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06/05/2013: On 71st Anniversary of Fall of Corregidor, PH Embassy Asks White House, US Army to Recognize Filipino Vets

6 May 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy on Monday urged the White House and the United States Army to listen to the appeal of close to 25,000 ageing Filipino veterans who have been denied recognition for their service during World War II.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. made the appeal on behalf of the 24,385 Filipino veterans in a statement on Monday, the 71st anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor—the island-fortress guarding Manila Bay where Filipino and American troops made a final stand against invading Japanese forces.

“More than anything else, let us not forget those Filipino soldiers who fought under the US flag, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with their American comrades and who up to this day continue to fight for the recognition and benefits due them for their service to America,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

According to Ambassador Cuisia, those denied recognition comprise 56 percent of the 43,083 surviving veterans who filed claims under the Filipino Veterans Compensation Fund approved by President Barack Obama in 2009.

The Fund, which was part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 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.

“Today, I call upon the US Army and the White House to honor our World War II veterans by according them due recognition by revisiting the certification process with the end in view of including other sources of records, Ambassador Cuisia said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, head of the Embassy’s Office of Veterans Affairs, said the recognition issue stemmed from the implementing guidelines issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011 requiring veterans to present certification from the National Personnel Records Center that their names appear in both the Roster of Troops and the Discharge List prepared by the US Army at the end of the war.

“The claims of many of our veterans were disapproved because their names appear only in one list or the other but not both,” General Lorenzana explained. “What the Embassy would like the US government to do is to allow the submission of other official documents and not decide the fate of our veterans based solely on the two lists.”

General Lorenzana lamented that an interagency working group created by the White House last year to review the certification process still has not been able to resolve the issue.  He 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. ###