WASHINGTON – To reiterate the importance of fulfilling America’s obligations to Filipino veterans, U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) released the following statement on April 9, the 71st anniversary of Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as Bataan Day.
“Today should be a reminder that the U.S was not alone in fighting the war in the Pacific,” said Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Fighting in the Philippines was long, brutal, and costly, but many brave men stood with our troops and paid the price. In return, we made a promise. They earned the same treatment and benefits as their American counterparts, and our debt remains unpaid.
“I introduced two Filipino veterans bills on the first day of the 113th Congress to address these issues. One will ensure that these veterans receive proper compensation for their service, and the other will award them the Congressional Gold Medal, an honor that is long overdue.”
On Jan. 3, Hanabusa introduced the bills to honor the service of the 250,000 Filipino troops who fought honorably alongside U.S. forces in World War II.
H.R. 110 directs the secretary of the Army to issue certificates of service to Filipino veterans who have valid claims, streamlining the process to receive benefits. H.R. 111 would award these veterans with a Congressional Gold Medal.
In March, Hanabusa also introduced the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act, which seeks to reunite these veterans with their families by expediting the immigration process for their children, many of whom have been on immigration waiting list for decades.
Bataan Day, which is marked on April 9, honors the bravery of Filipino American World War II soldiers during the fall of Bataan. When the Japanese occupied the Philippines, the U.S. Army was forced to surrender more than 75,000 Filipino, American, and Chinese soldiers. Thousands of them died as they were forced to march more than 60 miles to their prison camps; this was known as the Bataan Death March, widely regarded as one of the cruelest and most inhumane acts of the war. Despite the surrender, this event delayed the Japanese invasion of the Pacific and prevented a complete takeover by Axis forces.