Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gordon tells FilAms to "nag" US legislators to help WW II vets

WASHINGTON - What do US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have in common? They're firm supporters of full equity for Filipino World War II veterans.

The A-list of supporters notwithstanding it is not yet certain the equity bill, which calls for an expenditure of about $1 billion in 10 years, will pass because of a growing US budget deficit and the pressure of the Iraq war on the US Veterans Administration.

Aware of this, visiting Sen. Richard Gordon has urged, nay demanded, Filipino-Americans, estimated to number between 2.5 and 3 million, bombard their legislators with letters and phone calls and press them for their support.

"Kulitin n'yo sila," (Nag them) he said.

Gordon in a news interview said Filipino-Americans should take an activist role on the political issues of the times, contribute time, money and effort to help their local political leaders and above all vote to make their power felt because only then can they be a force to be reckoned with.

"We've never come this close before on the equity issue. We're almost at the end of the tunnel. We're on the last lap," said Gordon who is on a visit to Washington to do his share of lobbying for passage of the measure pending in Congress.

A Senate version of the bill (S 57) and a House version (HR 760) seek for Filipino veterans the same pension benefits that their American counterparts receive.

Supporters are pushing for a pension of $800 a month but may be forced to settle for less to get the measures passed because of the enormous medical expenditures for US soldiers coming back from Iraq.

Gordon called on Rep Bob Filner, House veterans affairs chairman, to thank him for his staunch support of Filipino veterans.

He has appointments with Senate President Harry Reid and Sen. Daniel Inoue, both Democrats and personal friend Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican to, as he said, "keep pushing the equity issue."

Since his days as mayor of Olongapo City Gordon has been active in the campaign to help Filipino veterans at home and in the United States receive full benefits for their wartime activities.

According to records kept by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and the Department of Veterans Affairs only 18,155 Filipino World War II veterans are still alive out of 260,143 listed in the US Army roster immediately after the war.

About one-third of the survivors live in the United States and the rest are in the Philippines.
By Lito Katigbak

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