Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

APALC Applauds Long-Overdue Payments to Filipino American Veterans

LOS ANGELES, CA –The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) commends the U.S. Congress for awarding Filipino American veterans of World War II partial payment of their long-overdue veteran benefits. The payments represent recognition of the courage and sacrifice of Filipinos who fought under U.S. command in World War II.

According to the Los Angeles Times, over 400,000 Filipino soldiers fought alongside U.S. troops in the Pacific during World War II. Only 15,000 – less than 4% – are thought to be still alive. The veterans have waited for more than 60 years for the veteran benefits promised by the U.S. government.

Congress passed this bill under a provision in the stimulus bill signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009. Each Filipino veteran who is a U.S. citizen is eligible for $15,000 and each Filipino citizen is eligible for $9,000. “Many people are inquiring about the process to claim the benefits. It has been so long that all are worried how this money will come to them before they pass away,” said Franco Arcebal, Vice President of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans.

While Congress’ action results in only a partial payment to the veterans, the bill is a major milestone in the long campaign for Filipino veteran justice. The campaign which started in the late 1980s highlighted injustices and urged policy makers to grant the same benefits to World War II Filipino veterans as their American counterparts.

As a proud supporter of Filipino Americans veteran leaders and their movement, APALC’s involvement has included the following: - Starting in the late 1980s, APALC advocated for US citizenship for Filipino veterans who had been promised this right but were denied citizenship for decades. - In the 1990s, APALC tried to expose the legal discrimination in the Rescission Act of 1946 that rescinded the benefits promised to Filipino veterans by General Douglas MacArthur. - In the early 1990s, Tony Dorońo from APALC was one of the first to convene a local conference at the University of Southern California to raise awareness that hundreds of thousands of World War II Filipino veterans were not getting the same military benefits awarded to World War II American veterans. - In 2004, APALC through its joint legislative project in Sacramento (Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality) helped mobilize Filipino American veterans and advocacy groups to oppose a proposal to end state-funded benefits for elderly Filipino veterans. As a result, state legislators rejected the proposal.

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About Advancing Justice - LA: 
Founded in 1983, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for civil rights, providing legal services and education, and building coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Pacific Americans and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. APALC is affiliated with the Asian American Justice Center (formerly known as NAPALC) in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.