BALITANG BETERANO:  PARTIAL U.S. SETTLEMENT OF VETERAN'S BENEFITS

MANILA, 
May 28, 2004  (STAR) By Col.(Ret.) Frank B. Quesada, Former Senate Committee Secretary Veterans and Military Pension, Associate, PMA ‘44  -  This column provides the precise and correct reply to the doubting Thomases
(those who have spoke out of turn without concrete evidence, accusing some officials of the Philippine Veterans Bank) regarding :disposition of the U.S. partial settlement of claims of recognized Fil-Am veterans whose names appear in the Revised Final Roster of guerrillas by the U.S. Army in 1948, in the Dept. of the U.S. Army

This information will also provide facts and proofs that we, in the continuing struggle for justice and fairness for veterans – had the guts to face up with those in the US government and against troublemakers giving aid and comfort to those in government who retard settlement through piecemeal payment of the veteran’s benefits, so the government can save and keep the money already earned and owned by veterans.

The objectionable piecemeal artifice espoused by the executive director of the ACFV, betrays the honest crusade for full equity payment of the preponderant veterans majority (29,400 survivors and the Fil-Am community today) are fighting for equity payment. Rep. B.. Filner and former Rep. B. Gilman exposed this to the media and the public to help stop such irregularity.

In the first place the said character of the ACFV and its affiliates in the Naffaa - do not have the legal standing to represent and or speak for all the preponderant veterans majority, and do not have any written sanction of the preponderant majority under the banner of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, chartered under Rep. Act 2640 as the sole umbrella organization of all Fil-Am WW-II veterans.

Those local self-appointed pretenders usurping the vested right and interest of bona-fide veterans are using the veterans as their “whipping boys” for their selfish ends and cheap publicity but have injured the honest official lobby of WW-II veterans.

We, veterans diligently work hard with dedicated and knowlegeable career diplomats like Am:. Elizalde, C.P. Romulo, S.P. Lopez, etc., and veterans-cause oriented officials have secured as much benefits from the US government through skilled ability to inter-face with American legislators without fear of the white-man’s burden and arrogance. Unfortunately, we do not see and find that courage today from our diplomats.

Ambassador, BGen (Ret.) Carlos P. Romulo earlier set aside diplomacy, and took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in May 1946 - to denounce the cruel hoax perpetuated by segregationists in Congress who denied Fil-Am WW-II veterans their rightful compensation and benefits, as blood money earned in war under the perfidious Rescission Act of 1946.

This is an example of the correct manner in securing results expected by the Fil-Am WW-II veterans in their demand for justice and fairness, backed up by the will of decent American people.

Albeit, this brave act cannot be expected from the present monk ambassador, inutile in protecting the interests of war veterans, in which he was sworn to undertake under the Constitution and oath of office.

Romulo’s calibre served as an example to the present subsequent set of diplomats to emulate, and follow the example set by ambassador (BGen,) Carlos P. Romulo and the other proficient career diplomats. Romulo – albeit, was a WW-II veterans himself who saw the face of the enemy in WW-II along ourselves.

Philippine officials tasked to follow-up the Fil-Am WW-II veterans claims here in the US, simply must consult the legitimate veterans leadership ( the preponderant veterans majority) for guidance to make right and remove errors of judgments in dealing with the lobby problems.

Bogus self-anointed advocates in the private sector along with the local gullible press have beguiled the embassy through make-belief press releases. We, veterans reprove any bad handling of their case, especially those who are not W-II veterans, and are misguided by unauthorized and incompetent advocates posing as impostors seeking fame for themselves...

Veterans condemn them as traitors against our comrades who are residing in the Philippines and who were unable to secure U.S. citizenship because bum advocates are false to a trust. They have used dull-witted obtuseness of perception of government officials for their scam, and schemes which have injured the honest lobby of bona-fide veterans

Sadly, what have now are a few novices and non-career diplomats who are a far cry from former career ones adept in inter-governmental negotiations. Case in point, the last two controversial bills in congress (S-1213 and HR-2357 which contained patent discriminatory provisions excluding bona-fide veterans residing in the Philippines and who were unable to secure U.S. citizens were incompetently left behind by the embassy that failed to vigorously reject those bills that excluded our comrades in the Philippines. Along with unauthorized bogus (kababayans) perfidious advocates who collaborated with the villains in congress that treated Fil-Am veterans as “second class” U.S. ex-servicemen

