BALITANG BETERANO: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
MANILA, November 11, 2004 (STAR) By Col (Ret) Frank B. Quesada, Former Senate Committee Secretary - Veterans and Military Pension, Associate, PMA’44 - There has been so much confusion over the provision of the infamous Rescission Act of 1946 otherwise known as First Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act of 1946. It is also known as Public Law 301-79th Congress, chapter 20-2D Session.
The confusion lies on the many bum interpretations and conjectures on the part of several government hired hacks and researchers who misrepresent the facts to show that the government had paid the Filipino World War II veterans through the Philippine Government the sum of $200-Million in exchange for a quit claim of all other compensation and benefits of Filipino World War II U.S. veterans. Well, there was NO quit claim at all on the part of the Philippine government in behalf of Filipino-American World War II veterans.
I have hard evidence that such yarn is not only untrue, but a barefaced lie. Such inaccuracies had been bandied around for a number of years, until the truth was discovered. Such bogus statement from government hired hacks was culled from proposed bill containing proposed transfer of appropriations, that was not yet approved into law. I am quoting herewith pertinent provisions proposed under the First Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act of 1946 which belie such bogus claim.
Hereunder, in that controversial claim by the US government, and I quote: "1.An Act Reducing Certain Appropriation and Contract Authorizing Available for the Fiscal Year 1946 and for Other Purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the U.S.A. in Congress assembled: That the appropriations and contractual authorizations of departments and agencies available in this Fiscal Year 1946, and the prior year un-reverted appropriations, are hereby reduced in the sums hereinafter set forth, such sums to be carried to the surplus fund and covered into the Treasury immediately upon the approval of this Act. 2. Transfer of Appropriations - In addition to the transfer, authorized by Section 3 of the Military appropriation Act, 1946, transfer of not to exceed the amounts hereinafter set forth may be made, with the approval of the Bureau of Budget, for the appropriation “Ordinance Service, Army” to the following appropriation:
x x x x x x.
Army of the Philippines, $200,000,000.00’ Provided. That service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. While such forces were in the service of the armed forces of the U.S. pursuant to the Military Order of the President of the U.S. dated July 26, 1941, SHALL NOT be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or naval forces of the U.S., or any components thereof for the purposes of any law of the U.S. conferring rights, privileges, or benefits upon any person by reason of the service of such person or the service of any other person in the military or naval forces of the U.S. or any component thereof, except benefits under - 1) the National Service Life Insurance Act of 1940; and amendment , under contracts theretofore entered into 2) laws administered by the Veterans Administration providing for the payment of pensions or account of service-connected disability or death; Provided, further, That such pensions shall be paid at the rate of one Philippine peso for each dollar authorized to be paid under laws providing for such pensions;
Provided, further, that any payments heretofore made under any such law or with respect to any number the military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines who served in the service of the armed forces of the U.S. shall not be deemed to be invalid by reason of the circumstances that his service was not service I the military or naval forces of the U.S. or any component thereof within them meaning of such law. SECTION 301. This Act may be cited as the First Supplemental Appropriation Rescission Act. 1946” Approved, February 18, 1946.
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Reproduction of the Rejection by the Philippine Government of the above offered legislation, in a speech in the U.S. House of Representatives in May 22, 1946, by the Resident High Commissioner of the Philippines in the United States, Brig. (Ret.) General Carlos P. Romulo.
