Saturday, May 21, 2005

US senator pledges help for Filipino WWII vets

A US senator promised to help Filipino World War II veterans in their last "struggle" for well-deserved benefits before the US congress, learned Friday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo bared he received assurances from US Senator Daniel Inouye that he will work closely with the Philippines on behalf of Filipino war veterans.

Inouye, who was also a World War II combat veteran, is a ranking Democrat on the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee.

The senator pledged to Romulo his full and continued support for the country's war veterans during their meeting in the US Capitol on May 18.

Inouye emphasized that he has not forgotten the Filipino war veterans who have waited for so long for just recognition and benefits for their brave service in World War II with the United States Armed Forces in the Far East.

"I believe that a promise is a promise," the senator told Romulo, as he vowed to continue to campaign on behalf of Filipino veterans.

For his part, Romulo expressed appreciation for the senator’s gesture, adding that the Philippines is deeply grateful for Inouye’s contributions to advance the partnership between the country and the United States.

Romulo invited the US senator to visit the country this year in connection with the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific Theater.

After fighting side-by-side with US forces during the second world war, Filipino veterans have yet to be fully recognized for their role.

Six decades after putting their lives on the line during World War II, about 8,000 Filipino-Americans are still demanding for pensions now enjoyed by their US comrades who were in the same warfront.

Some 275,000 of their American comrades are receiving 800 dollars per month in what is known as "pensions for low-income veterans."

More than 200,000 Filipino soldiers fought in World War II as US nationals in three years of brutal warfare against Japanese troops when the country was colonized by the Americans. Many have died since.

Under current US laws, Filipino-American veterans receive health benefits and so-called "service-connected disability" compensation as well as rights to be buried at designated US military cemeteries.

Washington began fulfilling the pledge in 1990 when Congress granted the veterans citizenship rights.

In recent years, leaders of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans had been asking the White House to support pending legislation that would provide 800 dollars in monthly pensions for those living in the United States and 100 dollars for those in the Philippines.

Senator John Kerry, losing presidential bet of Democratic Party, had also agreed to support and co-sponsor the pension bill in Congress.

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