Ferdinand Marcos on war vets’ list; Imelda getting old age pension
President Benigno Aquino III and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg took turns praising the courage and sacrifice of thousands of Filipino and American soldiers during World War II. They were apparently unaware, however, that among those they commended during the 73rd Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) rites was the late President Ferdinand Marcos, who had claims to being the most bemedaled Filipino war veteran.
Malacañang—responding to a query from the Inquirer—checked with the Department of National Defense (DND) and found that the former dictator was indeed a government-recognized war veteran.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told this reporter: “On whether (Marcos) is on a list of recognized veterans, this is according to the DND Public Information Office: President Ferdinand E. Marcos is a Usaffe veteran.”
Usaffe is short for US Armed Forces in the Far East, which was active from 1941 to 1946 and headed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
In a text message, Coloma also said former first lady Imelda R. Marcos, the late leader’s widow, is “now receiving old age pension from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.”
On Wednesday, Malacañang said it was not sure if the former President would be among the war veterans that President Aquino would honor at Day of Valor ceremonies at Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan province.
Day of Valor, also known as Bataan Day, is a national public holiday. It commemorates the fall of Bataan to Japanese invaders in 1942.
Coloma had said the Palace was “not aware” of any list of state-recognized war veterans with Marcos’ name on it.
He said he would verify with the DND if the late strongman’s name was on any list of war veterans.
Asked about Marcos loyalists’ claims about the late leader’s heroism, he said: “Such claims to heroism, if revived, may be met with renewed skepticism by those who had previously disputed these.”
Marcos, who was President from 1966 to 1986, was an Army officer during World War II. But US government archives revealed that he actually played little or no part in anti-Japanese activities during the war.
On Thursday, Goldberg noted both Americans and Filipinos “continue to benefit from the sacrifices of our veterans.”
“It was the relentless and indomitable spirit of our guerrillas and soldiers in defense of Bataan and the captivity of Camp O’Donnell (in Tarlac province) that helped forge a great alliance, the US-Philippine alliance, the oldest in the region, and one that has helped preserve and protect the security and stability of the entire Pacific region,” he said.
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