After 20 years of lobbying for veteran benefits, Filipino WWII vets say they will stop their efforts

Ruxandra Guidi/KPCC

Franco Arcebal, a former Filipino guerrilla intelligence officer in WWII, at a meeting in Los Angeles with a Department of Veterans' Affairs representative earlier this Spring.

Over 250,000 Filipino soldiers fought alongside American citizens for the time the U.S. was involved in World War II. And then, they were stripped of full military benefits — and of national recognition as American vets.

In 1946, Congress passed the Rescission Act, which stripped Filipinos of the promised benefits while simultaneously providing the Philippines with $200,000,000 after the war. Now, after more than 60 years, Filipino vets have decided to stop lobbying to get all the benefits back.

Over the past 12 years, Filipino vets and their families been able to get some Social Security benefits, become U.S. citizens and gain access to veterans’ hospitals. But those gains haven’t been enough, says Arturo Garcia, an L.A.-based coordinator for the advocacy group, Justice for Filipino American Veterans.

“The last thing that we are asking is for a military pension, as veterans of WWII [who were] instrumental in winning America’s war," says Garcia. "I mean, a military pension is $1,300 a month.”

Garcia isn’t a WWII veteran himself, but his grandfather and uncles were.

He says the group counted on the support of Congresswoman Jackie Speier of San Francisco, who wrote the latest version of the bill. But now, he says, 11,000 Filipino vets in the U.S. — many of them in the Los Angeles area — have decided to stop lobbying Congress.

They’ll focus instead on improving their existing benefits by dealing directly with the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

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