HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – The sacrifices of Filipino soldiers who fought alongside the United States and allied forces to bring an end to World War II are now being recognized and their final wishes of being buried in their homeland granted with the signing of House Bill 1420
(Act 105) into law.
The Filipino soldiers played a vital role in the Allied victory of the Pacific as their numerous guerrilla actions provided the United States forces with time to build and prepare for the Allied counterattack. Although Filipino soldiers displayed tremendous courage and risked their lives to win the war in the Pacific, many of these soldiers were denied full veterans benefits, including burial benefits, which had been promised to them by the United States.
While Filipino soldiers meeting specific requirements were eventually provided with burial benefits at national and state veterans cemeteries at no cost, similar to other veterans of the United States Armed Forces, the wish of some Filipino soldiers who were living in Hawai‘i was that their remains be returned to their homeland. However, this benefit of returning the remains of Filipino soldiers to their homeland for burial was not provided to them.
Under Act 105, an appropriation of $50,000 of general revenues for fiscal year 2017-2018 will be made available for burial grants for Filipino-American veterans of WWII. The grants cover funeral and burial costs, including the cost of returning their remains to the Philippines for burial, provided that federal funding remains unavailable for this purpose, there remains eligible Filipino-American veterans living in the State of Hawai‘i and the appropriation shall be matched on a one-to-one basis from private sources.
“These brave Filipino World War II veterans deserve the respect to have their last wish granted to be buried in the Philippines,” said Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (Dist. 14 - Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea). “Fewer and fewer of them remain with us, many whom are well into their 90’s. Granting their last wish to be reunited with their families in death seems like a small sacrifice for the State compared to the larger sacrifices they made for our nation.”
“The signing of this measure not only symbolizes a much overdue recognition of their sacrifices for our country’s freedom, it also provides justice for the Filipino-American veterans of the second World War,” said Sen. Clarence Nishihara (Dist. 17 - Waipahu, Crestview, Manana, Pearl City, Pacific Palisades) Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs.
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