Media Release: Bi-Partisan Legislation Seeks Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino WWII Veterans
For Immediate Release: June 12, 2015
Contact: Jon Melegrito
Bi-Partisan Legislation Seeks Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino WWII Veterans
Members of House and Senate and advocates call for recognition of Filipino WWII veterans
Washington, DC: At a press conference yesterday, the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) joined members of Congress from both the House and Senate to announce the introduction of a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino WWII veterans. The bi-partisan and bi-cameral group of legislators committed themselves to this legislation, which acknowledges over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag against the Imperial Forces of Japan during World War II.
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project is a non-partisan, community-based, all volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness of Filipino and Filipino American WWII veterans for their wartime service to the United States through academic research, public education, and national recognition. “For over 70 years, the Filipino WWII Soldiers have sought recognition for their courageous actions and selfless service in defending the United States and Philippines,” said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Tony Taguba. “Despite having their benefits rescinded by the US Congress in 1946, they maintained their unwavering loyalty to the U.S. We are eternally grateful for their faithful and dedicated service. They have earned national recognition from the US Congress proven by the thousands of lives lost in combat, and for those wounded for life. We ask Congress to approve the Congressional Gold Medal for the Filipino WWII Soldiers.”
The press conference was organized by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). Other leading cosponsors who were on hand to announce their support were: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA). Filipino WWII veterans- Mr. Jesse Baltazar, Mr. Rey Cabarcar, and Mr. Celestino Almeda- were on hand, as well as a U.S. WWII veteran who served in the Philippines, Mr. Postel.
Identical versions of the bill have been introduced in the House (HR2737) and the Senate (S1555). Additional quotes from House members and Senators from the press conference:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): “These loyal and valiant men and women fought, suffered, and in many instances, died in the same manner and under the same command as other members of our United States Armed Forces during World War II.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI): “Now, if there were ever veterans who deserved the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, it is our Filipino veterans and brothers in arms.”
Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV): “I heard the passion that they felt for America and the American cause in the war in their aging voices. And it is only fitting and proper that we acknowledge their great sacrifice in service to the United States with the Congressional Gold Medal.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): “Despite…horrible losses, the will of the Filipino people did not break and that partnership between the Filipinos who were fighting whether they were in guerrilla warfare, insurgents, or formal military, fighting together with the U.S. and providing intelligence to the U.S. helped pave the way for General Douglas MacArthur…”
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA): “We are very proud of the many Filipino Americans who fought in World War II on our side, and they’re very proud Americans.”
As we recognize Philippine Independence Day, FilVetREP’s Board of Directors, Executive Committee and network of volunteers, allies, and supporters are launching a national campaign to raise awareness about the Filipino WWII veterans and to push for passage of this legislation. With local leadership across the country, including Hawai`i and Guam, FilVetREP will mobilize the Filipino American community in a national effort on behalf of our veterans. For more information, look up the FilVetREP web site: http://www.filvetsrecognition.org and check out the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/FilVetREP.