The US pledged to offer assistance to war veterans from the Philippines who served under the US flag during World War II in securing benefits after their claims were denied, AFP reports.

Congress approved pensions that included one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipino veterans living in the United States and $9,000 to those living in the Philippines when President Barack Obama came into office in 2009. Around 18,000 claims have been approved since then, but still many Filipino veterans have yet to receive their benefits.

Chris Lu, co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, said that a number of Filipino veterans “have been impeded from filing claims or believe their claims were improperly denied”.

As part of Obama’s “ongoing efforts to honor the contributions of all veterans”, the Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Archives and Record Administration are jointly setting up a working group to sort out the issue and “ensure that all applications receive thorough and fair review,” Lu told AFP.

More than 250,000 Filipinos fought under the US flag in the World War II and, according to experts, the announcement could play a decisive role in the upcoming national elections.