His Excellency Sergio Osmeña
President of the Philippines
To Resident Commissioner Carlos P. Romulo instructing him to work for the extension of the full benefits of the G. I. Bill of Rights to Filipino war veterans
[Released on February 12, 1946]
Hon. CARLOS P. ROMULO
Resident Commissioner of the Philippines
to the United States
1617 Massachusetts Ave., N. W.
Washington 6, D. C.
My dear Commissioner ROMULO:
I learned that the First Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act of 1946 which carried an item appropriating $200,000,000 for the Army of the Philippines was vetoed by the President because it contained provisions depriving the United States Employment Service of its federal status and returning the Office of the Employment Service to separate state jurisdiction. The explanatory text of this particular appropriation clearly indicates that the amount of $200,000,000 is intended to cover payment of contract insurance taken under the National Service Insurance Act of 1940, as amended, and for pensions on account of service-connected disability or death of personnel of the Philippine Army called into the service of the armed forces of the United States. The bill seeks to exclude members of the Philippine Army from the provisions of other federal laws conferring rights, privileges or benefits to persons who served in the military and naval forces of the United States.
The veto of the whole appropriation bill by the President, in the opinion of many circles here, is a blessing in disguise as far as the Philippines is concerned. The bill as passed by Congress is objected to on the following grounds:
First: The bill intends to deprive personnel of the Philippine Army inducted into the service of the United States Army the benefits of federal laws administered by the Veterans’ Administration and other federal agencies of the United States Government “except benefits under (1) the National Service Life Insurance Act of 1940, as amended, under contracts heretofore entered into, and (2) laws administered by the Veterans’ Administration providing payment of pensions on account of service-connected disability or death.” If this bill is enacted into law, members of the Philippine Army will unjustly be deprived of the benefits of the following federal laws at present being enjoyed and made available to them by virtue of their service with the military and naval forces of the United States:
(a) Servicemen’s readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the G. I. Bill of Rights (Public Law 346, 78th Congress, as amended) which includes (1) educational aid or a refresher or retraining course not to exceed four years; (2) the guarantee of loans for the purchase of homes, farms and business property; and (3) readjustment allowances for veterans if unemployed within 2 years from his discharge.
(b) Automatic gratuitous insurance against death in line of duty in active service occurring on or after October 9 1940 and on or before April 12, 1942 (Public Act 360, 77th Congress).
(c) Pension for non-service connected disability (Public Law 2, 73rd Congress, March 20, 1933; Public Law 346, 78th Congress, June:22, 1944; Public Law 313, 78th Congress, May 27, 1944).
(d) Medical and hospital treatment and domiciliary care of veterans suffering from injuries or diseases incurred or aggravated in line of duty including funeral and burial expenses (Public Law 2, 73rd Congress).
(e) Vocational rehabilitation for disabled veterans (Public Law 16, 78th Congress, March 24, 1943).
(f) Civil service preference (Executive Order under the Act of July 11,1919).
(g) Mustering-Out Payment Law.
(h) Six months’ death gratuity to dependents of deceased personnel who died in line of duty.
(i) The Person Missing Act (Act of 7 March 1942 as amended by Act of December 24, 1942 re collection of back pay.)
Second: The amount of $200,000,000 appropriated is evidently inadequate for the payment of the benefits it intends to confer. It is at present estimated that approximately 70,000 members of the Philippine Army who were in the active service of the United States died during this war. Assuming that 20,000 of these deceased veterans applied for insurance at $10,000 each, the total amount due their dependents would be $200,000,000. The dependents of the remaining 50,000 with an average insurance of $5,000 each would be entitled to $250,000,000. Aside from these insurance benefits, the bill likewise provides for the payment of pensions for service-connected disability or death. Under the present federal laws, dependents of deceased veterans are entitled to pension or compensation ranging from $50 to $100 a month. Taking an average pension of $65 a month for each dependent of 70,000 deceased veterans, the government would be paying $4,500,000 a month or $49,000,000 a year. Assuming that the average number of years that a dependent is entitled to receive this pension is 15 years, the total amount due for death pension alone would be $735,000,000. As regards pensions for physical disability, it is estimated that out of the members of the Philippine Army inducted into the service of the United States Army including recognized guerrillas, there are at least 5 per cent who are disabled or approximately 10,000 servicemen whose percentage of disability ranges from 10 to 100 per cent and would therefore be entitled to a monthly compensation of from $11.50 to $115 according to present rates, excluding additional pension for those who lose the use of hands, legs or eyes. With an average disability pension of $50 a month 10,000 soldiers should get $500,000 a month or $6,000,000 a year. Physical disabilities in most cases are permanent and the disabled veteran continues to receive the disability pension during his lifetime. Taking 15 years as the average life of a pensioner, the total sum of $90,000,000 would be due the disabled veterans. Summing up, the amount payable for insurance and pension benefits alone total $1,275,000,000 which is approximately seven times more than the amount appropriated.
Third: The reduction of amount due from dollar to a peso basis is utterly discriminatory and is not in keeping with previous avowed pronouncements of responsible American officials. To illustrate this point, let us take the case of two Filipino soldiers: one belonging to the Philippine Scouts and the other to the Philippine Army. Under this bill, if these two soldiers who fought side by side receive wounds or injuries of the same degree, the Philippine Scout soldier will get twice as much as the Philippine Army soldier. The same situation holds true if these soldiers both die. The dependents of one will receive only half as much as the other. Both fought for the same cause, are natives of the same land and are of the same blood, yet the other or his dependents would seem to deserve a richer award. This anomalous situation will undoubtedly create natural resentment among Philippine soldiers winch should be avoided at all cost.
In view of the foregoing considerations, it would be advisable to make every effort to prevent discrimination against Philippine Army soldiers who were ordered into the service of the armed forces of the United States. I further suggest that you confer with General Omar Bradley, Administrator, Veterans’ Administration, and point to him the imperative necessity of sending immediately to the Philippine regional office the necessary personnel to apply the benefits of the G. I. Bill of Rights in view of the current demobilization of the Philippine Army.
President of the Philippines
Source: Presidential Museum and Library
Osmeña, S. (1946). Letter of President Sergio Osmeña to Resident Commissioner Carlos P. Romulo instructing him to work for the extension of the full benefits of the G. I. Bill of Rights to Filipino war veterans. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 42 (2), 346-349.