Days before the annual commemoration of “Araw ng Kagitingan”, Malacañang assured Filipino war veterans and their families that they would receive full support from the government.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that the Aquino government is committed to fully deliver benefits to thousands of World War II veterans.
Coloma said that the government, through the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), is working hard to deliver in full the benefits to war veterans and their families, namely: old age disability, total administrative disability, death pension benefits, education, hospitalization, and burial assistance benefits.
He cited that the payment of P2.8 billion worth of administrative disability arrears from 1994 to 2002 to 17,817 living war veterans was “one of the milestone achievements” of PVAO last year.
“This has brought the total payment for total administrative disability arrears to P6.93 billion as of this date, which demonstrates the government’s resolve to deliver its commitment as mandated in Republic Act 7696,” he said.
For 2013, Coloma said that the PVAO delivered P10.2 billion in pension benefits to 199,000 beneficiaries.
He noted that government hospitals have spent more than P2 million for the hospitalization of 1,092 veterans as dependents last year.
Specialized care for illnesses and other medical needs given to veterans reached around P15 million, he added.
Meanwhile, as part of the celebration of Philippine Veterans Week, the Light Rail Transit (LRT) is giving free rides to Filipino war veterans.
LRT Authority (LRTA) Spokesman Hernando Cabrera said Filipino war veterans could now enjoy the free rides until April 11.
He, however, said veterans should present their identification cards from the PVAO.
“LRT1 and 2 whole day free ride, April 5 to 11, for veterans with PVAO ID in celebration of Philippine Veterans Week,” Cabrera said on Sunday.
To honor war veterans who fought for the country, the country is celebrating The Philippine Veterans Week from April 5 to 11.
On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd will lead the commemoration that will be held in Pilar, Bataan.
Coloma said that the highlight of the event would be President Aquino’s speech hailing veterans who gave their lives to fight against the Japanese occupation.
He said that simultaneous celebrations would be held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and other venues on Wednesday.
“With this year’s theme ‘Balik Tanaw sa Sakripisyo ng Beterano: Gabay sa Landas ng Pagbabago’, the PVAO and Department of National Defense aim to present our veterans as among the country’s national treasures and to revive the culture of heroism, which the Filipino race has been known for essentially because of our veterans’ valor and selfless sacrifices,” Coloma added.
The Bataan Death March, which began on April 9, 1942, was the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60,000-80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan during World War II.
WITH A REPORT FROM RITCHIE A. HORARIO