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June 9, 2016 Victory in the Senate
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hi in red) & Eric Lachica, Rudy Panaglima, Georgette Beltran & Celestino Almeda

Thank you Statement of
June 9, 2016
U.S. Capitol Washington DC

Good morning everyone.

My name is RODOLFO "Rudy" PANAGLIMA. I am Filipino World War II veteran. I am a member of American Coalition for Filipino Veterans. I am 86 years old. My wife and I are US Citizens. We reside in Arlington, Virginia.

My wife PURA is 83. She and I immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago. We have four adult children. My two sons in Philippines, ROLANDO and RAOUL, have approved immigration petitions since 1995 - and have waited more than twenty years to join us.

We need Rolando and Raul to take care of us - because of our age. We don't have relatives in the area. Fortunately, my two other children, Olivia and Roel, happily live in England.

In World War II, when I was 13 years old, my father, a guerrilla commander, drafted me as his runner or courier to smuggle vital intelligence, gather information and collect voluntary contributions from our town people. Later during the liberation campaign, my father and I were attached to US Airborne & 1st Cavalry Division.

Today, I am a proud American who had served honorably. Hopefully in a few months, my two sons could be with me in America with this parole visa program.

On behalf of the whole Panaglima family, I would like to convey our heartfelt gratitude to his excellency, President Barack Obama and to the honorable Senators MAZIE HIRONO, HARRY REID, TIM KAINE and others for their humanitarian leadership and for helping us elderly veterans.

We hope President Obama's executive order for a humanitarian parole visas for the children of my comrades and their widows will be implemented quickly and fairly by the U S C I S.

Maraming salamat. Thank you very much.


CLICK: Parole Visas for Family Reunification website & USCIS forms I-131, I-134 & more

June 29, 2007

July Revival for Family Reunification


Dear ACFV leaders & members:

Yesterday, we were sad and upset about the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification (FVFR) as a part of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, S. 1639, being blocked in a procedural battle on the Senate floor by a bipartisan vote of 53 to 46.

Today, we can remain hopeful because of the previous overwhelming Senate May 24 vote of 87 to 9 for the Akaka FVFR amendment.

We are confident with the support of 87 senators we can revive the Akaka-Hirono FVFR amendment as a rider to one of "moving" must pass bills in the near future, as suggested earlier by one of our
Republican sponsors.

Salamat po for your continued support and efforts for equity+family.

Have a great July 4th holiday!

Executive Director
American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc

San Francisco CA weekly

Despite setback, veterans hopeful for family bill

Rita M. Gerona-Adkins, Jun 20, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "We are disgusted, but we are not losing hope," Art Caleda, president of the World War II Filipino Veterans organization in Hawaii, told Philippine News, reacting to the
Senate's failure to pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill last week.

The bipartisan bill was debated on the floor for two weeks in an effort to accommodate several amendments toward a final Senate vote, but was closed for further discussion last Thursday, June 7, by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), leaving the bill in limbo.

The bill accommodates an amendment authored by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) allowing for sons and daughters of naturalized World War II Filipino veterans to be reunited with them in the United

"We share the disappointment of Senator Akaka, on whom we pin our hopes for the reunification of our family," the 81-year old veteran, who petitioned his three children and two underage grandchildren 15 years ago to be allowed to join him and his wife Luz in the U.S., added sadly.

Caleda, who is also president of the 1,500-member WWII FilAm Veterans and Ladies Auxiliary of Hawaii, was with the Intelligence Service Company, 11th Infantry Regiment, of the U.S. Armed Forces
of the Philippines for the last two years of the effort that led to the capture of Japan's General Yamashita.

Bill to Affect 18,000 Family Members

Akaka's bill, the Filipino WWII Veterans Family Reunification Act, had won an overwhelming 87-9 Senate vote as an amendment to the senate immigration bill on May 24, raising a chorus of jubilant Filipino American veterans whose children had been waiting in the immigration pipeline.

According to estimates, there are about 18,000 eligible children and grandchildren to be affected by the bill. The bill, however, will cover only those family members for whom applications for emigration to the U.S. have been filed and paid for by naturalized Filipino WWII veterans.

The reopening of the Senate debate on the immigration bill is expected to take place this week.

