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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch

Biography

During WWII, Ramon Magsaysay was captain of a Filipino guerrilla unit based along the coast of Zambales, Luzon. This guerrilla group assisted the United States Armed Forces by helping to secure landing sites and aiding the American troops during the 1944 invasion of the Philippines. Magsaysay’s unit, along with others, successfully cleared the coast of Japanese soldiers before the arrival of the American liberation forces. Magsaysay’s career continued to advance when in 1945 he was promoted to Major by General MacArthur and later to military governor of Zambales. After the war ended, he was discharged from the Army and was elected to the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946 where he served as the Chairman of National Defense. In 1950 he was appointed Secretary of National Defense. As Secretary, he launched a counter-guerilla campaign against the Huks, a group of Communist rebels. In 1953 he was elected President of the Philippines.

Magsaysay and Rainka continually lobbied for the United States government to pay full compensation and benefits as promised to the troops of the Filipino guerrilla units. Many men had not been paid their full salary and their plight worsened when President Truman signed the Rescission Act of 1946. The bill rescinded promises made by the U.S. Armed Forces that the Filipino guerrilla groups would receive the same benefits as their American counter-parts.

Magsaysay travelled to Washington, D.C. in 1948 and successfully lobbied for the Roger’s Veteran Bill which granted partial benefits to Filipino war veterans; however this was no where near the full benefits originally promised. This bill only applied to certain veterans of the Philippines Armed Forces who were part of forces officially recognized by the U.S. Armed Forces and the extent of the benefits varied depending on the force. Magsaysay died in a plane crash in 1957 without seeing full benefits granted to his guerrilla units. The struggle to obtain full benefits for all Filipino World War II veterans has continued to this day with some concessions being made by the U.S. government. The American Coalition for Filipino Veterans recently won a victory when a provision was made in President Obama’s stimulus package to distribute $198 million to Filipino veterans.