Filipino war veterans’ fight for equity and benefits continues

The congressional gold medal is one of the highest awards to be given by the United States government.

While the Filipino WWII veterans and their families celebrate the awarding of the medal, their advocates say their work is not yet over.

About 250,000 Filipinos fought in WWII under the US flag and were promised all the benefits afforded to those serving in the Armed forces.

But in 1946, Congress stripped many Filipinos of the benefits that had been promised by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Of the 66 countries allied with the US during WWII, only Filipinos were denied benefits.

As part of the Veterans Equity Center, or VEC, of San Francisco, Attorney Lou Tancinco and Luisa Antonio have been advocates for the vets for decades.

“This is actually an issue of injustice. And it might be costly to the government to give them what is due, but we shouldn’t stop fighting,” said Tancinco.

In September, long-time Fil-Vets advocate Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California introduced “The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2017.”

“The difference between this bill and the other bill, is there is a provision for the secretary of veterans affairs to look at other documents other than the lists to give this group a better chance to get their benefits,” said Antonio.

The VEC also wants the Filipino WWII veterans parole program to continue. The parole program fastracks FilVets’ immigration petitions for family members in the Philippines.

“A lot of them are in their 90s. They are unable to take care of themselves and even their widows are unable to take of themselves, so what would be the best thing for them to do is to have family members take care of them.”

The city of San Francisco will also be honoring its Filipino veterans who could not make it to Washington DC with their own congressional gold medal awarding, as part of celebrating Filipino-American history month.

 

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