July 21, 2010
San Mateo Congresswoman Speier to Introduce New Equity Bill
By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN News, North America Bureau
San Mateo, CA. – In an effort to keep the fight for full equity alive, Filipino veterans and their advocates met with United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier in her San Mateo office last Friday.
After the meeting, the veterans and their advocates felt they found a champion in Speier, a Democrat running for reelection in California’s 12th District.
In an exclusive interview with Balitang America, Speier said, “In January of next year, if I’m reelected, I’m going to introduce a bill that would give all Filipino veterans from World War II the same equal rights for benefits. That means the veterans will receive pensions and their widows and heirs will receive these benefits should they pass away.”
Speier insisted that Filipino veterans, their widows and heirs should be treated like their American counterparts.
Ago Pedalizo, coordinator for the Justice for Filipino-American Veterans said, “More than the pension and financial benefits, yung pagkilala sa kanila ay isang bagay na nagbibigay ng dignidad at respeto sa ating kapwa Pilipino.” (Recognizing their services in the war give our veterans dignity and respect.)
86-year old Alfredo Carino said, “Buhay pa ang laban. Sapagkat binigyan kami ng pag-asa ni Congresswoman Speier.” (The fight for full equity is alive. Congresswoman Speier gave us renewed hope.)
Speier also wants to address the lump sum payment denials to over 16,000 Filipino veterans.
She said it’s wrong that the Department of Veterans Affairs denied most of these claims based on the Missouri List.
“I’m going to write a letter to the Veterans Affairs and ask them to accept any documentation or evidence that the veteran served during World War II — whether it’s a medal, discharge papers, anything that would reference their participation in the war,” said Speier.
Speier also plans to urge Congressman Bob Filner, the chair of the Veterans Committee to hold a hearing to determine whether the Veterans Affairs is complying with the lump sum law.
Filipino community leaders said veterans and their advocates should hold elected officials accountable to their promises.
Mike Guingona, former mayor of Daly City said, “She’s given us a blueprint of what we need to get done. We will get back to her and work with her to get the passage of the bill she promised to put forth in January.”