From the Manila Times (May 18): All’s well between vets’ group, Carolina
On the second day of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines’ (VFP) first National President’s Convention, VFP Executive Vice President retired Col. Bonifacio de Gracia clarified that they are not denouncing the power of retired Lt. Gen. Ernesto Carolina over VFP.
Carolina, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) administrator, was interviewed on Saturday after being informed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines that VFP is allegedly denouncing his control over the said organization.
Carolina explained during the interview that he has the power to suspend, delay or demolish VFP anytime he wants because the law grants him the power to do so.
De Gracia, on the other hand, told The Manila Times that the purpose of the VFP national convention is only to discuss what they called the “eight issues” of VFP involving changing their existing constitution and by-laws to be approved by the Department of National Defense (DND).
“I don’t remember saying that we denounce anyone’s power or that somebody’s intruding our operations,” de Gracia said.
Under Republic Act 2640, DND has control and supervision over VFP. Any action or decision of the federation or of its Supreme Council shall be subjected to the approval of the DND Secretary.
De Gracia said that they respect the law and will submit to it. However, he said that the process was bypassed because their Supreme Council was not consulted by DND before deciding to change their existing constitution and by-laws.
For this, de Gracia and the rest of the Supreme Council decided to conduct the convention in order to clarify things and consult their members regarding the federation’s “eight issues”.
Also identified in the “eight issues” is the revision of VFP’s Election Code by the PVAO that would impose age limits in nominating and electing officers, change their organizational structure, and change the application and receiving process of their monthly pensions.
De Gracia was saddened after hearing Carolina say that he can demolish VFP anytime.
“Huwag naman sana [I hope he does not do so],” De Gracia said.
VFP is a private organization that leads the unification of all veterans’ organizations in the country.
Today, they already have a total of 42,419 members which is 30 percent of the country’s veterans.
Each member pays a membership fee of P500 per year that will be distributed to his respective association to be used as maintenance operating expense.
De Gracia said the VFP only registers 30 percent of the veterans in the country as members because membership is not compulsory.
However, he is welcoming all the veterans all over the country to join the VFP and contribute to the efforts to reunite all the war veterans in the Philippines.
“Let us always look back and appreciate the hardships of the veterans to acquire the freedom we are enjoying today,” De Gracia said.
Around 10,000 prisoners of war died during the 1942 Death March at the height of the Second World War. Their sacrifice is now commemorated in the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Bataan.
“Also, let us give them their due cost for their bravery and ever loyal service to the country,” De Gracia added.