SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Three Filipino veterans of World War II are suing the U.S. government for allegedly making it too hard to prove that they are eligible for long-denied benefits.
The class action lawsuit filed on June 4 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco claims the Department of Veterans Affairs has unfairly excluded thousands of veterans whose archived military records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. Among the plaintiffs is a blind 91-year-old San Francisco resident, Romeo de Fernandez, who says he survived the Bataan Death March.
The government’s treatment of the 250,000 Filipinos who fought Japanese soldiers alongside Americans during the war has long been a sore spot.
Congress passed a law denying them promised veterans’ benefits one year after Japan’s surrender.
Obama last year signed a new law granting $15,000 to Filipino veterans who had become U.S. citizens and $9,000 to non-citizens. ♦