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Arroyo asks Fil-Ams in Chicago to support Filvets bills

November 12, 2008 8:33pm
MANILA, Philippines - President Arroyo on Wednesday ordered the Philippine embassy in the United States to lobby for the consolidation of the US House and Senate pension bills for Filipino veterans into a Veterans’ Equity Law.

The President gave the directive to Philippine ambassador to the US Willy Gaa in her speech before the Filipino community in Chicago, where she stopped on the way to the UN conference on interfaith and intercultural dialogue in New York.

President Arroyo said there is a need to lobby for the consolidation of the Senate Bill 1315 and House Bill 6897, which have passed both chambers of the US Congress, so that they will not go back to square one next year.

“I think we should not wait for the bill to (be) refilled in the next Congress. There is still something we can do in this present Congress,” she said.

President Arroyo also extended her appeal to the Filipino-American population in the US. “Let us urge the US Congress to act now, to organize the bicameral committee, to reconcile Senate Bill 1315 and House Bill 6897 so it can become a Veterans Equity Law,” she said.

The President noted that it is the first time that the bill finally passed both houses of the US Congress.

When the US Senate passed Senate Bill 1315 last April, it included an annual flat rate of $3,600 annual non-service disability pension for a single Filipino veteran; $4,500 for a married veteran; and $2,400 for a surviving spouse.

But when the bill was passed by the House, the benefits for the Filipino veterans were eliminated and were included in a separate stand-alone H.R. 6897 under a reduced lump sum $9,000 for those veterans who are not US citizens and $15,000 for those who are US citizens, which was passed on a veto-proof 392-23 vote.

Expected to benefit from the measure are the estimated 18,000 veterans living in the Philippines and about 7,000 living in the US. - GMANews.TV
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