BAGUIO CITY – The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) disclosed that the more or less 4,000 surviving World War II veterans will be gone within the next three years based on the rate that they are dying due to lingering illnesses aggravated by old age.
PVAO veterans memorial and historical division chief retired Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar said there are more or less 1,500 surviving World War II veterans who are dying annually, thus, at the said rate, the existing number of surviving veterans will be gone in the next 3 years.
He claimed that based on the PVAO database of World War II veterans, there are around 270,000 veterans who were recognized by the United States government pursuant to the criteria prescribed for the said purpose but there are also some over 200,000 veterans who were recognized by the Philippine government as validated during the post-war era.
Aside from the remaining number of surviving World War II veterans, PVAO is also catering to the pension and other benefits of some 50,000 surviving spouses of the veterans who passed away.
“Our World War II veterans are slowly decreasing in number because of their old age aggravated by their lingering illnesses that is why the country will eventually have no surviving veterans in the next three years,” Aguilar stressed.
The PVAO official revealed that the ages of the surviving World War II veterans are already over 90 and most of them are already sick and undergoing medications for their illnesses.
On the other hand, he stated PVAO is still handling the benefits and privileges of veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War and other previous wars where Filipinos have been involved aside from retired personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
According to him, there are still over 100,000 veterans of other wars and military personnel being handled by the PVAO.
Aguilar pointed out that one of the activities of the PVAO is rectifying the alleged distorted facts and narration of facts of the country’s history written in the history books so that the present and future generations of Filipinos will be properly informed of the real events that transpired that resulted to the country’s liberation from the tyrannical Japanese rule on September 3, 1945.
PVAO, in partnership with the Philippine Veterans Bank, is going around the country showcasing photos preserved from the various events that transpired during the World War II to increase the awareness of today’s youth on these events that led to the country’s liberation.
Aguilar admitted that Filipino forces turned over to the Americans whatever documents that were retrieved thus the retelling of events is revised to their advantage.
He claimed that it was the Cordillera forces that captured Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita in Kiangan, Ifugao on September 2, 1945 before being brought to Baguio City for the signing of his deed of surrender contrary to what has been written in the history books.