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For Lack of Knowledge in Computer Mr. Alejandro C. Almonte Lost his Benefits as US-Filipino Veteran of WWII
Below is a copy of a reply of the Department of Veterans Affairs (USA) to the claim of Mr. Alejandro C. Almonte
Page 2 of the reply of Department of Veterans Affairs (USA) to claim of Mr. Almonte
His claim papers having been received past the deadline Mr. Almonte lost his benefits as US-Filipino veteran in WWII
Claim for US-Filipino veterans benefits of Alejandro C. Almonte
Mr. Alejandro C. Almonte is now an old man. He does not read newspapers, hear radio or watch news on television.
He rarely goes out of his abode in Calauan, Laguna because of poor eyesight. Around early 2000s his throat was showing some infections.
During his youth and young adulthood he was a tall, robust man. He was good at cooking as Calauan is fond of fiestas or celebrations of the birthdays of Catholic patron saints. That is why when American and Filipino guerrillas took camps around Mt. Cristobal in Calauan, Laguna and Mt. Banahaw (Laguna side) they took Alejandro as a cook and attendant at the mess hall. He was issued an appointment to an American army unit.
He learned of the opportunity to file a claim as a veteran close to the deadline of filing - by word-of-mouth.
Above is a copy of the reply of the Department of Veterans Affairs (USA) to the claim of Mr. Almonte. His claim was denied.
(This Hub was formerly a part of the Hub "The Unfinished Philippine Revolution of 1896-98" I decided to make it a separate piece.)
Mr. Almonte did not appeal his case to the Department of Veterans Affairs (USA). He is too honest to manufacture an alibi and a plausible one at that. Besides he could hardly express himself in English, much less summon enough savvy with the law. He was already afflicted with a severe infection of his throat when he came to know of the availability of an opportunity to file a claim after over 50 years He had carried his appointment paper as a member of a unit of the American army in the Far East in his wallet all his life since it was issued to him, he told me His spirit is still strong though to ask for mercy; he has held that courage as shown in his defiance of the Japanese army.
One fact that discouraged him to make an appeal is that his claim papers were received on March 1,2010, about two weeks past the deadline of February 16,2010.
Suppose it could be proven that Mr. Almonte posted his claim papers on February 15,2010? Date of posting stamped on the envelop on which the claim papers were mailed can show that. That envelop is in the possession of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I have not seen it.
For that matter, how can we know that any claim document was received past the deadline? Suppose the security guard failed to deliver it to the proper office immediately upon receipt in the mail box, or the clerk failed to stamp a date on it immediately when it landed on his desk? These are probabilities that are hard for the claimant to prove.
I could imagine the number of other such claims being received past the deadline for the inefficiency of the post office or lack of computer facilities, not to mention computer skills, to use the computer in delivering claims right to the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Almonte might have barely touched a typewriter, much less a computer. However, one can say that he should have employed the services of a computer savvy if he were trying to beat the deadline. For all we know he did not know the uses of a computer; that is his fault.
The fault why the Department of Veterans Affairs did not receive it on February 16,2010 could be placed on Mr. Almonte himself and on the post office. It could be countered that Mr. Almonte posted his papers too close to the deadline. Also, that the claim papers took a long trip to the Department of Veterans Affairs is not the business of this latter office.
However, consider the following:
Senator George W. Norris of the US congress was almost disqualified as a candidate in one election he ran for office. Norris's application for candidacy was received one day past the deadline of filing, Norris narrated (Norris, G, W. The Fighting Liberal, 1964).
[Norris was a former district judge before he went into politics. He was a representative for Nebraska and a senator in the US congress for 49 years in early 1900s. He was the sponsor of the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was a maverick in the Republican Party. Norris was responsible for toppling, in 1910, Speaker Joseph Cannon from his pedestal of power dictating upon the 56th US Congress, House of Representatives.To think that Cannon was a Republican!]
Suppose the interval between posting his papers for candidacy and receipt of the same was only 12 hours; it was past the deadline nonetheless.
However, admission of his candidacy was based on the date of posting his candidacy in some sort of a post office. This was the ruling of the officer in charge of validating the certificates of candidacy.
It must be recalled that the policy was that papers of candidacy must be received on the deadline.
However, as a matter of precedence in the jurisprudence of USA, the candidacy of Senator Norris was admitted based on the date of posting in some sort of post office of his candidacy. Anybody, especially in the US can verify this. It should be added though that there was no case of disqualification against Norris, so no such case is recorded in the books. It can be verified in the book of Norris mentioned above and in the books of record pertinent to the candidacy of Sen. Norris.
Therefore, Mr. Alejandro C. Almonte's claim for benefits as a US-Filipino veteran in WWII is valid and admissible based on the date of his filing his claim papers in the post office. To start with, Mr. Almonte's appointment paper is valid and true. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs (USA) did not rule it as invalid and false.
If others deserve it so does he
If other US-Filipino veterans deserve war benefits, so does Mr. Almonte. He might have not been a combatant. However, who is the guerrilla who could wait for the return of Gen. Douglas MacArthur to retake the Philippines from the Japanese without eating in the mess hall or under bananas and trees? Gen. MacArthur escaped from the gauntlet of the Japanese from a shelter in Corregidor Island in 1941 promising "I shall return." He returned in 1945. He was the Allied commander of the Southwest Pacific theatre that included the Philippines.
For love of country, getting rewarded might not have crossed the mind of Mr. Almonte while cooking for and serving food to American and Filipino guerrillas. It could not be said that he risked less for his life from the enemy. He did not mind being felled by a Japanese bullet, he told me.
Being a civilian was not a guarantee to lack of risk at the hands of the Japanese. A lot of prisoners of war (captured American and Filipino soldiers) and civilians in Los Baños, Laguna were locked inside the Baker Hall of the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus, and inside the St. Therese chapel.
When news spread that the army of Gen. MacArthur had landed in Leyte, it was rumored that the Japanese would gun down in cold blood those locked in Baker Hall and chapel located at the foot of Mt. Makiling.
The doors were forced open by Filipino guerrillas hiding in Mt. Makiling. Still a lot of them did not make good their escape.
The Mulawin creek behind Baker Hall flowed with blood, according to some survivors. One of them is my mother-in-law who was gorged seven times with a Japanese bayonet. Bodies of the dead piled upon her saved her.