‘Veterans’ sacrifice won us freedom’

Posted on April 9, 2012

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Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama (left) and Col. Philip S. Lapinid, Central Command camp commander, lead the wreath laying at the Veteran Memorial in Plaza Indpendencia. (CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA)

WAR veterans were honored yesterday with a 21-gun salute at a monument for soldiers in Plaza Independencia in Cebu City.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, in a speech, said “peace” and “peace of mind” is what Cebu needs.

With today’s problems of cybercrimes and scandals, he said it was a time for “contemporary heroism” to ensure responsible use of technology.

Rep. Tomas Osmeña, a reservist, also attended the flag raising rites and wreath laying at the Veteran’s Marker.
Araw ng Kagitingan, a national holiday, marks the fall of Bataan in 1942 when the American military command surrendered more than 76,000 soldiers, mostly Filipinos, to the Japanese Army.

In Mandaue City, more than 1,000 city government employees and policemen led by Mayor Jonas Cortes offered flowers for the veterans who died in the infamous Bataan death march.

“We must say thank you to our veterans because if not for their heroism, we would not enjoy freedom today,” said Mayor Cortes during the program at the City Hall grounds.

The veterans should be given full benefits and privileges to which they are entitled, he said.

“We may not shed blood as our veterans did, but we can show our love of country by doing little things like obeying traffic rules… and by being responsible citizens,” said the mayor.

A 6:30 a.m. Mass was offered at the National Shrine of St. Joseph followed by the program and floral offering at the Rizal-Bonifacio Heritage Plaza in Mandaue.

In Plaza Independencia, about 200 veterans and surviving family members joined the rites.

Retired Col. Manuel Segura, who wrote a book about the resistance movement in the mountains of Tabunan, Cebu City, recounted his war experiences with a touch of humor that left the audience smiling and chuckling.

An 89-year-old veteran Tomas Coca from barangay Guba almost collapsed from the summer heat.He was brought to a better ventilated area after feeling nauseus while sitting under a tent set up by Cebu City Hall.

Another 90-year-old veteran ex pressed disappointment about not being in a list of beneficiaries of the US government .

Retired Col. Leonardo Abalo of Talisay City said he applied for compensation only to learn that he wasn’t included in the “Missouri List” of Filipino World War II veterans.

The list from the National Personnel Records Center of Missouri USA details is the official record of veterans who fought for American forces but it was burned in 1973.

Many applicants were turned down because they were unlisted although the roster was reconstructed. Under a financial assistance program, US-based Filipino World War II veterans will receive US $15,000 while those residing in the Philippines get US$9,000.

Anabelle Moga, head of Philippine Veterans Affairs Office-Field Service Extension Office, 18,000 veteran pensioners are listed in their agency of which 12,000 were recognized by USVA.She said the office can’t help cases like Abalo’s unless they provide a service record recognized by USVA.

Abalo worked as an intelligence officer during World War II and posed as a Japanese ally, providing information to American forces. He heads Veterans Federation of the Philippines-Cebu District 1. Correspondents Norman Mendoza with Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua, Katreena Bisnar

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