Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting Bill on Philippine Veterans' Benefits.
I am transmitting, with request for its early introduction and consideration, a bill to provide for the Philippine veterans:
First. Hospitalization, including medical care, for service-connected disability;
Second. Pensions for service-connected disability and death, on a peso-for-dollar basis; and
Third. Appropriate burial and funeral allowance.
The bill also contains general administrative and penal provisions, as well as a provision authorizing hospital care and medical treatment in the Philippine Islands for American veterans residing there.
Under the legislation proposed, the Philippine veteran would have restored to him some of the veterans' benefits which were taken from him by the First Supplemental Surplus Appropriation Rescission Act, 1946, due, doubtless, in part at least, to the irapracticability from an administrative viewpoint of applying to Philippine veterans the Servicemen's Readjustment Act and the needy for adapting to Philippine conditions the benefits provided by that act.
The standing Philippine Army was made a part of the armed forces of the United States by the President's order of July 26, 1941. Certain guerrillas, who so courageously carried on the war against the enemy. after the fall of the Philippines, were recognized as members of the Philippine Army, hence a part of the Army of the United States.
The record of the Philippine soldiers for bravery and loyalty is second to none. Their assignment was as bloody and difficult as any in which our American soldiers engaged. Under desperate circumstances they acquitted themselves nobly.
There can be no question but that the Philippine veteran is entitled to benefits bearing a reasonable relation to those received by the America veteran, with whom he fought side by side. From a practical point of view, however, it must be acknowledged that certain benefits granted by the GI bill of rights cannot be applied in the case of the Philippine veteran. The agencies which prepared the proposed bill have recognized this fact and have dealt with the legislation on a practical basis, including only that which is susceptible of proper administration. While its enactment will not cure in toto the present discrimination against the Philippine veteran, the proposed legislation constitutes all that is practicable at the present time, and it will clearly indicate to the Filipinos that it is the purpose of the United States Government to do justice to their veterans. More important, it will provide the help so direly needed by many Filipinos who served our cause with unwavering devotion in the face of bitter hardship and wanton cruelty.
I am directing the Veterans' Administration, the War Department and the High Commissioner to the Philippines to give consideration to a practicable method of providing some educational opportunity for the Philippine veteran and of assuring, so far as possible, employment for him. If these additional benefits can be put into effect, it is my view, as well as the view of those interested, that substantial justice will have been done the Philippine veteran and the existing discrimination against him removed.
The proposed legislation has the full endorsement of the Veterans' Administration, the War Department, and the High Commissioner to the Philippines. I urge upon you its early enactment.
I am also writing to the Speaker of the House (President pro tempore of the Senate), forwarding another copy of the proposed bill.
Very sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Kenneth McKellar, President pro tempore of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The draft bill transmitted with the President's letter was introduced as S. 2235 and H.R. 6805 and referred to committee.
On June 4 the White House released a letter, dated May 21, which the President had received from the Honorable Manuel Roxas, President-elect of the Philippines. In his letter, Mr. Roxas stated that the President's "action in sending the Philippine Veterans Bill to Congress was greeted here with the same feeling of gratitude which has attended all of the other generous acts of the American people with regard to us. I trust that Congress will act speedily on this matter."
Harry S. Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting Bill on Philippine Veterans' Benefits. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231578