MANILA, April 10-- President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday led top government officials, foreign dignitaries, and surviving World War II veterans in the celebration of the 72nd Araw ng Kagitingan at the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Mt. Samat, Pilar, Bataan.
In his speech, President Aquino gave tribute to the Filipino World War II veterans, saying they best exemplify patriotism, heroism and sacrifice for country.
“Perhaps if one asks the current generation about the meaning of sacrifice, the most fitting answer would be your example. Was it not you veterans who, for the sake of our flag, charged with full resolve into danger and uncertainty? In the face of great challenge, you withstood hunger, thirst, and pain; you did not think twice about putting your lives on the line for the well-being of the majority. Through the example you have set, the Filipino spirit remains alive today. This is why, no matter how much time passes, the State will continue to recognize your contributions,” the President said.
He outlined government support for war veterans, including additional medical services available at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and the implementation of the Pensioner's Revalidation Program to ensure benefits will go to legitimate veterans and their families.
“For 2013, the amount of medical services given to 1,092 veterans reached 17 million pesos. On top of that, the VMMC has even expanded the scope of the benefits available to you; now, services like cataract operations, coronary angiograms, and cardiac bypasses are part of the list of services the government will pay for,” the President said
He said that through the Pensioner’s Revalidation Program, which makes certain that the names of all surviving pensioners are truly part of the list, government has ceased giving benefits to 22,534 accounts, and have suspended 14,616 accounts.
He added that through this program, government has retrieved pension remittances worth P396.61 million.
“This March, the number of veterans and their spouses who are receiving service from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office has reached 133,784. Now, we are making sure that every peso we give from our national coffers goes to the truly deserving,” the President said.
The President also reported that last year, the PVAO was able to provide for the schooling of 2,059 students of veterans dependents.
“And when it comes to financial aid: we were able to give up to 36,000 a year for each qualified dependent of our veterans,” he said.
Aside from the World War veterans, the President also paid tribute to the nine (9) Philippine Marines stationed at Ayungin Shoal.
President Aquino, American Ambassador Phlip Goldberg and Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe offered wreath of flowers at the colonnade of the War Memorial Shrine below the huge Memorial Cross.(PIA)