BALITANG BETERANO: WW-II VETS DISPOSSESSED
NEVADA, USA, August 26, 2005 (BALITANG BETERANO) By Col (Ret.US) Frank B, Quesada Former Senate Committee Secretary Veterans and Military Pensions Associate, PMA ‘44 - The nagging problem which continue to haunt the relations of the Republic of the Philippines and the United States is the continued mistreatment of the Fil-Am World War II veterans by the U.S. Congress. Thus, Filipino-American relations is nothing but a sham.
OVER SIXTY YEARS
For over sixty years, restoration and payment of benefits for the wartime honorable military service of these intrepid veterans has festered in the U.S. Congress while the veterans die each day at the rate of ten to fifteen a day. Such travesty of justice has been scathingly truculent and reflects upon the fiduciary responsibility of the U.S. government that feigns and vends human rights and democracy to the world.
The Pacific War and World War II was not a war of Filipinos but a war of the U.S. against Japan. It must be clear that the Filipinos as American nationals who are actually citizens were demoted. Under the Commonwealth of the Philippines were unilaterally conscripted by Pres. F. Roosevelt into the U.S. Army the Far East [USAFFE] and placed under the command of Gen. D. McArthur and American officers.
Under the un-numbered Military Order of Pres. Roosevelt dated July 26, l941, the Filipinos were inducted into and incorporated in the U.S. Army. Since then, each and every Filipino, like any American member of the U.S. Army - who wore the same uniform, bore the same arms, fought one enemy [the Japanese Imperial forces] are entitled to the same compensation and benefits. The 66,000 allied war veterans from 16 allied countries who fought for the S flag in WW-II were all fully compensated, but not the Fil-Am WW-II veterans targeted for racial and economic discrimination.
They are equal before God and the enemy bullets and bayonet thrust of the Japanese invaders. They did not have any special privileges under the iron heels of the Japanese that vanquished them In Bataan, Corregidor and other fronts. But in reality they were disparate, lumpy under a riptide of racial differentiation. In 1942, in Bataan - Gen. MacArthur asked the U.S. Congress for equality of pay and privileges for the members of the USAFFE, but fell to deaf ears. The Bataan-Corregidor defenders held two different pay scales. Filipinos and Americans fought the one enemy but the Filipinos were paid at a lower rate. Thus, ever since, the ugly head of discrimination was very much alive and present.
Reality revealed itself when the myth of American guile and delusion divulged the legerdemain of War Plan Orange [the defense of Manila, etc.] It was nothing but a dilatory action that depended from logistics from the U.S. Mainland .Filipinos were “:second class” wretched pawns in a war not their own. McArthur fled to Australia. Bataan and Corregidor fell in a shameful defeat. The Americans surrendered unconditionally to the Japanese forces. The USAFFE was decimated and almost half of them perished in the infamous Bataan Death March. And suffered a slow death inside the gates of hell of Camp O’Donell and Capas. Both Americans and Filipinos were measured up to the atrocities by the enemy - yet Filipinos still remained underpaid and debased .
Filipinos simply refused to take defeat. So with a handful of Americans who joined and/or formed guerrilla action. Most of them chose to remain in concentration camps for fear of execution when captured. They rather waited for the war to end.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos found their way to the mountain vastness in the Sierras as guerrillas to perform the un-conventional and irregular warfare against the abusive enemy invaders. Filipinos by nature were freedom founders and never relished being dictated upon, exploited and abused. Guerrillas harassed the enemy from the rear and caused heavy casualties but with less casualties from their ranks.
In Australia - McArthur sorely needed contact from Filipino resistance whom he hoped to again utilize. Guerrillas finally established radio contact with McArthur. In return for valuable intelligence reports from guerrillas, he dispatched U.S. submarines from Southwest Pacific to the Philippines thru planetary missions with arms and supplies.
Without the guerrillas - that provided the valuable and precise intelligence about enemy strength, movements, etc., early liberation of the Philippines could not have been possible. And also the mass support of the Filipino people. And the termination of the Pacific War could have been very costly to the United States in terms of American lives and dollars.
This - should be clear to the members of the U. S. Congress and the legislative staffers - who up to now are remiss in the history and realities of World War II in the Pacific and the Philippines. Their ignorance of the sacrifices and sufferings endured by Filipinos in World War II have added to the present pains of Fil-Am veterans made to bear up to American dereliction and supineness.
MacArthur was exceedingly impressed with the operation of the guerrillas in every island in the Philippines and offered recognition and just compensation to the guerrillas as a fitting and just reward for their loyalty and wartime service for the United States whose war Filipinos fought for undeviatingly, sacrificing their lives and property for America.
It was for this reason that a few days the lading of the allies in Leyte in October 20, 1944 – Gen .McArthur caused the preparation of the drafts of two Executive Orders numbers. 1 and 2. The first was intended to recognize the military [irregular and unconventional warfare] of the guerrillas as a component of the Philippine Army or the purpose of induction into the USAFFE. And the second was intended to increase the pay of the enlisted men to the same level of pay of the U.S. Army servicemen.
On October 28, 1944 - Philippine Pres, Sergio Osmena, who arrived with McArthur in Leyte, approved both Executive Orders. Subsequently MacArthur promulgated Circulars numbers 10 in his headquarters thereby publishing contents of EO 21 and 22 for information of all concerned. Why am I relating these historical events? It is mainly and appropiately for the education of U.S. legislators who are strangers to the truth and history of World War II, and how the Filipinos saved America in her darkest hour from 1941 to 1945 during the war. I am relating this so that the conscience of the American Congress will be on the qui vive and wake up from the apathy and stupor of insensibility.