Some veterans, including Caleda and his Hawaii-based compatriots, are also looking at other options.

"We have met with Sen. Akaka's district office staff, in particular Michael Kitamura, and are looking at the suggestion of pushing the Akaka bill as part of the equity bill," Caleda said.

More Reactions from Veterans

Other U.S.-based Filipino veterans had also expressed their joy and expectations at the Akaka bill's inclusion in the emerging Senate
immigration bill.

"We are very happy about the good news," Joe Gonzalez, 82, of Texas, told PN by phone on May 24. "I petitioned my seven children 12 years ago in 1994, and paid the $90 fee for each of them. They are still waiting, and have started to contact me when they could come."

A former president of a FilAm veterans association in Hawaii when he lived there for 11 years, Gonzalez was among the veterans who came to lobby for the Akaka bill for its successful inclusion in the senate immigration bill that eventually passed in the previous 109th Congress.

Joaquin Tejada, 80, a D.C.-based veteran member of ACFV who lobbies in Congress as frequently as his bad legs could stand the walking, also hopes his two daughters could finally be reunited with him too.

Celestino Almeda, 90, who lives in Virginia and still manages to take the Metro to Congress by himself despite one un-seeing eye, petitioned for his only son, Reynaldo, two years ago.

"I am waiting for him to join me," he said, adding that he paid the current fee of $120 for his application.

These veterans are among the remaining 7,000 Filipino veterans living in the U.S. after many of their naturalized compatriots had chosen to go back to the Philippines. Of the surviving 18,000 to 19,000 Filipino WWII veterans estimated by the Akaka bill, 13,000 are living in the Philippines.

----- fair use ----------

Release: March 9, 2006


Sen. Akaka & Democrats Request $106 Million,

Filipino Veterans Ask for Hearings

WASHINGTON DC  - Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), the
Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs
Committee, four Democrat senators, and Independent
Sen. James Jeffords (Vermont) on the committee,
submitted last week a budget request for $106
Million for monthly pensions for Filipino WWII
veterans, according to the American Coalition for
Filipino Veterans, a Washington-based advocacy

In their March 2, 2006 "Views and Estimates Letter
on the FY07 VA Budget Proposal," to the Senate
Budget Committee, Akaka and the five senators
said, " We believe it is time to provide
non-service connected pension for Filipino
veterans . and request an additional $106 million
for Filipinos who served alongside U.S.
servicemembers during World War II."

Akaka decided to take the lead after he met with
about THIRTY Hawaii based veterans and community
leaders last month. On February 17, he wrote
veteran leader Art Caleda, "I am writing to inform
you of my cosponsorship of S. 146, the Filipino
Veterans Equity Act of 2005 <.> I understand that
my support for Filipino veterans was questioned
following the receipt of my letter last year about
the status of S. 146. The letter stated that the
fiscal situation in FY06 would make enactment of
the bill difficult. I apologize for any
misunderstanding <.> I can assure you of my
unwavering support for equity for Filipino
veterans. I was trying to convey the challenges
that we face in trying to enact the bill given the
fiscal situation and the lack of true
understanding among some of my colleagues about
the sacrifices made by Filipino veterans and their

The four Democrat senators supporting Akaka's
budget request are: John Rockefeller IV (WVa),
Patty Murray (WA), Barack Obama (IL) and Ken
Salazar (CO). There are eight Republican senators
on the VA committee led by their chairman Larry
Craig (ID).

Previously on February 23, thirteen Democrats in
the House Veterans Affairs Committee led by
Ranking Member Rep. Lane Evans (IL) announced
their "Views and Estimates" request with a $106
million proposed budget for Filipino veterans.

"We are excited about this breakthrough," said
Franco Arcebal, 82, a low-income veteran in Los
Angeles and the ACFV vice president for
membership. "We fought for America and served
honorably. We deserve a modest pension to fully
recognize our sacrifices," he added. Arcebal was
severely tortured by Japanese soldiers when he
captured as a Filipino guerrilla in Ilocos Sur,
Philippines when he was gathering intelligence in

The coalition leaders are campaigning for early
congressional hearings. They are now negotiating
with congress members, the VA Department and the
White House to approve the final pension formula
and budget. They are counting on the crucial
leadership of California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger (R), Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Vista
CA), the main sponsor of the Equity bill H.R. 4574
and Virginia Senator George Allen (R), a cosponsor
of S. 146.



