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Filipino war vets to be awarded with US Congressional Gold Medal

At least 19 Filipino veteran soldiers of World War 2 will be awarded with United States Congressional Gold Medal on Monday, June 10, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) said Friday.

Defense department Undersecretary and PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina was referring to the Filipino soldiers who fought alongside their American counterparts to liberate the Philippines from its Japanese Imperial Army colonizers in 1945.

“The awarding of the recognition will be led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, to be held here in Camp Aguinaldo,” Carolina told reporters.

Apart from the 19 surviving Filipino war veterans, Carolina said that 21 other Filipino war veterans will be conferred the US Congressional Gold Medal distinction posthumously.

Based on the United States House of Representatives website, the US Congressional Gold Medal is US Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions” of an individual, institution or event.

Past recipients of the honor include war veterans as well as actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautics and space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, foreign recipients, among others.

Aside from shared war experience, the Philippines has a standing 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, a pact wherein both parties agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines and US would be dangerous and that they would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.

Under the MDT, the treaty will remain in force indefinitely and “either Party may terminate it one year after notice has been given to the other Party.”

In 2015, the Philippines also inked an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement  with the United States—an agreement that allows US forces, contractors, vehicles, vessels and aircraft to conduct activities on agreed locations inside the Philippine military bases such as training, transit, support and other related activities; refueling of aircraft, bunkering of vessels, temporary maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircraft; temporary accommodation of personnel; communications, prepositioning of equipment, supplies and material and deploying forces and materials. —LDF, GMA News