LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Governor Amado “Pogi” I. Espino, III vowed an expanded benefits program for World War II veterans in Pangasinan that would support the impoverished war patriots and their immediate families.
This he pledged as he spoke at the 72nd Lingayen Gulf Landings and 10th Veterans Day held Monday at the Veterans’ Memorial Park within the Capitol Complex here.
“Today, in my capacity as governor of this province, I vow to pursue a more comprehensive program to give honor to our unsung heroes, by expanding our services to the less fortunate veterans and their immediate families,” he said.
For this the governor bared that he already “directed theProvincial Population Officer, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer, and Provincial Employment Services Officer to design a special livelihood and educational assistance program for the families of those who are in dire need of support.”
“Our World War II veterans were there when we needed them, let us be here for them in return,” he said.
Gov. Espino further stated that by providing these aids for the war veterans we can assure them of keeping their legacy of bravery.
The provincial chief executive, however, lamented the dwindling number of living war veterans—from around 15,000 at the end of the World War II to only 370 as of January 2017.
In his speech, Gov. Espino recalled that it was during the time of former governor and now Fifth District Congressman Amado T. Espino, Jr. that the Pangasinan Veterans Day was instituted as an annual event to coincide with the Lingayen Gulf Landings Anniversary.
Being a former soldier hiimself, Cong.Espino then started giving premium attention to the war veterans and their families as well.
Pangasinan veterans have become recipients of the provincial government free health care services from the 14 government-owned hospitals in the province with free transport service, free medical and dental services and medicines, and cash gifts and other tokens.
A major milestone made by the provincial government was the construction of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office building within the Capitol Complex in 2015.
In the same year, the provincial government awarded medals of valor to the veterans who did not yet receive theirs.
“Certainly, they deserve all these. However, we feel that these are not enough to reciprocate their sacrifice for our country. They deserve more,” asserted Gov. Espi5no.
Prior to the governor’s speech, Vice Gov. Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, Jr. welcomed the crowd to the commemoration. Following Gov. Espino was Dr. Vivencio Villaflor, Jr, who was the guest of honor and speaker of the event.
Joining Gov. Espino in the wreath laying ceremony were Dr. Villaflor, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Veterans Affairs Management Division chief Gen. Alfredo Cayton, Philippine Veterans Federation president Bonifacio De Gracia and Australian Embassy (AE) Counselor Kerry Anderson.
Also in attendance were Second District Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil, Provincial First Lady Karina Espino, AFP 702nd Battalion Commander Col. Meligrito, Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Director Chief Supt. Gregorio Pimentel, PNP Provincial Dir. Ronald Lee, AE Administrative Assistant Craig Cutts and Reserve Services League of Australia member Peter Renton.
Provincial board members and other officials of national government agencies were seen as well in the event.
After the commemoration ceremonies, the war veterans were treated to a medical mission and a special luncheon. They also received cash incentives from the provincial government.
By Dexter A. See