Originally published in Inquirer.net
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of former U.S. service members and Filipino American community advocates released an open letter to President Joe Biden, urging that the issue of abandoned Amerasian children be included in the terms of the U.S.-Philippine Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, as “a surge of new Amerasian children can be expected in future years” with expanded U.S. troop access to Philippine military bases.
Amerasians are abandoned children of American military fathers who served in the Philippines during the Cold War and the war in Vietnam.
“These Filipino Amerasians faced widespread discrimination, underemployment, poverty, domestic violence and sexual abuse, according to a 1999 study by a Pearl S. Buck foundation. Sadly, the United States Government short changed them. Fortunately, they have received sympathetic world-wide media attention,” the letter released by the Filipino Amerasians Reunification Coalition said.
The coalition asks for a humanitarian executive order “that would protect the rights and welfare of current and future Filipino Amerasian children and adults by including them in the US-PH EDCA Agreement terms of engagement. This would heal this festering wound between the Filipino and American People.”
The EDCA terms of engagement are being negotiated by Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin with their PH counterparts in 2+2 meetings in Washington. Earlier, they have agreed to increase the number of PH military-run joint bases to nine.
“Your Amerasian executive order will be timely in light of the 15,000 visiting US troops now in “Balikatan” training with Filipino soldiers. A surge of new Amerasian children can be expected in future years,” the letter states.
The coalition urged Biden to support Filipino Amerasian legislation in the US Senate and House (“Uniting Families Act of 2021” (H.R. 4522 in www.congress.gov) that wold reunite Amerasians with “their fathers and/or American siblings who have accepted financial responsibility for them since they have proven through their DNA to be the offspring of the American service member.”
The coalition also asks the Biden administration to “seriously promote democracy and protect human rights” with the government of President Marcos Jr. “Your reasonable increases of mutual defense funding, trade and economic incentives to the PH would assure peace in the West Philippine Sea and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. We believe EDCA will protect the Filipino People’s sovereignty from outside aggression and intimidation,” the letter says.
The letter was signed by Loida Nicolas Lewis, National Chair (NY) U.S. Filipinos for Good Governance (FB.com/USFGG) & convenor Filipino Amerasians Reunification Coalition; John Haines, USN Ret. (WI) and Chad Southard ,USMC Ret. (GA), Fathers of Filipino Amerasians (FAFA) founders; Angela Aquino, founder chair, EqualRightsforChildren.org (NY); Christopher Lapinig, Esq, FARC Legal Counsel (CA); Eric Lachica, coordinator USFGG & FARC (Washington DC).