December 22, 2005


Schwarzenegger Appeals to Bush,

Rep. Issa Leads Campaign



WASHINGTON, DC  – On the 64th anniversary World War II, elderly Filipino veterans received early Christmas gifts from three Republican leaders who will champion their campaign to win full U.S. recognition and VA pensions next year.


On December 8, 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote to President Bush to support “the Filipino Veterans Equity Act (that) would eliminate gaps in coverage … ensure all Filipino veterans receive the same benefits available to American veterans (and) give these veterans their long overdue recognition and the benefits they deserve.”

On December 16, 2005, Rep. Darrell ISSA (R-Vista CA) re-introduced the new "Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2006," The original cosponsors of H.R. 4574 are: Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista CA), Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon CA), Richard Pombo (R-Stockton CA), Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GUAM), Thelma Drake (R-Virginia Beach VA), Dan Burton (R-Indianapolis), Neil Abercrombie (D-Honolulu HI), Bobby Scott (D-Richmond VA), Michael Honda (D-Campbell CA), and Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys CA). 5 Republicans and 6 Democrats.

Earlier on Capitol Hill, Issa was thanked by ACFV leaders: Pat Ganio, Fred Diaz and Jose Genito of Jersey City's PAVO. Organization, Regino Nacua of San Francisco Fil-Am Veterans, Spouses & Families Assn., Manuel Cannu and Dalmacio Chuga of San Diego, Alberto Bacani of Virginia, Joaquin Tejada and Tomas Culanag of DC and Percival Abu, Embassy veterans officer.


Issa, a Vietnam War U.S. Army veteran and a businessman, told ACFV leaders, "I'm positive we can do the second part next year...  We always keep our promises. However, we (congress) don't keep them on time." He is a member of the International Relations Committee.


"We are quickly fading away. Schwarzenegger, Issa and Allen gave us Christmas gifts to fight on," said Alfredo Diaz, 89, New Jersey veteran coordinator of ACFV. Diaz is a former marathon runner, a defender in the Battle for Bataan and escaped from the Death March in 1942. ACFV also thanked Philippine Ambassador Del Rosario and Gen. Lorenzana of the Embassy's Office of Veterans Affairs and Rep. Filner for their behind the scenes efforts with Issa.

The recent resignation of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Escondido CA), former main sponsor of the Equity bill (H.R. 302), had placed the bill in limbo. The bill had to be re-introduced by another Republican as main sponsor to proceed in the legislative process.

Issa also filed a separate House resolution H. Res. 622 to complement Senate Resolution S. Res. 307 introduced by Sen. George Allen (R-VA) that "recognizes and honors the Filipino World War II veterans for defense of American democracy" that earlier passed on November 10.


Earlier, the veterans joined the forum of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus chaired by Rep. Michael Honda (D- Campbell CA). They praised the legislators for their commitment to pass their bills in 2006. Ganio publicly thanked Vellie Dietrich-Hall, commissioner of the White House Initiative on Asian Pacific Americans. Dietrich-Hall, a daughter of a Filipino veteran, testified.


At a Philippine Embassy reception, the ACFV leaders met with Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo, of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, and presented a copy of the U.S. Senate Resolution. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana (ret.), Arroyo’s special representative, Armando Heredia, executive director of the Natl. Fed. of Fil. Am. Associations (NaFFAA) and Dr. Sonny Carlota MD of Tennessee joined them.


At a December 15 party at the VA headquarters, Bacani met with VA Secretary Jim Nicholson and later delivered a copy of Schwarzenegger's letter.

To win in 2006, we need you to recruit a friend !



RE:    CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Aug. 1, 2005

We marked the 64th anniversary of Franklin D.
Roosevelt's (FDR) July 26, 1941 military order
drafting Philippine Commonwealth Army soldiers
into the USAFFE by our July actions.

