Fiona Ma for State Assembly

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY Education panel approves bill remembering WWII veterans

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-  The Filipinos in WWII Social Studies Curriculum Act, or AB 199, passed the first step toward ensuring that social science instruction in grades 7-12 includes the significant role of Filipinos and their soldiers in World War II.

Authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley), the legislation will ensure Filipino Veterans who fought side by side American troops are remembered by future generations.

“Filipino WWII veterans have been denied benefits that were promised and are now being denied credit in our school history books,” said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. “Many of the Filipino veterans of WWII are aging and dying. It is important to ensure that their stories are not lost - they deserve our recognition and respect in our history.”

“Many Americans are unaware of the contributions made by Filipino soldiers on their behalf during World War II.  Any group of veterans who fought to maintain the ideals of our nation deserves to be recognized in the same manner as the rest,” said Assembly member Cook. “I am honored to be a joint author of AB 199 along with Assembly member Ma, which can help ensure that our children and future generations don’t forget the contributions and sacrifice of these brave Filipino soldiers.”

During the hearing on March 30, the Assembly Education committee members heard testimony from Regino Nacua, a Filipino WWII veteran and Commander Rudy Asercion, who is a Veterans War Memorial commissioner.

“This is part of our American experience, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, America made a desperate plea for these soldiers to delay and battle the Japanese while allied forces are prepared."  Asercion said. Noting that President Obama signed the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill in 2009,  Asercion wondered “ Why did it take  America, a country that is fairer than most,  65 years after service have been rendered in good faith,  to acknowledge and recognize the contributions and sacrifices of  these veterans.”

There were more than 250,000 Filipino soldiers that aided General Douglas MacArthur in defending the America territory against invading Japanese forces. However, after World War II ended, President Truman signed Public Law 70-301, known as the Rescission Act of 1946.  The Act  states that “ the service of Filipinos "shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits."

A video transcript of the hearing will be shown to survivors of the infamous  Death March during the FALL of BATAAN commemoration ceremony on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at the Veterans War Memorial and Performing Arts Center  on  Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.