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11/11/2012: PH Embassy Pays Tribute to Filipino-American Veterans

11 November 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy today paid tribute to Filipino and American veterans, especially those who saw action during the Second World War, saying that without their heroism, the Filipino people will not be enjoying the freedoms they are enjoying today.

“Today, we remember the heroism of countless Filipinos and Americans who answered the call to serve and fought side by side to defend the freedoms we now enjoy,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said in a statement commemorating Veterans Day in the United States.

“We will not be where we are today if not for these brave men and women from our uniformed services,” Ambassador Cuisia said in saluting not only Filipino and American veterans of the Second World War but also those who have served in other military actions the Philippines was also involved in such as Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.

Ambassador Cuisia also paid tribute to Filipino-Americans serving in the US military, especially those currently serving in Afghanistan, as well as members of the US Special Forces who have served in Mindanao as part of the international war against terror.

“We also express our profound gratitude to those who have served and who continue to serve in the frontlines of the war against terror for without them, our world will not be a safer place,” the Filipino envoy said.

Ambassador Cuisia, at the same time, expressed hope that the US Government will soon act on the plight of more than 24,000 Filipino veterans who were earlier disqualified from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund program.

“With the elections over, we are hoping that the US Government would now be able to move the process forward,” Ambassador Cuisia said as he again thanked the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for the creation of an Interagency Working Group that would review the applications of the disqualified veterans.

Retired Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, head of the Office of Veterans Affairs at the Philippine Embassy, said the disqualification issue stemmed from the guidelines being implemented by the National Personnel Records Center, which certifies the services of Filipino veterans. Accordingly the guidelines require that the names of veteran-claimants appear in both the Roster of Troops and the Discharge List prepared by the US Army at the end of the Second World War.

“Unfortunately, the claims of a large number of Filipino veterans were not processed because their names appear only in one list or the other but not both,” General Lorenzana said. “What we are requesting the US government is for them to consider all available sources of records and not just the two lists.”

The disqualified veterans comprise 56 percent of the 43,083 surviving veterans who filed their claims under the compensation fund, which grants a one-time lump sum of  $15,000 for veterans who have become US citizens and $9,000 for those who retained their Philippine citizenship.

General Lorenzana said the US Government has so far released a total of $223.7 million to 18,698 Filipino veterans from the $265-million compensation fund that was part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Obama signed into law in 2009. ###