FilVet REP and the 1946 cancellation law
First of all, our congratulations to the former Secretary of Defense Voltaire Gazmin for his award from the Japanese government of the Order of the Rising Sun, the Gold and Silver Star, in “recognition of his contributions to the strengthening of national defense relations between Japan and the Philippines ”.
On July 26, 1941, just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and US facilities in the Philippines by Japanese air and naval forces, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a military order calling on all military forces of the Philippine Commonwealth government and ordering them into the service of the United States Armed Forces. Under this order, more than 200,000 Filipinos fought alongside American soldiers in Bataan and together suffered the tragedy of the Death March, all in the service of the United States. As a Commonwealth of the United States before and during the war, Filipinos were legally American nationals, entitled to all the benefits accorded to those who served in the armed forces of the United States.
On February 18, 1946, just a few months after the victory with the surrender of Japan, the United States Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946, in effect declaring that the military service of Filipinos pursuant to a military order of President Roosevelt, would not be considered in the service of the armed forces of the United States. In his recent book “Bound by War”, Christopher Capozzola, award-winning author and professor of history at MIT, wrote that the Rescission Act provided that “service prior to July 1, 1946 in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of Philippines, while such forces were in the service of the armed forces of the United States… shall not be deemed to be or to have served in the military or naval forces of the United States… for the purposes of any law… conferring any rights, privileges or benefits. The Filipino soldiers weren’t American soldiers at least, when it came time to pay the allowances… No GI Bill, no college loan, no home loan, no medical care, no widow’s allowance, not even a flag for a soldier’s coffin. It wasn’t America’s best time… ”
In signing the bill, President Harry Truman attached a statement stressing that “there is a moral obligation of the United States to ensure the welfare of veterans of the Philippine military”. In July 1998, during a congressional hearing, Representative Nancy Pelosi (now Speaker of the House) said: “I consider the Rescission Act of 1946 to be a scar in the historical record of the United States. In times of war, we sought and obtained the commitment of these Filipino soldiers to serve under American authority. While they were fighting for their country, they were also fighting for the United States. The late US Senator Daniel K. Inouye, a Japanese American who fought in the European theater of operations during World War II, criticized the Rescission Act for its “discriminatory anti-Filipino intent.” He said that “the United States made a solemn promise and barely a hearing did we revoke it. This episode is a bane to the character of the United States, and it needs to be cleaned up. “
In February 2009, 64 years after Japan’s surrender, the United States Congress passed the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It provided for a one-time lump sum payment to Filipino World War II veterans: $ 15,000 each for those who were Citizens. Americans and $ 9,000 for non-US citizens.
Earlier, in 1988, the United States Congress passed a law granting each of the 60,000 surviving Japanese-American internees who were penned in remote concentration camps after Pearl Harbor the sum of $ 20,000 along with an apology for the grave injustice. President George HW Bush, in a letter of apology to each of the 60,000 inmates, said in part: “We can never fully right the wrongs of the past. But we can take a clear stand for justice and recognize that grave injustices were committed against Japanese Americans during WWII. “
Speaking on behalf of Filipino Veterans, Major General Antonio Taguba (US Army, Ret.), Chair of the Philippine Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVet REP), called on the US Congress to act and to repeal the 1946 resolution act, it would “repudiate the injustice these veterans suffered for 75 years and heal the outrage, pain and sorrow they endured in their lifetimes.” Former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano, chairman of FilVet in the Philippines, and Lt. Gen. Ernesto Carolina, chief of the Philippine Veterans Affairs office, both expressed support for the efforts to Taguba.
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