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Final push for US Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Filvets

/ 02:30 AM October 01, 2016
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Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans for Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), meeting with WWII veterans, their relatives and supporters in San Francisco earlier this year. INQUIRER FILE

WASHINGTON, DC  – Supporters of the bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino veterans of World War II urged the House of Representatives to pass the legislation without delay as the number of the bill’s co-sponsors reached a critical threshold.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans for Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), called on the U.S. House of Representatives today to pass the Congressional Gold Medal bill, which would once and for all recognize the service and sacrifice of Filipino World War II Veterans.

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This week, the U.S. House measure, HR 2737, gained 300 co-sponsors, above the two-thirds threshold met by previous Congressional Gold Medal bills. The U.S. Senate had passed the legislation in July.

“The overwhelming support of the American people, as expressed through their representatives in Congress, is very encouraging to our aging veterans,” says Taguba.

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“They have over 70 years for the day of recognition to come with the passage of the Congressional Gold Medal, an honor they truly deserve. That historic day of reckoning is nearing. We are confident that before the year ends, they will be finally recognized for their valor and selfless sacrifice,” Taguba added.

FilVetREP is calling on House leadership –  Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – to take appropriate action in this legislative session before the end of the year. “Given the short time frame left in this Congressional session, we hope they will move this bill across the finish line for our veterans,” its statement said.

Taguba also thanked the hard work of various individuals from Filipino American communities across the country, Asian American/ Pacific Islander advocacy organizations, Philippine Consuls General and Veterans Service Organizations for their “tremendous effort in reaching out to their Senators and Representatives in accomplishing this very important mission. Without their determination and diligence, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”

The Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2014 was introduced in June of last year in the Senate and House as companion bills by their lead sponsors: Senators Maize Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Dr. Joe Heck (R-Nevada).

On July 13 of this year, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1555, with a broad, bipartisan coalition of 71 Senate co-sponsors. In commending the Senate’s action, Sen. Hirono praised the “heroism and courage of Filipino World War II veterans who were instrumental to an Allied victory in the Pacific theater.”

Sen. Dean Heller (also said they should be recognized for their service and awarded the Congressional Gold Medal because “our nation’s Filipino veterans made tremendous sacrifices during World War II and played a big part in our victory.”

Rep. Gabbard urged “timely passage” of the bill in a “Dear Colleague letter” in April of this year. “These loyal and courageous soldiers suffered, fought, and gave up their lives alongside their American counterparts throughout the war. Yet decades have gone by, and they are still waiting for their service to be recognized,” she said.

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“Today there are just 18,000 of these Filipino World War II veterans who are still alive today. Time is of the essence. We cannot afford to wait. I urge my colleagues to quickly pass this legislation so that these courageous men and women may be honored while they are still among us.”

“Now that the House bill has achieved more than the two-thirds of its membership as cosponsors, our veterans are significantly closer to their long awaited goal of national recognition of sacrifice and selfless service during World War II from the nation they so ably served,” Taguba said.

“We deeply appreciate the leadership and dedication of Senator Hirono, Senator Heller, Congresswoman Gabbard, Congressman Joe Heck, and all the senators and representatives who cosponsored this bill,” he stated further.

To find out more about FilVetREP and how to get involved, visit the FilVetREP website at www.filvetrep.org.

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TAGS: Congressional Gold Medal, Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino veterans of World War II, Dean Heller (R-NV), Dr. Joe Heck (R-NV), Filipino Veterans for Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret.), Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Senators Maize Hirono (D-HI), U.S. House measure HR 2737, U.S. Senate bill S. 1555
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