July 12:
We had a successful noontime news conference in
Sacramento to appeal to California Arnold
Schwarzenegger to support our bills in
congress by writing President Bush just like
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. Our vets led by Jose
Nuega were supported by the Fil-Am Community of
Sacramento led by Dr. Fred Aquino DVM. TV Channel
3 News broadcasted the event at 10 PM. Assemblyman
Jerome Horton (D-Los Angeles) attended and pledged
to help negotiate with the governor.

July 22:
Nuega, Aquino, Kathy Pflaum and Sacramento leaders met with the Governor's aides led by VA Undersecretary Major General (Ret) Brautigan and Dept. of Social Services Asst. Dep. Director Joseph M. Carlin. They were joined by our San Jose Am. Legion six-vet delegation led by Bernardo Jasmin and Eddie Arabe. The governor's aides requested current population statistics of Filipino veterans in the state and more details about the bills: S. 146- HR 302 to review and their proposal to the Schwarzenegger. Follow up

July 24:
Our hardy Washington-area veterans led by Joaquin
Tejada, Tomas Culanag, Alberto Bacani,
Jesse Baltazar, Angelesio Tugado, Amadeo Urbano
were joined by our Jersey City Phil. Am. Vets.
Org. (PAVO) leaders led by Jose Genito and Alfredo
Diaz at the advanced screening of "The Great
Raid." They were recognized and applauded by 200
members in the audience.

July 25 Monday:
Our vets had morning meetings with the aides of
Rep. Issa and Rep. Cunningham. We stressed our
continued commitment to win $200 monthly VA

At noon, with the leaders from NJ and the New York
Am. Legion post led by Pacifico Timbol and Nora
Navida, we had a news event in front of The White
House to appeal to President Bush. (see photo)

In the afternoon, we met the Senate VA Committee's
majority staff director and benefits aide. Upon
our request, they agreed they would ask the VA
Dept. and the Congressional Budget Office to
provide current statistics of the living Filipino
WWII veterans population and budget estimates for
the proposed $200 pension budget for the committee
to consider for the October 1, 2006 fiscal year.

Our vets later met with the aides of NY & NJ
Senators Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, Frank
Lautenberg and Jon Corzine to ask for their prompt
cosponsorship of S. 146. NO commitments for now.

We ended a hot and humid July 25 Action Day with a
wreathlaying photo opportunity at the Franklin D.
Roosevelt Monument (see photo).

July 28 Thursday:
Tejada, Culanag and Bacani joined former Senator
and presidential candidate Bob Dole (R- Kansas)
and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in a morning
wreathlaying ceremony at WWII Memorial
Bataan-Corregidor fountain with cast of "The Great
Raid" movie. Filipino actor Cesar Montano who
played the role of WWII guerrilla Capt. Juan
Pajota graced the event with Philippine Ambassador
Del Rosario.

Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John McCain
(R-AZ) chaired the evening premiere of the Miramax
movie at the Uptown movie theater before an 800
member audience.

"Great movie," Mrs. Clinton told a Philippine STAR
reporter on her way out of the theater. "I hope it
creates sympathy for Filipino veterans who are
still fighting for their benefits." "We've been
working hard for them and will continue doing so
until they get what they deserve," she said.
Follow up required on Clinton and McCain since
both are apparently running for president in 2008.

July 29, Friday:
The last day of the congressional session until
they return on Sept. 5 from their 1-month summer
recess. Senators and congress members can be
reached at their local offices if they are not on
their family vacations. We only have the month of
September left this year to get cosponsorships.

Now may be the best time for you to VISIT them to
thank or encourage them to support our bills, if
they have not done so.


Need 3 Republican Governors (Now 1- Lingle)
Need 9 Senators (Now 4: Inouye, Boxer, Cantwell
            & Feinstein)
Need 100 Reps. (Now 61: Cunningham et al)
Need  $15K (Raised about $5K ?)
Need publicity (Now alot: The Great Raid etc.)


I will be in Philippines from Aug. 16 to Sept.4 to
consult our affiliated leaders there on the
maintenance of the US $500 K grant-in-aid to
Philippine Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC)
and the launching of the "Balik-USA Beterano"

Our goal is recruit at least 50 US citizen
Filipino WWII veteran volunteers by Nov. 1 to help
us in USA by residing in California or with their

As Americans, these volunteer BalikUSABeteranos
would be fully eligible for full US VA medical,
medicines, and nursing home care if they reside in
USA. They may be eligible for Supplemental
Security Income ($560 to $700 monthly).

