Honoring Bataan heroes' gallantry and bravery
Joining the people of Bataan in reliving the spirit of the Death March of Bataan as the nation celebrates the 67th Araw ng Kagitingan tomorrow is Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon.
Gordon will attend the celebration of the event in Bataan to commemorate the Filipinos who fought alongside American soldiers in the World War II. He will attend the "Parangal sa mga Bayani" in tribute to the sacrifices of Bataan war veterans.
The celebration will also feature the Parade of Floats which will depict the important events that transpired in Bataan during the World War II and the Death March Reenactment.
Gordon had been one of the prime movers in getting the United States (US) give recognition to some estimated 13,000 Filipino veterans who fought alongside American soldiers in the WWII.
He authored Republic Act (RA) 9499, which effectively amends RA 6948, or An Act Standardizing and Upgrading the Benefits for Military Veterans and their Dependents.
For years, the passage of the Filipino WWII Veterans Equity bill had been thwarted in the US Congress by US lawmakers who demanded equal responsibility. The granting of benefits by the US government, according to previous Filipino laws, would cancel out benefits being granted by the Filipino government.
To remedy this, Gordon authored Senate Bill 142 which became RA 9499. The law allowed Filipino veterans to continue receiving pensions and benefits from the Philippine government without rescinding similar benefits from the US government.
He 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.
And finally after 65 years, US President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that contained the Filipino Veterans' Equity provision which provided a tax-free $15,000 for each of the Filipino veterans who are US citizens and $9,000 for each of non-US citizens, mostly living in the Philippines .
But the senator's support for the veterans did not stop even when the Economic Stimulus bill was signed into law.
Mindful of unscrupulous individuals who may take advantage, Gordon filed Senate Resolution (SR) 894 which urged the government, particularly the Philippine Veterans' Affairs Office (PVAO), to protect eligible Filipino veterans and their families from fixers who may take advantage of them in availing their benefits.