FILIPINO WWII VETERANS BILL - Grace Santos

10/26/04

Filipino activists have been working on passing a bill, HR 677, which provides that the United States would give Filipino WWII Veterans benefits. WMNF’s Grace Santos files this report.

Jose Sibayan is a Filipino WWII veteran living in Tampa. WMNF interviewed him about the Filipino veteran bills. He wanted to explain some of the things that the Filipinos went through during the war. (Cut – Jose – war story – how POW in his province were burned alive)

Loida Louis, founding member of the National Association of Filipino Americans (NAFA), says benefits are owed to the Filipino WWII veterans. In 1941, President Roosevelt called upon the Philippine Army to be members of the Armed Forces of the United States of the Far East (USOFE). The US Congress then said anyone fighting under the US flag can become a US citizen. Then in 1944, Congress applied the GI Bill to anyone fighting under the US flag. The GI Bill includes free education, housing and health benefits, and pension plans. Ms. Louis said the Rescission Act of 1946 caused 240,000 Filipino Soldiers to lose these benefits.
(Cut – Loida – Congress rescinding the GI Bill)

Ms. Louis is angered by the fact that the Rescission Act only applied to Filipinos and not to any other country. This is why NAFA is actively trying to pass HR 677 or S68.
HR 677 would give $800/month for every Filipino veteran, whether they live in the Philippines or in the US. S68 would give Filipinos in the US $100/month and $150/month for Filipinos living overseas.
Ms. Louis is calling for Filipino Americans to vote for Senator Kerry because he has endorsed HR 677 but President Bush has yet to make any statement regarding the Filipino Veteran WWII issue.
(Cut – Loida – Bush is for soldiers and veterans but why not the Filipino veterans?)

Sonny Sampayan, also a Filipino Activist and a Republican, has compiled a database of all the Congressmen who have sponsored or co-sponsored HR 677. There are 201 co-sponsors so only 17 more are needed. He also explains that one should not vote for someone who is not endorsing the bill, regardless of party affiliation.
(Cut – Sonny – Filipinos don’t vote in a bloc; we must focus on the issues)

Congressman Jim Davis has not yet co-sponsored the bill. WMNF talked to Jim Davis’s Secretary, Diane Pratt-Heavner. She said that although the Congressman has heard about the bill in the periphery, he has not heard from anyone in the community.

Ms. Louis says there should be no excuse for not passing one of the bills. It was something that was promised and now, it will not be as expensive, because many of the Veterans are dying. (Cut – Loida – Every month, about 5000 are dying. Most veterans are in the 70’s and 80’s so give them this justice.)

For WMNF news, I’m Grace Santos.

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