On February 18, 1946, President Truman signed a legislation passed by the 79th US Congress called the Rescission Act which denied promised veteran status for Filipino soldiers who were American nationals fighting under the United States Army Forces Far East.
In preparation for an impending war with Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a military order on July 1941 that combined the Philippine Commonwealth army with the US Army in the Pacific under the command of General MacArthur. Roosevelt’s military order promised the same benefits for over 250,000 Filipino soldiers (American nationals because the Philippines were still under US control then) as the American soldiers in the US Armed Forces.
With the Rescission Act of 1946, Truman and the US Congress denied the recognition and veteran benefits of the Filipino WWII veterans, who have struggled for decades after the war to make the US honor its wartime promise. President Obama ordered partial financial compensation to these veterans with the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Act of 2009. The US Congress is considering awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to these Filipino American war veterans who bravely fought for the United States during World War II.
- [NBC News] Forgotten: The Battle Thousands of WWII Veterans Are Still Fighting: “We didn’t get any justice from that law…That’s why I say, when justice is denied, democracy died.” Read more
- [Asian American News] Filipino Veterans: Shameful Anniversary in U.S. History: “In 1946, a budget-conscious Congress more concerned about financing the grand Marshall Plan and rebuilding Japan, their former enemy, appropriated a piddling $200 million to the Philippine Army. Contained in that appropriation bill was a rider: the infamous Recession Act, that overturned President Franklin’s promise.” Read more
- [Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute] 38 U.S. Code § 107 – Certain service deemed not to be active service (Rescission Act of 1946) : “Service before July 1, 1946, in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines … shall not be deemed to have been active military, naval, or air service for the purposes of any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges, or benefits upon any person by reason of the service of such person or the service of any other person in the Armed Forces“
- [PBS, American Experience] The Filipino Veterans Movement: “Washington promised them the same health and pension benefits as their American brothers. Even after the war, in October of 1945, Gen. Omar Bradley, then Administrator of the Veterans Administration, reaffirmed that they were to be treated like any other American veterans.” Read more
- [CNN] U.S. to pay ‘forgotten’ Filipino World War II veterans: “A provision tucked inside the stimulus bill that President Obama signed calls for releasing $198 million that was appropriated last year for those veterans. Those who have become U.S. citizens get $15,000 each; non-citizens get $9,000.” Read more
- [Harry S. Truman Library & Museum] Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting Bill Providing Benefits to Philippine Army Veterans: “Upon approving the Rescission Act I took exception to that portion of the Act which limited veterans’ benefits available to Philippine Army veterans. I stated, among other thing, that enactment of that legislation did not release the United States from its moral obligation to provide for the heroic Philippine Army veterans who sacrificed so much for the common cause during the war.” Read more
- [Asian American Law Journal] Equity Denied: Historical and Legal Analyses In Support of the Extension of U.S. Veterans Benefits to Filipino World War II Veterans: “Given the body of discriminatory case law which has been developed, the denial of benefits to the Filipino veterans is unjust and warrants reconsideration” Read more