I am a quoting hereunder the speech if Brig. General Carlos P. Romulo, as the resident High Commissioner of the Philippines the U.S. rejecting acceptance of the First Supplemental Appropriation, Rescission Act, 1946, to wit:
“Mr. Speaker, there was introduced on the floor of this House yesterday a bill, want to thank you, Rep. Rankin, for sponsoring HR-6508, to restore to veterans of the Armed Forces of the Philippines certain benefits of veteran’s legislation previously passed by Congress in favor of the Armed Forces of the U.S. I should like to express once more to the President of the U.S. the appreciation of the Government of the Philippines for his directive of February 20, 1946 which is basis for the proposed legislation . This is the message of that date, delivered in conjunction with the signing of the First Supplementary Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act of 1946. He directed the Secretary of War, the Administrator of Veterans Affair, and the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines to prepare a plan which would overcome the injustice to Filipino veterans which resulted from the passage of that Act. In his message, the President said: The passage and approval of this legislation do not release the U.S. from the moral obligation to provide for the heroic Philippine veterans who sacrificed so much for the common cause during the war. In the name of justice to Filipino veterans, I wish to call your attention to certain features of the Rankin bill introduced yesterday which, although most laudable in its objectives, in its present form, however, fails regrettably short of the goal set by the President. The First Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act of 1946, at one stroke of a pen stripped the veterans of the Army of the Philippines of almost all rights in which they have been entitled under the veterans legislation of the U.S.. all but two of the benefits o which Filipino veterans had theretofore been entitled were summarily taken away by that Act. Two remaining were:
First, the National Service Life Insurance under the Act of 1940; and Second, pensions for service connected disability and death, which are to be paid, however, on the basis of pesos instead of dollars, thus cutting in half the benefits to which they were otherwise entitled. This Rescission Act deprives Filipino veterans if veterans benefits with a proviso that $200,000,000 be appropriated to the Army of the Philippines. These $200,000,000 which were purportedly in lien of benefits of which Filipino veterans were thus deprived, are actually, not sufficient to cover the back-pay entitled by these veterans. The Philippine government has chosen NOT to accept the appropriation! ( emphasis supplied ) So patent was the injustice and discrimination against Filipino veterans in the Rescission Act that the President of the U.S. registered a protest. He called upon the Secretary of War, the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, and the US High Commissioner to the Philippines to prepare a program which would rectify the injustice done sand confirm more closely with the spirit of brotherhood and equality in which American and Filipino soldiers fought and died together in the war against Japan. The bill which was introduced yesterday proposes to restore certain of the benefits of which Filipino veterans were deprived by the passage of the Rescission Act.
First, hospitalization and medical care for service connected disability; Second. and funeral allowances Third, pensions for service connected disability and death which are still to be paid, however, on the basis of pesos instead of dollars. The members you will note, Mr. Speaker, that the third benefit provided by the proposed bill, namely, pensions for service-connected disability and death is identical with the provision of the First Supplementary Appropriation Act of 1946, and thus – is not new. Filipino veterans, Mr. Speaker, when they took back upon their experiences as members of the U.S. Armed Forces, although the hardship and misery of war, find it hard indeed to understand the proposal to congress to deprive them of these very benefits which was conferred upon them by congress and which are still enjoyed by American comrades-in-arms at whose side they fought, Let me make it very clear that the Filipino veteran has never requested, and does not request any special benefit or, (just what the US exactly owed the veterans no more, no less) Filipino soldiers flocked to the colors by the thousands, in answer to the proclamation of the President of the U.S. long before veterans legislation had be proposed on the floor of the House. They did not go to war for the sake of advantage they might enjoy as veterans, however, were profoundly disappointed at the suggestion that they should be cut off at this late date from benefits which /congress granted them during the war. This is injustice! This is discrimination. It is anti-American !( emphasis supplied )
The Filipino veterans, their families, and their government cannot believe that this is the treatment which the people of the U.S. will accord to the Filipino veterans who so valiantly withstood the brutal onslaught by the Japanese. They know America too well to think that this is the American attitude Filipino soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines served in the Armed Forces of the U.S. As such, they were entitled to the benefits conferred by legislation upon veterans of the armed forces of this country. I need to remind you, I know that under the Independence Act of 1934, the U.S. government specially reserved the right to call into the service of the Armed Forces of the U.S. recognized by Philippine Government until the Philippines should finally become independent.
