By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North American Bureau
May 27, 2014
LOS ANGELES – Filipino World War II veterans got a special visit over the Memorial Day weekend from a former military man and president.
Former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos visited Filipino veterans in Los Angeles.
“This is generational, this is not 6 years, the term of a president. It’s 25 years, you and your children after you, 50 years maybe. That’s what it takes to resolve. The Korean War, no, they’re still fighting on the 38th parallel. Have they resolved the Middle East? No. Palestine and Israel are still fighting. Syria. And you young people better learn to make peace by fighting for freedom, human rights, the rule of law,” Ramos said.
The former commander-in-chief and US military academy alumni wanted to check on the welfare of Filipino WWII veterals
After his keynote address, he had a Q&A with the veterans, who asked him about denied lump sums in the US and problems with Philippine pensions.
“I have not received any single cent as being a veteran… Masakit, parang lumaban ako sa guerra pero eto talaga masakit na sagot nila,” Marcelino Gawat, a Filipino veteran who was denied lump sum benefits, said.
Ramos blamed some of the lack of funding for Filipino veterans in the Philippines on the ongoing pork barrel scam.
“Yung pera magagaling sa budget. Marami eto na sayang ng pera dahil napunta sa pork barrel,” he said.
Ramos said Filipino veterans’ problems caused by the pork barrel scandal is far more severe than the problems in the US.
His meeting with veterans comes as the US Veterans Affairs is embroiled in controversy over inefficiency in serving veterans. Ramos addressed that issue as well.
“Magulo it’s like the investigation of veterans’ administration here pero dito maliit lang na pera na involved kasi 40 patients lang sa Pheonix. Dun sa atin, namatay, hindi na mababawi yan but they must provide better service. Pero yun sa atin sa Pilipinas we talk about maybe P30 billion worth of budgeted program money which went to the pockets of some people that must go to jail instead of going to the beneficiaries like the veterans,” Ramos said.
Ramos encouraged veterans and their advocates to continue lobbying for the causes of US based Filipino WWII veterans, including the Medical Portability Act that would allow US medical recipients to use their government-subsidized health benefits in the Philippines.
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