MORE than a hundred Filipino American youths showed up Saturday last week for what could be the last of the highly successful annual “Hollywood march” for Filipino World War II veterans.
Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) National Coordinator Al P. Garcia said the Los Angeles Police Commission has informed the organizers that they will no longer be given permission to hold the same demonstration next year.
“The ban on rallies and demonstrations is not specific to us, but for everyone else who wish to hold protest or demonstrations in that part of the town,” Garcia explained.
The impending ban on all marches or demonstrations along Hollywood Boulevard was reportedly triggered by a petition filed by a group of Hollywood businessmen.
“But the march to seek justice for Filipino veterans will still go on. The City of Los Angeles is a big place and we would surely find another venue to hold this demonstration,” Garcia added.
Filipino WW II veteran Rogaciano Dagdag, who sat in a wheelchair for most of the time, expressed his elation over the well-attended rally.
“Masaya ako kasi nakikita ko ang mga kabataan na nakikipaglaban para sa amin,” Dagdag told Weekend Balita/US Asian Post.
Dagdag said he was not able to come to Washington D.C. last October to receive his US Congressional medal because he could not afford the expenses that the travel would entail.
“But they would send me one (medal) here in my home,” Dagdag intimated.
This year’s Hollywood march was special because this was also 75th Anniversary of the Fall of Bataan (April 9, 1942) and the infamous “Death March” that followed the surrender of United States Army of the Far East (USAFFE) forces to the invading Japanese army.
As planned, the marchers did five symbolic stops to commemorate the five places in the Philippines where the American and Filipino soldiers were allowed to stop during the grueling 70-mile march.
The Japanese Imperial Army forcible transferred some 80,000 captured Allied soldiers from Bagac in Bataan to Capas in Tarlac.
The transfer began on April 9, 1942, after a three-month battle in the mountains of Bataan. It is estimated that around 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino died while around 700 Americans died during the march.
The march was later judged by an Allied military commission to be a war crime because of the abuses and wanton killings that happened during the march. Despite the sacrifices offered by the Filipino fighters and by the Filipino people in general, the United States Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946 that deprived the Filipino veterans of their rights and benefits as members of the United States armed forces.
Of the 66 countries that fought with the US during WW II, only Filipinos were stripped of benefits.
This year marks the 71st year that the Filipino WWII veterans started their fight for recognition and for the thrashing of the rescission law.