Pursuant to that provision the President can call into the forces of the U.S. for the period of the existing emergency, all organized military and naval forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the U.S., on July 26, 1941 issued am military order in which he called and ordered into the service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which were laced under the command of the appropriate Army and Navy theatre commanders. From that day forward, he Army of the Philippines was an integral part of the Armed Forces of the U.S. Veterans who served in that Army were forthwith included within the terms of legislation passed by congress providing benefits for nay person who served in the active military or naval service of the U.S. Filipino veterans, therefore, were included within the benefits provided for veterans by numerous acts of Congress. Under the Service Re-Adjustment Act of 1944, the GI Bill of Rights, they were entitled to vocational rehabilitation, to education and training, to loans for the purchase for reconstruction of houses, and for other purposes, and to employment, readjustment allowances. Under Mustering Act of 1944, they were entitled to receive mustering out pay under conditions specified in that Act. Under the National Service Life Insurance Act (NSLI) of 1940, they were entitled to hospital an domiciliary care, artificial limbs and appliance, and other medical attention. Other benefits were provided by various other laws. but those cited above will suffice as examples. The legislation proposed to Congress exclude Filipino veterans would exclude Filipino veterans from health benefits under above legislation in all but four cases. It would exclude them from all benefits of the BI Bill of Rights, which in the Philippines, as in the US... convinced the veterans that his sacrifices was recognized and that civilian life would really hold out something for him upon return from military service. It would exclude him from benefits of the Mustering Out Payment Act of 1944.
Those are benefits to which the Filipino veterans are entitled while he was fighting a common cause. Is he to be told now that he is no longer entitled to them. although the status of his comrades from the American mainland has undergone no change? The wounded Filipino veteran, Mr. Speaker, is as concerned about how he will earn his livelihood for his family as is wounded veteran in this country. He is just as much in need of vocational rehabilitation which modern science is now in a position to give him, as his former comrades who is now recuperating in the continental U.S. The physically able veteran in the Philippines is as eager to continue his un-interrupted education as his American comrade-in-arms. He has no less willing to interrupt his studies to fight the common enemy. The prejudice which he suffered is no less severe. The problem of adjustment from military to civilian life in the Philippines present problems no less troublesome to the Filipino veteran than the veteran in then U.S. mainland. Perhaps it presents even more since it many Filipino veterans returned to find their fields, or former places of employment were in shambles in the wake of war. I have said here on this floor when I spoke for the Filipino veteran on February 28 last, and need not again set out at length , the story and heroism which the Filipino and American soldiers shared in the Pacific, to the credit of both. The bullets they faced, and the shells and bombs, made a distinction between them. The misery of the prison camp felt the same in the Filipino heart as it, did in the American heart. The terror, the determination, the courage of battle drew no time of determination between Filipino and American.
The bill proposed yesterday HR-6508 goes a small way toward correcting the great injustice to Filipino veterans which was done in the /first Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Act of 1946. It nevertheless discriminates against Filipino veterans because it prevents the from enjoying the benefits which have previously been accorded to every veteran who fought under the flag of the U.S.“President H. Truman recognized that the earlier injustice has not yet been cured when he said I his letter of may 18 to the House that enactment of the present bill will not cure en toto the present discrimination against Filipino veterans. The president further states that he has directed the Veterans Administration, the War Department, and the High Commissioner to the Philippines, to give consideration to a practicable method of providing educational opportunities for the Filipino veteran, and to assure so far as possible employment for him.
We are told, Mr. Speaker, that to provide to Filipino veterans certain of the benefits established by Congress will entail practical difficulties. I feel certain Filipino veterans will not insist that they should be entitled to benefits which are impossible of practical administration.. At no time, however, have we been told what difficulties , if any, exists. We know, from working with the past with agencies of the government of the U.S. that there are very few problems which can not be solved in a spirit of harmony and cooperation, We know that the present bill and the legislation which preceded it would withdraw from Filipino veterans the benefits which had previously been vouchsafed to them under veterans legislations passed by congress. We know that such action is discriminatory against Filipino veterans. We believe it is unjust . We can not understand and accept the actuation of the members of congress or of the people of the U.S. in their treatment of the Filipino veterans who fought so valiantly side by side with their own sons. I urge you on behalf of the Filipino people and of the government to correct these inequalities now. I urge you to enlist a legislation which will restore to Filipino veterans the recognition and which have previously been accorded them by the solemn acts of Congress". ( end of speech )
Note: This should end all untruths and falsehoods perpetuated by certain hired hacks attempting to mislead the public. The truth always prevail! A debt owed is debt that must be paid! # # #
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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