Comfort women should get benefits now

IF Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte would have his way, he wants the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) to get to work now on authenticating the identities and claims of Filipino comfort women during World War II.

Villafuerte said this would ensure that they get to enjoy while they still can the long overdue pension, health insurance and other benefits proposed in several bills pending in Congress. He  called on his fellow legislators to swiftly approve the proposals  to grant pensions and health insurance coverage to these wartime victims, given that the survivors are already in their twilight years.

“We hope that we can get this proposal passed in the Congress at the soonest possible time so that these victims of World War II could at least live a little more comfortably in their remaining years. This is not about just giving them benefits, but giving them the recognition they deserve for the sufferings they have undergone during the war,” said Villafuerte.

Under House Bill (HB) No. 9046, Villafuerte sought the grant of a monthly pension of P3,000 per month for each victim to be sourced from the funds of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).

The measure also provides free full Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) coverage for Filipino comfort women.

“The bill hopes to ease their life financially and for the State to provide for them a better situation than what they went through,” said Villafuerte.

Villafuerte’s proposal also tasks the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to formulate a program for the proper counseling and guidance of comfort women, “taking into consideration not only their ordeal in the hands of the Japanese Occupational Army but more so the pain and suffering of retelling them in public.”

An initial fund of P10 million is allocated under Villafuerte’s bill for the processing of applications and payments of pensions and insurance of comfort women identified by the NCRFW, after which the costs of the pensions and insurance shall be included in the annual budgets of the PVAO and PhilHealth.

Similar bills have been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to grant pensions and other benefits for Filipino comfort women.