Text: S.1555 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 114-265 (12/14/2016)
[114th Congress Public Law 265]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[[Page 130 STAT. 1376]]
FILIPINO VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL ACT OF 2015
Public Law 114-265
To award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Filipino
veterans of World War II, in recognition of the dedicated service of the
veterans during World War II. <<NOTE: Dec. 14, 2016 - [S. 1555]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Filipino
Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015. 31 USC
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Filipino Veterans of World War II
Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) The First Philippine Republic was founded as a result of
the Spanish-American War in which Filipino revolutionaries and
the United States Armed Forces fought to overthrow Spanish
colonial rule. On June 12, 1898, Filipinos declared the
Philippines to be an independent and sovereign nation. The
Treaty of Paris negotiated between the United States and Spain
ignored this declaration of independence, and the United States
paid Spain $20,000,000 to cede control of the Philippines to the
United States. Filipino nationalists who sought independence
rather than a change in colonial rulers clashed with forces of
the United States in the Islands. The Philippine-American War,
which officially lasted for 3 years from 1899 to 1902, led to
the establishment of the United States civil government in the
(2) In 1901, units of Filipino soldiers who fought for the
United States against the nationalist insurrection were formally
incorporated into the United States Army as the Philippine
(3) In 1934, the Philippine Independence Act (Public Law 73-
127; 48 Stat. 456) established a timetable for ending colonial
rule of the United States. Between 1934 and Philippine
independence in 1946, the United States retained sovereignty
over Philippine foreign policy and reserved the right to call
Filipinos into the service of the United States Armed Forces.
(4) On December 21 1935, President of the Philippine
Commonwealth, Manuel Quezon, signed the National Defense Act,
passed by the Philippine Assembly. General Douglas MacArthur set
upon the task of creating an independent army in the
Philippines, consisting of a small regular force, the Philippine
Constabulary, a police force created during the colonial period
of the United States, and reservists. By July 1941, the
Philippine army had 130,000 reservists and 6,000 officers.
[[Page 130 STAT. 1377]]
(5) On July 26, 1941, as tensions with Japan rose in the
Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his authority
vested in the Constitution of the United States and the
Philippine Independence Act to ``call into service of the United
States . . . all of the organized military forces of the
Government of the Philippines.'' On July 27th, 1941, in
accordance with a War Department directive received a day
earlier, the United States Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) was
established, and Manila was designated as the command
headquarters. Commander of the USAFFE, General Douglas
MacArthur, planned to absorb the entire Philippine army into the
USAFFE in phases. The first phase, which began on September 1,
1941, included 25,000 men and 4,000 officers.
(6) Filipinos who served in the USAFFE included--
(A) the Philippine Scouts, who comprised half of the
22,532 soldiers in the Philippine Department, or United
States Army garrison stationed in the Islands at the
start of the war;
(B) the Philippine Commonwealth Army;
(C) the new Philippine Scouts, or Filipinos who
volunteered to serve with the United States Army when
the United States Armed Forces returned to the island;
(D) Filipino civilians who volunteered to serve in
the United States Armed Forces in 1945 and 1946, and who
became ``attached'' to various units of the United
States Army; and
(E) the ``Guerrilla Services'' who had fought behind
enemy lines throughout the war.
(7) Even after hostilities ceased, wartime service of the
new Philippine Scouts continued as a matter of law until the end
of 1946, and the force gradually disbanded until it was
disestablished in 1950.
(8) On December 8th, 1941, not even 24 hours after the
bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Imperial forces attacked bases
of the United States Army in the Philippines.
(9) In the spring of 1942, the Japanese 14th Army overran
the Bataan Peninsula, and, after a heroic but futile defense,
more than 78,000 members of the United States Armed Forces were
captured, specifically 66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 service
members from the United States. The Japanese transferred the
captured soldiers from Bataan to Camp O'Donnell, in what is now
known as the infamous Bataan Death March. Forced to march the
70-mile distance in 1 week, without adequate food, water, or
medicine, nearly 700 members of the United States Armed Forces
and an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Filipinos perished during the
(10) After the fall of the Bataan Peninsula, the Japanese
Army turned its sights on Corregidor. The estimated forces in
defense of Corregidor totaled 13,000, and were comprised of
members of the United States Armed Forces and Filipino troops.
