Morale: World War II Vets Get Paid

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May 20, 2009: After over sixty years of lobbying, Filipinos who fought against the Japanese in the Philippines, or served in the colonial armed forces, during World War II, are finally receiving the compensation. The Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund pays $15,000 to those veterans who are now American citizens, and $9,000 to those who are not. It's estimated that some 250,000 Filipinos served, but only about 18,000 of these veterans are still alive. They have until February 27, 2010 to apply for the payment. If any alive now, pass away before that date, their survivors can apply (either in the United States or the Philippines).

During the war, those Filipinos who served were promised, by some American commanders, that they would be compensated. But the U.S. Congress refused to honor that pledge. The Philippines was an American colony from 1900, and was scheduled to become independent in 1945. Then Japan attacked the Philippines 1941, invaded, and occupied the country until U.S. forces returned in late 1944. At the start of the war, over 140,000 Filipinos were serving with U.S. forces, or the newly formed Philippines Armed Forces. After the Japanese occupation, several hundred thousand Filipinos joined guerilla organizations and fought the Japanese, or supported the resistance. When U.S. forces returned in late 1944, the Filipino resistance forces proved invaluable in defeating the Japanese.

Independence for the Philippines was delayed only a year, and the colony became the Republic of the Philippines on July 4th, 1946. At that point, most Americans felt they had done enough for the Philippines. During the colonial period, billions of dollars were given to, and even more invested in, the Philippines. The colonial government made vast strides in public health, transportation and education. While the Filipinos appreciated this, they felt that their effort in fighting the Japanese should be recognized. While over 60,000 American troops were killed or wounded liberating the Philippines, the Filipinos suffered  over a million (mostly civilian) casualties. The Japanese lost 336,000 troops, and Japan is still hated by older Filipinos who remember the cruel occupation years.

The payments to the Filipino veterans finally got made as part of a recent economic stimulus program.

 


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