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Fil-Vets ask candidates for bill support

by JFAV Friday, Feb. 08, 2008 at 3:31 PM
jfav_causa@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 1610 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Statements of support from the presidential candidates are being requested from Filipino American veterans and the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. (ACFV) before Feb. 18 to help pass their benefits bills and garner more community allies for the Bataan Day commemoration rallies being planned across the U.S. “We are asking the presidential candidates to release their statements of support for our cause clearly before February 18, the day of the Rescission Act of 1946,” said Eric Lachica, Executive Director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. in an exclusive interview with BALITA. “We have been, and will continue to the rounds here in Washington D.C. to get the candidates’ commitment.”

Fil-Vets ask candidates for bill support

February 5, 2008

By Albert Bataclan

Balita News Service

Los Angeles—Statements of support from the presidential candidates are being requested from Filipino American veterans and the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. (ACFV) before Feb. 18 to help pass their benefits bills and garner more community allies for the Bataan Day commemoration rallies being planned across the U.S.

“We are asking the presidential candidates to release their statements of support for our cause clearly before February 18, the day of the Rescission Act of 1946,” said Eric Lachica, Executive Director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. in an exclusive interview with BALITA. “We have been, and will continue to the rounds here in Washington D.C. to get the candidates’ commitment.”

The Rescission Act of 1946 was passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Truman on Feb. 18, 1946. It states that the service of Filipinos during WWII “shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits.”

And it is on Feb. 18 of this year that the group intends to rally up support, Lachica said.

“We are gearing up for the Bataan Day action and we are using the anniversary of the February 18 of the Rescission Act to mobilize our team in Capitol Hill and there, in Los Angeles, to lobby for both bills to be voted on as soon as possible,” he said. “We are asking other Filipino American organizations like doctors, nurses and lawyers in all states to help, on a voluntary basis, and walk to their congressional representative’s local offices on April 9 and ask to speak with them and their staff so we can have full impact.”

According to Lachica, both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama of the Democratic Party have co-sponsored the Family Reunification Bill, which aims to grant visas for the veterans’ immediate family members and the Equity Bill which will increase their monthly monetary compensations. Only John McCain of the Republican Party has granted preliminary support for the Reunification Bill but not on the Equity Bill.

“I do not understand why Congress cannot grant the benefits taken away from us since they know that we served in the U.S. Armed Forces gallantly and loyally,” said Franco Arcebal, the coalition’s spokesperson in Los Angeles. “All we ask is for (Congress) to grant us these minimal benefits before we all die. We need the help of both political parties to pass both bills to help us and our families.”

The Family Reunification Bill and the Equity Bill

On Jan. 24, Eric Lachica and the Justice for Filipino American Veterans L.A. Chapter hosted a forum at the Search to Involve Pilipino American’s (SIPA) Temple Gateway Youth & Community Center to educate the community about the two bills that they are fighting to get bi-partisan support for.

The S. 671:Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act was reintroduced in Congress on Feb 16, 2007 by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act and exempt sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans from worldwide or numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

Lachica said that the bill aims to grant 20,000 priority immigrant visas nationwide for the children and grandchildren of Filipino veterans under the age of 21 in 2008. California veterans will be granted 12,000 visas for the families in the U.S. and the in Philippines.

The H.R. 760:Filipino Veterans Equity Act will help Filipino veterans who served during World War II and modify a range of other benefits for eligible veterans. Lachica said the passing of this bill would raise the current pension of Filipino California veterans from 6 to 1 a month, equal to what their American counterparts have been receiving. Lachica also said that they are seeking to receive higher pensions for the veterans in the Philippines, better health care and war injuries compensation from the Veterans Administration (VA), and the issuance of the Veteran’s ID card for Medical and VA burial benefits.

“We are gaining momentum in passing these bills,” Lachica said. “We are hopeful that this administration will pass the bills and that the succeeding one will continue to support our efforts.”

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