Of this number, 800 were killed, 1,000 were wounded, and 11,000
were captured and forced to march through the city of Manila,
after which the captured troops were distributed to various POW
camps. The rest of the captured troops escaped to organize or
join an underground guerrilla army.
(11) Even before the fall of Corregidor, Philippine
resistance, in the form of guerrilla armies, began to wage
[[Page 130 STAT. 1378]]
on the Japanese invaders. Guerrilla armies, from Northern Luzon
(A) raided Japanese camps, stealing weapons and
(B) sabotaged and ambushed Japanese troops on the
(C) with little weaponry, and severely outmatched in
numbers, began to extract victories.
(12) Japanese intelligence reports reveal that from the time
the Japanese invaded until the return of the United States Armed
Forces in the summer of 1944, an estimated 300,000 Filipinos
continued to fight against Japanese forces. Filipino resistance
against the Japanese was so strong that, in 1942, the Imperial
Army formed the Morista Butai, a unit designated to suppress
(13) Because Philippine guerrillas worked to restore
communication with United States forces in the Pacific, General
MacArthur was able to use the guerrillas in advance of a
conventional operation and provided the headquarters of General
MacArthur with valuable information. Guerrillas captured and
transmitted to the headquarters of General MacArthur Japanese
naval plans for the Central Pacific, including defense plans for
the Mariana Islands. Intelligence derived from guerrillas
relating to aircraft, ship, and troop movements allowed for
Allied forces to attack Japanese supply lines and guerrillas and
even directed United States submarines where to land agents and
cargo on the Philippine coast.
(14) On December 20, 1941, President Roosevelt signed the
Selective Training and Service Amendments Act (Public Law 77-
360; 55 Stat. 844) which, among other things, allowed Filipinos
in the United States to enlist in the United States Armed
Forces. In February 1942, President Roosevelt issued the Second
War Powers Act (Public Law 77-507; 56 Stat. 176), promising a
simplified naturalization process for Filipinos who served in
the United States Armed Forces. Subsequently, 16,000 Filipinos
in California alone decided to enlist.
(15) The mobilization of forces included the activation and
assumption of command of the First Filipino Infantry Battalion
on April 1, 1942, at Camp San Luis Obispo, California. Orders
were issued to activate the First Filipino Infantry Regiment and
Band at Salinas, California, effective July 13, 1942. The
activation of the Second Filipino Infantry Regiment occurred at
Fort Ord, California, on November 21, 1942. Nearly 9,000
Filipinos and Filipino Americans fought in the United States
Army 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments.
(16) Soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments
participated in the bloody combat and mop-up operations at New
Guinea, Leyte, Samar, Luzon, and the Southern Philippines. In
1943, 800 men were selected from the 1st and 2nd Regiments and
shipped to Australia to receive training in intelligence
gathering, sabotage, and demolition. Reorganized as part of the
1st Reconnaissance Battalion, this group was sent to the
Philippines to coordinate with major guerrilla armies in the
Islands. Members of the 1st Regiment were also attached to the
United States 6th Army ``Alamo Scouts'', a reconnaissance group
that traveled 30 miles behind enemy lines to free Allied
prisoners from the Cabanatuan death camp on January 30,
[[Page 130 STAT. 1379]]
1945. In addition, in 1945, according to the 441st Counter
Intelligence Unit of the United States Armed Forces, Philippine
guerrillas provided ``very important information and sketches of
enemy positions and installations'' for the liberation of the
Santo Tomas prisoner of war camp, an event that made front page
news across the United States.
