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Filipino Veterans Kept Waiting For Lump Sum Payment

Balitang America - The Filipino Channel, News Report, Henni Espinosa Posted: Jul 13, 2009

SAN FRANCISCOFilipino World War II veterans are no strangers to waiting. After 63 years of waiting for their benefits, the manongs say they are being made to wait again, this time for their lump sum payments.

Every day, Ceferino Palad walks to his mailbox, hoping his fortune will finally come. He was among the first veterans who filed their lump sum claims a few weeks after the law was passed in February.

"Araw-araw naghihintay kami. Eh ilang buwan na ngayon. Nasaan na ang pera namin (We have been waiting and waiting for days. It's been months now Where is our money?)?" Palad said.

Out of 34,000 claims filed, the Veterans Affairs [VA] in Manila has only processed 5,000. The VA denies any delay and says it even hired 15 additional staff to expedite the lump sum processing.

We've paid out almost $40 M in benefits so far and that's an extraordinary number considering that the law just passed a few months back, said Jon Skelly, Director of the VA Manila Regional Office.

The VA says other claims take much longer to process because of incomplete forms and documents. Skelly reminds veterans to keep their mailing addresses updated with the VA.

Many veterans are concerned their lump sum payments won't arrive before the February 16, 2010 deadline.

"May sakit kasi ako eh. Paano kung mamatay na ako, pero wala pa yung pera (I have an illness. What if I die and I still do not have my money)?" said veteran Benjamin Canonigo.

The VA clarifies that the February 16, 2010 deadline is just for application purposes.

We will continue to process claims long after that if need be to make sure every claim has a decision made on it, Skelly said.

The VA says the only way the filing deadline will be extended beyond February 16, 2010 is if Congress passes an amendment.

The VA adds that should the veteran pass away before his claim is processed, his widow can get the lump sum payment. But if the veteran is already widowed, the payment will not be extended to any of his children or any other heir.

"Kailangan din ng mga anak namin ang pera. Sana naman puwede naming ipamana sa kanila (Our children need the money too. We hope we can bequeath the money to them), said Justino Lauzon, another veteran.

Veterans who are already widowed are proposing to the Veterans Affairs that they can submit a will, indicating that they want their money to go to their children or other heirs should something to them before their claim is processed. They hope the VA will consider this request.

Photocredits: Balitang America - ABS-CBN Int'l - The Filipino Channel

Related Articles:

Filipino Veterans Reunification Bill Reintroduced in Senate

Second Class Veterans

Belated Pay For Filipino WWII Vets a Bittersweet Victory

Filipinos Celebrate Inaugural, Ask Obama For Veterans Equity

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