Long Island, New York – In a bid to encourage support for the Award of the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino World War II Veterans (CGM), Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. met with Representative Lee Zeldin (NY-R) at his district office in Patchogue, Long Island, NY.
During the meeting, Consul General De Leon conveyed that the US Senate recently passed its version of the bill (S.1555) last July while the Congressional bill, H.R. 2737, is pending with Congress awaiting the required number of co-sponsors. The objective of the CGM is to give due recognition to Filipino WWII veterans who fought with valor and courage alongside the US Armed Forces in the Pacific theatre, but were denied the appropriate recognition. Other veteran minorities like the Tuskegee Airmen, Japanese Nisei, Puerto Ricans and Navajo Indians have been awarded the CGM, except the Philippines, he added.
In his reply, Representative Zeldin expressed confidence that his office is supportive of this bill, adding that his support for this bill in recognition of the bravery of Filipino WWII veterans should be “simple and straightforward.” However, his support for the bill, like any other bill, would undergo a process starting with a recommendation from his legislative director, he added.
Consul General De Leon said that Filipino-Americans comprise the second largest ethnic group in the United States with about four million Filipinos. About 400,000 or 10 percent live in the Consulate General’s jurisdiction. According to the latest US Census, there are about 3,000 Filipinos residing in the First Congressional district of Long Island.
Representative Zeldin praised local Filipino organizations that are actively engaged in civic and community affairs in Long Island. In fact, he had been invited to and attended a number of salo-salo by Tanglaw, a popular Filipino organization in Long Island, he added.
Consul General De Leon took the opportunity to personally invite Representative Zeldin to the US-PH Friendship Caucus based in the US Congress which serves as platform for US Representatives who are interested in the Philippines and wish to engage and participate in various fora committed to growing PH-US bilateral relations.
A member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Veterans Affairs as well as Transportation, Rep. Zeldin was given updates on the recent Arbitral decision in the Hague last July involving claimant-countries in the South China Sea.
As part of Post’s political diplomacy efforts, Consul General De Leon regularly conducts outreach to US elected officials in his jurisdiction to encourage support for legislation close to Philippine interests, and convey developments relative to US-PH bilateral relations, including regional security in Asia-Pacific, the Philippines and US being treaty allies.