Thursday, April 24, 2008

"It's late, but please forgive us."

Those were the sentiments of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on the action take today by the U.S. Senate. They passed a bill restoring benefits for Filipino veterans of World War II, which was loudly applauded by the Hawaii House Filipino Caucus. The Senate authorized $221 million over the next decade for Filipino veterans living in the Philippines. The funds would go toward housing assistance, life insurance, and burial costs, and includes pensions of about $3,600 a year for low-income veterans.

"This is a landmark victory for the courageous Filipino veterans who fought bravely in World War II," said Rep. Michael Magaoay, chairman of the House Filipino Caucus. "We want to thank our two U.S. Senators, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Senator Daniel K. Akaka, without whom this bill might never have passed."

It is estimated that 470,000 Filipinos fought in the war for the United States against the Japanese. Of that number, about 20,000 Filipino veterans are still alive, with 2,000 living in Hawaii and 13,000 in the Philippines.

"Even though many of the veterans have passed, we believe it is important to honor their memory and give them the recognition they deserve," added Rep. Magaoay. "It's an important lesson that we pass on to our children, that our Filipino ancestors played a role in fighting for the United States of America in the name of freedom, and that our country found it right and just to give Filipinos a place in history."

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