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Schatz introduces bill to recognize, remunerate Filipino WWII vets

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 02:26 p.m. HST, Apr 09, 2013

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz today introduced legislation that would restore full veteran’s benefits to Filipinos who were drafted into the U.S. armed forces and served during World War II with allied soldiers.

During World War II, about 250,000 Filipinos volunteered to fight alongside U.S. troops.

The Filipino soldiers were promised all the benefits afforded to those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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

Over the years members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation have sought to restore the promised benefits.

Schatz’s bill, cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, is the latest effort.

“Filipino veterans who fought in World War II are American veterans and deserve to be treated fairly,” Schatz said in a written statement. “These veterans and their families have waited for decades to receive the compensation that they deserve, and it is unacceptable for our country to deny them these benefits for their service. I call on my colleagues in Congress to join me in moving swiftly to pass this legislation so that we can finally fulfill the promise of equal rights for thousands of veterans across the country, and fully honor the men and women who served our country so bravely in a time of war.”

The bill eliminates the distinction between the Regular or "Old" Philippine Scouts and the other three groups of veterans — Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerrilla Forces and New Philippine Scouts. Widows and children of Filipino veterans would be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation just like any other veteran. 

A companion measure was offered in the House by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo).

Last month, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Hirono introduced bills that would reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their families.

Only about 6,000 of the 200,000 Filipino World War II veterans who served are alive, Hanabusa said.

Hirono and Hanabusa's bill would exempt the veterans' adult children, many of whom have been on immigration waiting lists for decades, from limits on immigrant visas into the United States.

In 1990, Congress provided those veterans a waiver from certain naturalization requirements, and many became U.S. citizens. However, allowances were not made for their children.

Hanabusa also introduced legislation to award the Filipino veterans with a Congressional Gold Medal to recognize their service.

In 1946, Congress passed the Rescission Act, which authorized a $200 million appropriation to the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines on a condition that service in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines should not be deemed to have been service in the active military or air service of the United States.

