Filipino WWII Veterans to Receive a Collective Congressional Gold Medal of Honor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Caroline Calderon
(415) 255-2347

San Francisco CA– Veterans and their advocates nationwide and in the Philippines applaud the passage of the “Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015” (H.R.2737/S.B.1555) before the House of Representatives on November 30, 2016.

Led by Maj. Gen. Antonio “Tony” Taguba, the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) a non profit organization, successfully advocated for the passage of a bill that will award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino Veterans of World War II in recognition of their dedicated service. Maj. Gen. Taguba established the FilVetRep with grassroots organizations nationwide to raise awareness of the contributions and sacrifices of our Filipino World War II Veterans.

The bill was initially introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress on June 11, 2015 where the lead sponsors were Representative Tulsi Gubbard and Senator Mazie Hirono both from the State of Hawaii. The Senate Bill 1555 was first approved on July 13, 2016 and the House bill was approved on November 30, 2016, by voice vote of majority of the members of the House of Representatives. With the approval of both houses, the bill will now go to President Obama to sign into law.

Philippine based lawyer Lilibeth Abiog asked what in tangible terms will it mean to a Filipino veteran. Upon learning of his father’s eligibility for a medal, she expressed what most veterans feel about this recognition, “My 95-year-old father will appreciate that!”. Ms. Abiog’s father is currently living with her in the Philippines

A daughter of a Filipino veteran, Emilna Vales of Union City is excited about the passage, but is in quandary if as a daughter of a veteran she could receive a medal on behalf of his deceased father, Lucas J. Arevalo who served as a USAFFE and was a Bataan Death March survivor. “The Congressional Medal of Honor is awarded collectively to all 260,000 Filipino World War II veterans,” explained Luisa Antonio, Regional Director of FilVetRep, “the bill defines the term Filipino World War II Veterans and as long as there is proof of military service, the next of kin will be receiving a medal.”

Immigration lawyer Lourdes S. Tancinco, Board President of the Veterans Equity Center, a San Francisco based organization, said that the Congressional Gold Medal is symbolic of their sacrifices and a honor to all Filipino veterans, “to receive the highest award granted to civilians by the U.S. Congress is a long deserved tribute for all their sacrifices during the war and the the national appreciation bestowed to them is a commendation of the highest level specially after what they have gone through historically.”

The signing of the bill and the formal presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino World War II veterans will be the next steps to look forward to. As time is no longer in their hands, Felix Junia, a Filipino veteran residing in the San Francisco emphasized the importance of having the medal ready for formal presentation, “I hope the medal will be ready soon because I am looking forward to still be around when the medal is presented.”

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