Filipino Vets Will Finally Get Their Due (Kind of)

It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that the Filipino vets who courageously fought the Japanese alongside their American comrades during World War Two will be given at least part of the benefits they were promised decades ago. The House of Representatives today passed the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2008 which will pay Filipino vets who are U.S. citizens a lump sum of $15,000 while non-citizens will receive $9,000. The legislation will likely head to a conference committee so that differences with a similar bill passed by the Senate last April can be settled. Under the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act, the Senate approved providing Filipino vets with pensions. 

Just a few month prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt ordered 250,000 Filipinos into military service. Upon the outbreak of war, the Filipinos soldiers proved their value in combat throughout the Pacific campaign and were crucial in a daring mission to rescue American PoWs (an event that was depicted in the film “The Great Raid”). Promises of the same benefits afforded other U.S. servicemen were rescinded soon after the war. Arguments then and now have held that the U.S. should not offer benefits to foreigners – even though the Phillipines had been an American commonwealth during the war.

Initial reaction among the 18,000 surviving Filipino vets has been tepid. While many are pleased that their service has been recognized, they find the compensation being offered unsatisfactory since it is well short of the full benefits they had been promised.  
 

 

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