There were two battles against the Japanese for the Philippines during World War II. We lost one and won the other. Though the War officially ended when the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the United States Congress decided it was too costly to recognize the Filipino soldiers’ contributions to the war effort by passing a law denying them the same benefits as all other American military personnel. Sixteen million Americans served in World War II, and Congress thought it would cost too much money to include Filipino soldiers among those eligible for benefits of the G.I. Bill. Money should not even have been a consideration. Though Congress has provided limited legislation admitting its dishonorable act, this shameful injustice is still in effect after nearly 65 years. House of Representative Bill #491, the Equity Act of 2001 would have overturned the Recession Act of 1946 which denied Filipino soldiers the benefits received by all other Americans who served in the military forces in World War II.
Democrat and Republican representatives alike, running for re-election in 2002, publicly announced their support of this legislation. Obviously, public announcements of support by incumbents were idle promises. American voters, which include increasing numbers of Filipino/Americans, have influenced limited but inadequate congressional legislation that has occurred. Congress must overturn the Recession Act, thereby providing nothing less than full restitution to Filipino veterans. What are some of the arguments against overturning the Congressional Act of 1946, signed into law by President Harry Truman?
First, the Philippines was a colonial possession left over from the Spanish-American War of 1898. Secondly, Filipinos were not American citizens as were the soldiers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts or Kentucky. Let’s examine the relationship between the Philippines and the United States for the last 112-113 years and take a look at these arguments. By federal law, the Philippines was a commonwealth of the United States. It came into legal existence as such because of the Tydings-McDuffie Bill, passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934 which granted absolute and complete independence to the Philippines by 1944 (actually 1946 due to Japanese occupation), and it provided for an interim commonwealth supervised by the United States, with a Philippine president elected by national vote, and a constitution. A constitution was adopted in February 1935, approved by the United States President and ratified by a plebiscite of the Philippine people in May 1935 with Manuel Quezon as President. » Read more: Equal JusticeTags: congressional act, congressional legislation, filipino soldiers, filipino veterans, harry truman, president harry truman, republican representatives, spanish american war, war of 1898, world war ii