ON September 2,1945, Japan formalized its worldwide surrender, marking the real end of World War II, as historians would have it.
After the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy was suddenly incapacitated from unleashing a massive attack. Twenty-five allied states, which included the Philippines, stood their ground and succeeded in liberating each of their nations.
Based on the books in the archives of various World War II museums, the Philippines was not a member of the famed Big Four namely the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union and China. In fact, geographically, it is just a modicum of a barricade. This barricade, however, was the iota that disabled Japan’s grander war plan.
Because of the Filipino World War II veterans who fought with every inch of their being and every drop of their blood –wounded, outgunned and outnumbered– every key city in the country was liberated.
Years later, former President Ferdinand Marcos, when he was still a special assistant to the President in 1947, lobbied for the benefits of Filipino war veterans in a special legislation called the G.I. Bill of Rights.
All Commanders-in-Chief have saluted the Filipino World War II
veterans. President Carlos P. Garcia signed Republic Act (RA) 2640, also known as an act creating a public corporation known as the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP).
With its creation, the veterans of the Second World War found an organization that will take care of their welfare for the years to come. One of the responsibilities of this government-owned and -controlled corporation is to represent the interests of veterans.
On June 18, 1963, President Diosdado Macapagal signed RA 3518 into law. This statute is also known as an act creating the Philippine Veterans Bank. Unfortunately, because of lack of funding, the bank needed rehabilitation and financial aid. Thus, RA 7169 was signed into law on January 2, 1992 by then President Corazon Aquino. This law, which is also known as “An act to rehabilitate the Philippine Veterans Bank,” helped revive the financial institution that functions for the veterans, their spouses and their children.
Mrs. Aquino also approved a bill that gives the veterans a monthly pension.
In 2008, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo amended RA 6498, which is also known as “An act standardizing and upgrading the benefits for military veterans and their dependents,” by signing the World War II Pension and Benefits Act of 2008.
The law provided World War II veterans, who by then were already in their 80s, a monthly pension increase of P5,000 from the earlier P500.
But because of the need for medical assistance, veterans are now pushing an increase in their monthly pension to P15,000.
Their numbers have dwindled. There are now 14,000 World War
II veterans left as tallied by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO). Most of them are in their late 90s.
On September 2, 2015, the nation will mark the fall of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, thanks to the valor of veteran heroes who until now are fighting for their rights and the rights of their descendants.