[ LETTER OF INSTRUCTION NO. 331, October 29, 1975 ]
WHEREAS, 8 December 1977 will mark the 35th anniversary of World War II's engulfment of Southeast Asia;
WHEREAS, since then the protagonist nations in this region of that great holocaust have been the most dedicated in reminding mankind about the futility and tragic consequences of war as a solution to international differences;
WHEREAS, their postwar commitment to peace and world brotherhood has found no greater demonstration than in the Philippines where, after being one of the most devastated countries in that war, all the protagonist nations rendered generous humanitarian services to rehabilitate the country and people and provide them a base for progress;
WHEREAS, the world situation today is such as to compel all nations of the world to remind themselves anew of the wastefulness and pain of war, and to appreciate the potential and actual heights of progress and achievement which peoples can attain in peace;
WHEREAS, the Philippines happens in the past, to be one of the arenas of conflict and suffering but now a present crucible of international efforts to peacefully uplift a nation;
NOW, THEREFORE, I declare the period between 1 January 1977 and 31 December 1977 as the year for a REUNION FOR PEACE, and invite all the servicemen who served in the Philippines during World War II to revisit the Philippines, meet in brother-hood and, together, recalling the sadness of the past and appreciating the joys of the present, draw fresh vigor for their dedication to the cause of peace. In connection therewith, the following instructions are hereby issued:
- To coordinate and supervise REUNION FOR PEACE, a Coordinating Committee is hereby created composed of the respective Heads of the Department of National Defense, Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Local Government and Community Development, Department of Finance, Department of Public Works, Department of Public Highways, National Historical Institute and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines with the Secretary of National Defense as the Chairman and the Secretary of Tourism as Executive Secretary. The Committee shall devise a program to bring about the objectives set forth in this Letter of Instruction and may call on any government office or agency for assistance or cooperation to insure the success of REUNION FOR PEACE, such as incentive on their fare to and from the Philippines, within the Philippines itself, removal of barriers to their entry and exit, a hospitality program and all other forms of consideration to make their stay pleasant and memorable.
- The incentives of the REUNION FOR PEACE program shall apply to the members of the armed forces of both the Allied and Axis powers of World War II who served in the Philippines during that war, the immediate members of their families down to grandchildren, or their immediate survivors down to grandchildren, whether the veteran concerned died during or after the war; provided, that in the case of the servicemen of the Allied powers, the incentives shall equally apply to those who served tours of duty in the Philippines after World War II, in the belief that such service contributed to the cause of peace as well as to members of their families or survivors as above.
- A veteran or serviceman availing of the incentives of this program must present to the travel agent or airline office confirmation of his service in the Philippines from the appropriate agency of his government or a recognized veterans group. In the case of a veteran's family who will come over without the veteran, the veteran, in addition to the above confirmation, must certify that the persons are members of his immediate family. In the case of survivors, they must also be confirmed as such by the government agency. In the case of survivors who are not listed as next of kin in official records, the next of kin thus registered must, in addition to confirmation of his or her being next of kin, certify that the travelers are members of his or her immediate family.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs shall give priority attention to the beneficiaries of this program, next only to Balikbayan beneficiaries, and shall adopt rules and regulations to liberalize their travel to and from the Philippines, including, but not limited to, the waiver of visa requirements. The Department through its Embassies and Consulates, shall also help promote and supervise REUNION FOR PEACE through liaison with appropriate foreign government offices administering veterans affairs, and recognized veterans' organizations.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs shall likewise make appropriate representations with the Civil Aeronautics authorities of the foreign countries involved, especially the USA, Australia and Japan, to obtain approval for the special fare facility designed for this program.
- The Philippine Airlines shall give beneficiaries hospitality or promotional fare discounts of not less than 50%, and offer special group and family fares including charters All foreign airlines operating in the Philippines are wholeheartedly invited to participate in REUNION FOR PEACE.
- The Philippine Air Lines, the Philippine Aero-Transport, Inc. and the Philippine National Railways shall offer beneficiaries not less than 30% discount on domestic fares, and offer as well special group or family fares.
- The Land Transportation Commission and the Maritime Affairs Office shall negotiate with private land and sea transportation companies, respectively, hospitality discounts on fares for the beneficiaries, including special family and group fares.
- The Commission on Immigration and Deportation shall liberalize rules for the entry and stay of beneficiaries; it shall also, as in the Balikbayan program, design a special stamp for their passports, identifying them as beneficiaries of REUNION FOR PEACE, which stamp shall serve as their identification when dealing with local hotels, tour agencies, etc.
- The Bureau of Customs, as in the Balikbayan program, shall interpret customs rules and regulations liberally in favor of the beneficiaries, and shall ensure courteous, honest and efficient service to them as their introduction to the New Society.
- The Department of Tourism shall plan and implement a comprehensive program to promote REUNION FOR PEACE. It shall, likewise, negotiate with hotels and tour agencies for discounts on rooms and tours, respectively, at not less than 30% of their existing rates.
- The Department of National Defense shall assure protection and convenience of beneficiaries throughout their stay in the Philippines, especially in their tours of former battlefields or war shrines in remote areas.
- The Department of National Defense, through the Philippine Veterans Federation, shall cause the organization of Veterans Hospitality Committees in appropriate provinces, cities and municipalities, such committees to function in the same manner with which local Balikbayan Hospitality Committees serve Balikbayan arrivals. In addition, the Committees, with the support and cooperation of local government and private organizations, shall organize welcome celebrations for visiting beneficiaries and, when appropriate, organize peace rallies to promote among local residents the objectives and significance of REUNION FOR PEACE.
- The Philippine Tourism Authority, by itself, and/or in cooperation with other governmental financing and developing institutions, local governments and the private sector, shall develop or otherwise assure the availability of adequate and comfortable accommodations, facilities and services in major battlegrounds and war shrines as determined by the Coordinating Committee described below.
- The Department of Local Government and Community Development shall assure the sustained implementation of national and local community cleanliness and beautification programs, including the sprucing up (>f World War II historical spots, local war shrines and monuments, etc.
- The Department of Trade shall assure that beneficiaries receive special consideration in commercial establishments which normally cater to foreign visitor in souvenirs, personal articles, gifts, etc.
- The Department of Education and Culture shall prepare school hospitality programs and/or convocations for visiting beneficiaries to help pupils and students appreciate the services to the Philippines of the beneficiaries and/or their countries in war and peace, and to promote among the youth the objectives and significance of REUNION FOR PEACE.
Done in the City of Manila, this 29th day of October, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-five.
29 VITAL LEGAL DOCUMENTS, 44 (1976 —)