Daily Archives: March 18, 2017



March 18, 2017


WASHINGTON, DC — Filipino and American World War II veterans, surviving family members, veterans advocates, community supporters, Philippine Embassy dignitaries, elected officials and congressional leaders will mark the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March with a series of events on Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19, 2017.

The main highlight, the annual Bataan Memorial Death March (BMDM), is a re-enactment of the arduous 65-mile march by 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers following the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942. As many as 10,000 men—9,000 Filipinos and 1,000 Americans—perished in the march while many more died at prison camps.

The BMDM is considered to be the largest commemoration outside the Philippines. The annual event at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico has drawn more than 72,000 people since it started 28 years ago and has grown to include a slate of different races with military and civilian divisions. A record 7,000 marchers from all over the United States are expected this year.

“We are marching to honor the soldiers of the greatest generation,” Taguba says. “The story of Filipino and American soldiers gallantly fighting together in Bataan during the Second World War must always be remembered and shared. This auspicious occasion allows us to pay tribute to their service and sacrifice.”

Celebrating the Congressional Gold Medal

70 YEARS OF THE UNJUST RESCISSION ACT OF 1946Adding a special significance to the memorial march is another historic milestone: the recent granting of the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino and American World War II veterans. Signed into law by President Obama on December 14, 2016, the Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 (Public Law 115-265) recognizes their service from July 1941 to December 1946.

“The Congressional Gold Medal and what it represents provides an opportunity for the thousands of participants to learn more about our soldiers’ wartime service in World War II, their outstanding contributions and achievements, and their personal stories of heroism and uncommon valor,” adds Taguba.

The major events taking place this weekend are:

Friday, March 17

  • All day Registration
  • Survivor Descendant Welcome Reception, 3:00 – 5:00 PM

WSMR Frontier Club

  • Movie: “The Great Raid,” WSMR Post Theater

Saturday, March 18, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

  • FilVetREP presentation on the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM), including a video documentary, “Duty to Country,” and discussion about the project.
  • WSMR Post Theater

Saturday, March 18, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Bataan Memorial March and Gold Medal Commemoration Dinner, hosted by FilVetREP and Filipino American community organizations.
  • Hilton Doubletree Hotel El Paso, Sky Lounge

1600 Lamar Street, Houston, TX 77010

(Note: This dinner event is part of FilVetREP’s national campaign to raise funds for the purchase of bronze replicas for veterans and families, and to develop an education program to preserve the legacy of Filipino and American World War ll veterans.

Sunday, March 19, 6:00 AM

  • Bataan Memorial Death March Opening Ceremony

(Note: The Philippine Flag will be part of the Color Guard and the Philippine National Anthem will be sung for the first time. It will be rendered by Filipino American Jim Diego, an active marathoner and a member of  Broadway Barkada, an organization of Filipino American Broadway performers)

  • 26-mile Bataan Memorial Death March will commence after the opening ceremony at White Sands Missile Range



For Immediate Release

Justice For Filipino American Veterans (JFAV)17309115_1411415218932483_4252211883406081976_n

March 18, 2016



The Justice for Filipino Americans (JFAV) lobbyist did a good job. They lobbied 29 representatives and 5 senators from March 11-14  for the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act or HR 2766  to be re-introduced in 2017.

The JFAV lobbyist from Los Angeles and New York also thanked the 29 Representatives who supported the passage of the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino WWII Veterans and the Reuniting Families Act still now passed by the House and the Senate.

17309595_10104984984727501_4330545985552339572_nFilipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2016

The JFAV lobbyist also explained to the US Congress, What is full equity for JFAV? This is not retroactive.  This is the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2016.

The JFAV lobbyist added, “ This is fairness. Reduced from $1.2 billion in 2013, the budget is estimated at $600 million.

That is, we demand military pension for veterans (~$2000 each month) and survivors pension for widows to cover the remaining 15,000 to 20,000 WWII Filipino-American veterans who are passing away at a rate of 10 per day.”


For more information please call Al at (213)318-9065 or visit our website at www,jfavusa,org.




March 18, 2017


By Arturo P. Garcia13620168_1267189539973023_1546217399480246871_n

The Filipinos and the Filipino American community must know how we won the Benham Rise and its story. Thus, we can honor our unsung heroes and condemn those who are in power who wanted to give it away.

It is the same story when Commodore Tomas Cloma claimed the “Spratley islands” for the Philippines and was even persecuted for it by dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

He was even jailed for the good job he has done for the country. Thus, we must know the story behind the Benham Rise.

“The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)’s recognition of Philippine jurisdiction over the Benham Rise Region is the Philippines’ first successful validation of a claim in accord with the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. It is the first major expansion of the Philippines’ maritime boundaries since the late 1970s when it declared its EEZ (exclusive economic zone). This happy outcome is a tribute to a quiet and diligent work and collaboration by a team of public servants, scientists and legal experts who pursued the claim for over a decade.

The story of the Philippine claim to Benham Rise began with a workshop in 2001 to assist the DFA and the DENR’s National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) with regard to the implementation of the Law of the Sea. Ms. Suzette Suarez of the UP Institute of International Legal Studies (UP-IILS) organized the workshop to discuss the requirements for claiming extended continental shelf (ECS) areas for the Philippines.

