Filipino WWII Vets Deserve Honesty

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - May 02, 2007
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Filipino Old Scouts capture a Japanese flag on Luzon
Filipino Old Scouts capture a Japanese flag on Luzon

The safe course for a local politician is to say “let’s give full benefits to all Filipinos who fought with the U.S. Army against the Japanese invaders of their land in WWII.”

That’s what our members of Congress claim they support. But let me give you a big whoop of emphasized truth.

Full U.S. veteran benefits for all those Filipinos are not going to happen. Congress is not going to repeal the 1946 Rescission Act, which cut most Filipino vet benefits, and our Hawaii members of Congress know that but keep fibbing to collect the local Filipino vote.

It’s true that in those dire months after the Philippines fell to the Japanese in 1942, America promised all manner of incentives to get people to join the Old Filipino Scouts, the New Filipino Scouts, the Commonwealth Army and the Guerrilla Service. We promised many American enlistees in WWII lifetime medical benefits we’ve since reneged on.

Fact: In 1946, Congress decided only those Filipino vets of the Commonwealth Army and Guerrilla Service who can prove service-related disabilities qualify for any compensation.

The oldest Old Scout I could track down is vice commander Jose Almazan, 84, who survived the Bataan Death March. He’s getting benefits, and his heirs will get burial money, too. But for most of you, it isn’t going to happen, and the two Dans plus Neil and Mazie need to tell you that. Instead, they are shining you on.

Three issues work fatally against you. One is that you got your independence from the U.S. in 1946, and that basically ended most of our obligations. Two is that you had different status as fighters - regulars and irregulars. Three is that most of today’s Americans will say “Hey, it was your own country you were fighting for, so why should we pay you for doing it?”

All that aside, it’s not as if all those Filipino vets were told to take a hike. Those who served with U.S. forces in the Regular Philippine Scouts before Oct. 6, 1945, are entitled to all VA benefits under the same criteria that apply to any veteran of U.S. military service, and at U.S. dollar rates even if they live somewhere else.

Old Scout Jose Almazan
Old Scout Jose Almazan

But for the Commonwealth Army and Guerrilla vets, it’s a very complicated formula and means most don’t qualify.

I know they feel they got a bad deal. That might be true from a purely moralistic point of view. But the legalities and public sentiment are against them.

Our four members of Congress should start telling the aging Filipino vets the political facts of life and quit stringing them along.


three star

Everybody in Fresno got into a major knickers-twist over the effort of a girl-by-gender but a boy-by-inclination to become Fresno High’s prom king.

Cinthia Covarrubias lost in the voting to a male, and most parents breathed a public sigh of relief that tradition won out. I’d have applauded if someone had dumped that outdated business of electing prom kings and queens. It’s as meaningless today as those beauty queens, Narcissus queens and Cherry Blossom queens, or the king and queen for the Merrie Monarch or Aloha festivals.

One school junior quoted in the Fresno Bee said the idea of a girl running for prom king “was too creepy.”

I’d like to have seen Covarrubias win, just to make the point that the whole would-be royalty thing is creepy.


three star

The New York Times ombudsman discovered they’ve been running Nielsen TV ratings for 25 years without requiring the margin of error they demand of all polls. Turns out Nielsen can’t give even a guesstimate margin of error.

I hope our local newspaper editors will take note.


three star

Did you hear Click and Clack on Hawaii Public Radio? The Car Talk brothers said it’s bogus information that you must use premium gasoline for high-performance car engines. Regular gasoline, they said, works just fine on all engines for ordinary city driving.

With today’s gasoline prices, that’s big news.

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