SPECIAL TO PHNO, OCTOBER 13, 2003  (For immediate release)  - San Francisco CA. Advocates for full veterans equity are looking forward to the meeting of US President George W. Bush and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on October 18, 2003. The anticipated meeting of two head of states is expected to be crucial to the fate of the passage of the Full Equity bill.

The historical injustice of the effects of the provision of the 1946 Rescission Act that stripped the Filipino veterans of their deserved recognition as US veterans for purposes of VA benefits remained unresolved for the last 57 years. The only way to correct this grave error is the enactment of the Equity Bill into law. This bill will reverse the effect the 1946 Rescission Act and will finally recognize the Filipino WWII veterans as US veterans again for purposes of US veterans benefits. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (CA-50) is the author and sponsor of HR 677 of the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill of 2003. According to Rep. Cunningham, “Our lives would be much less had they not made sacrifices to protect our future from tyranny” addressing the Filipino veterans in a press statement released recently to the National Network for Veterans Equity. He stated that he is proud of HR677 because it will honor our comrades in arms and because it will provide them with benefits they so richly deserve. The equity bill or HR677 is currently pending with the US 108th Congress .

While the advocacy for full equity and recognition had been ongoing for several years now the US Congresshave passed into law veterans benefits improvement acts that limit benefits to certain Filipino veterans. Unlike the equity bill, most benefit improvement bills do not work in favor of all Filipino veterans even if all these Filipino veterans equally risks their lives for freedom and democracy.

Realizing the adverse impact of the benefit improvement bills in 108th US Congress, the Office of Veterans Affairs, headed by Jesus “Terry” Adevoso branded these bills as “new discrimination or oppression” aimed at Filipino veterans. In his official capacity as head of the Veterans Affairs Office he urged Filipino Americans to strongly bring their message of concern about this new discrimination to their respective legislators.”

On August 27, 2003, the office of the President of the Philippines released its full support for “full equity” for the Filipino veterans. President Arroyo in her released statement vows to place the resolution of the matter regarding full equity at the top of the agenda when he speaks with President Bush on October 18, 2003. President Arroyo states that she “consider it an honor as a daughter of a WWII veterans myself to serve the cause of the Filipino veterans who gave their lives for the country, a model for the young Filipino soliders to emulate.”

All Filipino WWII veterans, their advocates and those who believe in equality and justice are looking forward to the October 18, 2003 Bush-Arroyo meeting with the hope that the full equity be the centerpiece of discussion on the veterans issue rather than benefits improvement bills. This optimistic anticipation of a fruitful meeting is supported by a clear and explicit statement by President Arroyo that she will definitely push for full equity for ALL Filipino veterans.

There are currently 8,000 Filipino veterans residing in the United States and 21,000 residing in the Philippines. In a statistics compiled by the USAFFE Veterans of the Philippines there were approximately over 80,000 Filipino veterans casualties and an estimated $860 million estimated physical losses.

Contact: Lourdes Santos Tancinco. Esq. National Network for Veterans Equity 415.397.0808

Luisa M. Antonio San Francisco Veterans Equity Center 415.255.2347

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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