By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (JGL) — A small group of Filipinos who may look like Americans are hoping to meet President Trump when he travels to the
Philippines between Nov. 12-13, asking for his help to locate their fathers, who abandoned them when the Philippines was still hosting two huge military bases for nearly half a century.
Ernesto M. Gange, former member of the board of director of Pearl S. Buck Foundation and founder of National Federation of Filipino American Republican Coalition, is leading a 24-man Filipino American delegation to the Philippines on Nov. 7 and hopes to have an audience with Mr. Trump so he can speak on behalf of the more than 52,000 adult Filipinos fathered by American soldiers, who refused to recognize them because their “mothers were Filipino prostitutes.”
The website of Pearl S. Buck Foundation lists 1,568 children from the Philippines currently under its care but it does not specify how many are Filipino Amerasians or “Amerifinos,” or “Kapuspalad na mga Pilipino” (ill-starred Filipino Amerasians or “Kapus”), who must at least be 25 years old, when the last American soldier left Clark Air Base following the massive eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. But PSB Foundation lists 120,631 children under its care, including 100,359 from Taiwan, 16,572 from South Korea, 1,568 from the Philippines, 1,441 from Thailand, 639 from Vietnam and 52 from China.
These Kapus have suffered a double-barreled discrimination from both the U.S. Congress and a special U.S. court when they were barred from following their fathers to the United States soil because their fathers would not recognize them.
ERNIE GANGE WITH REPORTER:
ERNESTO M. GANGE (center), Founder of National Federation of Filipino American Republicans, will lead a 24-man delegation, including Mr. Ben Vierneza (right), vice president of the National Federation of Filipino American Republicans, to the Philippines to lead Filipino Amerasians in meeting with President Trump in the Philippines. Photo was taken after the video interview with Messrs. Gange and Vierneza in Washington, D.C. at the sidelines of the the 20th anniversary celebration of National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) on Oct. 21, 2017. (JGL Photo)
With nobody to turn to, Mr. Gange said, Mr. Trump is his group’s only hope to right this injustice.
In a video interview, Mr. Gange said, “We are here in Washington, D.C. to attend the 20th anniversary of NaFFAA.
“This is fortunate that I also see Joseph Lariosa, who is a veteran journalist from the Philippines. I just discussed with Mr. Lariosa about our mission to the Philippines, leaving on the 7th (of November 2017) to meet with the President of the United States Donald Trump. We call our group the Filipino American Republican Coalition.
“As of today, I have with me 24 delegates from East Coast and the West Coast.
“I am Ben Vierneza, the vice president of the National Federation of Filipino American Republicans am going with Mr. (Ernesto) Gange to the Philippines.”
THIS IS THE ASH cloud of Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 that finally drove the U.S. servicemen out of the U.S. military bases in the Philippines after half a century of occupation.(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Mr. Gange said Mr. Trump can suggest to U.S. Congress to amend “Public Law 97-359, enacted by the 97th Congress of the United States on October 22, 1982 that excluded children of Filipino and Japan mothers from immigrating to the United States because they were not recognized by their American fathers, who abandoned them. These Japanese Amerasians are called “hafus.”
The Public Law 97-359 only allows children from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Korea to come to the U.S. without being sponsored by their American fathers.
Mr. Gange wants to amend the law to recognize Kapus, Hafus and other Amerasians to expand the definition of Amerasians that is restricted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to: "[A]n alien who was born in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand after December 31, 1950, and before October 22, 1982, and was fathered by a U.S. citizen." The Amerasian Foundation (AF) and Amerasian Family Finder (AFF) define an Amerasian as "Any person who was fathered by a citizen of the United States (an American servicemen, American expatriate, or U.S. Government Employee (Regular or Contract)) and whose mother is, or was, an Asian National."
From the photography of Enrico Dungca.
Mr. Gange recalled that in 1992, he was able to bring U.S. Rep. Lucien E. Blackwell to the Philippines who sponsored a bill that would include Amerifinos or Kapus as Amerasians as defined by Public Law 97-359. But Mr. Blackwell lost in the following elections that ended the sponsorship of the new bill. Rep. Blackwell died in 2003.
Linda J. Bishop, Chief Marketing Officer of Pearl S. Buck International based in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, in an email response to this reporter’s request for information, said since 1964 her organization has worked for the basic rights of Amerasian and other children who face discrimination, alienation, and poverty by ensuring that they receive an education, medical attention, and psychosocial support.
Ms. Bishop said PSB Philippines, Inc. has “an office in the Philippines since 1968 and Amerasian children continue to be under our care in the Philippines (and South Korea). Since our founding date, we have served over 2 Million overseas children and families who face discrimination.