Your suggestions & continued $upport are always

Again, many thanks to our tireless DC leaders,
Christine Dela Rosa of GWU-PCS, Maurese Owens,
Mitzi Pickard, Bing Branigin and you for a
successful July actions in our nation's capital.


ACFV News Release June 17, 2005

Florida Vets Ask Governor Bush for Equity

TALLAHASSEE, FL  - Elderly Filipino World War II
veterans recently got a boost of support from
their younger comrades in Florida.

Vietnam War-era Filipino U.S. Navy veterans
committed themselves to persuade Governor Jeb Bush
to back the "Filipino Veterans Equity" pension
bills S. 146 and H.R. 302 in Congress.

Four officers of the Filipino American Veterans
Society of Jacksonville (FAVS) led by Art
Gandionco, accompanied Patrick Ganio, a former
defender in the WWII battle in Bataan, to a May 23
meeting with Rocky McPherson, Governor Bush's
executive director of the Department of Veterans
Affairs in Tallahassee.

Ganio, 84, the president of the American Coalition
for Filipino Veterans (ACFV), a national advocacy
group, asked McPherson for his recommendation to
the governor. During their hour-long meeting, the
delegation described the importance of the growing
Filipino community in the state, now numbering
more than 60,000.

McPherson, a retired Marine colonel, advised the
delegation to send a formal letter to the governor
urging him to write the two Florida senators and
25 members of Congress to cosponsor their
"Filipino Veterans Equity" bills with the proposed
annual budget of $22 Million.

He suggested the major state veterans
organizations like the American Legion, VFW and
the Disabled American Veterans join their efforts.
He acknowledged the courageous contributions of
Filipino WWII veterans and of enlisted Filipinos
service members and their families in the three
military bases in Jacksonville.

Gandionco, a retired navy engineer,  informed
McPherson they would be meeting that evening with
influential Northeast Florida Veterans Council to
seek their support.

At the end of their appointment, Ganio presented
McPherson with a DVD historical documentary of the
Filipino WWII veterans struggle to restore their
U.S. veterans status.

Later that evening in Jacksonville, Ganio and ACFV
director Eric Lachica gave a 30-minute
presentation to 36-member council presided by a
former Marine, Heywood "Pete" Dowling, acting

The council unanimously passed their resolution.
It stated, "the General Assembly of the NORTHEAST
FLORIDA VETERANS COUNCIL, comprised of delegates
representing 36 veterans organizations, urge
President George W. Bush, Florida Governor Jeb
Bush, Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Mel Martinez and
other Florida Congressional Members to support the
bills S. 146 and H.R. 302 and the budget proposal
of $22 Million that would fully restore the U.S.
recognition to WWII Filipino veterans and to
provide them with honorable VA pensions."

The ACFV has also targeted California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger to win his crucial support
this summer. For details, call ACFV at 202
246-1998 or e-mail:

# # #

ACFV News Release June 6, 2005


   We had a hectic Asian American AAPI Heritage Month
schedule to promote our Equity issue and to
line-up more allies in our equity campaign in
Washington DC.

*  May 6, Corregidor Day anniversary: We kicked-off
with a protest of the Japanese Government
"whitewashing" high school textbooks with a
successful media coverage in Filipino & Japanese
media. Follow-up meetings with the LA, SF, CHG,
and NYC consuls required.

*  May 8-9, Chicago forum with the American Legion
Post 509 now led by Dr. Crispin Echieverri MD.
Their focus is convincing Sen. Obama (D-Illinois)
member Senate VA Committee, and Rep. Henry Hyde
(R), chair of the House International Relations
Commitee, to support Rep. Lane Evans proposal of
$22 Million budget for S. 146 and H.R. 302.

