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AFT Resolutions

FILIPINO VETERANS EQUITY ACT

WHEREAS, on the 60th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan, the U.S. Congress was considering the Filipino Veterans Equity Act, H.R. 491, and Filipino Veterans Benefit Improvement Act, S. 1042; and

WHEREAS, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on July 26, 1941, called into military service 140,000 Filipino World War II soldiers to serve under the command of American officers to defend the U.S. territory of the Philippines; and

WHEREAS, American and Filipino forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Douglas MacArthur fought valiantly with great sacrifice against an overwhelming Japanese invading force, delaying the invaders' timetable by four months, thus allowing U.S. forces to regain their military strength after the Pearl Harbor attack; and

WHEREAS, American and Filipino forces surrendered after the Battles for Bataan and Corregidor on April 9 and May 6, 1942, respectively, and suffered a horrible number of casualties in the Bataan Death March, in the POW camps, and in the liberation campaign where 10,000 U.S. soldiers perished and 250,000 Filipino soldiers and civilians were casualties; and

WHEREAS, on February 18, 1946, the U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Act, which withdrew the U.S. veterans' status of Filipino World War II soldiers and their eligibility for veterans' benefits that were promised to them by President Harry Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur; and

WHEREAS, in 1990, Congress passed legislation that allowed Filipino World War II veterans who proved their honorable military service to become naturalized U.S. citizens; and

WHEREAS, the majority of the 12,000 surviving Filipino veterans who are U.S. citizens live in poverty, receive minimum benefits (SSI and medical) and die at a 57 percent higher rate than their American comrades because of the lack of access to Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities; and

WHEREAS, the majority of Filipino veterans are denied eligibility for medical care and disability pensions provided by the VA to their fellow U.S. comrades; and

WHEREAS, Rep. Benjamin Gilman and Rep. Bob Fliner have sponsored the Filipino Veterans Equity Act, H.R. 491, and Sen. Daniel Inouye has introduced S. 1042, the Filipino Veterans Benefits Improvement Act, which would restore full official recognition of surviving Filipino World War II veterans:

RESOLVED, that we honor the anniversary of the Fall of Bataan and recognize the sacrifices of Filipino World War II veterans by declaring April 9th the Bataan Day of Valor; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge Congress to pass and President George W. Bush to sign the Filipino veterans' bills, H.R. 491 and S. 1042, which would provide for the just and equitable treatment of Filipino World War II veterans as Americans; and

RESOLVED, that now is the time to right past wrongs even though it appears to be too little too late, considering so many of the Filipino veterans are now dead and many more are dying by the day. Less than one-fourth of the original numbers are alive with one-third living in the United States and the rest living in the Philippines. The recognition establishes the legitimacy of the Filipino's heroism and support for the United States during the second world war. This small number of veterans need help now; and

RESOLVED, that suitable copies of this resolution be sent to President George W. Bush and each member of Congress.


(2002)