MANILA, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Philippine House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr said on Sunday that the United States Congress has promised him to vote soon on a bill to pay Filipino World War II veterans with millions of U.S. dollars for their wartime contributions.
De Venecia told local television network GMA News that his American counterpart Nancy Pelosi has assured him that the U.S. House of Representatives would give the "highest political priority" to the bill, known as Filipino Veterans Equity Bill which was first proposed in 1995.
The proposed measure could provide up to 90 million U.S. dollars a year to some 18,000 surviving Filipino World War II veterans, who fought with U.S. military against Japan.
De Venecia said the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee could schedule the bill for a vote soon.
U.S. President George W. Bush already assured President Macapagal-Arroyo that he would sign the bill into law once the U.S. Congress approves it.
De Venecia said he has also extended an official invitation to Pelosi to visit the Philippines this year to mark the 100 years of the first Philippine Assembly, which was sponsored by the then U.S. colonial government in the country and became the forerunner of the Philippine House of Representatives.
In a recent report, the Office of the Veterans Affairs at the Philippine Embassy in Washington described the Filipino veterans as in their mid-80s with "very poor access to healthcare and dying at the rate of 10 percent."