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US House passes bill to reward Filipino WWII Vets

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

WASHINGTON DC – The US House of Representatives passed a controversial legislation Tuesday, September 23, that would pay Filipino World War II veterans a one-time, lump sum payment opposed to a yearly pension.

H.R. 6897 passed by an overwhelming vote of 392 to 23 without objections.

The bill now goes to a conference committee and compete with S. 1315, the Veterans Enhancement Act, which passed in the House Monday, September 22, but removed the Filipino Equity benefits provision in order to do so – a strategic move by Democratic leaders, according to sources.

The “Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2008” or H.R. 6897 would make one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipinos who are U.S. citizens and $9,000 to non-citizen Filipino veterans. The Senate passed a bill on veterans’ affairs in April that provided pensions for many of the surviving veterans but has not acted on the House-passed legislation. Senators could take up the House version or meet in conference committee to work out the differences in the two versions of the legislation.

Filipino WWII organization leaders said despite the lump sum’s approval and the passage of S. 1315 without the Filipino equity provision, they are still committed to seeing through S. 1315.

“Our position here in Washington is that we are alarmed by the passage of the two bills S. 1315 and H.R. 6897,” said Eric Lachica, executive director of the Washington DC-based American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV). “We are hopeful that the final version of S. 1315 in the conference committee can add the Filipino Equity provision so our veterans can finally have that official recognition. As for H.R. 6897, we find it unacceptable because it provides no official recognition, too little too late, doesn’t give money to the widows and it’s a quit claim bill that would surrender the veterans rights to future compensation or benefits.”

“We continue to fight for the principles for equity,” added Ben De Guzman, national coordinator of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE). “We are still committed on working on S. 1315 and to have the committee include the Filipino equity provisions.”

De Guzman also said only 18,115 veterans remain and roughly two-thirds still live in the Philippines.

The Senate bill, S. 1315, passed the Senate earlier this year by an overwhelming vote but since its passage in April, the bill has stalled in the House because of the financial burden the bill carries.

With 18,000 eligible if the bill passes, the bill would allow Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines to be eligible for an annual payment of $3,600 ($300 a month) and married veterans to be eligible for $4,500. The annual payment for surviving spouses would be $2,400.

ACFV Vice President and WWII veteran Franco Arcebal said his fellow veterans are favoring S. 1315.

“Believe me when I tell you that if H.R. 6897 passes none of the veterans would apply for it,” he said. “There’s too much to risk. We would be losing all of our benefits including Social Security Income (SSI), medicare, food bank assistance and house rental assistance.”

De Guzman said while he is pleased that both the Senate and the House finally have passed bills to rectify the situation, questions remain.

“Not the least of it is the amount” for each old soldier, he said. The veterans themselves, he said, “are surprisingly of one voice on this. Traditionally if you ask 11 vets what they think, you get 11 different answers.” They are united in thinking the congressional action is lacking, he said.

Last Push

Congress was set to adjourn this week but the financial crisis and talks of a $700 billion bailout plan may be what the Filipino Veterans Equity Enhance Act needs to keep it alive.

There are already talks that Congress is extending the session until the end of this month.

Still some are not that optimistic. NAFVE are working on the timetable that if nothing happens by the end of this week, both bills are dead.

“Anything that doesn’t happen by the end of this week that’s it,” said De Guzman. “That’s how we’re looking at it. The reality of it is it’s not officially over until the final gavel adjourns the 110th Congress but in reality we’re working on the timetable that this is the final week to get something done.”

Meanwhile, Lachica and the rest of ACFV officials are planning for last minute mobilization efforts.

“We are trying to organize [Filipino WWII] veterans around the country,” said Arcebal.

Lachica said that it’s time for the community to rally and continue to call their Senators and Representatives.

The Filipino veterans would seem to have a champion in the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka, a World War II veteran from Hawaii.

His spokesman, Jesse Broder-Van Dyke, said Akaka was meeting with senators about the veterans. Akaka sponsored the bill that passed the Senate with the pensions intact.

