MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – “It’s an injustice.”
On his second day in the Philippines, US President Barack Obama addressed war veterans and soldiers at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, headquarters of the Philipine Army. (WATCH: Obama visits Manila Day 2)
“In behalf of the US people, thank you for your service,” the US president said. Obama asked the audience to give a standing ovation to the veterans.
He added: “Sadly the proud service of many of these Filipino veterans was never fully recognized by the United States. Many were denied the compensation they were promised.”
Obama said that the US government has reviewed a law for veterans “and found 20,000 Filipino veterans who deserved benefits.”
He added: “You showed what friends can do when we take care of each other.”
While Filipinos were allowed to enlist in the military during World War II, and while they were residents of the US territory, they were not granted the same benefits or citizenship as their US counterparts.
Every year since 1993, a bill to extend full benefits and recognition to the veteranos. But none made it to the President’s desk.
In 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, formally recognizing the service of FIlipino World War II veterans.
As part of the package, veterans with US citizenship would receive a lump sum of $15,000 and non-US citizens would received a payment of $9,000. (READ: America’s second-class veterans)
Obama arrived in Manila on Monday, April 28. He met with President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang and was honored in a state dinner.
After his Tuesday speech at Fort Bonifacio, Obama proceeded to the American cemetery in Taguig. He is scheduled to leave for the US at 11:55 am Tuesday. – Rappler.com
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