WASHINGTON, D.C.— The US government has released $223.7 million to 18,698 Filipino veterans so far, a Philippine embassy official in Washington, D.C. said Monday.
Retired Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, head of the Office of Veterans Affairs at the Philippine embassy, said the amount is part of the $265-million compensation fund under the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., in a statement commemorating Veterans Day in the United States, expressed hope that Washington will act on the plight of more than 24,000 Filipino veterans who were earlier disqualified from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund program.
“With the elections over, we are hoping that the US government would now be able to move the process forward,” Cuisia said.
He thanked the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for the creation of an Interagency Working Group that would review the applications of the disqualified veterans.
Lorenzana said the disqualification issue stemmed from the guidelines being implemented by the National Personnel Records Center, which certifies the services of Filipino veterans.
The guidelines require that the names of veteran-claimants appear in both the Roster of Troops and the Discharge List prepared by the US Army at the end of the World War 2.
“Unfortunately, the claims of a large number of Filipino veterans were not processed because their names appear only in one list or the other but not both,” Lorenzana said. “What we are requesting the US government is for them to consider all available sources of records and not just the two lists.”
The disqualified veterans account for 56 percent of the 43,083 surviving veterans who filed their claims under the compensation fund, which grants a one-time lump sum of $15,000 for veterans who have become US citizens and $9,000 for those who retained their Philippine citizenship.
On Monday, the Philippine embassy paid tribute to all Filipino and American war veterans.
“We will not be where we are today if not for these brave men and women from our uniformed services,” Cuisia said, in saluting not only veterans of World War 2 but also those who have served in other military actions the Philippines was also involved in such as Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.
He also paid tribute to Filipino-Americans serving in the US military, especially those currently serving in Afghanistan, as well as members of the US Special Forces who have served in Mindanao as part of the international war against terror.