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US House approves bill recognizing Filipino WWII veterans

HONOLULU — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to honour Filipino soldiers who fought under U.S. command in World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The House's unanimous approval came Wednesday after the Senate passed the legislation this summer. The bill will now go before President Barack Obama to be signed.

"Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honour in service to their nation," said retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, in a news release.

Under the legislation, over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Franklin Roosevelt's "call-to-duty" will be awarded the nation's highest civilian honour .

The bill was sponsored by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Hawaii's congressional leaders have been pushing for the measure to recognize the approximately 18,000 Filipino WWII veterans still alive in the U.S., as most of them are in their 90s.

"For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service," Hirono said in the release. "Today's House passage is the culmination of decades of work by these veterans and their families to recognize their key role in the Allied victory, and their decades-long fight for benefits."

Gabbard urged Obama to sign the bill into law before the year's end to " honour our veterans with this long-overdue recognition."

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