(17) In March 1944, members of the 2nd Filipino Infantry
Regiment were selected for special assignments, including
intelligence missions, and reorganized as the 2nd Filipino
Infantry Battalion (Separate). The 2nd Filipino Infantry
Battalion (Separate) contributed to mop-up operations as a civil
(18) Filipinos participated in the war out of national
pride, as well as out of a commitment to the Allied forces
struggle against fascism. 57,000 Filipinos in uniform died in
the war effort. Estimates of civilian deaths range from 700,000
to upwards of 1,000,000, or between 4.38 to 6.25 percent of the
prewar population of 16,000,000.
(19) Because Filipinos who served in the Commonwealth Army
of the Philippines were originally considered a part of the
Allied struggle, the military order issued by President
Roosevelt on July 26, 1941, stated that Filipinos who served in
the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines were entitled to full
veterans benefits. The guarantee to pay back the service of
Filipinos through veterans benefits was reversed by the
Rescission Acts of 1946 (Public Laws 79-301 and 79-391; 60 Stat.
6 and 60 Stat. 221), which deemed that the wartime service of
the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines and the new Philippine
Scouts was not considered active and, therefore, did not qualify
(20) The loyal and valiant Filipino Veterans of World War II
fought, suffered, and, in many instances, died in the same
manner and under the same commander as other members of the
United States Armed Forces during World War II.
(21) The Filipino Veterans of World War II fought alongside,
and as an integral part of, the United States Armed Forces. The
Philippines remained a territory of the United States for the
duration of the war and, accordingly, the United States
maintained sovereignty over Philippine foreign relations,
including Philippine laws enacted by the Philippine Government.
Filipinos who fought in the Philippines were not only defending
or fighting for the Philippines, but also defending, and
ultimately liberating, sovereign territory held by the United
(22) The United States remains forever indebted to the
bravery, valor, and dedication that the Filipino Veterans of
World War II displayed. Their commitment and sacrifice
demonstrates a highly uncommon and commendable sense of
patriotism and honor.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act--
(a) the term ``Filipino Veterans of World War II'' includes any
individual who served--
(1) <<NOTE: Time period.>> honorably at any time during the
period beginning on July 26, 1941, and ending on December 31,
(2) in an active-duty status under the command of the United
States Armed Forces in the Far East; and
[[Page 130 STAT. 1380]]
(3)(A) within the Philippine Commonwealth Army, the
Philippine Scouts, the Philippine Constabulary, Recognized
Guerrilla units, the New Philippine Scouts, the First Filipino
Infantry Regiment, the Second Filipino Infantry Battalion
(Separate), or the First Reconnaissance Battalion; or
(B) commanding or serving in a unit described in paragraph
(3)(A) as a United States military officer or enlisted soldier;
(b) the term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of the Treasury.
SEC. 4. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.
(a) Award Authorized.--The President pro tempore of the Senate and
the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall make appropriate
arrangements for the award, on behalf of Congress, of a single gold
medal of appropriate design to the Filipino Veterans of World War II in
recognition of the dedicated service of the veterans during World War
(b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to
in subsection (a), the Secretary shall strike the Gold Medal with
suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the
(c) Smithsonian Institution.--
(1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in
honor of the Filipino Veterans of World War II, the gold medal
shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be
available for display as appropriate and made available for
(2) Sense of congress.--It is the sense of Congress that the
Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received
under paragraph (1) available for display elsewhere,
particularly at other appropriate locations associated with the
Filipino Veterans of World War II.
(d) Duplicate Medals.--
(1) In general.--Under regulations that the Secretary may
promulgate, the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in
bronze of the gold medal struck under this Act, at a price
sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, including labor,
materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.
(2) Sale of duplicate medals.--The amounts received from the
sale of duplicate medals under paragraph (1) shall be deposited
in the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.
SEC. 5. STATUS OF MEDALS.
(a) National Medals.--Medals struck under this Act are national
medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
[[Page 130 STAT. 1381]]
(b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31,
United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be considered
to be numismatic items.
Approved December 14, 2016.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 1555:
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 162 (2016):
July 13, considered and passed Senate.
Nov. 30, considered and passed House.