TACLOBAN CITY (PNA) – The provincial government of Leyte will be extending cash assistance to living World War II (WWII) veterans in Eastern Visayas as simple gratitude for their service 76 years ago.

wwii heroes - Surviving World War II in Eastern Visayas vets to get cash assistance
Some of the surviving World War II Filipino veterans attended the 75th Leyte Gulf Landings commemoration at the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in Palo, Leyte on Oct. 20, 2019. The provincial government of Leyte on Thursday (Oct. 22, 2020) said it will extend cash assistance to living veterans in Eastern Visayas as simple gratitude for their service during the war 76 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Jake Tatoy via PNA)

Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the provincial social welfare and development office is now preparing the documents for the release of the P10,000 cash for each recipient this month or in November.

“Despite financial difficulties as we face the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we decided to give them the assistance to show our gratitude, support, and love for them,” he said in an interview on Friday.

According to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), the region has 86 surviving WWII veterans, 55 in Leyte,10 each in Eastern Samar and Samar, six in Southern Leyte, and five in Northern Samar. The oldest is 105 years old from Javier town in Leyte.

On Tuesday, the province marked the 76th Leyte Gulf Landing to honor the bravery of Filipino guerrilla and Allied Forces that led to the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese occupation.

For the first time, the annual celebration of the historic event was observed with simplicity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The traditional activities at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Palo, Leyte was held with a limited audience, with no foreign and national officials, including the WWII veterans, in strict compliance with health protocols.

The commemoration program was live-streamed on Facebook.

“This year’s celebration was not as grand as it was in previous years, without the presence of living veterans for safety reasons, but we shall never forget to honor the valor they have displayed 76 years ago. Hopefully, next year, when times are better, we could celebrate this historic event according to traditions,” Petilla said.

On Oct. 20, 1944, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, together with President Sergio Osmeña and Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, again set foot on Philippine soil after leaving Corregidor in 1942.

Their arrival started a battle that spanned 100,000 square miles of sea and was fought for three days, from October 23 to 25, during the invasion of Leyte by the Allied Forces.

The battle signaled the fulfillment of MacArthur’s famous words, “I shall return,” after going to Australia to muster support from the Allied Forces in the quest to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.

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