*  May 11 Forum at the USVA Headquarters personnel
with panelists Eddy R. Badrina, Director of the
White House Initiative on Asian American and
Pacific Islanders; Edward Chow, Jr., Vice
President of Vietnam Veterans of America and
former DVA official; and Dr. Warren Minami, Chair
of the National Japanese Am. Memorial Foundation
and a member of the Japanese Am. Veterans
Association. As executive director of ACFV, I
assured the VA staff and officials of our
continued assertive advocacy. As a grandson of WWII Filipino
veterans, Badrina expects Pres. Bush would
favorably resolve our veterans issue before he
leaves office in 2008.

*  May 17-18 Asian Pacific American Institute for
Congressional Studies conference. Assisted
Stockton-area leader Monty Martinez and Owen Diaz,
Mayor of City of Milan, MI.

*  May 21, Delaware presentation at the Filipino
American Heritage & Arts Museum event with the
founders Ms. Ditta Camomot and Ms. Mildred
Lombardi with help of the Philadelphia vets of the
American Legion Alejo Santo Post led by Jimmy
Soriano, Val Ildefonso, Reginaldo Bacordo and
Rudy Diaz.

*  May 22, with Pat Ganio, Sr. and Richard Aquino,
Disabled American Veterans service officer, in
Jacksonville, Florida, we met the leaders of the
Filipino American Veterans Society (FAVS), and
consulted Dr. Pedro Cruz of the Bataan-Corregidor
Memorial ( in Kissimee on common

*  May 23, with officers of FAVS led by Art
Gandionco USN (ret.), we met for an hour with Col.
Rocky McPherson, Governor Jeb Bush's director of
FL. Veterans Affairs in Tallahasee. Follow-up
letters needed.

*  May 23, with Pat Ganio, presented to the North
East Florida Veterans Council of 34 groups. They
passed a resolution urging President Bush,
Governor Bush, and the Florida representatives in
Congress to support our bills with the $22 M
budget proposal.

*  May 29, Maj. Jesse Baltazar US Air Force (ret.)
of ACFV Virginia was the guest speaker of the
leaders of the Cleveland, Ohio Asian Pacific
American Federation.

*  May 29-30 Memorial Day events in Washington with
Vietnam War Fil-Am vets led by Rudy Torres, US Air
Force (ret.), who rode their motorcycles from
California to participate in the Rolling Thunder
events. The parents of Ian Manuel, a helicopter
pilot of the US Army who killed in Iraq, were
joined by our WWII vets at the Arlington
National Cemetery to honor our fallen heroes.

*  May 31, presentation to the officers of the US
Army's Fort Detrick in Maryland. Received a plaque
of appreciation from Col. William Roberts,
garrison commander.

1. Meet your Governor's staff for a Bush letter.
2 .Visit Senators' & Reps' local offices.
3. Join Fil-Am events & gather petitions.
4 .Attend July 24-25 Leaders Summit in DC.

Did you get the latest DVD of our 2005 Bataan
Action Days news coverage & the "Free Cabanatuan"

A $25 donation will be appreciated.

# # #


ACFV News Release January 14, 2005


Filipino Veterans Fairness Act Reintroduced


WASHINGTON, DC - On the first day of the new 109th Congress, Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, a Democrat from Torrance California, reintroduced the "Filipino Veterans Fairness Act," a bill that would provide Filipino World War II veterans with monthly disability pensions in United States and in the Philippines as well as educational and employment benefits for their dependents.

Millender-McDonald re-filed her bill as House Resolution H.R. 170 on January 4, 2005. It was a result of her previous years’ meetings with the leaders of the 35,000 Filipinos in her district and with Philippine Government officials. Recently on November 22, 2004, the congresswoman met with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Los Angeles after the Bush-Arroyo talks in Santiago, Chile. They discussed the veterans’ issue and other items.


Millender-McDonald is also a key leader of the Philippine-US Friendship Caucus in Congress. In June 2003, she met with the Philippine Government delegation headed by the House of Representative VA committee chairman Rep. Tomas Dumpit and Ambassador Del Rosario.


“We welcome the reintroduction of the Millender-McDonald bill and the other bills that are expected to re-filed by Reps Cunningham and Filner in the House as well as Senator Inouye in the Senate,” said Patrick Ganio, 83, the president of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. (ACFV), a Washington DC-based advocacy group of 4,000 members. “We hope these bills will be the catalysts to a new law that restores the U.S. veterans status and provides equitable VA benefits to our living heroes,” Ganio added, a defender in the Battles in Bataan and Corregidor and a former POW.


