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LUMP SUM IS NOT RECOGNITION. MUCH LESS EQUITY

by Justice for Filipino American Veterans Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009 at 7:31 AM
jfav_us@@yahoo.com 213-241-0995 1610 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

This letter is in response to the column by Mr. Rodel Rodis that appeared in Philippines Today, Filam Star and Philippine News, and another by Senator Leland Yee in Manila Mail in the March 4-10 newspaper issue. Both writers much like leaders of the mendicant Philippine government herald the passage of the lump sum as a victory for the veterans in that their war service is now recognized, and that they finally got the benefits they deserve and fought for, for the last 63 years. Just what kind of recognition and victory did the veterans get? The word “recognition” in the text of the Section 1002 of the stimulus bill signed into law by President Barack Obama pertains exclusively for the purpose of issuing the lump sum. As soon as lump sum is issued, the recognition shall immediately disappear. Notice how the text was very clear in saying that the lump sum was a “compensation for human suffering.”— not a recognition of wartime heroism and valor. If the intention of this provision is to tax-exempt, then just say the lump sum is non-taxable, but without a condescending term as “human suffering.”

LUMP SUM IS NOT RECO...
dscf2163.jpg, image/jpeg, 2592x1944

JFAV letter to the Editor

March 9, 2009

Lump Sum is not recognition, much less equity!

March 8, 2009

Dear Editor,



Lump Sum is not recognition, much less equity

This letter is in response to the column by Mr. Rodel Rodis that appeared in Philippines Today, Filam Star and Philippine News, and another by Senator Leland Yee in Manila Mail in the March 4-10 newspaper issue. Both writers much like leaders of the mendicant Philippine government herald the passage of the lump sum as a victory for the veterans in that their war service is now recognized, and that they finally got the benefits they deserve and fought for, for the last 63 years.

Just what kind of recognition and victory did the veterans get?

The word “recognition” in the text of the Section 1002 of the stimulus bill signed into law by President Barack Obama pertains exclusively for the purpose of issuing the lump sum. As soon as lump sum is issued, the recognition shall immediately disappear. Notice how the text was very clear in saying that the lump sum was a “compensation for human suffering.”— not a recognition of wartime heroism and valor. If the intention of this provision is to tax-exempt, then just say the lump sum is non-taxable, but without a condescending term as “human suffering.”

Lump sum comes with a big price of a “quit claim.” The text was very clear, in that upon the acceptance of an eligible person, the lump sum is FINAL and shall constitute a COMPLETE RELEASE of future claims against the United States. While one gains a paltry lump sum, one loses a lifetime pension benefit. Isn’t this unconscionable?

How could Senator Yee and Mr. Rodis claim that the brown Filipino soldiers are finally recognized as American veterans when the white American soldiers who endured the same the bombings, torture, humiliation, isolation and rapacity of the war are treated and “recognized” differently versus their Filipino counterparts?

Even worse, how could it be, possible that of the 66 nationalities who fought for the American Flag during World War II, the Filipinos were singled out not to be recognized as American veterans? Isn’t this outright racism?

Granting lump sum was the fulfillment of the veterans’ 63 years struggle, why the difference between the compensation for a US citizen and a non-US citizen? Isn’t it clear in the text that the supposed recognition comes by virtue of military service and not nationality? Is the “human suffering” of a US citizen any different from that of a Filipino? Or simply put: Is the life of a Filipino any less than an American?

Isn’t it fair to demand equity or equal recognition and benefits at the very least, when in fact the casualty ratio during the war was 20 Filipinos dead for every one American?

Let’s talk about the Japanese-American Internment. While 460,000 Filipinos were conscripted as part of the US military in the Philippines, 110, 000 Japanese-American were interned in camps. Mr. Rodis said: “…They (Japanese-Americans) were US citizens, not colonial subjects (WW II Filipino soldiers), and yet they were forcibly taken from their homes and removed from their jobs—sentenced to indefinite incarceration without ever being charged with any crimes.” In Mr. Rodis’ argument, he portrayed the Japanese-Americans as having suffered worse violations than the Filipino veterans and used the case of the internment to justify that the lump sum to the Filipinos was not a pittance.

I find Mr. Rodis’ analysis very disturbing on the following grounds:

The Filipino soldiers during World War II were American nationals not colonial subjects with full loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief and US President Franklin Roosevelt. They were defending an American territory and engaged in an American war. Their conscription to the US military and entitlement to full benefits and full recognition as American soldiers came hand-in-hand. To this day, Filipino veterans believe that they served the US military because of the firm belief in the promise of President Roosevelt that they will be treated as equals right from the start. The Philippine government after the war failed to assert the rights of these veterans, the sugar quota being more of a priority. The first protest against the Rescission Act came in only three months after its passage.

In so far as human rights and benefits are concerned, I don’t see any distinction between US citizens from US nationals nor between a Japanese from a Filipino. Colonial mentality is seared deeply in the consciousness of Filipino leaders. How could they advance the rights and welfare of veterans towards genuine equity if they act, think and interpret history to this age from the standpoint of perennial colonial subjects?

The human rights of the interned Japanese-American were violated. I admire them for their steadfast will to pin down the US government for their willful crime during World War II. Though they never fought in an actual combat, they got .6 billion in compensation and formal apology not once but twice—from US Presidents Reagan and the senior Bush. On the other hand, the Filipino soldiers for all the torture, trauma, war-related sickness, isolation and humiliation got a mere 8 million, which is one-eight versus that of Japanese-Americans—obviously without formal apology from a US President. Even worse, Filipinos lose the right for lifetime benefit and cease being an American veteran the moment they accept the lump sum.

It is very ironic that in the midst of an economic recession, banks and corporations who have availed of previous bailout money without proper accountability and guaranteed return of investment, have continually sought and were rewarded with another billions of taxpayer’s money. On the other hand, Filipino veterans who have helped the US government secure vast economic Asian market and human and natural resources after World War II are made to believe and rejoice for something far short of what they fully deserve.

Anything short of full recognition without conditions, genuine equity and lifetime pension benefit is injustice to the Filipino veterans, the widows and legal heirs, the one million Filipino casualties during the war, the Filipino people and the many Americans who dearly support racial equality.

The lump sum is not only a pittance. It is a political trap that attempts to correct a historical wrong with yet another wrong.



Sincerely,

Ago Pedalizo

Daly City, California

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