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Filipino-American Vets Sue In San Francisco Court Over Compensation

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US WWII Veteran (AP)

US WWII Veteran (AP)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A lawsuit was filed in San Francisco on Friday on behalf of thousands of Filipino American World War II veterans and their families.

The suit challenges the compensation awarded from a law signed two years ago by President Obama.

The Filipino Veterans Equity Bill authorizes a one-time $15,000 lump sum payment to veterans. But attorney Arneto Valera said it’s unfair in a number of ways, including the fact that vets who aren’t U.S. citizens are eligible for only $9,000.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“What is the rational basis here? There is none,” he said. “There is no rational basis because, again, the basis is the service.”

Valera was joined by about a hundred people outside the San Francisco Federal Building, including several Filipino veterans in full military dress.

Ninety-three-year-old Nestor Punlasan was a second lieutenant in the Philippine Army.

“I was in Cebu City. We were about to go to Bataan,” said Punlasan. “But then Bataan surrendered.”

Punlasan said he’s been unable to get his lump sum because his name doesn’t appear on the necessary records. He said besides that, he feels the compensation amount is unjust.

“There is no equity. It was not the same as what the American soldiers received,” he said.

The suit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also seeking compensation for widows of Filipino vets, since those whose husbands died before the bill was signed are ineligible.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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