MG Tony Taguba, USA (Ret)
In 1919, the United States formed the Philippine Scouts under US Army control consisting of ten regiments: seven Infantry, one cavalry, two field artillery with supporting units and the Philippine Commonwealth Army commanded by GEN Douglas MacArthur prior to and during WWII. It was estimated that some 260,000 Filipinos served in the U.S. Army and the Philippine Army including recognized guerrilla units from 1941 to 1946.
The Filipinos were granted US nationality status (not citizenship since they were territorial citizens) under the US Nationality Act of 1940. After the Japanese surrender in September 1945, several hundred Filipinos assigned to Philippine Scouts units were granted US citizenship. My father, a Phil Scout, Bataan Death March survivor, and recognized guerrilla was granted US citizenship. Thousands of Filipino soldiers waived that offer.
In February 1946, the 79th Congress passed the Rescission Acts that revoked the Act and the soldiers US nationality status. The law also revoked their active duty status granted under President Franklin Roosevelt’s military order of July 26, 1941 which prevented them from receiving backpay owed during the war. My father received $60.00 after he was repatriated in 1945, but the Army took back $38.20 for “resettlement cost.” Not sure what that meant. His total pay for almost four years of war service was $22.20. His pay was documented in his military record which I have a copy from NPRC. From the time he was granted US citizenship in September 1945, my father remained on active duty until he retired in June 1962.
The Immigration Act of 1990 offered US citizenship to Filipino WWII veterans in which some 28,000 were approved. In 1992, a moratorium was imposed on this law, which also prevented their families from applying for US citizenship. In 2015, President Obama issued an Executive Order to allow families to apply for US citizenship under a parole program. The Executive Order was offered to only 5,000 applicants. I don’t have a current data on the number of applications approved, but I would assume less than 5,000 were received. There was a fee of about $500 for each application.
In sum, the plight and experience of the Filipino soldiers fight under the US flag was rife of injustice and discrimination since the colonial era. It didn’t just start in WWII, but it is still ongoing to this day. We have some 4,000 veterans appealing for their backpay. Most of them are in their 90s and still hopeful and loyal to the US. [EDNote. We asked MG Taguba to provide his perspective concerning the history of Filipino contributions to the US Army. Filipinos have also contributed to the US Navy and other branches. MG Taguba and Debbie’s son, Major Sean T. Taguba, US Army and an Armor Officer, is currently serving on the Division staff, lst Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. He, his wife and daughter reside in El Paso, TX. He served as tank platoon leader and infantry company executive officer in Iraq. He also commanded an Infantry company in Afghanistan, and Cavalry troop at Ft Bliss, Texas. He graduated as a distinguished military graduate and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army from the University of Hawaii in June 2007.]