Filipino Veterans, West Philippine Sea issues top agenda in meeting between New York Consul General and US Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA14)

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PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania -- In a meeting with Representative Mike Doyle (PA14-D) on March 23, 2016 attended by Filipino community members in Pittsburgh, Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr. sought the support for house bill HR 2737 seeking to award a US Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino Veterans of World War II.

Numbering just a few thousands in the US today, the ranks of Filipino WW II veterans continue to dwindle daily without the benefit of being recognized for their service and valor. This is unfortunate considering that other minority groups in the US - such as the Tuskegee Airmen, Women’s Corps, Puerto Ricans and even the Japanese Nisei soldiers - were recognized and awarded their gold medal by the US Congress, Consul General De Leon said.

Consul General De Leon emphasized that the Filipino-American community, numbering 34,000 in Pennsylvania and 3,500 of which live in Pittsburgh in Representative Doyle’s district is supportive of the bill HR 2737, together with its Senate version 1555. 

Consul General De Leon also provided Rep. Doyle with updates on the Arbitration case filed by the Philippines at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, citing the Court resolution issued early this year assuming jurisdiction over the case which seeks to adjudicate maritime entitlements of claimant countries in the South China Sea.  The US Senate passed a resolution no. 412 in 2014, and then a letter addressed jointly to the US Defense Secretary and the State Secretary in 2015 calling for claimant countries in the South China Sea to abide by the Declaration of Code of Conduct and avoid escalating maritime disputes.  The Philippines’ expects a decision on the merit of the case around May this year, he added.   

In reply, Rep. Doyle said that after a review of the bill, he conveyed his support HR 2737 to be passed by the US Congress this year and had instructed his office to draft his endorsement.  This year being an election year in the US, the window to pass laws is limited and the Philippines and the Filipino-American community should help Rep. Tulsi Gubbard (an original sponsor of the bill) to lobby and circulate the bill on the floor, if necessary, the kind congressman suggested.

On the arbitration case, Representative Doyle also said that he will support any resolution emanating from the House of Representative supporting arbitration as a peaceful means of settlement among claimants in the South China Sea.  He also agreed to join the US-Philippine Friendship Caucus in Congress upon the invitation of Consul General De Leon.

Afterwards, community members led by Fil-Am community of Pittsburgh immediate past President Teodora Schipper and the FAAP Board conveyed their concerns to Rep. Doyle including improving city services for senior citizens and affordable healthcare for everybody.

Representative Doyle is one of a few psychologists in Congress today and is part of the Steel, Mental Health and Autism caucuses in the US Congress.

The day before, the Filipino community in Pittsburgh led by its current President Rebecca Quemado, past President Teodora Schipper, and about 20 notable members tendered a dinner reception for Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr., accompanied by Consul Felipe Carino and Trade Representative JP Inigo at the Laughing Buddha Restaurant, PA.  Consul General De Leon will be remembered by the community as the Consul General who began intense efforts to promote economic cooperation in the Allegheny Region with the first Philippine Investment Roadshow in Pittsburgh last October led by Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr. and Dr. Bernie Villegas with captains of industry from the Philippines.