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U.S. tax dollars FULL EQUITY for Filipino veterans, not to fund martial law

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Every Veterans Day is a reminder that Filipino World War II Veterans are still denied justice. For over ten years now the U.S. Congress has failed to pass legislation that amends Title 38 of the 1946 Rescission Act–the act that denies Filipino Veterans equal recognition and compensation for their sacrifice during World War II.

Many of these Veterans, walking the downtown streets of America, are separated from their families, and often live with 4-5 others in cramped single occupancy rooms or small apartments. Reaching their twilight years, thousands subsist off of supplemental social security income or welfare and live very difficult lives. These men came to the U.S. after George Bush Sr. signed the 1990 Immigration Act giving Filipino Veterans the right to naturalization but not Full Equity. This law which gives Filipino Veterans citizenship without the right to equal recognition and compensation demonstrates the long standing problem of American public policy. How can it be appropriate to say Filipino WWII Veterans are U.S. citizens but cannot be given equal treatment? It is because of this clear contradiction so many Filipino Veterans demand the U.S. government make amends and pass HR 302 and S146, the current Filipino Veterans Equity Act in the House and Senate.

However, the national defense budget projected at $402.6 billion consumes an overwhelming portion of the U.S. tax base.[1] Some believe that the Bush administration’s exorbitant defense spending stands in the way of Filipino Veterans Equity. Many representatives in Congress claim there is not enough money to give Filipino Veterans the justice they have deserved for over 59 years.

BAYAN USA asserts that there is more than enough money to pay for Full Equity. Just this year alone, the U.S. government has projected giving $71,770,000 in military aid to a regime and armed forces that is responsible for a record number of human rights abuses. [2] The Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime has lost the mandate of the Filipino people and they are demanding an end to her presidency. She is spending the Philippine defense budget and the millions in military aid received from the U.S. on suppressing the will of the Filipino people and to brutally repress the national democratic movement. As of July 2005, Karapatan, a human rights group has documented 4207 cases of human rights violations which included killings, summary executions, unlawful detention and force disappearances.[3] American tax dollars should be used for Full Equity for Filipino Veterans and not to fund martial law.

It is important to note that there is a historical difference between the service of Filipinos Veterans during WWII and the role the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) plays today. In WWII, when the Philippines was still a colony, the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), the guerilla units and the New Philippine Scouts served as inducted soldiers in the American military for the purpose of defending the Philippines against Japanese imperialism. Today the AFP is the military arm of the repressive Macapagal-Arroyo regime that performs weekly assassinations of anti-Arroyo leaders and human rights defenders violently suppressing the people’s rights to dissent by beating protestors on the streets in enforcement of the current de facto martial law. The U.S. government is spending American tax dollars to draw blood from the Filipino people instead of allocating the appropriate means to fund justice for the surviving tens of thousands of Filipino Veterans who are still denied Full Equity.

The demand for FULL EQUITY for Filipino WWII Veterans is similar to the demands of our compatriots back home that are also fighting for the right to dignity, basic social services and a decent livelihood. Additionally, BAYAN USA recognizes the Filipino WWII Veterans struggle for full recognition is connected to the national democratic struggle for genuine sovereignty and independence. The Rescission Act continues to be a reminder of the institutional racism and lack of respect the U.S. government has against our people. It is an example of the unequal relations and neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines. No Philippine president, since the Rescission Act, has ever demanded and stipulated that the U.S. reverse this most disgraceful legislation. Yet each one of them allowed for continued U.S. exploitation of our homeland such as President Arroyo’s complete support for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

From the Rescission Act to funding de facto Martial Law, BAYAN USA is committed to challenging U.S. policies in the quarters of Congress. BAYAN USA member organizations such as The League of Filipino Students (LFS SFSU) along with Anakbayan (AB) Honolulu and Seattle have been working to build youth and community support for FULL EQUITY. At the BAYAN Founding Congress in January 2005, the full assembly voted to support FULL EQUITY for Filipino Veterans through the passage of HR302 and S146 in the 109th Congress.

BAYAN USA calls on the people of the world to stand in solidarity with the struggle for Filipino Veterans Equity and Justice. Filipino Veterans fought under the American flag so that all people could be free from foreign domination, and military repression. They fought so that the landlessness, poverty and corruption that have plagued the Philippines for centuries could be addressed by the Filipino people themselves. Instead they were coerced to serve a country that would deny them equal treatment and continue the legacy of imperialism that they were fighting against.

BAYAN USA recognizes the hundreds of thousands of Filipino Veterans who have already died without equal recognition or just compensation, and the millions of innocent people who still face oppression under U.S. imperialism and neo-colonial domination. BAYAN USA supports the passage HR302 and S146 so that the tens of thousands of Veterans still surviving may receive just compensation and that all Filipino WWII Veterans and their families can finally get the recognition for their service and sacrifice. We demand that the U.S. use American tax dollars for FULL EQUITY for Filipino WWII Veterans instead of funding de facto Martial Law in the Philippines.

Pass HR302 and S146!

Justice for Filipino WWII Veterans!

Full Equity Now!

Stop US Military Aid to the Philippines!

Money for WWII Veterans, Not for Dictators!

[1] National Defense Budget – Long Range Forecast (Table 1-2)

[2] USG Assistance and Payments to the Philippines and its Citizens by Sector for FY 04-05

[3] KARAPATAN. The Human Rights Record of the Arroyo Administration: Four and a Half Years of State Terror. Available at