Dr. Teodoro Santos of the UP National Institute for Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) identified and proposed Benham Rise, then a relatively unknown area of the Pacific Ocean east of Luzon, as a possible ECS area in addition to areas west of Palawan. This resulted in an inter-agency Memorandum of Agreement among key government agencies and the academe to work together to make the ECS claims. Under then-Administrator Diony Ventura, the NAMRIA set itself to the task of conducting the extensive hydrographic surveys required as a basis for the claim.

They commissioned a desktop feasibility study by the Norwegian firm Blom-ASA with Norwegian assistance. Afterwards, the NAMRIA’s Coast and Geodetic Surveys Department sent its two survey ships, the Presbitero and Ventura, on several cruises to the Pacific to map the seabed beyond 200 nautical miles away and more than 5000 meters deep.

In 2007, the cabinet-level Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs created a Technical Working Group to prepare the Philippines’ formal claims or “Submissions,” to be filed with the CLCS in the United Nations. NAMRIA inaugurated the Philippine ECS Project under then-Director Efren Carandang.

At the time, there was very little first-hand information about the actual intricacies of writing and supporting ECS submissions with the CLCS. NAMRIA contacted UP Law Prof. Jay Batongbacal, who was still taking up his doctorate in Canada, to join the project even while abroad, participating in the project’s second major workshop via Skype. Prof. Batongbacal then met with Comm. Galo Carrera of Mexico, a CLCS Commissioner and colleague who had given maritime boundary workshops in the Philippines back in the 1990s.

Over a cup of coffee in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Comm. Carrera agreed to assist the Philippines in preparing and finalizing the Submissions.

For help on the technical aspects, NAMRIA engaged the GNS, New Zealand’s equivalent of the UP-NIGS and PhiVolcs. New Zealand had just announced its success in securing approval of the New Zealand ECS claim. The GNS team provided the Philippine team with information and advice on their actual experiences in making theirclaim, as well as enhanced their knowledge and capabilities in analysing and interpreting the data.

All previous work was reviewed, re-analyzed, and sometimes rejected, in order to produce the new Submission. Mr. Rolando Peña of UP-NIGS served as technical editor. Thousands of pages of raw data and documents had to be collated, digitally reproduced, and professionally packaged by the NAMRIA’s IT Group led by Deputy Administrator Linda Papa, and integrated into customised browser software for the exclusive use of the CLCS. Their hard work resulted in boxes of documents that filled half of the NAMRIA’s service van, and which were later delivered to New York.

The ECS team closely monitored the developments in the legislature, and was relieved when the new baselines law was passed in March 2009.

The Philippines made its submission on April 8, 2009, a month before the original deadline. On August 15, 2009, the ECS team made its first formal presentation to the CLCS en banc.

The team thought that the Philippines would have to wait until the year 2014 before the CLCS could begin consideration of the Submission. They were thus completely surprised when in January 2011, there was a notification that a CLCS Subcommission, chaired by Lawrence F. Awosika of Nigeria, had commenced the validation of the claim, and that it had already sent technical questions. For some reason the Philippines had jumped the line!

It turned out to be the busiest and most challenging of all the meetings. Despite daily discussions, the Subcommission was not swayed from its position. The stalemate jeopardized the resolution of the Submission. However, upon the delegation’s request for guidance, the Subcommission pointed out that it was possible to draw the border using another method adopted by the CLCS.

The new method actually increased the area of the claim; so the team enthusiastically spent as sleepless night excitedly drawing up new scenarios and borders with everything from computers to kitchenware.Into the early morning, the geologists, hydrographers and cartographers drew up maps and figures, while the lawyers prepared the necessary diplomatic script. On the last meeting held several hours later, the Subcommission agreed with the Philippines’ new proposed boundaries.

The team members thought that their work was finished, so in March 2012,

But another surprise was sprung: the delegation determined just before the actual meeting that it was still possible to again expand the claimed area, this time at the northern border. They woke up the technical staff in Manila to recompute the borders and produce new maps and coordinates in only three hours. The effort was successful, with the Subcommission accepting the change. The delegation left with a new map and technical description of the Benham Rise Region comprising a larger area than the Philippines had at first claimed.

On 12 April 2012, the small delegation returned and accompanied the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations in making its final presentation to the CLCS en banc, before its final deliberation on the Philippine submission.

Amb. Libran Cabactulan delivered the final pitch, speaking of the Philippines’ adherence to international law, and thanking the Commission for the fruitful collaboration in determining the outer limits of our ECS in the Benham Rise Region. He made this presentation to the full Commission, which by this time was chaired by Comm. Carrera. Since he had previously assisted the Philippines, Comm. Carrera could not help our cause in the deliberations, and as Chairman he was bound by rules of confidentiality.

The day after the meeting, as the delegation met him to bid a friendly farewell, he warned that nothing was fixed yet, and that he would notify the Philippines of the results in the following weeks.

But he congratulated the delegation for a good final presentation and a job well done, and then parted by saying, with a smile, “I think we should be thankful for the very good weather.”

Now we know why.”