U.S. regains honor? or Bataan death march Part 2
The United States finally agreed to pay a paltry $15,000 to a few who are still alive, from hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who were promised full veterans benefits. The promise was made to anyone who volunteers to fight for the U.S. The Philippines was then a commonwealth of the U.S. Of the 250,000 who answered to call, 15,000 are still alive.
Josh Levs(CNN) -- More than 60 years after reneging on a promise to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought for the United States during World War II, the U.S. government will soon be sending out checks -- to the few who are still alive. "The record of the Philippine soldiers for bravery and loyalty is second to none," Truman wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate in 1946. "Their assignment was as bloody and difficult as any in which our American soldiers engaged. Under desperate circumstances they acquitted themselves nobly." Though Truman said the Rescission Act resulted in "discrimination," he signed it.
In Jeff Bliss and Francisco Alcuaz Jr of Bloomberg report, Filipino veterans likened waiting for the benefits promised to walking a second Bataan death march. Forced to wait, most of them succumbing to illness and old age leading to their death.
Jeff Bliss and Francisco Alcuaz Jr.The Filipino beneficiaries call their fight for compensation the “Second Death March.” In July 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered soldiers from the then-U.S. commonwealth to serve under MacArthur. Japan attacked the Philippines in December 1941, and eventually 470,000 islanders fought alongside Americans. The U.S. Veterans Administration in 1942 affirmed that Philippines soldiers were entitled to benefits. Those payments were taken away in 1946 by U.S. lawmakers, who argued the money was better spent rebuilding the Philippine economy for the 240,000 surviving servicemen. Faustino Baclig, 87, was one of about 78,000 American and Filipino soldiers on a forced march north from Bataan in April 1942. By the time it ended, as many as 11,000 POWs were dead -- from exhaustion, starvation, beatings and shootings, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. “The destruction, the deaths, the atrocities of the war are expected,” says Baclig, now a U.S. citizen who lives in Whittier, California. “But we never expected that our mother country would turn its back against us when victory is won.”