Napolitano Introduces Corporal Fernando Ruiz Baltazar Posthumous Citizenship Act

Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32) and Pete Sessions (R-TX-17) introduced the Corporal Fernando Ruiz Baltazar Posthumous Citizenship Act, to extend posthumous citizenship to non-citizen service members in the Philippines were enlisted or inducted in the Philippines and died during World War II.

“Nearly 83 years ago, over 250,000 Philippine Scouts fought alongside American forces during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II,” Napolitano said. “For far too long, these brave service members have been denied recognition as citizens of the United States–the country they heroically defended and for which they made the ultimate sacrifice. On behalf of our grateful nation, I am pleased to join Congressman Sessions in introducing legislation to finally right this wrong.”

The current requirements do not provide a procedure for a non-citizen who was enlisted, reenlisted, extended enlistment, or was inducted in the Philippines, which this legislation would amend.

The bill is named after Corporal Fernando Ruiz Baltazar, who served in the United States Army for six enlistments with the Philippine Scouts and was killed in action during the Battle of Bataan on January 25, 1942. For his service, Cpl. Baltazar received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and has a headstone at Arlington National Cemetery. For two generations, his family, as well as the families of other fallen Philippine Scouts, have attempted to obtain posthumous citizenship, but they have been unsuccessful due to this third requirement.

“For those who served honorably, they have sacrificed so much for this country,” said Gregg Baltazar Timbol, grandson of the late Corporal Baltazar and City of Duarte resident. “They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, and with faith in their hearts, victory at their ends.”

“Eighty years ago on this day, Corporal Baltazar died in battle,” Napolitano added. “America owes a debt of gratitude to him and all the brave Philippine Scouts, and posthumous citizenship would be a fitting tribute to their service and sacrifice.”