“He just wants to give them the recognition they reserve while they’re still alive,” Broder Van Dyke said. (with AP wire reports)



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The Last Hurrah: Filipino WWII Veterans Waiting Anxiously for Bill

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
LOS ANGELES – In what may be its last ditch effort for this Congressional session, Filipino World War II groups are preparing for a make or break September month to seek the passage of the Filipino WWII Veteran’s Equity Act.
“Right now, we are gearing up for the fall,” said Ben De Guzman, the coordinator of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) to the Asian Journal from Washington DC. “We’re trying to prepare a national action week to mobilize the community before congress comes back. This is really it. We have three legislative weeks left before they [members of the House of Representatives] campaign.”

Executive Director of the American Coalition of Filipino Veterans Eric Lachica seemed more optimistic.

“We’re hoping that our champions will live up to their pledge. We are within reach,” said Lachica.

House Resolution 760 is a bill that would provide Filipino WWII veterans to receive equity veterans affairs (VA) pension. There are less than 18,000 surviving Filipino WWII soldiers, 13,000 of which still reside in the Philippines.

A version of the bill has already passed the Senate floors under S. 1315, the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007. According to the Senate bill, Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines to be eligible for an annual payment of $3,600 ($300 a month) and married veterans would be eligible for $4,500. The annual payment for surviving spouses would be $2,400, according to the Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of the S. 1315 bill.

However, since its overwhelming favorable vote in the Senate earlier this year, the House version has received less fanfare amongst Republicans and blue dog Democrats and currently at an impasse in the appropriations committee.

With only a few months left in the congressional calendar, Filipino WWII groups and advocates are feeling a sense of urgency. Though technically they have until the end of the year to get the bill passed, Republicans and Democrats in the House are preparing for their re-election campaign and focusing on the upcoming Presidential elections.

It’s the reason why September is the month to get anything done.

“If we don’t get this bill passed by September,” said De Guzman. “Realistically we are done for this congressional session and would have to start over again next year.”

Jump Start

Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA), who has championed the bill for several years, has tried to jump start talks before the House left for recess. De Guzman said Filner set off “fireworks” proposing an amendment for a lump sum payment to the veterans as opposed to the proposed annual payment.

“What he really wanted to do was to jump start talks again,” said De Guzman. “It worked. Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi (D-CA) spoke on the Filipinos WWII veterans’ behalf. Of course, Steve Buyer (R-IN) [ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs] opposed it. Chet Edwards (D-TX) [Head of the Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee] gave his support. So in that sense it was positive.”

“Filner’s feeling the same frustration we’re feeling,” added De Guzman. “We’re at an impasse. Nothing is happening.”

The reason for the impasse is simple – money. Creating spending to any veterans groups such as for Filipino veterans would mean taking away money from another source. To fund the Filipino veterans equity bill would mean to eliminate a special monthly pensions for severely disabled veterans over 65 who are also receiving pensions for wartime service.

Giving money to veterans in the Philippines rather than US disabled veterans is a hard pill to swallow for some Republicans, according to De Guzman.

“We are very disappointed how it is being characterized,” explains De Guzman. “In reality, the money set aside for the Filipino WWII veterans would not really take away from the disabled veterans. The disability pension was not being distributed correctly so really it’s restoring the original intent.

“The problem is that our champions and Democratic supporters have allowed the Republicans to set the debate terms and standards,” said De Guzman.

Veterans Fatigue

While De Guzman of NAFVE and Lachica are working behind the scenes in Washington, many members of the community nationwide are feeling veterans’ fatigue.

This past year, it has been a roller coaster ride for Filipino WWII veterans, grassroots groups and their supporters. It’s been full of ups and downs with many members of the community screaming for joy but some feeling woozy from the ride.

The momentum from the Senate passage earlier this year seemed to have waned during these past few months.

Lachica said it’s time for the community to make a last push effort.

Lachica is on his way to Denver for the Democratic National convention to rally support.

“During this recess time, community members should make an appointment to see their congressperson just to remind them about the Filipino WWII veterans equity bill,” said Lachica.

