BALITANG BETERANO: THE JOB OF THE HEAD OF OFFICE OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

NEVADA, USA, September 29, 2003  By Col (Ret) Frank B. Quesada USA  - Of late, there has been confusion at the Embassy as to what is the specific job assigned to the Presidential Special Assistant, as Head of the Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA).

I feel that I should shed light on this matter, having privy to the creation of the OVA, which badly needed in establishing a respectable official lobby for the interest of the Filipino-American World War II veterans, who were ex-US Army servicemen conscripted by Pres. F. Roosevelt in 1941 to fight American’s war against Japan.

In my career as Senate Committee Secretary – I have seen the necessity of an office to specifically protect the interest and welfare of my comrades who have been the object of racial and economic discrimination by the U.S government,

I have worked with many RP Ambassadors in fighting for the rights and privilege of my comrades in World War II (i.e., Ambs: Elizalde, C.P. Romulo, S.P. Lopez and many others) since 1947 who stood courageously against the US racial and economic discrimination.

This recognition, however, could not be said the same to the preset diplomatic representation in Washington D.C. today which does not hold a candle to them with fortitude that deserved US respect and acknowledgement by US officials .May be because of politics, which spawned non-career diplomats to to be thrown to the delicate position of diplomacy, Such job requires utmost in-depth selection, not resulting to dilettantish and chance,

The old and former career diplomats have satisfactorily ( in my observation though my work with them) secured as much, although not full compensation and benefits for my comrades, with the exception of what the US denied paying, especially under the cruel hoax perpetuated by the infamous 79th Congress that stripped all benefits from us, veterans under the invidious Rescission Act of 1946.

Ambassadors come and go, and the fight for rightful compensation and wartime-earned benefits had been left to veterans by political administration that have neglected the welfare of veterans. The problem had come to a situation that t veterans have used their own resources in lobbying for their wartime-earned compensation.

I have worked with US veterans associations and spent my own personal resources since 1947. And so with many other veterans who took the initiative to join the fight for justice and fairness – that the US government so carelessly ignored. It should not have been that way if our own politicians cared for us veterans with compassion.

It was only during the time when Cory Aquino was elected president when the veterans was able to place an item in the Constitution that the nation owed us veterans much, and requires full respect. attention,. and assistance..

The Philippines is perhaps the only country n the world whose Constitution mandates all administration to take care of the nation’s war veterans.

I have seen for myself how Col. Emmanuel de Ocampo, President of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, and some of us in successfully persuading Pres. Aquino to allow us to include in the Constitution a provision protecting the veterans and their compulsory heirs.

Under the continued US maltreatment of Fil-Am have reached the point and time when the original 200,000 Filipino-American nationals conscripted by Pres. F. Roosevelt in 1941 have been dwindling by the thousands from disease and want. And even until now when the veteran survivors are only less than 30,000 – mistreated by the US without full equity compensation.

This is indeed a black mark in the history of the US shameless mistreatment of its own war veterans that put their lives in Harm’s Way and then trashed like garbage.

And this has also been marked by lack of Philippine aggressive representation in the US for and in behalf of the war veterans of WW-II.

The total accumulated obligation of the US to the Filipino-American WW-II veterans was admitted by the USVA at $3.2 billion dollars at the end of World War II.

While there has been some successful collection by the Philippine government representing the veterans, there appears a token settlement of varied benefits, But the US government have heartlessly devised an artifice to retard the settlement of its obligation under a step-by-step and/or piece-meal basis which has been the cause of death of thousands of (veterans) claimants for unpaid benefits entitled to them lie any member of the US Armed forces.

Through the years, the US government have been short-changing and deceiving veterans through deliberate means as a means to avoid payment of its constitutional debt to the Fil-Am veterans.

As a matter of fact, until today the US government in reaction to the worldwide criticism of other countries and by the World Veterans Federation (WVF) established ia heartless policy against veterans which resulted to partial grants of benefits but still on a piece-meal (step-by-step basis) on a retarded schedule program to grant health care services and facilities limited only to service-connected disabilities of veterans.

This has been denounced by Brig. General Ret.) Carlos P. Romulo in his speech at the U.S. House of Representatives in May of 1946, describing such maltreatment by the US government as anti-veteran and un-American, if not inhuman. It shook the conscience of the American people.

Such courage of a career diplomat. Regretfully - has not been seen today. What I see today is a meek and frightful posture of political diplomats dreadful and timid performance in asserting our veteran’s rights before a whiteman.

In my over 40 years of veteranism work, if have yet to see such qualities of former diplomats like Amb: Elizalde, Romulo, Lopez and a few others who stood eye to eye sans any reservations in defending the demand of the Filipino-American war veterans.

Thus, we, veterans urged for the establishment of the Office of Veterans Affairs ( OVA) specifically to undertake the following official lobby work for and in behalf of war veterans. And releave the job of lobbying from the ambassador, albeit not completely. The ambassador can not micro-manage the official job of lobbying by the OVA head and his office.

Let there be no mistake abut this! !The job of the Special Presidential Representative, and Head of the Office of Veterans Affairs promulgated by the President of the Philippines - are as follows:

(1) To pursue settlement off veterans claims and benefits and the restoration of the rights, benefits and privileges of Filipino World War II veterans provided for in the U.S. Veterans Benefits Code as members of the U.s. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE)..

(2) To co duct negotiations and representations with the authorities of the Legislative and Executive branches of the US government and initiate a campaign in the US to enlist support of both the public and the private sectors for the cause of the Filipino veterans of World War II.

(3) To coordinate with Filipino veterans groups in the US so that all efforts in support of Filipino veterans claims may be marshaled toward one specific objective.

(4) To secure, authenticate and reproduce records and documents essential and vital to the accomplishment of your (the OVA task) task; initiate the preparation of such publications, communications and position papers as any necessary in the prosecution of the Filipino veterans claims; conduct an information campaign through radio. television, and publication; and hold conferences with U.S. government officials and leaders of American veterans organizations in order to enlist their support for the settlement of Filipino veterans claims through appropriate legislation or executive issuances, as the case may be.

(5) To submit progress reports, from time to time to the President of the Philippines through the Secretary of National Defense.

Fidel V. Ramos

Sgd: President of the Philippines

13 April 1993

(end of text)

The initial OVA head was Brig. General (Ret) Tagumpay Nanadiego, followed by Lt.(Ret.)Gen. Raul Urgello, and now Mr. Jesus" Jerry” Adevoso, organizer and head of the Hunters Guerilla Sons and Daughters, Inc.

I am publishing this presidential directive in order for all veterans commanders of Fil-Am vet organizations, the Filipino community, not to leave out Fil-Am organizations to recognize and respect the official lobby work assigned to the Office of Veterans Affairs, now headed by Mr. Jerry Adevoso.

I enjoin those self-appointed organizations (i.e., so-called coalitions and federations) using the veterans cause as their “whipping boy” for their private ends and private schemes to respect and work with Mr. Adevoso for the sake of unity, and success of achieving full equity settlement of veterans claims and benefits, sans any confusion and mishaps.

There has been so much dysfunction because of the selfish and undisciplined schemes of those outside the loop of official lobby by the OVA.

I also urge those organizations bypassing then OVA, and using the ambassador as their prop and artifice to gain publicity for their personal fame at the expense of the veterans. Such perfidious practices jeopardize the official lobby authorized by the President of the Philippines, at thee behest of the Fil-Am WW-II veterans.

frankquesada_1@juno.com


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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