Vets to press for equal recognition
Say lump sum a ‘small step’
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:28:00 02/23/2009
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino World War II veterans vowed to press their fight for equal recognition with their American counterparts after they were awarded $198 million in lump sum payments.
Speaking for his fellow veterans in Malacañang on Monday, retired colonel Emmanuel de Ocampo said the lump sum, which was included in the US economic stimulus law, was a “small step” towards their goal.
A veterans’ equity bill, which will recognize the efforts of Filipino soldiers during World War II, has yet to be passed before the US Congress despite a sustained lobby by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
“We will strive for a goal of equal recognition and equal consideration, to fully restore to the Filipino soldiers [the] honor, pride and dignity which were damaged by the Rescission Act,” he said, referring to a 1946 law which stripped Filipino veterans of equal treatment with their American counterparts.
“What we have today does not fully meet these aspirations. However, the Filipino veterans have respectful and grateful appreciation to those [who] worked sincerely [for the inclusion of lump sum payments in the US stimulus package],” he said.
United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney presented to Arroyo and a group of veterans at the Palace on Monday a copy of the US economic stimulus bill, which includes the $198 million for the lump sum payments — $15,000 each for those living in the US and $9,000 each for those living in the Philippines.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the lump sum payments were a “first step” towards equal recognition for Filipino veterans.
Asked if a lobby for the veterans’ equity bill would continue, he said: “I’m very sure that representations will move on. If this thing took 62 years, siyempre ipagpatuloy na natin [of course we will press on].”
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