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:
Contact: Eric LACHICA FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
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.
*Subject: STUMP TO HOLD HEARINGS ON FILIPINO VETERANS EQUITY BILL
FILIPINO WORLD WAR II VETERANS TO GET A HEARING
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.