STRUGGLE ON, FIGHT RACISM, FIGHT FOR EQUITY AND BENEFITS FOR OUR VETERANS AND WIDOWS!

JFAV UPDATES
JFAV Statement on the 72nd USAFFE Day, July 26, 1941

    July 26, 2013

    STRUGGLE ON, FIGHT RACISM, FIGHT FOR EQUITY AND BENEFITS FOR OUR VETERANS AND WIDOWS!

    Today, we in the Filipino American community in the United States commemorate the 72nd year of Conscription Day or what they call here in the United States as USAFFE Day, July 26, 1941.

    On July 26, 1941 by an Executive Order by US President Franklin Roosevelt, the Army of the Commonwealth of the Philippines was placed under the command of the United States Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), six months before WWII erupted.

    We call it conscription day, the day Filipinos were placed under the USAFFE and were forced to fight for America as conscripts or as soldiers of the United States armed forces. That day, the newly formed 120,000 Philippine Army, the Philippine Constabulary (PC), the newly formed Philippine Army Air Corps and naval units of the Philippine Commonwealth formed in 1935 together with the 26,000 US Army in the Philippines was formed as one integrated military unit, the USAFFE under the newly re-activated General Douglas Macarthur.

    The Largest Garrison Outside of the Mainland

    By a stroke of the pen, President Roosevelt made the Philippines as the largest US armed garrison outside of the US mainland. Whether he liked it or not, the Philippines became a magnet of Japanese attack for it was the largest garrison that blocks the Japanese expansion in the Pacific.

    No wonder the Philippines was the subject of the Japanese attack at the same tie Pearl Harbor was bombed. Japanese planes from Formosa (Now Taiwan) bombed and disabled US military bases in the Philippines including Clark Air Base, Fort McKinley, Sangley Point and major Philippine cities.

    Days after, the Japanese land forces invaded the Philippines forcing the USAFFE to retreat into a defensive pocket in Bataan and Corregidor forcing it to surrender after four months fighting on April 9, 1942. They forced the surrender of the whole Philippines after Corregidor fell on May 10, 1942.

    But even after the surrender, the Filipinos and a few American officers fought a war of resistance against Japan using guerilla troops for more than three years against the Japanese Occupation. Filipinos suffered untold hardships and brutalities under the Japanese yoke but they continued to fight for freedom until the US liberating forces came back on October 20, 1944.

    More than 500,000 Filipinos under the US force, as guerillas of independent units and under the Philippine Republic fought the liberation of the Philippines until the nation was finally liberated from Japan on September 6, 1945 after more than two years of a war for national liberation.

    Rescinded/Discriminated for Three times

    Yet, the United States only recognized 250,000 guerillas and Filipino forces under the US Army as World War II veterans. But on February 18, 1946, they rescinded this recognition by law calling their “military service as inactive for the purposed of benefits and rights’ in a racist act of discrimination.

    Again on October 2008, they passed the second rescission act by deleting the provision for SB 1315 the Equity provisions for the Filipinos or the New GI Bill of Rights of 2008 and instead gave the Filipinos a lump sum. They legalized this by inserting the lump sum provision in the Stimulus Act or the ARRA Law of 2009.

    Again, in a final act of insult, for the 3rd time, the US Senate marked up the Heller Bill , recycled it to be called Sander’s Bill or the Improved Filipino Veterans Health benefits Bill , two days before the July 26 USAFFE Day.

    This so called improved bill will “reconsider” giving benefits to 4,000 Filipino veterans who filed their appeals disregarding the Shatz Bill or the Senate version of the Filipino Fairness Act of 2013. By this act they disregarded the 20,000 denied claims of Filinos veterans and again excluded the 60,000 widows of departed Filipino Veterans.

    What a shame, what a shame, what a shame!

    The US Congress again for the third time perpetrated to the remaining 41,000 Filipino veteran and 60,000 widows the racist and discriminative fiats like the Sander’s Bill and SB 744 or the the punitive immigration law of 2013 that they wish to punish the 11 million immigrants of this nation.

    As if the US Congress is saying that we cannot get any kind of justice or equity from this legislative constitution they call “ the chapel of democracy” for racist and bigots alike.

    So today we raise our voices not to celebrate or commemorate the USAFFE Day but to gather our strength to fight on these evils of racism and discrimination we suffered at the hands of the legislative branch of this government that masquerades for equality.

    In the face of institutionalized racism and discrimination to our veterans and widows, let us gather our strength and we must FIGHT ON!!

    We made this promise to our departed and living heroes who started this struggle for equity and rights in 1993. We will fight for our community in the United States and our nation who were insulted and despised by these legislators who passed these racist laws.

    TO THE LAST VETERANS, TO THE LAST WIDOWS, WE WILL FIGHT!

    AND WE WILL WIN!!!

    Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV)
    National Committee

    July 26, 2013

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