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  2005-02-03 Filner-Cunningham—Filipino veterans
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2005 blog


Keeping up with Jewish officeholders

Filner & Cunningham form unlikely team
in support of Filipino veterans of WWII
,  Feb. 3, 2005

U.S. Reps. Bob Filner (D-San Diego) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego) often have been at personal odds, but they have agreed that Filipinos who fought for the United States during World War II--when the Philippines was still an American Commonwealth--deserve the same benefits as other American troops who fought in World War II.

It was something like the legendary feuding Hatfields and McCoys coming together in common cause when Filner rose on the floor of the House of Representatives Feb. 2 "to urge my colleagues to support the gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham) and myself who have reintroduced H.R. 302, the Filipino Veterans Equity Act."

Filner went on to provide this explanation of the need for the bill:

Sixty years ago, Filipino soldiers living in the Philippines, which was a territory of the United States, were drafted into service during World War II by an executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, Filipino soldiers fought side by side with forces from the United States mainland, defending the American flag in the now-famous battles of Bataan and Corrigidor. 

Thousands of Filipino prisoners of war died, both on the Bataan Death March and in prisoner of war camps, at the rate of 50 to 200 a day. They endured 4 long years of occupation by the Japanese. The soldiers fortunate enough to escape capture, together with other Filipino citizens, fought guerilla war against the occupation forces. These guerilla attacks foiled the plans of the Japanese for a quick takeover of the region and allowed the United States the needed time to regroup to defeat the invading army. 

After the liberation of the Philippines, the United States used the strategically located Commonwealth of the Philippines as a base from which to launch the final efforts to win the war in the Pacific. 

With their vital participation so evident, one would assume that the United States would be grateful to their Filipino comrades, so it is hard to believe that soon after the war ended Congress voted in the 1946 Rescissions Act to take away the benefits and recognition that many Filipino World War II veterans were promised. 

These veterans are now in their eighties and in need of health care. Many are dying each year. Their last wish is to be recognized as honored veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Please support H.R. 302 to restore the rescinded benefits to Filipino World War II veterans, many of whom have now become citizens of the United States. Please cosponsor H.R. 302 to restore the dignity of Filipino World War II veterans for their defense of our common democratic ideals. 

Donald H. Harrison