Filipino WWII veterans to stage rally to protest Bush visit

CHICAGO - On Oct. 17 the Chicago WWII Filipino veterans together with their families and friends will gather at the Federal Plaza (Dearborn and Adams)12 noon in Downtown Chicago to tell the American public about their stories of heroism and rightful claim to veterans benefits.

The rally will coincide with the state visit of President George W. Bush to the Philippines on October 18, 2003. The veterans want Bush to support HR 677, the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill of 2003. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has placed the passage of the bill on top of her agenda when she meets with Bush.

For more than five decades, these Filipino veterans were denied of their full US veterans benefits because of the passage of the Rescission Act of 1946.

The law withdrew the US veterans status of Filipino World War II soldiers and their eligibility for veterans benefits that were promised to them by President Harry Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 26, 1941 called into military service 140,000 Filipino soldiers under the command of American officers to defend the US territory of the Philippines.

Like the "kids" (192nd Tank Battalion) of Maywood, Illinois who were assigned in the Philippines, the young Filipino soldiers were barely trained but fought valiantly with great sacrifice against the overwhelming Japanese invading forces. They delayed the invaders' timetable by four months, thus allowing US forces to regain their military strength after the Pearl Harbor attack.

American Legion FilAm Post 509 Commander Arcadio V. Calabas, a Bataan Death March survivor, recalled the damage of the horrific war saying, "American and Filipino forces surrendered after the Battles of Bataan and Corregidor on April 9 and May 6, 1942, respectively, and suffered a horrible number of casualties in the Bataan Death March, in the POW camps, and in the liberation campaign where 10,000 US soldiers perished and 250,000 Filipino soldiers and civilians were casualties."

The Chicago WWII Filipino veterans, who are already in their 80s, are taking their best shot to display in public the injustice and discrimination long inflicted on them.

Despite the cold weather of Chicago, the aging veterans have decided to display their resolve to fight for justice and honor they all deserve.

FilVet Fortunato Mallari expressed his confidence that the community will be behind the veterans' pursuit for full equity. "The veterans will assemble at 9 a.m. in our community center at the Rizal Center, 1332 W. Irving Park Road. We will then prepare the placards bearing our hopes and fight for justice. We are sure that we will be able to mobilize more than a busload of supporters heading off to the Federal Plaza," he said.

For more information, call American Legion FilAm Post 509 Commander Arcadio Calabas at 773- 262-9094 or email Dale Asis at dale@caaelii.org or Jerry Clarito at equitycenter2002@yahoo.com.

10/10/2003

Bron : Manila Bulletin

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