14). This is a welcome development for Filipino World War II veterans given the US government’s continuing denial of their valid, longstanding claim to veterans’ benefits.
They were called to serve as bona fide members of the US Army by virtue of a military order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 24, 1941. Nothing can change that.
President Barack Obama’s announcement may be a sign that the US government has come to recognize the Fil-Am veterans’ entitlement to long-overdue benefits. It also gives the veterans hope that the Obama administration will keep alive this war veterans’ issue for a just and swift resolution.
Time is of the essence; the veterans are dying due to old age and sickness and their number has been reduced to half of the original. By continuing to discriminate against them, in effect depriving them of justice, the United States, for which they honorably and gallantly put their lives on the line, have practically turned its back on them. This continuing injustice is being justified by citing the Rescission Act of 1946.
The US Congress does not seem to realize that in that war, the Filipinos risked their lives for America and all that it stood for. More than one million Filipinos lost their lives in that war, and yet the US government counsel had the temerity to defend the Rescission Act on the grounds that paying the full benefit to Filipino veterans would have been prohibitively expensive.
Unless the Rescission Act is corrected soon, America cannot redeem its good name as the bastion of freedom and equality before the eyes of the world. In 15 years, none of the Fil-Am veterans of World War II will be left alive. The question is: Will the veterans be given the benefits due them before they die?
—MANUEL T. CANNU,
legal counsel of American Coalition
Of Filipino Veterans, USA
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