Our public officials were sworn to office protect the Constitution and the veterans. (See the Cory constitution.) Therefore, the approach of OVA Head, Jerry Adevoso, Presidential Special Representative appointed by Pres. G.M. Arroyo, now promoted to Presidential Assistant on Veterans Affairs – is correct and accurate in his careful analysis, in his critique in pointing out the patent discriminating provisions in both bad bills (S1213 and HR-2357), dangling under the noses of officials, apparently being misled through the nose by a bum advocates with a shady track record, of supposed a son of a veteran, who uses an alias (not his father’s surname) dishonoring his father reportedly to hide his unsavory credit record. He was the same fellow who was threatened by a Los Angeles lawyer to face libel charges in the Superior Court. Therefore, moved to Washington.

Had it not been for the strong collective objection and protest by the chapter commanders of then different veterans organizations under the wing of the ad hoc National Advisory Council of Fil-Am WW-II Veterans U.S.A., the Veterans Federation of the Philippines and the Sons and Daughters, Inc., who lodged their loud complaint to the sponsors of the bad bills – could have passed into law,, and once more could have marginalized veterans in RP. If those bills passed into and were carried by Pres. Bushinnhi State visit to Pres. G.M. Arroyo as a gift to FilAm veterans could have made Pres. Bush as a miserable wimp those controversial b bills excluded veteran residing in the Philippines.

Sen. Specter recognized and saw the flaw, and controversial portions in S-1213 and HR-2357 as pointed out by the veterans, therefore, set aside the two bad bills, espoused by an ACFV self-elected official. Specter instead pushed passage of S-1132. This boo-boo happens due to lack of conformity with facts and lack of savvy in veteranism by negligent officials exacerbated by interference of interlopers with un- savory track record,. under the devilish scheme of bum advocates seeking publicity at the expense of veterans.

Such similar U.S. cruel hoax – was loudly denounced by veterans like Gen. Romulo earlier. Thus, partial settlement by an embarrased Congress was effected then to appease the veterans who demanded rightful equity payment.

Here-under are the facts behind the disposition of the $21-million dollars paid by the US to Fil-Am veterans deposited in the Philippine Veterans Bank under a trust account for distribution to eligible veteran in the Philippines..

Disposition of paying eligible veterans was handled efficiently by Philippine Veterans Bank, under the supervision of the Central Bank of the Philippines. (See: PVB report to the Central Bank and the President of then Philippines.

Here, in this treatise, I speak as: (a) a former senate committee secretary, (b) as former vice president of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP), (c) as former Acting Asst. Board Secretary and Director of Public Relations of the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) (d) as the VFP representative to the U.S. The record is intact and open for public scrutiny.

Those who are with loose tongues and irresponsibly insulting their ignorance – had better shape up, or be hailed in court for libel by our legal panel.. Those who subsequently follow–up the demand of veterans in the US must have enough guts and who could tactfully interface correctly with, and/or against forces of segregation in congress who maltreat Fil-Am WW-II veterans. There is money in government that belongs to Fil-Am WW-II war veterans instead being with-held by powerful avid politicians for their pork barrels.

We, veterans will not settle for any less, or second-rate and/or deficient in fitness to squander what we veterans have already gained by way of our honest lobby. We will not allow ourselves to let us die - bare and naked of our rightful benefits earned in battle – simply because of extreme dullness and complacency and carelessness. of unproductive officials mandated to protect us, who are negligent. They better shape up, or return home. Veterans don’t need protégés who are dull and without courage. No guts – no glory , so to speak !

.The $31,120,000.00 (or the peso equivalent of PhP121,368,000.00) was deposited in the Philippine Veterans Bank, and lawfully disposed to bona-fide W-II veterans under close scrutiny of both U.S and Philippine governments.

U.S. payment was a result of careful negotiation by competent diplomats working closely with veterans. These U.S. payment of benefits to the Veterans Claims Settlement Fund (VCSF) was transferred from the U.S. government to the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) as the government depository thereof.

Such payment represents payment made by the U.S. government in settlement of certain claims of recognized Fil-Am World War II veterans whose names appear in the Revised Reconized Guerilla Roster (RRGR) of 1948, but were not paid, or were only partially paid their wages and allowances, and for reimbursement of several erroneous deductions (of three months) advance pay from the arrears –in-pay of former USAFFE soldiers, as well as recognized guerillas.

