Their numbers may be dwindling because of age and sickness but Filipino veterans of World War II can always count on the government for its support and help particularly in their claims for benefits from the United States government.
The government, through House Bill 724, is seeking the creation of an Office of Veterans Affairs in the Philippine Embassy in the United States of America.
Under the bill, the Office of Veterans Affairs is mandated with the task to represent, negotiate and lobby for the rights, privileges and benefits of the Filipino veterans with the appropriate US offices.
“Veterans who have fought for our country deserve our gratitude,” said Rep. Herminia B. Roman (1st District, Bataan), Chairperson of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. "There are many of them who live under conditions that are lower than the standard of living they deserve. The very least we can do is support them and find the means within our government to do so.”
The proposed Office of Veterans Affairs shall have a staff consisting of a head of office appointed by the President of the Philippines and two administrative assistants assigned by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense.
The measure also mandates the Veterans Federation of the Philippines to submit a list of five persons who could head the Office of Veterans Affairs and one of whom shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines.
The appointed head shall be considered a special presidential representative who shall have a comparable diplomatic rank.
The office shall be maintained for five years after its date of establishment or until the Filipino veterans shall have availed of their legitimate claims, the time of which shall not exceed another five years.
The measure states that for its first year, the necessary funds shall be provided through the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs. HB 724 has already been approved on third and final reading while its Senate bill counterpart still remains pending at the Senate.