September 15, 1945, Saturday

All of us had been anxiously awaiting our turn to be released. About ten o’clock this morning, Recto announced that he was leaving that morning. I went to the Administration Office to ascertain whether I was being released also. Mr. Bunye, the Superintendent, read and reread the list of detainees turned over by the C.I.C. to the Philippine Commonwealth government, but I was not included. It was a surprise to me as I was expected to be released with Recto. I sat down in Mr. Bunye’s office and waited. Every time a list came, I inquired whether my name was on it and I always received a negative answer. At about 11:30 I became impatient and went up to the office of Director Misa. As usual, Mr. Misa was very kind and helpful. I asked him whether I had been turned over to the Commonwealth. He pulled from a drawer a long list. After reading it carefully, he told me I was not included. I asked him to read it again. He reviewed the list and he gave me the assurance that my name was not in the list. Secretary Abello came and I asked him to read the list. He also certified that I was not included. The reason why I did not read the list myself was I forgot to bring my new pair of reading glasses; I could hardly read with my old pair which I brought with me. I finally pulled it out of my pocket, put it on and began to read. I saw my name immediately. I was under the letter “D” for “De las Alas”, not under “A” for “Alas”. This is probably the reason why Messrs. Misa and Abello failed to see my name.

I became very excited. I could not keep still and did not know what to do. Director Misa was a mind reader and a real friend. He is always anxious to serve. He said that if the usual legal procedures were to be followed, I would not be able to leave that day, for he had to notify Mr. Tañada who had to approve my bail. I would be released upon the receipt of the release papers from Tañada. However, he adopted another procedure, rather unusual and illegal. He signed an order for my release and placed me under the custody of a Bilibid guard who accompanied me to Manila. The guard was not supposed to give me the release order and actually release me until Fiscal Tañada approved my bail. I had no transportation but Mr. Abello kindly offered his automobile. The guard and my cousin, Atty. Luis Atienza, accompanied me. They took me directly to the house where my family was staying — 176 Rodriguez Arias, in the San Miguel district, the old house of the Padilla family. My family was surprised. They were not expecting me. We cried as an expression of joy. Mrs. Padilla, Paddy’s mother, also showed great happiness. After many months I am reunited with my dear family.

The guard and Atienza went to the office of Mr. Tañada and got the approval of my bail. Later, they brought my release order to me. Thus ended my long imprisonment.

Now I will stop writing this sort of a diary. From now on I shall devote my time in preparing my case and in seeking my full vindication.

September 14, 1945, Friday

Visit of family. I saw Victor, my new grandson, son of Paddy and Lily, for the first time.

Since my arrival, I had been conferring with the detainees of Muntinglupa and getting impressions. All seem to be very disappointed. They do not understand how we could be traitors. Even old Don Miguel Unson was bitter. All agreed that we should get together to protect our rights and to vindicate ourselves.

We who came from Iwahig continued to meet and comment on the different events and news. We were somewhat depressed. We were beginning to have the impression that some of those assuring us of their support are not really working for us. We even suspect that for political or personal reasons they preferred and wished that we remain in jail for a longer time or that our cases be prolonged.

There were two events that disheartened us very much. One is the case of Representative Veloso. He was about to be released and he announced to us his intention to take his seat in the House immediately. We tried to persuade him not to do so. But he insisted. He said that he had already talked to the majority of the Representatives. Apparently, his friends had forsaken him. The house refused to seat him. They set the precedent that he must first be cleared by the C.I.C. What a shameful ruling! Each House is the sole judge of the right to seat of its member. Why should they make it depend upon the discretion of another entity, especially one which is non-Filipino? The House should not allow anybody to interfere in the exercise of its constitutional right. Veloso announced that he would publish the names of collaborators now sitting in Congress and that he would go to the United States to to fight his case. He will make things worse.