“We are currently exhibiting Enrico Dungca’s “The Forgotten Americans,” which, through powerful photography, highlights the plight of Amerasian children born to U.S. servicemen and Filipino mothers – the children desperately seek acceptance in their home country and legal recognition by the U.S. government, so far without success.
“During our opening reception, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick [R-PA-8] met Mr. Dungca; and, upon hearing the artist’s comments was so moved that he announced he would be co-sponsoring bill, HR1520,” the Uniting Families Act of 2017 introduced by Rep. Ron Kind [D-WI-3].
Ms. Bishop added that on March 19, 2016 when the Philippines and the United States governments agreed on additional five locations of military bases for the American troops under EDCA, namely Antonio Bautista Air Base (Palawan), Basa Air Base (Pampanga), Fort Magsaysay (Nueva Ecija), Lumbia Airport (Cagayan de Oro) and Benito Ebuen Air Base (Mactan, Cebu) to the former locations of Subic Naval Base (Olongapo) and Clark Air Base (Pampanga), PSB Philippines envisions Filipino children living with hope on two locations under EDCA -- in Pampanga and Olongapo.
“We are serving around 550 sponsored children of which 5% are Amerasian children.
“Now that EDCA has been finalized by the Supreme Court as constitutional, we urge that a resolution must be made for the allocation of 5% budget from EDCA to be given for the educational assistance of Filipino Amerasian children who were abandoned by their American fathers in the Philippines. They are now being called “Forgotten Americans.”
She added the PSB Philippines had also written President Duterte and Senators in the Philippines as well as U.S. officials asking for 5% of the EDCA budget to be allocated for the education and care of Filipino Amerasians abandoned by their fathers to ensure their education and medical needs and to give them a path out of discrimination and poverty.
A class action suit was filed in 1993 on behalf of the Amerifinos or Kapus in the International Court of Complaints in Washington, DC, to establish Filipino American children’s rights to assistance. The court denied the claim, ruling that the children were the products of unmarried women who provided sexual services to U.S. service personnel in the Philippines and were therefore engaged in illicit acts of prostitution. Such illegal activity could not be the basis for any legal claim."
From the photography of Enrico Dungca.
NOT ALL “AMERIFINOS” OR “KAPUS” ARE CHILDREN OF PROSTITUTES
Not all Amerifinos or Kapus, however, are children of Filipino prostitutes. A New York Times report said, “[F]or children born out of wedlock to an American father and a foreign mother (to be) entitled to United States citizenship, they must file paternity certifications no later than their 18th birthday to get it.
“But since the military bases in the Philippines have been closed for more than 20 years (26 years to be exact), virtually all Filipino “Amerasians,” a term coined by American-born author and activist Pearl S. Buck to describe children of American servicemen and Asian mothers – have” aged out.
These Amerifinos or Kapus have become part of what the UNICEF is an estimated 100 million children worldwide, who live at least part of their time on the streets.
In the Philippines, a government report in 1998 put the figure at 1.2 million street children—about 70,000 of them in Metro Manila alone. Another report estimates that there are approximately 1.5 million children on the streets working as beggars, pickpockets, drug abusers and child prostitutes (ECPAT).
From the photography of Enrico Dungca.
Today, the number of children and youth living part of their lives on the streets in the Philippines could reach more than two million out of a total population of 100 million. With the Philippine Supreme Court approving EDCA last year, this agreement will let United States servicemen come to the Philippines on a “rotational” visit for the next 10 years. Mr. Gange fears that because there is “no system” in place to compel an American soldier to provide child support to his abandoned Filipino child, more Filipino Amerasians “will be born in the Philippines.”
And this is where Mr. Trump can help, Mr. Gange added, by giving part of the “rent” that the U.S. pays to the Philippines under EDCA to the cause of the Filipino Amerasians. The appropriation can be allocated for the adult children’s HELP — Health, Education, Psychosocial and other unique needs.
$66-M or $100-M?
It was reported that U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim has announced that under EDCA, the U.S. will be funding the agreement with $66-M annually. For 10 years, it will be $660-M.
But Mr. Gange said the information he got is that the U.S. funding requirement is $500-M annually or $5-B for ten years. “We only need 5% of that money for HELP for the Amerasian Filipinos.”
Or Mr. Trump can sign on to the suggestion of a lawyer (Annette Eddie-Callagain) who represented 50 Okinawan women abandoned by American soldiers, who convinced a U.S. court to allow his law office to get DNA samples from soldiers suspected of abandoning their children in Japan so as to evade paying child support.
Ms. Eddie-Callagain managed to ask an Illinois court to order to dock the wages of a former United States serviceman to provide financial support for his two children in Okinawa.