Hon. Tom Lantos
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this important hearing on this long overdue legislation. You have long been the leading proponent of a bill that will bring full and fair benefits to all veterans who fought for our country in World War II. Filipino Veterans should be no different than veterans who were born in the United States, if you fought in the defense of freedom over tyranny, you should receive all of the benefits afforded to you.
Mr. Chairman, my constituents are all too aware of the egregious slights accorded to them since the end of WWII and are delighted that you are at the helm of this important committee. I have the privilege of representing one of the largest Filipino-American populations outside of Manila. I cannot count the number of times people have come up to me in Daly City, in Pacifica or San Mateo and told me their story of hardship or their family members’ lack of care because of a simple designation that was put into law separating one class of Filipino veteran from another.
The Rescission Acts of 1946 are indeed a black mark on this body and it is time to remedy this historic injustice. For too long, there have only been piecemeal attempts to overcome the Rescission Acts. Two years after the initial legislation denying equality to all veterans, there was an attempt at redemption by constructing and equipping a hospital in Luzon and reimbursing the Republic of the Philippines for care and treatment of all of those who fought. Budget concerns gradually diminished the payments for this hospital.
Mr. Chairman, since you were elected in 1992, you shined the legislative spotlight on the full scope of this injustice. In the 109th Congress we passed a resolution that recognized and honored the Filipino World War II veterans for their defense of democratic ideals and their important contribution to the outcome of World War II. Now this Congress should bestow upon those who were ready to give the ultimate sacrifice the services that all other veterans enjoy. Those brave soldiers who served in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines or the Recognized Gorilla Forces should receive the same high quality care that those who served in the 101st Airborne do.
I understand that for every benefit given there is a cost but their brave actions helped win a war. I recognize that the Committee faces many challenges to adequately provide for all veterans, but I cannot accept that our country does not have the resources to care for those who cared for us. It is our moral duty to find a way to pay for these necessary services.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you allowing me to voice my opinion on this singularly important issue and all of the hard work and leadership you have shown. As those of us get older who can remember World War II, it is long past time to provide equal treatment to all veterans and pass the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007.