Veterans sick and tired of empty praises
By Joey A. Gabieta
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—The praises heaped upon the Filipinos who fought against the Japanese invasion during World War II did not impress a group of veterans who attended the commemoration of the Leyte Landing held on Monday.
Dignitaries from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States recognized the courage of the Filipinos who fought alongside the American soldiers in liberating the country from Japanese invasion during the 64th commemoration of the Leyte landing held at the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in Candahug, Palo town, Leyte.
But veteran Luciano Ombreo, 94, from Basey, Samar dismissed all the praises that they heard from the speakers.
"It's all nothing. We have heard it before. All we want now is for the government to take action on our demand, which is to increase our pension. We have been asking this from our government but (there was) no response," said Ombreo, who was barely 17 years old when he joined the fight against the Japanese aggressors.
Ombreo, who was speaking for a group of veterans from Basey, lamented that they have been asking for an increase in their P5,000 monthly pension since the time of President Joseph Estrada in the late ‘90s, but even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has not been able to heed their request.
Meanwhile, Minister Hidenobu Sobashima, deputy chief of mission of the Japanese embassy in the Philippines, expressed "remorse" for all the atrocities committed by his nation 64 years ago.
But Sobashima was quick to say that Japan had learned its lesson from the devastating war and was one with other nations who has been upholding "democracy and (respect to) human rights."
He said that after Japan restored its diplomatic relations with the Philippines 56 years ago, both countries saw "expansion in economic area, political, culture and human experiences to help achieve lasing peace."
"But we are here to help the Philippine government in reconstruction and development especially in conflict areas in Mindanao," Sobashima added.
The other dignitaries who attended the commemoration included Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardins, US deputy chief of mission, Paul Jones and Group Captain Mary Cox, deputy attaché of the New Zealand Embassy.
( Report from PDI, October 21, 2008)