WASHINGTON, D.C. (JGL) – A small group of Filipinos who may look like Americans is hoping to meet President Trump when he travels to the Philippines between Nov. 12-13. They would like to ask for his help to locate their fathers who abandoned them when the Philippines was still hosting two huge military bases for nearly half a century.
Ernesto M. Gange, a former member of the board of directors of Pearl S. Buck Foundation, and a founder of National Federation of Filipino American Republicans is leading a 24-man Filipino American delegation to the Philippines on Nov. 7. He hopes to have an audience with President Trump, so he can speak on behalf of the more than 52,000 adult Filipinos fathered by American soldiers who refused to recognize them because their “mothers were Filipino prostitutes.”
The website of Pearl S. Buck Foundation lists 1,568 children from the Philippines currently under its care. However, it does not specify how many are Filipino Amerasians or “Amerifinos,” or “Kapuspalad na mga Pilipinos” (ill-starred Filipino Amerasians or “Kapus”), who must at least be 25 years old, when the last American soldier left Clark Air Base following the massive eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. Besides the Philippines, the list also includes 100,359 from Taiwan; 16,572 from South Korea; 1,441 from Thailand; 639 from Vietnam, and 52 from China.
These Kapus have suffered a double-barreled discrimination from both the U.S. Congress and a special U.S. court when they were barred from following their fathers to the United States soil because their fathers would not recognize them.
With nobody to turn to, Gange said that President Trump is his group’s only hope to right this injustice.
In an interview, Gange said that Trump can suggest to U.S. Congress to amend “Public Law 97-359, enacted by the 97th Congress of the United States on October 22, 1982, that excluded children of Filipino and Japan mothers from immigrating to the United States because they were not recognized by their American fathers, who abandoned them. These Japanese Amerasians are called “hafus.”
PL 97-359 only allows children from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Korea to come to the U.S. without being sponsored by their American fathers. Gange wants to amend the law to include Kapus, Hafus, and other Amerasians and to expand the definition of Amerasians.
The Amerasian Foundation (AF) and Amerasian Family Finder (AFF) define an Amerasian as “Any person who was fathered by a citizen of the United States (an American servicemen, American expatriate, or U.S. Government Employee (Regular or Contract)) and whose mother is, or was, an Asian National Asian.”
Gange recalled that in 1992, he was able to bring U.S. Rep. Lucien E. Blackwell to the Philippines who sponsored a bill that would include Amerifinos or Kapus as Amerasians as defined by Public Law 97-359. But Blackwell lost in the following elections that ended the sponsorship of the new bill. Rep. Blackwell died in 2003.
A class action suit was filed in 1993 on behalf of the Amerifinos or Kapus in the International Court of Complaints in Washington, DC, to establish Filipino American children’s rights to assistance. The court denied the claim, ruling that the children were the products of unmarried women who provided sexual services to U.S. service personnel in the Philippines and were therefore engaged in illicit acts of prostitution. Such illegal activity could not be the basis for any legal claim.”
Children born out of wedlock
Not all Amerifinos or Kapus, however, are children of Filipino prostitutes. In an opinion written by Christopher M. Lapinic in the New York Times, he said that “[F]or children born out of wedlock to an American father and a foreign mother are entitled to United States citizenship, they must file paternity certifications no later than their 18th birthday to get it.”
However, the author added that “since the military bases in the Philippines have been closed for more than 20 years, virtually all Filipino “Amerasians,” a term coined by American-born author and activist Pearl S. Buck to describe children of American servicemen and Asian mothers – have passed that age.”
These Amerifinos or Kapus have become part of what the UNICEF is, an estimated 100 million children worldwide who live at least part of their time on the streets.
In the Philippines, a government report in 1998 put the figure at 1.2 million street children — about 70,000 of them in Metro Manila alone. Another report estimates that there are approximately 1.5 million children on the streets working as beggars, pickpockets, drug abusers and child prostitutes.
Today, it is estimated that the number of children and youth living part of their lives on the streets in the Philippines could reach more than two million out of a total population of 100 million. With the approval by the Philippine Supreme Court to legalize the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the U.S., Gange fears that “more Filipino Amerasians will be born in the Philippines”.
“There is no system in place to compel an American soldier to provide child support to his abandoned Filipino child,” Gange said. DACA allows “rotational” visit of American servicemen back in the Philippines for the next 10 years.
This is where Trump can help, Gange added, by giving part of the “rent” that the U.S. pays to the Philippines under EDCA to the cause of the Filipino Amerasians. The appropriation can be allocated for the adult children’s HELP — Health, Education, Psycho-social and other unique needs.
$66-M or $500-M?
According to a Yahoo news report, then-U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg has announced that under EDCA, the U.S. will be funding the agreement with $66-M annually for 10 years.
But Gange said the information he got is that the U.S. funding requirement is $500-M annually or $5-B for ten years. “We only need 5% of that money for HELP for the Amerasian Filipinos,” he said.
As an alternative, Trump can sign on to the suggestion of lawyer Annette Eddie-Callagain who represented 50 Okinawan women abandoned by American soldiers. She convinced a U.S. court to allow her law office to get DNA samples from soldiers suspected of abandoning their children in Japan to evade paying child support.
Eddie-Callagain managed to ask an Illinois court to order to dock the wages of a former U.S. serviceman to provide financial support for his two children in Okinawa.
In addition, Trump can apply on EDCA the reciprocal agreement the U.S. government has with Germany, Sweden, and Britain for U.S. assistance to track down a deadbeat American soldier. The agreement allows the mother of a child whose father has returned to his homeland to seek financial support.