War Veterans-A A +A
Thursday, April 10, 2014
PERHAPS not many know that April 5 to April 11 is marked as "Veterans Week" as per Presidential Proclamation 466, issued in 1989 says so.
The purpose of setting aside a week of the calendar for the veterans is to honor those in the Philippine military and not just those during World War II that are revered every April 9 (Day of Valor).
Notwithstanding the said week, war veterans are among those who are considered main actors during the celebration of the Day of Valor. It used to be called Bataan Day until a law renaming it as “Araw ng Kagitingan” or Day of Valor.
During the observance of the Veterans Week, there are ceremonies in military cemeteries that include military parades, civic activities such as medical missions among others.
Our war veterans are the diminishing living heroes who are witnesses to the atrocities of the war. Their number is decreasing due to their old age, some due to deaths because of the lack of medical attention and others due to malnutrition among others.
Except for their age then and now, they have endured all the same and still enduring up to now. Many of our war veterans lacks the attention and care of the government, they have served even way before we were born.
While some do get their pensions, the amount is too meager for their daily subsistence. The little cash they get is often used to buy for their medicines for sicknesses brought about by their frail bodies.
There are on the other hand, these supposed war veterans who receives benefits from the government despite their being bogus and are not actually war veterans but posers or impostors who use the names of actual persons who served the war.
On the occasion of the recent “Araw ng Kagitingan”, the government has announced that it shall weed out fake war veterans as part of its efforts of removing ineligible claimants of government subsidies and benefits. The Pensioners Revalidation Program is the government’s solution to identifying the legitimate beneficiaries from those who are not.
This shall benefit the real war veterans who actually deserve more than the little perks they receive from the government.
Historically speaking, the United States government refused to recognize the bravery and heroism of our war veterans after the war. Thousands of Filipino war veterans were denied of their benefits claims despite the promise of the Americans for the reparations.
It was only in 2009 that the United States Congress approved finally the benefits package for the recognized military services of Filipino war veterans. To date, there are about 20,000 of those tens of thousands who have rendered military service under the command of the United States government who remained, with poor health and under the bondage of poverty.
The Philippine government meanwhile is providing P5,000 monthly and a disability pension of P1,700 per month to our living war veterans, way low to what they deserve now that they are in their twilight and unproductive stage.
The remaining war veterans today are losing many of their senses including their memory due to old age. What is painful for them is not the loss of their respective memory but the loss of memory of many of us on the ultimate sacrifices they made to defend our country during the war.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 11, 2014.