Lachica added that the ACFV is hosting a number of community forums in the West Coast to update veterans and supporters of what’s going on in Capitol Hill.

“We are very close to our goal,” he said. “I think we have enough members of the House to support this bill.”

De Guzman is asking for community supporters, grassroots groups and more importantly the WWII veterans not to give up.

“We are a community that has never engaged in a campaign like this before,” said De Guzman. “I know it’s hard to deal with this veteran’s fatigue but the veterans have been marching 60 years. We’re asking the community to continue their support for the next month. We have fought the fight but we need to do another week, another month of making phone calls to our congressperson so we could look our veterans, the manongs, in the eye and say we did everything we can for you. If we win, great. If we lose, we go back to the drawing board to focus on the 111th but we did what we could.

“Our manongs marched for more than 62 years, we’re asking the community to march with them for the next 62 days.”


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US Senate Approves FilVet Equity Bill

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

WASHINGTON DC – The US Senate Thursday voted to pass S. 1315, the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, a bill that also provides for Filipino World War II veterans to receive equity veterans affairs (VA) pension.

The Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of S. 1315 by a vote of 96 to 1. The lone dissenting vote came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

“The Filipino veterans of World War II fought bravely under U.S. military command, helping us win the war only to lose their veteran status by an Act of Congress. I commend my colleagues for supporting those veterans who stood with us,” said Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee after the vote.

“I am also very pleased that the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 can finally move forward,” said Akaka. “This bill makes needed improvements to veterans’ benefits by expanding and increasing support for veterans, their families, and their survivors.   I urge my colleagues in the House to act swiftly on this much needed bill.”

S. 1315 is a bill that would enhance life insurance benefits for disabled veterans, burial allowances and housing grants, and provides for $221 million in new pension benefits for Filipino WWII veterans. There are less than 18,000 surviving Filipino WWII soldiers, 13,000 of which still reside in the Philippines.

The historic vote comes three days after the Senate motioned to invoke cloture on the bill and nine months since the bill moved out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee. The Senate had 30 hours to debate the bill, a time that most pundits close to the situation felt Republicans were going to negotiate with Democratic leaders for a compromise regarding the “special pension compensation” for Filipino WWII veterans still residing in the Philippines.

Under S. 1315, veterans residing in the Philippines would receive a smaller pension than those residing in the US to account for differences in cost-of-living in the two countries.

Akaka proposed that single Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines would be eligible for an annual payment of $3,600 ($300 a month) and married veterans would be eligible for $4,500. The annual payment for surviving spouses would be $2,400, according to the Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of the S. 1315 bill. Filipino WWII veterans residing in the US would receive the same wages as their American counterparts.

Pundits expected Senate Republican leaders to offer an amendment to the bill to lower the $300 monthly rate for Filipino veterans residing outside the US to $150 or $200.

However, there was no compromise. During the Thursday morning session, Ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Richard Burr (R-NC) proposed an amendment to S. 1315 that would have eliminated any type of VA pension to Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines and deflect the money to other VA programs.

“An individual [veteran or survivor] who resides outside the United States shall not, while so residing, be entitled to a pension,” read an excerpt of the proposed amendment. The Senate struck down Burr’s amendment by a vote of 41 to 56. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.


“The Senate has just made a huge, historic step forward for Filipino WWII veterans,” said Ben De Guzman, the coordinator of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) to the Asian Journal from Washington D.C. “Now, it’s up to the House [of Representatives] to do their part.”

For the past year, Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) has maintained that he would not introduce his version of the Filipino Veterans Equity Act to the US House of Representatives until the Senate passed their version.

Now that the Senate did their part, it’s a matter of adopting the Senate version of the bill as the House version, said De Guzman.

“Akaka has made it easier for Filner,” said De Guzman. “Filner just needs to adopt the Senate version so there won’t be any complications.”

Executive Director of the American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV) Eric Lachica agrees with De Guzman. Both men are cautiously optimistic about the future of the Filipino WWII veterans’ bill.

