Philippine veterans deserve U.S. pensions
The House is considering approval of benefits to Philippine soldiers inducted into U.S. armed forces in World War II.
PHILIPPINE veterans called into service under U.S. command during World War II are near receiving special pensions and other benefits that were promised and denied. The Senate approved the measure in April and the House must act before adjournment scheduled for the end of this week.
More than 250,000 fought under the U.S. flag during the war, nearly half of them inducted directly into the U.S. armed forces to serve under Gen. Douglas MacArthur. As soon as the Philippines, which had been under colonial rule, gained independence in 1946, Congress reneged on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise that they would receive the same veteran benefits as American servicemen.
"Legislation to restore promised benefits has been repeatedly introduced since 1991," Rep. Neil Abercrombie said last week. The number of eligible Philippine veterans has dwindled to 18,000 men in their twilight years.
The Senate bill's provision providing annual payments of $3,600 for Filipino veterans living in the Philippines and $4,500 for married vets has drawn opposition because that would exceed average incomes in that country. The House Veterans Affairs Committee OK'd a change proposed by Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Idaho, that would provide lump payments of $15,000 for U.S. citizens and $9,000 for veterans residing in the Philippines.
Under the Buyer amendment, any Filipino veteran receiving the payment would be denied other compensation. The bill also would deny compensation to widows of veterans who would qualify for annual sums of $2,400 under the Senate version.
With time running out, the House bill needs to be changed to replicate the Senate version and avoid a joint conference to work out differences.
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