The other is the cablegram to Pres. Osmeña of Secretary Ickes of the U.S. Department of the Interior, in effect it warns that the rehabilitation aid would depend upon whether the “collaborators” would be vigorously prosecuted and convicted. Osmeña answered that his administration is taking proper action. He said that proper machinery to handle the matter is being organized. He added that he even disregarded the legal provision that nobody can be detained for over 6 hours. There is quite a speculation as to why Ickes sent such a cablegram. The concensus of opinion is that it was the result of the campaign of Confesor, Cabili, Kalaw and Romulo. Ickes cannot possibly take personal active interest in an affair which is small in so far as the American people are concerned. Ickes’ cablegram was followed by several editorials and publications in the United States against “collaborationists.” The suspicion about the activities of Confesor and others in this connection comes from the statement of Col. Peralta, the guerrilla hero who has just returned from the United States, to the effect that Confesor and others go from one newspaper office to another to give news against the “collaborationists”. These people are certainly doing a lot of harm to the Philippines. The truth is that there is practically no pro-Japanese element in the Philippines. The Japanese themselves found this out, although too late. And yet Confesor and others would make the American people believe that there are many Filipino pro-Japanese and among them are counted many of the outstanding Filipinos who in the past or during the American regime occupied the most responsible positions in the government. I believe Confesor and others at heart do not believe that we are traitors to our country and pro-Japanese or disloyal to America. Their only aim is to prejudice Roxas who is disputing the presidency with Osmeña. So that we are being made the football of politics. We are being the victim of political intrigue and machinations. This gives one an insight of the evil of politics. Because of it, the most rudimentary principles of justice and fairness are trampled upon.

The cablegram of Ickes was received with disappointment and disgust by free loving Filipinos. The “collaborationists” issue is a matter that should be left to the Philippine Government to handle without interference on the part of the United States government officials. This gives us an indication of what we may expect if we are not given complete and immediate independence. Furthermore, why should the rehabilitation aid to which our country became entitled because of loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and more than a billion worth of damages as our contribution to this war, be made to depend upon a handful of supposed “traitors”? Why should our country be punished for the guilt of a few, who some Americans consider as “renegades”?

The answer of Osmeña was equally disappointing. It was weak and subservient. He should have resented the uncalled for and untimely interference. He should defend the rights and prerogatives of his government as we did when we fought General Wood for undue interference in our powers. He should resent the insult to him when Ickes seemed to presume that his government would not do what is right. Some remarked that this is just as “puppet” a government as the Republic during the Japanese occupation. It was an opportunity for Osmeña to make a stand to show that he means to govern this country.

There is another event worth mentioning. Habeas corpus proceedings were started in the Supreme Court for the release of one of the detainees. The Court decided against the petition on the ground that the war is not yet over. There was a brilliant dissenting opinion by Justice Ozaeta. It was a great document. He was for the maintenance and preservation of man’s constitutional libertarian rights.

* * * * *

            Our release began the very day we arrived in Muntinglupa. Saturday, September 8th, Minister Alunan and Gen. Francisco were released after giving the required bail. The next day, Yulo followed. Two days afterwards, Sison and Sebastian were released. There were rumors that Recto and I were to be released next. We had been informed that our papers were ready in Solicitor General Tañada’s office. Everytime one leaves, those left behind felt very sad.

We, members of Congress, had various meetings, once with Roxas. There was a proposition to write a letter to the Senate stating that we would not assume our positions in the Senate until after proper investigation and requesting such an investigation. It was written upon the suggestion of Roxas. But we decided not to take our seats until after our complete exoneration. I think this is a wise decision. We cannot do anything anyhow as we will be tied up on account of our cases. Besides, it will be embarrassing for us when questions involving our case or our relationship with the United States or Japan come up.

September 9, 1945, Sunday

My family visited me. I was very happy as I had not seen them since I left them in Tubao on April 19, 1945. It was the birthday of my wife and I celebrated it by going to confession.

That same day we got a good glimpse of the political situation. Among our first visitors were President of the Senate Manuel Roxas and Senator Melecio Arranz. Roxas and his men were very actively campaigning — Roxas was very open in his campaigning. He gave us the impression that Osmeña, his opponent, is against the “collaborationists”. Roxas visited us twice in my one week’s stay. Among other things, he told us how he had been snubbed by Osmeña. He said he went to see Osmeña when the latter came from the United States. Osmeña did not pay attention to him. MacArthur noticed it and as Roxas started to leave, he called Roxas to try to diplomatically get them together. Evidently, MacArthur called the attention of Osmeña, as the next day Osmeña sent for Roxas and treated him in the most cordial manner.

September 8, 1945, Saturday

We took our breakfast at 5:00 o’clock. At 6:00 o’clock we were on our way to the airport. I could not explain why when we parted from each other most of us were silent and in tears. It was probably because we were not so optimistic as to what will be done to us in Manila. Or perhaps it was the result of about five months of paternal association among us. We arrived at the airport at about 8:00 o’clock due to the bad roads and stops caused by defects in the truck engine. The airport is near the town of Puerto Princesa itself. As we left the barracks and the colony itself, we felt something for these places that was hard to explain as they were the scene of our martyrdom for our beloved country.

