Nov. 8, 2011
Filipino WW II Vets to Sen. Inouye: “We are American veterans, not political beggars.”
San Francisco, CA—At a national phone conference, 50 Filipino WW II veterans and widows respond publicly to Inouye’s letter and denial of support for full equity of benefits of Filipinos as their American counterparts.
“American veterans must be honored completely for their valor and heroism, and must not be pacified by partial benefits and partial recognitions, which in the words of Senator Daniel Inouye are “better than nothing,” says Felino Punsalan, a stenographer and interpreter to an American Commander during the war, and was denied of the lump sum compensation and monthly pensions.
The response comes days before negotiation with the office of US Senator Barbara Boxer to introduce a companion bill to the HR 210, “The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011,” currently with 75 co-sponsors in the lower house. Full equity advocates aim to achieve a total of 100 co-sponsors after the next congressional lobby Nov.14-15 in DC.
For the last 65 years, the US government abandoned the Filipino WW II veterans when through the Rescission Act of 1946, the US took away the full recognition and full benefits of the Filipinos out of the 66 allied, mostly white nationalities, who fought under the US flag against a common enemy.
Filipinos were singled out amongst American veterans not once but twice—the second one during the enactment of the GI Bill of 2008, not to receive full benefits.
“While we do acknowledge the championship of Inouye in providing partial benefits to the Filipino WW II veterans in the form of immigration rights, health and burial benefits, and lately the one-time lump sum compensation included in the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) in 2008, we still believe that partial recognitions here and there, will not in any way equate to full recognition and full equity,” adds Punsalan.
A newspaper in Las Vegas recently interviewed a former Intelligence Officer, Filipino WW II veteran Silverio Cuaresma, who was denied of the 2008 compensation on the ground that he was no in the official list of US Army Personnel otherwise known as “Missouri list,” which in 1973 was burned down. As much as 80% of the original list of service men from 1912 to 1960 was lost. The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently using a reconstructed list.
Of the 41,000 who applied for the 2008 compensation, 27, 000 have been denied.
The statement ended with the following remark: “We are American veterans, not political beggars. The US Congress needs to redeem itself. Leaders abandoned the veterans so the moral burden to rectify past mistake hangs on the back of the leaders themselves. We only have few years to live, but we will not pretend to have achieved equity with past partial benefit and beg for just another one. We are American veterans and widows of American veterans, and we want to be treated with full respect.”
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