FilVet Advocate Says Obama Administration Is All Talk

by Joseph G. Lariosa

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A small group of Filipino veteran supporters in Las Vegas Nevada, who got the attention of the White House, are not impressed with the creation of “another insiders committee to determine the human rights of our communities’ veterans,” one of the advocates of the Philippine veterans, Ceasar Elpidio, said Saturday (Oct. 20).

Elpidio, a Filipino veterans advocate, said “President Obama talks about helping veterans, but it is all talk. Our community now has several of our men dying and all this administration can come up with is another committee in the White House to study ways to help our veterans, while all the time they know what has to be done to help these elderly seniors.”

Elpidio, a retired U.S. Naval Reserve officer, was referring to the formation of an Interagency Working Group to review the certification process that denied 24,385 individual applications filed under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund announced by Presidential Assistant Chris Lu, Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

He said his group led in meeting with  Lu several months ago in presenting a letter to President Obama when he (Obama) was campaigning in Las Vegas, Nevada. But he said  Lu did not even read the letter nor let his group present the letter to President Obama.

He said what his group wants is for “Filipino American veterans who have been fighting to be recognized without success by the Obama Administration that their services to the United States” be issued by the President an “Executive Order to the Army, VA and National Personnel Records Center to allow use of the Government of the Philippines documents as proof of services during the war.”

AANHIN PA ANG DAMO KUNG PATAY NA ANG KABAYO?

Short of saying the popular Filipino expression, “aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na kabayo,” (what good is the grass when the horse is dead), Elpidio believes if President Obama endorses their proposed executive order to the U.S. Congress, instead of signing it himself, all the five Filipino veterans, one of them nearly 100 years old, would have already died by the time Congress acts on the bill.

The five Filipino veterans, who are either in the hospital or nursing home, are Pvt. Romeo Barreras, 83, awarded a Purple Heart as a USAFEE enlisted man and saw action in the Battle for Northern Luzon Guerilla Forces and Korean War; Brig. Gen. Cesar Poblete, 85, Chief of Staff PA-Cebu engaged at the Western Leyte Island Conflict-Guerilla Forces – USAFFE & Korean War; Pvt. Anastacio Sumajit, 87, Guerilla Forces, Battle for Luzon-Intelligence Unit-USAFFE; Capt. Edilberto U. Briones, Sr., 94, Guerilla Forces- USAFFE, Southern Leyte Island Conflict-Abuyog-MacArthur Landing; and 2nd Lt. Silverio Cuaresma, Sr., USAFFE-Guerilla Forces, saw action at the Battle of East Central Luzon, and, at 100, is the oldest WW II Filipino veteran.

At the start of the 2012 election early voting starting Saturday (Oct. 20), when the first general election will use Filipino national language in the ballot at Clark County in Nevada, the most highly populated county in the state, the Filipino American veterans and other Filipino leaders attended a rally in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket and had voted early.

In a press statement, Elpidio said, “Our community now has several of our men dying and all this administration can come up with is another committee in the White House to study ways to help our veterans, while all the time they know what has to be done to help these elderly seniors.

“Because of Obama’s failure to help our veterans to resolve this 66-year-old problem, I am urging Filipinos to vote for Gov. Mitt Romney for President and support Senator Dean Heller, and Congressman Dr. Joe Heck (all Republicans), and others who are helping our cause.

“We have come to the conclusion; the real change in the White House, the Senate and Congress has to occur for us to get any real help.  I will vote for Romney-Ryan and I praise these elected officials who are working to bring this tragedy in history to an end.”

Elpidio also invited the media to cover their rally and had made available the Filipino veteran “Mighty Five” for press interview and asked to say a prayer for these veterans “who are fighting now for their lives in the hospital and in a nursing home.”

It took several months after Lu received their letter before the White House announced the formation of an Interagency Working Group.

Earlier, some Filipino advocates were limiting the Filipino veterans, who were denied the benefits to 4,000 because their names cannot be found in the National Personnel Records in St. Louis, Missouri. But the Elpidio group insisted there were 24,000, who were denied, the same figure used by Lu in announcing the formation of the Inter-agency Working Group. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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