V A Press Release
February 20, 2009
Congress Recognizes World War II Service
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced a new benefit for Filipino Veterans who aided American troops in World War II -- a cash payment authorized through the newly enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Claims are now being accepted from Filipino Veterans eligible for one-time payments of $9,000 for non-U.S. citizens and $15,000 for Filipino Veterans with U.S. citizenship. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to begin making payments as soon as possible.
VA and the Embassy of the United States in Manila have announced locations in the Philippines where Veterans can apply immediately. The list has been posted at http://manila.usembassy.gov.
To receive information by mail, United States residents may call 1-800-827-1000. Philippine residents may call 632-528-2500 (within Metro Manila) or from outside Manila at 1-800-1888-5252. In addition, Filipino Veterans may request information via email at https://iris.va.gov.
The VA Regional Office in Manila will process all claims for this benefit. Therefore, U.S. residents should mail the application to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Regional Office, PSC 501, FPO AP 96515-100.
Extensive outreach is planned to alert World War II Veterans throughout the Philippines. Claims must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2010, a year after the bill’s signing.
The payments do not affect other benefits Veterans may be receiving. The VA regional office in Manila currently provides approximately $15 million monthly in monetary benefits to Veterans residing in the Philippines. About $8 million of this goes to Filipino World War II Veterans or their survivors each month.
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American Coalition for Filipino Veterans Inc.
Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Signed into Law by President Barack Obama Feb. 17, 2009!
Obama signs Stimulus bill...containing U.S. Filvets $15,000 lump sum.
updated from MALAYA (“Free”) Manila daily February 17, 2009 Page One
BY JENNIE L. ILUSTRE (with permission)
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama [signed] the $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law, which include a lump sum payment for qualified Filipino World War II veterans in the Philippines and in the United States, in a ceremony Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) in Denver, Colorado.
The bill also includes the vital recognition of war service of non-service (no combat-related injury) veterans, a status stripped by the Rescission Act, passed by the 79th US Congress on Feb. 18, 1946. The lump sum payment applies to both service-connected and non-service veterans.
Although it is a quit-claim (no more future claims for monetary benefits), veterans living in the Philippines and the US will retain their current 5,000 monthly pension from the Philippines, and in the case of Filipino Americans, their federal benefits from the US.
Only 15,000 surviving Filipino and Filipino American WWII veterans whose names are in the Revised Reconstructed Guerrilla Roster (RRGR) of 1948 are qualified to receive the tax-free lump sum payment.
The RRGR is kept in the state of Missouri although certified true copies are available in other official sites.
When he was a senator, Obama strongly supported benefits for Filipino WWII veterans.
The 111th US Congress passed H.R. 1, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Friday (Saturday in Manila) to address the nation’s recession.
Section 1002, Title X of the economic stimulus bill states that the payment will be made "in the case of an eligible person who is not a citizen of the United States, in the amount of $9,000; and in the case of an eligible person who is a citizen of the United States, in the amount of $15,000."
Some 12,000 Filipino WWII veterans in the Philippines are qualified for the payment of $9,000 each.
Filipino American WWII veterans who live or have returned to the Philippines, will receive $15,000 each. About 3,000 counterparts in the United States will each get $15,000.
If the veteran dies before the approval of his application, his surviving spouse is entitled to the full amount.
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Delfin N. Lorenzana, head of the Office of Veterans Affairs at the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C., said that in 2007, the total number of qualified veterans was 18,000. Based on a daily mortality rate of three fatalities a day, the number has dwindled to 15,000.
Aside from payment being a matter of honor, the mortality rate was one reason US Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (Democrat, HI) insisted on getting his lump sum amendment in the bill, despite strong opposition from some Republicans.
The 110th US Congress approved the $198 million appropriation for the lump sum last year....
WARNING VS FIXERS
News of the financial benefit has led advocates to warn veterans in the Philippine against "fixers."
Since last year, "fixers," armed with a fake copy of a US bill and copies of Philippine newspaper stories, have already duped many veterans in the Philippines, and three visiting veterans from Hawaii, of advance payment ranging from P10,000 to P25,000.
"Some unscrupulous persons in the Philippines have been known to ask veterans for half of what they will receive, aside from an advance payment, with the promise to expedite the release of the benefit," American Coalition for Filipino Veterans Service Officer Guillermo O. Rumingan said in a phone interview Friday.
He said all the veterans have to do is fill up a form, and no documents are required, so it could be done without the help of a lawyer or a representative.
Rumingan suggested the veterans could seek the help of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines or the Philippine Department of the American Legion. Applications will be available at the US Veterans Affairs Regional Office, located at the US embassy in Manila.
In Manila, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the Philippines should be thankful for the passage of the Veterans Equity bill in the United States.
Remonde shrugged off sentiments of Sen. Joker Arroyo that the Filipinos may be at a disadvantage after being accorded close to $9,000 as against the $15,000 for the war veterans in the US.
"Mabuti na ito kaysa sa wala," he said.
Philippine Veterans Affairs Office administrator Ernesto Carolina said the recognition of Filipino war veterans may open the doors for possible provision of their health benefits.
"The fact that they are being recognized opens the door on working for other benefits. But of course what is important is that there is law that allows the US government to pay our veterans. Actually, to me, the amount is okay," he also said.
Carolina said the lump sum mode of compensation was better, noting that the average age of the Filipino WWII veterans is about 85. "Before, when they were 60, they wanted pension. But when you are already 85, you want the lump sum," he said.
"If you are given $200 a month of pension, that means you have to live for another five years…You are not guaranteed to live for five years or more so its better that you will be given that half million pesos, one time," he said.
Citing PVAO estimates, Carolina said there were about 250,000 Filipino veterans who fought in World War II. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Victor Reyes
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