Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gordon thanks US Congress for Granting Recognition and Benefits to Filipino WWII Veterans

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today expressed gratitude to the United States (US) Congress for passing the $787-billion stimulus bill which contains provisions granting recognition and benefits to Filipino World War II (WWII) veterans.

Gordon stressed that the stimulus bill US President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law on Wednesday will finally give recognition to some estimated 13,000 Filipino veterans who fought alongside American soldiers in the WWII.

"After 65 years, the US government has finally honored its promise to the Philippines, one of its staunchest allies. I share the profound sense of joy that our nation and especially our Filipino WWII veterans now feel that the US recognizes their military service and grants them the benefits they so truly deserve," he said.

"Through the years, veterans and community organizations supported this effort. They deserve our gratitude. We also thank our champions in the US Congress," he added, referring to, to name a few: Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Bob Filner, among others.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contained the Filipino Veterans' Equity provision that provided a tax-free $15,000 for each of the Filipino veterans who are US citizens and $9,000 for each of non-US citizens, mostly living in the Philippines.

For years, the passage of the Filipino WWII Veterans Equity bill had been thwarted in the US Congress by US lawmakers who demanded equal responsibility.

The granting of benefits by the US government, according to previous Filipino laws, would cancel out benefits being granted by the Filipino government.

To remedy this, Gordon authored Senate Bill 142 which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law, logged as Republic Act (RA) 9499 on April 9, 2008, which effectively amends RA 6948, or An Act Standardizing and Upgrading the Benefits for Military Veterans and their Dependents.

RA 9499 allowed Filipino veterans to continue receiving pensions and benefits from the Philippine government without rescinding similar benefits from the US government.

He also lobbied in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives for the passage of an equity bill which could remove much of the stain and dishonor done by the US government to the dignity and true sacrifices of Filipino WWII veterans and of the Philippines as a nation.

Gordon stressed that more than any financial consideration, the passage of the bill gives justice to the Filipino veterans who, out of 66 countries that fought with the US in WWII, were the only ones not given recognition for their contributions and accorded US veterans status.

"The monetary benefit for our WWII veterans is only symbolic. What is more important is that through the passage of the bill, the US government finally honored the heroism and valor of our veterans who gave four strenuous and painful years fighting against the Japanese invaders under the American flag," he said.

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