Lachica said that proponents of the FilVet Equity bill should be worried about what President George Bush, who is against the bill, will do if it comes to his desk. Bush has veto power. He and other Republicans feel that the money reserved for Filipino veterans outside the US would be better served to help American soldiers.

“Bush did mention that he would not veto the bill,” said Lachica. “He promised [Philippine] President [Gloria] Arroyo last year that if the bill passes the Senate and the House, he would sign it into law. Let’s see if he lives up to that promise.”

Lachica said that another important person to consider is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We need her on board to fully support the bill,” he said.

De Guzman said that now that the bill is moving forward, it’s time for proponents of the bill to “take a deep breath and thank their elected officials.”

“Thank and fax all of your elected officials,” he said. “Write them, fax them, call them, and thank them for all of their support. Once you’re finished, there’s still more work to do. We want this to go all the way.”



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Veteran’s Pension Budget Doubled by Consulate

By Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo Aragon announced on Wednesday, April 9 that the Philippine government had doubled its veterans’ pension budget so that all unpaid old age pension claims could be paid by the end of this year.

Consul General Aragon made the announcement at the celebration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). The date also marks the fall of Bataan Peninsula into the hands of the Japanese during World War II.

“The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office has also reduced claims processing time in its delivery of pension payments,” Consul Aragon said. “Today, as I understand it from Secretary Teodoro, all pensioners can withdraw their pensions from ATMs.”

Consul Aragon also told a handful of Filipino World War II veterans that President Arroyo also had signed into law an amendment to Republic Act 6498

“This means that those veterans who receive benefits from the US government will not continue to receive whatever is due them from the Philippine government,” Consul Aragon added. These benefits include a monthly SSI payment of around $750.00 and medical coverage.

She also reiterated an earlier pledge to continue pushing for the passage of the Equity Bill for Filipino World War II veterans. Aragon added that a team composed of Senator Gordon, Congressman Solis (Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs), Antonio Diaz, and Roman Romulo, will be arriving this month to lobby for the bill that is presently debated in the US Congress.

“Of course, the Philippine government will continue its lobbying efforts with US Ambassador to the Philippines, Christy Keeney,” Consul Aragon said further.

Following a ceremonial flower offering at a shrine erected at the Rizal Hall of the Philippine Consulate General Office, Consul Aragon paid tribute to the veterans “for their courage and patriotism.”

Quoting from a speech delivered on April 7 by President Gloria Arroyo, Mrs. Aragon said: “The courage and patriotism of all our soldiers will shine through our efforts to forge lasting peace.”

Deputy Consul Dan Espiritu also read a message sent by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy Gaa.

“What we recall of this day is not the success of the overwhelming forces of the enemy, but the gallantry and courage of Filipino and American defenders. For long months, Filipino soldiers tenaciously stood their ground and fought with uncommon valor side by side with American soldiers in fending off the foreign invaders, fighting for their homeland and fighting for the cause of liberty, justice and democracy,” the statement read.

“Moral Debt: The Postwar Battle of Filipino Veterans,” a 25-minute documentary about the struggle for recognition of Filipino WWII veterans already living in the United States, was screened by the Consulate after the ceremonies at Rizal Hall. The documentary showed surviving veterans, most of them in their 80s and 90s, recalling their experience as US citizens, surviving on their meager SSI income holding odd jobs, sharing rooms with other veterans, away from their loved ones.

California Congressman Bob Filner, consistent supporter of the Equity Bill, recalls in the movie how he stumbled on his mission.

“When I first ran for Congress and visited Filipino neighborhoods and interviewed Filipino families, most of the people I talked to had fathers, brothers, grandfathers who were World II veterans,” Senator Filner shared.

He acknowledged that the bill is experiencing rough times in its quest for approval by the US Congress. “There is a demand that I find an offset, which means that I take money from old programs to pay for the benefits stipulated in the Equity Bill,” Filner said in the documentary.

“It’s been 66 years, and we are still fighting for the veterans’ benefits,” said San Francisco State University’s Professor Danilo Begonia. “How can you put a price tag on heroism? This is a grave injustice.”