It would take Congress more than four decades to acknowledge that the Filipino World War II veterans served in the U.S. armed forces. The Immigration Act of 1990 included a provision that offered them the opportunity to obtain U.S. citizenship. And 19 years later the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a provision that authorized the payment of benefits to the 30,000 surviving Filipino veterans in the amount of $15,000 for those who are citizens and $9,000 for those who are noncitizens.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
His lack of focus on real priorities is matched only by his poor taste in fashion and stock photographs. Come on, Brian, besides National Parks and pandering to the Filipino vote surely there musty be something worth working on.....Jones Act?.....COFA reimbursements?.....Health care costs?.....something?
on April 9,2013 | 12:06PM
allie wrote:
true..this is a bad bill. Filionos should get their money from their own govt. Why charge the USA for defending their own country from the Japanese invader?
on April 9,2013 | 12:10PM
Sat wrote:
Can't disagree with the sentiments expressed above. Just examples of the quality of our legislators representing us in Washington. They have only their own limited provincial experience to draw from which is the typical pandering to voters they have always been accustomed to doing. They are not in any way what we can call "world class" legislators.
on April 9,2013 | 12:47PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The Philippines was a colony of the U.S., not exactly "their own country". When it did become their own country in 1946, The Philippines Independence, from the U.S., the U.S. must have thought....... that was enough, the Filipino's were paid back.
on April 9,2013 | 12:49PM
jerryvets210 wrote:
@ Allie. Filipino are Americans when they got naturalized in 1992. But even during the war, they were American nationals. The government that they serve is the US. They reported to the President Roosevelt who was the Commander-in-Chief and reported directly to General Macarthur-- an American general. During the war, there were only two flags and two nations: Japan and the US. I advise you review your history.
on April 9,2013 | 10:01PM
usahwn wrote:
Good job maintaining Inouye's federal spending for Hawaii
on April 9,2013 | 12:56PM
serious wrote:
Our senior Senator, just like our former, Uncle Dan, doesn't care about the people of Hawaii who have the highest cost of living in the USA because of the Jones Act, he wants the Union votes to be elected--the people whom he represents -- he walks on them. It's all Democratic politics folks.
on April 9,2013 | 12:59PM
ninilchikman wrote:
This is correct. A container from China to LA costs $1825. A 40 foot container from LA to Hawaii on Matson or Horizon costs $4800 .. Just repealing the Jones Act would be the largest "tax" refund the people of Hawaii could ever get. The dockworkers would not be affected by this only the Shipping companies and their "few" actual employees on the ship. Matson and Horizon know this and give large $$ to the Senators and Congresspeople. The people who were supposed to benefit, "the union shipbuilders" are not even located in Hawaii but both our delegation and the Alaska delegation support the Jones act and those are the two states who would benefit most. It shows how much these companies have to give to keep this law going.
on April 9,2013 | 02:02PM
AhiPoke wrote:
Amazing. The beat goes on even as our country moves closer to bankruptcy, politicians continue to spend money. Why? Because that's the way the game is played. Politicians get elected then re-elected by promises to spend money. There are no incentives for reducing cost or, heaven forbid, saving money.
on April 9,2013 | 01:23PM
AhiPoke wrote:
BTW, I think it's a shame that the US government reneged on a promise but that was more than 65 years ago. Too late.
on April 9,2013 | 02:00PM
mcc wrote:
Is that like the US stole Hawaii in the 1800's, so now why should we give the Hawaiian's the land we stole, too late.
on April 9,2013 | 02:16PM
allie wrote:
nothing was stolen hon
on April 9,2013 | 03:03PM
hanalei395 wrote:
To avoid the terms "stole" and "steal", it was called America's "Manifest Destiny", which meant... after North America and the Caribean.... Hawai'i and the Philippines...now belongs to the white man.
on April 9,2013 | 05:55PM
jerryvets210 wrote:
@ AhiPoke. The bill if approved would only entail less than 1% of the DVA budget. It is not retroactive despite the fact that US denied these veterans full benefits for the last 67 years! The bill does not intend to pay full retroactive amount of all previous years, only for the balance of their lifetime. This means only 12-24 months! It is long overdue, small, and late. These vets have done great sacrifice so that you and I can live today in peace and harmony.
on April 9,2013 | 09:53PM
atilter wrote:
a small solid step in the road for our young politico shows compassion, empathy, and forward thinking
on April 9,2013 | 02:00PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Compassion and empathy maybe but forward thinking; only if he's going after the Filipino vote.
on April 9,2013 | 03:34PM
Ronin006 wrote:
This is a pile of bull dung. Filipinos were not drafted into the US armed forces. They were drafted into the Philippine Constabulary to defend their homeland from Japanese invaders. The Philippine Constabulary was under US military control, but the Filipinos were not actually members of the US armed forces. Why should Filipinos be entitled to the same benefits extended to American WW II veterans? Schatz is trying to rewrite history for political gain. I served on active duty for 35 years and was promised free medical care for me and my dependents for life. That did not happen. I have to pay dearly every month to get the promised free medical care. Why should Filipinos who fought to defend their own country get more benefits than I get?
on April 9,2013 | 04:54PM
jerryvets210 wrote:
Where is your sense of history? President Roosevelt as Commander-in-Chief commissioned the Filipinos as part of the USAFFE under direct command by General Macarthur.Don't you understand? They fought side by side with American soldiers in defending the Philippines--an American territory. They do not want special and extra treatment, just the same treatment like all the 65 Allied nationalities who served the US. Don't you understand? Under the DVA handbook, you simply serve 90 days during WW II and you can get benefits. These Filipinos served for 4 years. And they were deprived of full benefits for the last 67 years. Why?
on April 9,2013 | 09:48PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Where is your sense of history? There is no question about the Philippine military units being under US command in defense of their homeland, but the soldiers were not actually members of the US armed forces. Don't you understand? And where did you get the information that the US is paying benefits to the "65 Allied nationalities who served the US." Utter nonsense.
on April 9,2013 | 10:53PM
jerryvets210 wrote:
It's really apparent that you are not well educated. 250,000 Filipinos were COMMISSIONED to be under the United Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). The Philippines was part of the Commonwealth of the United States of America before and during the war. The Philippines was an American soil and Filipinos were American soldiers. Because you don't enjoy GI benefits, you may have not enjoyed the right to go school. But scholarships may still be available though.
on April 10,2013 | 04:18AM
false wrote:
Another reason why Hanabusa should challenge Schatz in 2014. She's had some baggage before going to D.C. but at least she's intelligent and savvy enough to help Hawaii where its most needed, that being jobs, not national parks. She should win easily over our senior senator.
on April 9,2013 | 05:03PM
willman wrote:
Is this the best that this guy can do? Looks like he is fishing for votes.
on April 9,2013 | 07:44PM
jerryvets210 wrote:
@Maneki, allie, Sat, and hanalei395: I salute Senator Schatz for continuing the legacy of the late Senator Inouye and Akaka of recognizing the gallantry of our veterans! This is a top national priority. The US Congress has started this bill since 1991 and we cannot properly close the issue until they are properly recognized. Benefits come too late too small, still they need to be compensated but not retroactively as stated in the bill. Filipinos are American nationals before and during the war. In 1992, they became naturalized. They defended an American territory and thus deserve to be treated as Americans! French and British forces are treated as American veterans, why not accord the same treatment to the brown Americans? WW II was a moral war and the US won! The least we can do is recognize those who serve! I honor all American veterans of all wars. Filipinos are my brothers.
on April 9,2013 | 09:40PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Hogwash. French and British forces were not and are not treated as American veterans and do not receive veteran benefits.
on April 9,2013 | 11:08PM
jerryvets210 wrote:
There you go...you want to mask your ignorance with arrogance...Try to look at the DVA list of recipients and you will be surprised that it is categorized as US and Rest of the World....Outside of the French and British are other Allied nationalities who benefited when GI bill was enacted back in 1944. Most Europeans were not even American nationals, but they were treated as American veterans anyways....It's time that US Congress rectified its own mistake.
on April 10,2013 | 04:13AM
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