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Ron Paul to speak to Filipino WWII veterans at rally

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is scheduled to speak tonight at a rally for Philippine-American veterans who are calling for repeal of a 1946 law that blocks them from receiving compensation for their World War II service.

The rally from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Leatherneck Club, 4360 Spring Mountain Road, is expected to draw hundreds of supporters from the Las Vegas Asian community. It is hosted by the Filipino-American Veterans of Nevada and a San Francisco-based advocacy group, Justice for Filipino American Veterans. Both are nonprofit organizations.

The groups are calling for Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to co-sponsor a Senate bill with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as a companion to a House measure that seeks to repeal of the 1946 Rescission Act. The act says Philippine guerrillas who served under U.S. commanders shall not be considered active military for purposes of benefits.

One of those who would benefit from amending the act is 100-year-old Silverio Cuaresma of Las Vegas.

"They are waiting for me to die," he said in October. "Maybe they don’t like me to win, but I keep on trying."

Cuaresma was a Philippine guerrilla intelligence officer who served under famous U.S. Army cavalry Maj. Edwin Ramsey and led raids that killed many Japanese soldiers in central Luzon. He has appealed his claim to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a process that began 10 years ago.

Rally organizers want the Department of Veterans Affairs to grant each of these World War II veterans who are U.S. citizens a one-time, $15,000 benefit as promised under the American Recovery and Re­investment Act of 2009. Others still living in the Philippines could receive $9,000.

There were more than 200,000 Filipinos who fought in the Pacific theater under U.S. command.

"We estimate 10 of these vets are dying every day," said Ago Pedalizo, lobbyist for Justice for Filipino-American Veterans.

He said there are 41,000 who applied in 2009 for payment from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund, but the government has only allotted enough funds for 18,000.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

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