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FilAm Vets Celebrate Leyte Landing

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES — On a warm sunny day, Filipino WWII veterans and their supporters came out in full force celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the Leyte Landing at the Los Angeles National Cemetery last October 20.

Filipino WWII soldiers stood on hollowed grounds where more than 86,000 patriots were buried. They listened to the national anthem, the sound of the bugler’s trumpets playing Taps, and watched the ceremonial folding of the flag.

“This program is a salute to the greatest generation of soldiers of all time, those who liberated us from tyranny and oppression,” said Filipino Veterans Foundation Executive Director Dr. Jenny Batongmalaque.

On Oct. 20, 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur along with US troops landed in three beaches in Leyte, Philippines – San Jose, Dulag and Himayangan. The landing marks the spot where MacArthur and US troops returned after a two-year layoff. It also heralded the offensive campaign against the Imperial Japanese Army, the beginning of the end of Japanese rule in the country.

It was reported that upon landing on the beach, MacArthur famously cried out, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!”

US Air Force Honor Guards, members of the US Navy, the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society, and a large number of Filipino WWII veterans, widows, and their supporters, were among those who joined in the one-hour celebration.

The occasion also honored two WWII soldiers who recently passed away – US Navy Officer William Homer House and WWII Philippine Scout Mariano Loria. House passed away last September 13 at the age of 81. Loria, also in his 80’s, passed away last October 3.

Batongmalaque said the two veterans epitomized the sacrifice American and Filipino soldiers did to liberate the Philippines.

“They fought side by side to redeem the Philippines for freedom and democracy,” she said.

House was only 18 years old when he joined the US Navy. He was among several troops who landed in Leyte. As part of the US Navy Construction Battalion unit during WWII, he helped build airstrips and command posts for the Armed Forces in Central Luzon. After the war, he stayed in the Philippines and learned to speak Tagalog.

“He never forgot the times he spent in the Philippines,” said Batongmalaque, who was a close family friend of House.

“The Filipino veterans loved him because he could speak Tagalog. House never opened up to his family about his experiences in WWII but he did open up when he was with Filipino WWII veterans. He [House] fought for their cause and believed they should have their benefits,” she added.

Loria was part of a guerrilla unit during WWII in the Philippines. He joined the Philippine Scout and continued his service in the Philippine Air Force. After the war, he and his family immigrated to the US. He also fought for the passage of the FilVet Equity Bill until he succumbed to a brain hemorrhage.

Batongmalaque said Americans and Filipinos share a common lineage.

“This event elevates the awareness of American families that their fathers and grandfathers in their youth were among those who went to the Philippines and fought alongside Filipino veterans in the war,” she added.

House’s relatives were present. US Navy Capt. Greg Akers handed the folded flag to Brad House.

Fighting for Recognition

Sixty-three years after the war ended, Filipino WWII veterans are still fighting. This time it’s for their recognition and contribution in WWII.

“This is another reason why we celebrate this event,” said Batongmalaque. “We want our Filipino veterans to be part of the entire veteran’s world. When you know them one-on-one it personalizes their stories.”

“The bottom line is, both nations (the Philippines and US) were of one mind, one heart, and one soul in fighting for the same cause, which is freedom and democracy,” added Dr. Rico Jose, a visiting professor from the University of the Philippines. “This bond resonates even today, and long after every single one of those who fought in WWII are gone. It is fitting that we keep these historical events in our minds to remind us of the sacrifice they made.”

Rep. Filner Updates

In a taped video shown during the luncheon after the ceremony, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) issued a statement on the significance of the Leyte landing and updated the progress of the Filipino Veterans Equity Act bill in Congress.

“This is a salute to the greatest generation, the liberators of freedom and democracy,” said Filner.

Filner announce that he is continuing to work with Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to bring the Filipino Veterans Equity bill to the House of Representatives and the Senate for debate “as soon as possible.”

