Envoy: 26,000 apply for WWII vets’ lump sums
US approves 3 payments
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:11:00 04/07/2009
MT. SAMAT, Bataan – At least 26,000 Filipino World War II veterans have applied for the lump sum payments offered by the US government, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said on Tuesday as officials announced that three of the applicants’ payments have been approved.
Two of the three veterans, Felix Pestana and Rafael Estrada, received notices of approval of their applications from Kenney during the 67th Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) celebrations at the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) here.
The third veteran, Salvador Princesa, a former guerilla intelligence officer in the Bicol region, failed to attend the ceremonies because of mild pneumonia, defense undersecretary for veterans and reservist affairs Ernesto Carolina said.
“We have, I think as of last Friday, there could be more even now, had 26,000 people apply. We’re processing those. We expect to be giving out the first notices you saw here this morning,” Kenney told reporters in an interview.
“You can help us, again get the message out…if there are other people out there, please apply [for the lump sums], people who think they’re eligible, it’s free [to apply],” she said.
Kenney reiterated that the US Embassy in Manila and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) will continue accepting claim applications for one year. The application period started last February.
Filipino veterans in the country are entitled to a $9,500 lump sum while those living in the US can get $15,000.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her speech, again thanked US President Barack Obama and American lawmakers for passing the economic stimulus package, which included the lump sum payouts.
The Araw ng Kagitingan rites commemorate the heroism of Filipino and American forces who fought the Japanese occupation.
In a speech, Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura reiterated that his country expressed “apology and a deep sense of remorse” for the “damages” caused by the war, including the Death March, during which Filipino and American forces who surrendered in Bataan were forced to march to Tarlac province.
Kenney, in her speech, noted the significance of commemorating the heroism of World War II veterans during the Holy Week, when Catholics remember the passion of Jesus Christ.
“It is a week in which we recognize new beginnings borne out of sacrifice,” she said.
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