The “Fairness bill” was originally filed on May 6, 2003 and provides veteran benefits to the Filipino veterans who fought side by side with American soldiers during World War II. In addition to providing desperately needed monthly disability benefits, the bill calls for home loan assistance for U.S. based veterans, educational assistance for their U.S. and Philippine-based dependents, and employment services for U.S. based veterans and spouses, as well as health care at the Manila VA Outpatient Clinic.


The bill's key provision provides a VA disability pension "notwithstanding any other provision of law... at rate of $100 per month" to an estimated 15,000 poor Philippine-based Filipino veterans.


“With Capitol Hill leaders are now grappling to cut down the federal budget deficit - now at a half-TRILLION dollars and dealing with the Iraq War and Social Security, we can expect bitter partisan battles between the Republican majority and the Democrats. According to congressional staff, the legislative prospects of our Filipino veterans bills look very bleak this year, “ said Eric Lachica, ACFV executive director and a registered advocate in congress.


“Realistically, a Filipino veterans bill can only pass if Bush can be persuaded to provide the budget line item for it in his Administration request to Congress in February or later,” Lachica emphasized. H.R.170 may cost at least $22 Million, he estimates.


Arroyo and Philippine Ambassador Albert Del Rosario recently called upon the Filipino American community leaders to work as a “team” to pass veterans legislation as a “high priority.” Arroyo last November appointed retired Maj. General Delfin Lorenzana to be her special presidential representative on veterans affairs in Washington. Earlier on January 22, 2004, Arroyo made a written request to President Bush for a $22 Million budget for Filipino veterans pensions. The ambassador and Lorenzana are scheduled to meet next week with Filipino American Bush supporters during the presidential inaugural activities in Washington.


# # #


May 19, 2003 ACFV News Release
White House Invites Two Filipino Veteran Leaders
to State Dinner with President Arroyo

WASHINGTON DC - (May 19, 2003)   --  The White House invited two leaders of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV) to attend the State Dinner honoring Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday, May 19.

    ACFV president Patrick Ganio, Sr., an 82-year-old veteran who fought in the battles of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942 and a Purple Heart recipient, was recently called by the White House Office of Social Secretary and informed of the invitation.
    Ganio was accompanied by Eric Lachica, the Washington DC based group's executive director, a son of a WWII veteran and a long-time community organizer.

    President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush hosted the formal black tie and Philippine dress dinner in their residence from 7 PM to 10:45 PM for Mrs. Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo and 14 members of her official delegation.

   "We are deeply honored by the President and the First Lady inviting us to this historic and prestigious gathering," said Ganio. "We will redouble our efforts in helping Mrs. Arroyo and President Bush pass legislation in the US Congress and Senate that will restore official recognition and provide equitable VA benefits to our surviving veterans in the Philippines and in America," he added.

   "We requested Mrs. Arroyo to specifically ask President Bush to support Senate bill S. 68 of our longtime champion and war hero, Senator Daniel Inouye," according to Eric Lachica of the advocacy organization with 4,000 members.

   If S. 68 is made into law, 29,350 (VA new estimate) surviving veterans of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, recognized guerrillas and New Philippine Scouts may receive medical care and disability pension benefits ($100 monthly in the Philippines) from the Department of Veteran Affairs.  Lachica estimates the bill will cost less than $40 Million yearly.

   Inouye's bill was a result of previous years of negotiations between the Philippine government's Joint Executive-Legislative Delegation, ACFV leaders, and US sponsors, led by Sen. Inouye, former congressman Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) on a proportional benefit formula to meet the needs of Philippine-based veterans who face lower costs of living. Their consensus is that S. 68 is a realistic and equitable proposal that would overcome budgetary and legislative obstacles.

   Veteran leaders from Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Ohio, New York Jersey City, Philadelphia and other cities attended Sunday's 6:00 PM Filipino American community Arroyo dinner at the Capital Hilton, and witnessed the Monday's 8:00 AM arrival welcome ceremonies for Arroyo by Bush at the White House south lawn, and to lobbied on Capitol Hill.

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U.S. Filipino WW2 vets on the White House South Lawn 5/19/2003

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