At the airport we got a good glimpse of the might of the United States. There were countless B24’s which we saw in action in Manila and in Baguio, and B29’s which devastated and crippled Japan. We became more convinced that Japan had absolutely no chance.

We left the airport at about 8:30 a.m. in 24-seat transport of a line called “Atabrine”. It reminded us of the daily doze of Atabrine pills we took in Iwahig to protect ourselves against malaria. After going over countless small islands we arrived in Manila at about 10:45. There was nobody to receive us. Our guards had to telephone for trucks. One truck arrived at about 12:30 p.m.; we had been waiting impatiently on account of the extreme heat. The truck was small and one-half of it had to be filled up with our baggage. We had to be crammed in the small remaining space. The trip was as bad as when we were herded in a hold in a boat on our way to Iwahig. As we reached the main Manila South Road, and we turned left, it became clear to us that we were going to be incarcerated at the New Bilibid at Muntinglupa.

We arrived at this place at about 3 o’clock. There we were met by Minister Tirona, Mayor Guinto, Vice Minister Pedrosa and others. Later we met Don Miguel Unson.

September 7, 1945, Friday

Yesterday I began to pack. Everybody was surprised as they knew that I had also become a pessimist. I told them we were going before next Sunday. Zulueta inquired, “On what do you base your opinion we are leaving soon?” I reasoned out that I expect MacArthur would turn us over to the Commonwealth immediately after the signing of the surrender document which took place on the 2nd instant. After assuming jurisdiction, I was very sure the Commonwealth would take prompt action to release us outright or under bail. I was sure that our government would not presume 119 guilty or at least afford us ample opportunity to defend ourselves. The only way to do that is by releasing us under bail in the meanwhile. Nobody seemed to take my hunch seriously.

This morning we woke up full of pessimism and gloom. Even the heavens seemed to decree our fate as it was dark and raining. Not one expected this would be a memorable day. We engaged in our usual activities with despondent demeanor, especially Mr. Zulueta. At about 11:05 a.m. here comes Lieutenant Straddling with his usual solemn attitude. After passing the gate, his face suddenly brightened. He was all smiles. We knew at once he was bringing some news. We were all breathless. We have received so much disappointment that nobody dared to predict favorable news. But when he was near us, he broke the news. Thirty of us were to be taken to Manila the next day. There was no general rejoicing as everybody was afraid that he would not be included among the 30 and nobody knew what the fate of those left behind would be. All listened attentively to the calling of the names. Everyone called burst in joy. After the reading of the names everyone scampered for the list to be sure his name was called or his name was not called. The Lieutenant stopped all chagrin when he announced that we would all be taken to Manila, by groups of about 30 persons in three planes.

We hardly slept that night. We were so excited, kept conversing. We built castles in the air. We remembered our dear ones. We would again enjoy liberty and taste the happiness of being with our family. We began to dream of plans for the future. We remembered and repeated the jokes. Many times we yelled, “Ilaw!”, the joke we played whenever we wanted the light to be put out or whenever we wished noisy or talkative fellows to shut up. We began yelling: “Gil! Cafe, chocolate!” Gil is the tall Spaniard we used to mistake for a “Bombay” because he wears a turban once in a while, who prepares coffee or chocolate for us every afternoon or early in the morning. But at about two o’clock, probably because of the intense excitement, we all fell asleep. At about 3:00 o’clock, we were awakened by noises from heavy steps and the “cocinillas” (small stoves) and pans. It was Gil preparing the coffee. Not knowing it was Gil, everyone began to yell, “Ilaw!” Gil answered that he was preparing coffee. How could it be — it was only 3:00 o’clock! We were not expected to take our breakfast until 5:00 o’clock. But Gil insisted that it was already after 4:00 o’clock. We all consulted our timepieces. It was clear his watch had stopped. We could no longer sleep. We stayed awake in our cots until about 4:00 o’clock when we got up and prepared for the day.

September 6, 1945, Thursday

I wrote a letter to my wife, congratulating her on the occasion of her birthday on September 9. How painful! This is the first time I will not be with her on her birthday.

I also told her to have Paddy and Monching arrange my bail so that when I arrive in Manila, I shall not stay long in jail.

We live on hope. All kinds of rumors are circulating about our departure. There is no definite news as yet. What must be happening?

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.