WASHINGTON, DC–The national umbrella group of Filipino American organizations welcomed the news of President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines on October 11 and 12.
“For many centuries, Filipinos have been part of American history,” says National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) national chairman Ed Navarra. “His visit coincides with the celebration of Filipino American History month.”
Navarra adds, “President Obama has many reasons to be proud of our community’s many significant contributions to our nation. And we will continue to play a vital role in shaping this country’s future.”
Now nearly four million strong, Filipinos in America are a growing political force. They voted in large numbers in the last presidential election, comprising the second largest Asian American group to cast their ballots.
Spurred by the overwhelming support of Hispanic and Asian Americans, President Obama delivered on his promise to push for comprehensive immigration reform this year.
“We are encouraged by the president’s determination to fix our country’s broken immigration system,” Navarra says. “We continue to hope that Congress will do its part to make immigration reform a reality and move this nation forward to greater prosperity for all Americans.”
Navarra also thanked President Obama for directing the Interagency Working Group, through the White House Commission on Asian Pacific Islander Americans, to address the issue of Filipino World War II veterans and their claims under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund.
There are several bills introduced in the House, which would direct the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to review more than 4,000 claims that have been rejected because of eligibility issues. “We are hoping for a legislative remedy so that eligible veterans who have appealed receive their rightful benefits,” Navarra said.
Navarra points out further that the Filipino American community in the US continues to help the Philippines not only because of sentimental attachments but because they want to see their mother country achieve economic progress.
Every year, several community organizations send medical and humanitarian missions to towns and barrios in the Philippines, fund sustainable projects, and invest in scholarships, schools and other forms of long-term assistance.