Filipino Veterans Get Overdue Benefits
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Some World War II veterans stand to benefit from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the president signed this week. The stimulus package includes $198 million for Filipino service members. And Filipino-Americans celebrated at the Philippine Embassy here in Washington.
Unidentified Man: (Unintelligible).
NORRIS: During the war, the Philippines was still a U.S. commonwealth and Filipinos were considered American citizens. When the war ended in 1946, Congress passed the Recession Act, which stripped 250,000 Filipino soldiers of that citizenship and denied them their benefits. In the 60 years since, Filipino veterans have been embroiled in legal battles and protests. Some of them have gained back their citizenship but without their military benefits. So there was joy this week.
CELESTINE OLMADA: Sometimes I wish I had the grasp of the English language so that I can portray my innermost feeling of how thankful I am for this benefit that I'm about to receive.
NORRIS: That's 92-year-old Celestine Olmada. He'll get this $15,000 lump sum allotted for American citizens. Non-citizens will receive $9,000. This payment precludes the veterans from filing other claims. And that saddens those who fought for monthly pensions and survivor benefits. But the remaining 18,000 Filipino veterans are elderly, many are ailing. And for Amadale Urbano(ph) who is now 85, the compensation is only secondary. He says it's the honor and recognition that's important.
AMADALE URBANO: The wrong has been corrected. The rights, privileges, and benefits unjustly denied from us has been finally restored. And therefore I can see without any - without any rancor that at last America had come to her senses.
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