Gov't must help FilVets claim benefits before one-year period lapses
Filipino World War II veterans should immediately file their application for claiming their benefits from the United States (US) government as they only have a year to do so Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said.
Gordon made the statement as he urged the government, notably the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), to extend all the necessary help to the veterans and their families for a more efficient procedure of applying for their compensation.
"The government should help our veterans in every way possible so that they may immediately file their applications to claim the benefits which they have long waited for," he said.
According to the guidelines released by the US Embassy in Manila, veterans have to file their application within one year from Feb. 17, 2009, the date of enactment into law of the $787-billion economic stimulus bill.
Under the US law, veterans with US citizenship will receive a one-time lump sum payment of $15,000; while non-US citizens will receive a one time lump sum payment of $9,000.
Those who MAY be eligible to claim benefits are veterans who are listed in the Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster (RRGR), and veterans under the New Philippine Scouts and Commonwealth Army (United States Army Forces in the Far East).
Gordon said the PVAO should aid claimants in availing their benefits by setting up help desks and hotlines and launching a massive and intensive information campaign to educate the veterans of the guidelines for obtaining the grant.
"We should make the process easy for our veterans because they have all the right to immediately obtain these benefits which are long overdue," he said.
Gordon had recently filed Senate Resolution 894 urging the government, particularly PVAO, to protect eligible Filipino veterans and their families from fixers who may take advantage of them in availing their benefits.
He also authored Senate Bill 142, signed into law as RA 9499, which provides that Filipino veterans would continue receiving pension and benefits from the Philippine Government even if they start receiving the same benefits from the US government.
Gordon also lobbied in the US Senate and the US House of Representatives for the passage of an equity bill which could remove much of the stain and dishonor done by the US government to the dignity and true sacrifices of Filipino WWII veterans and of the Philippines as a nation.