Filipino American Veterans Welcome Pres Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Feb 2002


Col. Mariano Aureus of the
Phil. Am.Veterans Org. NJ and
Cmdr.Pacifo Timbol of
the American Legion NY Post
ask Philippine President
Gloria M. Arroyo to intercede
with President Bush on their
bills in Queens NY,
Feb. 2, 2002
Please photo credit:
Eric Lachica



Filipino American Veterans Welcome

President Ramos On Bataan Day

Washington, D.C. - Forty World War II veterans of the

American Coalition For Filipino Veterans welcomed Philippine

President Fidel V. Ramos to Washington, D.C. on April 9,

Bataan Day. Their leaders also joined Ramos in honoring Rep.

Bob Filner who received the Philippine Legion of Honor medal.

During the noon wreath-laying ceremony held at

the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National

Cemetery, the elderly veterans patiently stood at attention

under the cold drizzling rain as Ramos saluted the tomb. With

full military honors, Ramos was also greeted by a 21-gun

salute and by the playing of the national anthems of the U.S.

and the Philippines by the U.S. Army Band.


A half-hour later, the elderly veterans joined

Ramos at columbarium of Filipino American WW II veteran

GALO OCAMPO, a well-known artist and painter buried at the

prestigious cemetery. Ocampo's widow and children thanked

Ramos for the belated recognition of Ocampo's military service.

The president then posed for photos with the veterans with

their thumbs-up pose.


"We veterans are indeed honored to be on these

hallowed grounds. On this 56th anniversary of the Fall of

Bataan, we pray President Ramos can help convince President

Clinton to truly recognize our living veterans by supporting our

Equity bill," Patrick Ganio, Sr., a 77-year-old veteran who

received a Purple Heart in the battle of Bataan, and the

president of the Washington D.C.-based coalition, said.


At 5:00 P.M., ten selected veteran leaders joined

Ramos at the Blair Guest House across from the White House.

Ramos honored Rep. Filner with a brief ceremony and a

conferment of the Legion of Honor medal with the rank of



Ramos awarded the medal to Filner for his

"dedicated service to Filipino veterans. . . to advance (their)

rights as veterans. . . (and) for being a true friend of the

Filipino people." The select audience applauded.


Filner replied, "I am humbled by this award. . .

this recommits me to their struggle to get justice, (and) to get

the recognition they deserve." His wife, Jane, joined Ramos

and the veterans in congratulating the 55-year-old former

history professor from San Diego.


Mariano Aureus, Ned Caspe and Alfred Diaz

represented the Philippine American Veterans Organization of

New Jersey and New York. Aureus had an earlier brief

conversation with Ramos who told him, "Continue the

lobbying. You will win."


A dozen veterans from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

were led by Frank Manosca of the American Legion (Alejo

Santos Post) and Tony Rivera of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

(Tomas Claudio Post), accompanied by Purita Acosta of the

VFW auxilliary.


Chicago veterans were represented by a defender

at Bataan, Phil Cruz of the Filipino American Veterans of

Illinois. Washington vets were led by Guillermo Rumingan,

Conrado Damasco, Rudy Panaglima, Ray Cabacar and Amadeo



A luncheon for the veterans was hosted by Gen.

Tagumpay Nanadiego (ret.) of the Veterans' Affair Office and

Ambassador Raul Rabe at the Philippine Embassy.


Pat Ganio, the president of ACFV, anticipates that

the Coalition's May 5 - 7 Action Conference in Washington,

D.C. will mobilize more than 150 veterans and supporters to

induce the House Veterans' Affairs Committee to have

hearings. In March, the committee chairman, Rep. Bob Stump,

had reluctantly agreed to a hearing on the Equity bill, H.R.836.

However, Stump has not announced a date.


"After waiting 52 years, we will be heard.

Moreover, we will have to convince Clinton that we are

American veterans too," Ganio stated. ACFV veterans are

expected to stage dramatic actions to urge President Clinton to

set aside $120 Million budget from an estimated $50 BILLION

tax revenue surplus to fund the Equity bill in 1999. He called

on supporters to phone the Coalition: 202 246-1998 to make

reservations and to request conference details.






NaFFAA welcomes yesterday's announcement by Rep. Bob Stump that he

intends to hold hearings soon on issues pertaining to Filipino Veterans.

Until this time, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has

been non-committal about repeated demands from the veterans community to

hold hearings on the Equity Bill currently pending before his committee.


With this breakthrough, NaFFAA Executive Director Jon Melegrito is

appealing to all the veterans groups to close ranks and forge a common

front. "This is a critical juncture in a long hard-fought campaign by

our veterans. For their sake, we must make effective use of this

opening to publicly show we're all united in fighting for justice and

equity for all our veterans," Melegrito said.


NaFFAA has proposed as a final solution a lump sum payment of

$20,000 for each of the surviving 70,000 veterans. This compromise idea

originated with the veterans of Equity Village based in Los Angeles. A

random survey of rank and file veterans, including those in the

Philippines, indicates broad support for this proposal. "The reason for

that, basically, is it does not impose US citizenship as a condition,

thereby ensuring a compromise that guarantees equity for all," Melegrito

said. "Moreover, it's something that could feasibly be provided for

now, considering that our veterans are dying at the rate of 5 a day."


"Much of the credit goes to our veterans groups for taking up the

cudgels when no one else was helping them," Melegrito added. "Our

collective efforts in bringing pressure to bear on Washington's decision

makers are beginning to pay off. But now that victory

is within our grasp, it is critical that we set aside personal differences

so as not to weaken the US Government's apparent resolve to remedy this



NaFFAA was tasked at the August 1997 Empowerment Conference to

rally the Filipino American community in pressing passage for the Equity

bill. In response, local community leaders mobilized their networks to

pressure their district representatives. Among those who helped are

members of the United Methodist Church in Kensington, MD. who lobbied

Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD). There were several other instances of broad

support from churches, labor, civic organizations, and civil rights groups

from all over the country. It also helped that national media

organizations, like the Washington Post, called on Washington policy

makers to fulfill America's pledge to these veterans.


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