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Upbeat on full recognition, benefits (Read 3405 times)
dcgrava
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Upbeat on full recognition, benefits
Jan 16th, 2007, 4:18pm
 
Prominent veterans’ advocates and their friends in the legislature are gearing for the opening of the 110th U.S. Congress with proposed bills to benefit those who fought side-by-side with allied troops in the last World War.

This brought to focus a widely publicized Senate bill proposed to speed up the US entry of children and minor grandchildren of naturalized Filipino American World War II veterans that failed to materialize as predicted.

Senate Bill 4070, otherwise known as the Family Reunification Bill, was filed during the last Congress by Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K. Inouye, Democrats from Hawaii. Retired Philippine Army Colonel Romy Monteyro, adviser and spokesman of the Filipino World War II Veterans Federation of San Diego County, informed BALITA:

“Whether this alleged Bill was refiled by Akaka or not is no longer relevant. Any Bill filed in the 109th Congress which was not acted on becomes history and must be refiled in the 110th.”

Monteyro, a staff member of the now defunct Philippine Herald and a known confidant of U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, said that the congressman is now working on a new draft of the proposed law patterned after HR 4574, which seeks to amend the negative aspects of the Rescission Act of 1946. Filner is a staunch supporter of Filipino causes and the incoming chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Regarding the infamous rescission act, it may be recalled that then President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Military Order harnessing the Philippine Commonwealth army into a component member of the U.S. armed forces during World War II – fighting under American flag and "subjected to and under the articles of War." After the war was won, however, the Filipinos had the nightmare of finding themselves cut off from veterans’ benefits and their services unrecognized with the passage of that law.

The fight to rescind the discriminatory provision of the Rescission Act has been long and arduous and in the interim many other bills had been considered such as HR-1594, the Filipino Veterans Benefits Improvement Act; HR-402, a bill that seeks to amend the Social Security Act; and HR-1802, otherwise known as the Foster Care Independence Act to benefit Filipino-American veterans who move back to the Philippines

In a statement attributed to retired Gen Tagumpay Nanadiego, former head of the Philippine Office of Veterans’ Affairs, such “step-by-step” legislations were a kind of strategy to extend veterans benefits that cost less compared to the proposed equity bill. HR-1802, for example, is a welfare benefits (not a veteran’s benefit) customarily given to Americans and  naturalized citizens existing on a low-income bracket, according to Nanadiego    

It is to the credit of our veterans as well as their friends and advocates that the ember of hope has been kept aglow. In addition to Monteyro, there are the names of retired Col. Francisco Quesada, liaison representative of the Veterans’ Federation of the Philippines; Commander Manuel Braga of the Filipino World War II Veterans Federation of San Diego County and representative of the Philippine Scouts; retired Col. Emmanuel de Ocampo, president of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines; Col Edwin Ramsey and others who are officers and members of the many veterans support groups such as the Los Angeles-based Filipino Veterans Federation headed by Dr. Jenny Batongmalaque, Atty. Lou Tancinco’s San Francisco Veterans Equity Center, the  Veterans Coalition formed recently through the initiative of Ambassador Willy Gaa, the Office of Veterans Affairs, and others.

Congressman Filner’s marching order is to focus on the proposed Equity Bill. It is learned, however, that other legislative proposals are in the works such as the one intending a lump sum payment to each of the living veterans or, in the case of those deceased, their surviving widows; an annual U.S. grant to the Philippine Veterans Medical Center until the last Filipino WWII veteran dies; and the reintroduction of the Family Reunification Bill.

Dr. Batongmalaque said the stars are presently aligned to give much-needed boost to the veterans’ cause. This is especially so because, she said, the veteran-friendly Democratic Party has seized control of both Houses of Congress and pro-Filipino legislators will occupy strategic legislative seats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who comes from a district with a significant Filipino constituency, will lead the House in the 110th Congress. Then there is Representative Filner who will chair the House Veterans Affairs Committee; Senator Akaka, incoming head of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs; Rep. Mike Honda, House Appropriations, and the many congressmen and senators of both parties who had already signified commitment for the Filipino veterans agenda.
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Re: Upbeat on full recognition, benefits
Reply #1 - Feb 17th, 2007, 11:24pm
 
So far the Filipino WWII Veterans Equity bills are S 57 in the Senate and HR 760 in the House.

The House version will hopefully move through quickly since it is in the Veteran's Committee which is now Chaired by Rep. Filner, a long time advocate for Filipino veterans.

On Friday Feb. 16, Sen. Akaka from Hawaii submitted a Family Reunification bill. I don't think it has been given a number yet, but I will try to find out on Tuesday. The Reunification bill would put the families of Filipino WWII veterans to the front of the immigration line. Many, including my brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, have been waiting for over 14 years.

So far, no Reunification bill has been introduced in the House, but I expect Rep. Hirono from Hawaii may be doing so soon.

I try and keep my site, FilAmVets.com, updated. If anyone knows of any news regarding Filipino WWII Veterans legislative issues, please email me.

Thank You
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Ed Morrow
FilAmVets.com
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