“This is the closest to our goal since we’ve introduced this bill in Congress and the many, many years we’ve been fighting for equity,” he added. “The wheels are in motion and both [Senate Veterans’ Committee] Chairman Akaka and I are fully committed to the passage of this bill.”

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Sen. Akaka Responds to FilVets’ Demands

By Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

Los Angeles – In an email to the Asian Journal, US Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) wrote that he is committed to bring the Filipino Veterans Equity Act to the Senate floor, but did not give a specific time line.

This is in response to last weeks report where Filipino World War II veterans claimed that they would start resorting to drastic measures if they did not see “significant progress” in the passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill in Congress the next few weeks.

In an exclusive e-mail interview with the Asian Journal, Akaka and press representative Jesse Broder Van Dyke answered the many lingering questions regarding the progress of the bill.

Ever since it was passed in both the House of Representatives and Senate committee on Veteran’s Affairs last June and July, the FilVet Equity bill has remained on standstill in Congress. The FilVet Equity bill was part of a larger package, The Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 (S.1315).

Broder Van Dyke said the legislation is a priority for Senator Akaka and his Democratic colleagues.

“S. 1315 is one of several bills reported out by the Committee which are awaiting action on by the full Senate. Senator Akaka is now requesting floor time for S. 1315,” wrote Broder Van Dyke.

When asked what Sen. Akaka’s reaction was to last week’s story about the drastic measures (protest, rallies, and hunger strike) that some Filipino WWII veterans are threatening to do if they don’t see any progress with the bill, Akaka responded:

“We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the Filipino community as we work to pass this legislation into law and provide long awaited equity to courageous Filipino veterans of WWII,” wrote Akaka. “Please be assured the process is moving forward and I am committed to bringing this bill to the floor.”

Meanwhile, Akaka encouraged the greater Filipino public to continue sharing stories “of these proud Filipino WWII veterans with anyone unfamiliar with history.”

” I want everyone in Congress to know they fought to defend the freedom of our two countries and deserve this recognition,” he wrote.

Broder Van Dyke also added they both understand that there is a sense of urgency in the Filipino community for the bill to be passed this year. Congress ends their yearly session in late-November.

However, he feels that it is impossible to predict an exact time line.

“A time agreement will need to be made with the Republicans,” he wrote. “With this session quickly drawing to a close, Senator Akaka feels we must move forward. Since the bill contains a benefits for all service-disabled veterans and their survivors, Senator Akaka is optimistic that it will be enacted before the end of the current session.”

According to Broder Van Dyke, the reason the bill got stalled in Congress is because the Republicans have not yet issued a permanent Ranking Member for the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee since Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) stepped down from the role. Craig was recently arrested relating on allegations that he solicited sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.

Now that Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) has taken over Craig’s role, talks are expected to resume.

Broder Van Dyke also debunked last week’s report that Akaka was meeting in backdoor negotiations with Republican leaders seeking concessions in the bill.

“There have been NO negotiations, secret or otherwise, on this bill,” he wrote.

As for compensation benefits especially for Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines, Broder Van Dyke wrote:

“Filipino service-connected disabled veterans residing in the Philippines would receive compensation at the full dollar rate, an increase of 50 cents.”

Under current law Filipino veterans do not receive non-service connected pension benefits. Broder Van Dyke said that since this is the case, all non-service connected Filipino veterans residing outside of the US would be eligible to receive a flat-rate pension benefit depending on their status as single, married, or survivor.

He said a single Filipino veterans would receive $3,600, married Filipino veterans would receive $4,500, and survivors would receive $2,400 a year.

Filipino veterans residing in the US will be eligible to receive the same pension benefits as other US veterans.

“The details will be finalized during debate in the Senate and House,” he wrote.

Akaka added that he will continue to fight to give the recognition Filipino WWII veterans deserve.

“In my home state of Hawaii the ties between Filipinos and Americans are strong and serve as a model for the world. From my childhood to today, Filipinos have always been part of my extended ohana (family) and I will continue to be an advocate for the Filipino community as long as I am in the Senate. Mabuhay and aloha,” wrote the Senator.

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