LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul told cheering Filipino American World War II veterans and their supporters gathered here on Feb. 3 that he will support moves to give the veterans full recognition and benefits.
He spoke at a rally hosted by the Filipino American Veterans of Nevada and the California-based group Justice for Filipino American Veterans. Earlier, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman released a proclamation she signed last month declaring Feb. 3, 2012 as WWII Filipino Veterans Fairness Day.
Paul said that he will support HR 210, the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act, regardless of what office he holds. “I would be a strong advocate of HR 210 to make sure this fairness is correct and full benefits are given to soldiers that fought in WWII.”
He added that while he usually oppose acts that costs money, HR 210 is different. He said “It takes a whole lot for me to get strongly behind a piece of legislation that costs money. But I tell you what, when I looked into this bill, I knew that this was a proper function for spending money and I am a strong supporter of HR 210.”
Dr. Paul, an OB-GYN and former Air Force veteran flight surgeon, also talked about broken promises to WWII Filipino American veterans: “A lot of individuals served in WWII and other wars, but were never adequately thanked. I think what the Filipino soldiers suffered was a lot more than not getting tanked or recognized, they lost a lot of benefits and our government broke their promise. That needs to be rectified”.
The city of Las Vegas is home to approximately 100,000 Filipino Americans and the event was in support WWII FilAm veterans who were denied benefits thanks to 1946 Rescission Act of 1946 after serving the United States faithfully during that war.
The Congressman’s speech consisted of items that he has passionately advocated for decades; a non-interventionist foreign policy, limited government, reducing spending, the Constitution, uncloaking the secrecy of the Federal Reserve and the cause of liberty.
Mayor Goodman said the proclamation aims to make Vegans aware of the Filipino World War II veterans’ service to the United States. The proclamation “asks all citizens to honor the denied Filipino World War II veterans and the organizations working to have them recognized for their service to America.”
Mayor Goodman hailed the over 100,000 Filipino Americans who have contributed to the growth of Las Vegas and cited that it was “also the home of six World War II Filipino Veterans denied benefits.” Goodman’s proclamation boosted support for House Resolution 210 (HR 210) or the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011 currently pending in Congress.
HR 210, filed last January 6 by CA Rep. Jackie Spier, also directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take into account any relevant service documentation, including documentation other than the Missouri List or the list of all discharged and deceased veterans from the 20th century.
The groups are calling for Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to co-sponsor a Senate bill with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as a companion to a House measure that seeks to repeal of the 1946 Rescission Act. The act says Philippine guerrillas who served under U.S. commanders shall not be considered active military for purposes of benefits.
One of those who would benefit from amending the act is 100-year-old Silverio Cuaresma of Las Vegas.
Goodman commended Las Vegas organizations that have supported the veterans. These include the Filipino-American Veterans of Nevada-(FAVN), National Federation of Filipino American Associations-Nevada, Filipino-Americans in Power, the Asian American Group, the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Greater NV, OCA-LasVegas, and Bamboo Bridges.
Veterans have been requesting the US government to accept records from Filipinos who have authenticated proof from the Philippine government of their US military service. Some 24,000 Filipino veterans’ claims were turned down because their names were not on a roster used by the US government to determine who served in World War II.
While the Filipino WWII veterans had proof of US military service from the Philippine government, their names were not included in the National Records Center list also known as the Missouri List.
Some 60 years ago, US President Franklin Roosevelt promised military benefits to Filipinos who fought with the American military against the Japanese in World War II. In 1946, the US Congress passed the Rescission Act which stripped Filipinos of the benefits they were promised. Of veterans from the 66 countries allied with the US during the war, only Filipinos were denied military benefits.
In an attempt to give full equity to these Filipino war veterans, several bills have been filed in Congress. But it was only through the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2008, that the US government finally set aside $198 million for benefits of Filipino veterans.
Rally organizers want the Department of Veterans Affairs to grant each of these World War II veterans who are U.S. citizens a one-time, $15,000 benefit as promised under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Others still living in the Philippines could receive $9,000.
“We estimate 10 of these vets are dying every day,” said Ago Pedalizo, lobbyist for Justice for Filipino-American Veterans.
He said there are 41,000 who applied in 2009 for payment from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund, but the government has only allotted enough funds for 18,000.