Diary of Antonio de las Alas

September 5, 1945, Wednesday

We seem to have been forgotten, not only by the Americans but also by our own government, and even by our most intimate friends. Is Osmeña decided not to help us? With so many planes and other means of transportation, is it not possible to ship us to Manila? Why was it that when we were brought here, they found a freighter? Why cannot the Mactan which is cruising the southern waters pass by Puerto Princesa. Where are our friends?

The United Charter was ratified by our Senate. Out of the present membership, 15 voted for approval. This is illegal as the Constitution requires 2/3 votes, or 16 votes. Such an important humanitarian document should not start its life in the Philippines with a violation of our fundamental law.

We do not know whether any discussion of the Charter took place. If I were there, I would ask clarification of the provision on independent peoples. I would ask whether it is applicable to the Philippines. I would want to know whether the ultimate independence of now dependent countries is guaranteed. Unless satisfactorily answered, I would propose a reservation; at least I would put on record the following: (1) that the Philippines should not be among those affected by this provision as we are not a dependent people like those in English colonies, and our eternal craving is independence for our country; (2) that since the purpose is to avoid war or at least remove its causes, no people should be continued as dependent. They should ultimately enjoy the God-given right to all peoples under the sun — the right to independence.

* * * * *

As I said before, when I have the time, I will write all that we talked about in the last two meetings. Meanwhile, I would like to make of record the following facts brought out:

Our first connection with the Japanese began this way. About the time the Japanese entered Manila on January 2, 1942, some Japanese came to see Don Quintin Paredes. They wanted to know his opinion on the organization of an administration. Paredes was taken to the office of General Maeda, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army who, not in very clear terms, asked Paredes to organize or cooperate in the organization of some form of administration. Summarizing what they talked about, Paredes reported that the General wanted him to organize or cooperate in the organization of a body which shall take care of certain activities like building of roads and bridges, planting and harvesting crops, keeping peace and order, and making people return to their homes. Paredes told the General that he could not speak for all the Filipino officials.

The next day, Paredes went to see Yulo to confer with him about the matter. Yulo thought the matter was a very serious one and immediately consulted Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña, the grand old man, whose patriotism had already been shown by words and deeds. Meanwhile, Vargas, the man left by the President in charge of the government in the Philippines and who as Acting Mayor surrendered Greater Manila, was in continuous communication with the Japanese officials. Jose P. Laurel had also been visited by some Japanese including General Mayashi, whom he had known in Japan. Benigno Aquino and Claro M. Recto were also contacted by Japanese officers and civilians, and later also had conferences with General Maeda. They went to see Mr. Yulo, where it was decided that a meeting be called with all the members of the Cabinet of Pres. Quezon, the Senators-elect, some Representatives-elect, the heads of political parties, representatives of the press and elder statesmen. As a senator-elect, I was one of those called.

I have already given an account of what happened in the meetings in the house of Speaker Yulo. I will make a resume of the causes of our acceptance.

1. Maltreatment of Filipinos and atrocities committed by the Japanese were an everyday occurence all over Manila.

Everyone who came to the meetings brought fresh news of abuses and atrocities committed by the Japanese, both military and civilian. Don Ramon Fernandez, a most respected citizen, was slapped. In many parts of Manila, men were tied to electric posts, brutally beaten up and left exposed to the sun. I cannot forget the men I saw on the corner of Azcarraga St. and Rizal Avenue who were left to die. Arrests were very common and many of those arrested did not return; those who came back reported horrifying experiences. Properties, especially houses and automobiles, all kinds of foodstuffs were confiscated.

During those early days of Japanese occupation, news were constantly coming from the provinces of atrocities committed.

2. There was no doubt that unless we accepted, the Japanese would have governed directly or through Gen. Artemio Ricarte or Benigno Ramos. These two men were openly supporting Japan and undoubtedly would obey and implement whatever the Japanese wanted.

Ricarte had some strange ideas. When the slapping of men and women was brought to his attention, he said it was all right; our people need it; we have been wrongly educated by the Americans. (“Mabuti nga po. Kinakailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Masama ang itinuro sa kanila ng mga Americano.”) He also later advocated a resolution against the Americans and a formal outright declaration of war against America and Great Britain.

3. Acceptance would be in accordance with the instructions of President Quezon to us. He told us to protect our people and for the purpose we could even have an understanding with the Japanese. He only imposed one condition. We must not take the oath of allegiance.

This is the reason why when at one time the Japanese proposed the taking of the oath we all refused and we were willing to be punished. The Japanese gave up as a mass resignation of officials and employees could have spoiled their world propaganda that the Filipinos were with them.

4. We feared, later confirmed by events, that unless we accept there would be no peace and order. We would not be able to plant and to harvest and our people would die of hunger before the Philippines could be liberated by the Americans.

5. From the beginning, probably to attract us or for propaganda purposes, the Japanese wanted to give us independence. We could not refuse as we would not be able to explain our refusal. So we preferred the provisional arrangement entered into as we all then believed that America would come back soon.

Chief Justice Avanceña approved everything we did. He said he would be willing to stake his reputation, everything he had.

The alternatives from which to select were the following:

(a) Continuation of the Commonwealth. Rejected by the Japanese.

(b) Organization of a Republic. Immediately rejected.

(c) Special organization under the Japanese Military Administration. This was followed, but we endeavored to make as little change as possible as when we were in the Commonwealth Government.

The Japanese wanted to call the central body “Control Organs.” There were a lot of jokes about this expansion. We decided for Philippine Executive Commission.

How I was appointed was finally disclosed. I was not in the original list prepared by the Japanese. Those in the list were Vargas, Aquino, Laurel, Yulo, Paredes and Recto. The Japanese insisted on this list. They said they wanted all the factions duly represented. But later it was decided to appoint Yulo Chief Justice. Yulo did not want to serve in any capacity, but if he had to serve, he preferred the Supreme Court. Yulo was slated for Commissioner of Finance. In view of his appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two names were submitted for the position. Quirino and myself. Vargas did the selection. It was fatal in so far as I was concerned.

Vargas and Aquino aspired to be Chairman. Vargas from the very beginning acted as spokesman on our behalf although he had never been authorized. Because of this advantage, he won over Aquino Under the circumstances, it was preferable to have Vargas.

We afterwards discussed the following:

1. Message to our combatants in Bataan and Corregidor urging them to surrender. A prepared message was presented to us. Everybody was against it. The language was very bad, but we felt that that was better since it would be our best proof that it had been imposed. Alunan remarked: “Cuanto peor el lenguaje mejor.” Nobody remembered that he had signed.

2. It is said that we sent letters to Roosevelt and Quezon urging them to stop the hostilities. We did write Quezon under imposition. But nobody remembers the letter to Roosevelt as clearly it would have been improper.

For some time, I have felt fear that we might have to wait for Laurel, Vargas, Aquino, Osias and Capinpin who were still in Japan. It will delay our cases considerably. It may also complicate them. I hope this will not happen.

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