JUSTICE & FAIRNESS
It must be borne in mind by U.S. legislators that the Fil-Am U.S.Army ex-servicemen does not ask or beg Uncle Sam for charity. All they demand collect is for honorable military wartime service actually rendered I behalf of the American people and the flag. All they ask is fair a equitable compensation - no more no less - for their World War II service.
They did not and do not demand for hand out. But for their gallant and heroic acts performed in the blood-soaked battlefields of the Philippines in WW-II. It is this generation that shed blood for America, where most of them died for freedom, justice and human rights - only to be betrayed by the U.S. They did not come here to be marginalized and degraded as a “second class” veterans.
FULL EQUITY DEMAND
They demand for equity as Americans. They demand payment of their benefits which have been paid to their Caucasian comrades in WW-II who up to now enjoy the GI Bill of Rights. They do not relish being thrown into the filthy ghettos of this country - homeless and dishonored as a “ public charge” with a demeaning measly SSI which is not a veteran’s benefit.
BASIS FOR THEIR CLAIM
As former Senate Committee Secretary of the Veterans and Military Pensions Committee of the Philippine Senate for a decade and as former vice president of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, and as previously secretary and research staff of Sen. D. Inouye in the “U.S, Senate fact-finding inquiry on the unsettle Fil-Am veterans claims,” – I can speak with some authority about the historical events and developments of how the Fil-Am veterans had been cut off and dastardly excluded by the AFWESPAC [U.S. Army in the Pacific] during the liberation.
FACTS AND FIGURES
In November 26, 1946 - the Guerrilla Affairs Division of AFWESPAC received 1,142 application of guerrilla units with a total strength of 1,069,664 individuals. Before the turnover of command from the U.S. Army to the Philippine Army I saw how we, guerrillas were recovered under the Missing Persons Act and were processed by teams al over the archipelago. The Recovered Personnel Division [RPD] had complete record of guerrillas processed and recognized.
However, such records were devastated by a typhoon in Manila and those records were forlorn and wasted under the weather by AFWESPAC that was then already folding tent ready to go home. The Philippine Ryukyus Command [PhilRyCom] and did not care about the recovery of said records. This contributed to the present confusion and hardship of guerrillas and ex-USAFFEs in establishing wartime military status and records for claiming their benefits. Records that were salvaged were also left in filthy storage that was patiently retrieved by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.
It was also during that period when an unlawful and illicit but thriving illegal racket, the then dubbed “ Escolta Guerrilla recruitment racket” flourished in Manila and later in the outlaying provinces. There was collusion between AFWESPAC personnel and fake guerrillas. They padded and/or altered the original roster of guerrillas and units in exchange for money.
BONAFIDE NAMES DELETED
Thousands of genuine guerrillas were deleted and/or omitted and the roster was changed eliminating true guerrillas awaiting recognition. It was reported later that some AFWESPA personnel were the object of court martials. CORRUPTED NUMBERS Of the total 1,069,664 - applications for recognition - there were at least 221 units and 137 individuals totaling 246,981 guerrillas who were granted recognition. In contrast, there were 328 guerrilla units with a total strength of 417,887 under investigation and/or further awaiting investigation when the guerrilla recognition program was suddenly terminated by AFWESPAC .
It was In 1948 when the AFWESPAC decided to stop this operation , thereby arbitrarily to cut down expenses being incurred of which guerrilla status would cost to the U.S. government as a result of entitlement of Filipino guerrillas to arrears-in-pay and in payment of legitimate benefits by the U.S.V.A.
The consequence of such policy , the AFWESPAC Guerrilla Affairs Division subsequently revoked recognition of thousands of genuine guerrillas under simple and expedient action by merely dropping of their names from the Revised Reconstructed Roster of Guerrillas of 1948 [RRGR] Veterans unjustly received written revocation of their former recognition without justification. Under such unwarranted unfair action, there were thousands of guerrillas whose arrears-in-pay which have been previously approved, and their corresponding check payments already prepared for delivery and distribution and payment were adversely nullified, un-dully withheld and cancelled
The worse harm and damage inflicted was upon the widows and orphans of deceased veterans. as well as beneficiaries whose names were unfairly deleted and/or eliminated from the casualty roster of already recognized guerrillas and units, as they barred them from receiving payments of insurance benefits or pensions entitled to them. As a result of such rabid turbulence and great number of service-connected pensions and other earned benefits such as hospitalization at the V.A. hospital in cases of sickness, and a free American flag to drape the casket of the dead veteran was harshly cut.
No appropriate words can describe such truculent and foolhardy drudge against the aging and sickly war veteran of America. It was materially significant, since the USVA officials in consideration of the claims for Filipino veterans and/or their compulsory heirs depend exclusively and primarily upon certification of military service from the U.S. Army Personnel Center in St. Louis, Missouri. No other certification of military service and veteran’s status is valid except those that comes from the sole source for the purpose of adjudicating claims for benefits under applicable law of the U.S.
It was only lately, when the U.S. Court of Appeals [9th Circuit] where I later worked - that military record and veteran’s status certified by the Philippine government is now acceptable to U.S. authorities and agencies for veteran’s benefits such as U.S. citizenship, under a court decision. It must be noted that the Immigration Reform Act of 1990 that accommodated Fil-Am veterans have already expired. Veterans still wanting to be U.S. citizens will have to wait for another law or an amendment to the above law so they can file applications. This the harsh realities of being a war veteran of World War II who fought for the American flag and American interests in the Philippines - and who have been betrayed and racially traduced and virulently cursed.
This is the other face of America now carelessly being unfolded by itself in the eyes of the world Uncle Sam now is dubbed as Uncle Cheat. ### firstname.lastname@example.org
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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