SAN FRANCISCO – More than 250,000 Filipinos answered President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to serve under the U.S. flag during World War II and in turn they would be promised full benefits.
However, when the Rescission Act of 1946 signed by President Harry Truman, those benefits were denied. And so started the long fight for equity for the veterans.
And on the 70th anniversary of the Rescission Act, the fight continues as Fil-Am professionals in San Francisco try to make sense of the law and if there are still ways to get the veterans their benefits.
“This is going to lead us to a better understanding of the Rescission Act and why it came about and we’re going to continue that until we are able to make this thing a little less grey,” said Rudy Asercion of the National Federation of Filipino American Association.
While the law is clear that no benefits would be granted to the Filipino veterans, it also came with an appropriation of $200 million to pay the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines.
However three months after the Rescission Act became law, on May 22, 1946, Philippine Resident Commissioner Carlos Romulo spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to denounce the Rescission Act and not accept the appropriation.
And in 1998, according to General Delfin Lorenzana, Veterans Affairs Liaison of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, there was no record that the $200 million allocation was ever given to the Philippines.
Rodel Rodis, an attorney and columnist, said, “As the facts are what General Delfin Lorenzana said in 1998 is still true so what we suggested tonight was to contact our representatives in the US Congress and ask them what happened to the $200 million that Congress allocated in February of 1946. If in fact that money was never given then it’s owed to the Philippines.”
Discrimination was also discussed concerning the Rescission Act saying that Filipinos were considered second-class citizens as would be described going forward in American history citing the farm labor movement and on-going issues of immigration.
Journalist Emil Guillermo said, “This whole thing is just shrouded by a sense of racism that Filipino-Americans now really need to address and remember because going forward as Filipino-Americans we have the veterans as kind of our moral compass.”
According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs over 42,000 claims have been made by Filipino veterans but more than half of those claims have been denied.
However, a total or more than $225 million dollars have been granted to over 18,000 claims.