Such was a trust fund, which was kept, treated distinct and separate from the Bank’s own funds.

While such payment to lawful recipients were held pending identification, and location of said recipients – substantial portion of such trust fund was invested in government securities, and in high-grade, short-term commercial papers, subjected to strict audit .It is published for the general public’s information.

And the bulk of what was not immediately convertible that was in deposit in the Philippine National Bank (PNB), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). Claimants of such fund, incidentally, were, by the way, lawful stockholders of the Veteran’s Bank, as WW-II veterans mandated by law.

Individual claims under the Fund were processed and adjudicated by the Veterans Claim Settlement Staff (VCSS), an agency directly under the Department of National Defense (DND). Correspondent bank checks were drawn and mailed by the Veterans Bank’s Trust Department, usually within 72 hours from receipt of the corresponding payment orders from the VCSS.

Trust account, on the whole, amounted to a total of P121,146,190.06 as at the close of 1969, after a decrease of P12, 389,343,87 from the 1968 total of P133,535,533.93

Composed of 10 trust accounts, on the whole, the bulk consisted of the fund of the Philippine Veterans Administration (PVA) for claims under Republic Act 304 (P2,300,156.82) and the veterans Claims Settlement Fund (VCSF).

Of the original principal account pf the VCSF of P120,154,320.00 ($31 million, or P121,368,000.00) less one per cent for administrative expenses of the Veterans Claim Staff, or P1,213,680.00, as of the end of 1968, 12,126 checks aggregating to P3,043,478.84 had been remitted to respective beneficiaries, of which checks involving the amount of P290,464.86 had been returned unclaimed.

As of the year 1969, a total of 23,816 claims had been paid, involving a total amount of P14,720,052.56 leaving a balance of P105,434,267.44 from the original amount.

However, 3,511 bank checks were returned to the Bank because payees were not at their indicated addresses, or that the veteran-payees were already deceased. These returned checks, amounting to P845,462.99 as of the year 1969 were maintained separate trust savings amount by the Trust Department in the name of respective beneficiaries until these were claimed by the veteran-payees or their beneficiaries.

In 1970, a total of 14,818 claims were paid bringing a total number of claims to 38,634. This involved the amount of P26,631,129.84, leaving a balance on the original principal of P120,154,320.00 trust corpus of P93,523,190.16.

Retuned checks – undelivered to the payees for a number of reasons such as “party un-located,” “party already deceased,” etc., - amounted to P1,915,951.19 as of the end of 1970

The trust corpus of the Fund since its creation in July 7, 1967, or the period of two and a half years, had earned a total of P11,253,028.17 which was 50 per cent of the gross earnings of the invested funds of the Trust.

Of this earned income, P1,327,300.00 had been drawn and distributed to various hospitals throughout the country for medical and hospitalization requirements of needy veterans. A balance of P9,925,728.17 remained as of December 31, 1969.

Discussion: I invite anyone to examine the records of he Philippine Veterans Bank for their satisfaction before slandering any Bank official. The Veterans Bank is one of the most stable banks in the Philippines, and is a government depository duly audited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. (Central Bank of the Philippines). And by foreign bank correspondents.

.. The Philippine Veterans Bank is a unique bank because it is fully owned and operated by war-veterans and their compulsory heirs.( sons and daughters). It withstood the infamous plunder by the uninteresting Marcos conjugal dictatorship. And it survived and re-opened under Pres. Corry Aquino’s admininstration.

It is now one of the top banks in the country – serving the nation in war and in peace. So – the herein above are inconvertible facts which can stand close scrutiny and audit by inventory.

The legal panel of the preponderant veterans majority hereby serves notice to irresponsible “individuals, associations, coalitions and federations” ( and what have-you) unauthorized speaking for W-II veterans, and or misrepresenting veterans under bogus authority and without proper standing and/or tacit authority may find themselves facing court charges. So beware !

One association has already been declared by a U.S. Court as without proper standing, therefore was ordered to refrain from misrepresenting and speaking for veterans. Another bum advocate misrepresenting veterans was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to five years in prison.

So there – we veterans serve notice to present impostors and intruders as well as some gullible and irresponsible press, especially those already exposed and denounced by legislators who are destructive against the veterans lobby. We urge the public to report to us those misrepresenting and/or without tacit authority caught speaking for all Fil-Am WW-II veterans. Our legal panel will deal with them accordingly. #

frankquesada_1@juno.com


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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