Life, death, decisions, during the Japanese Occupation

Filipino officials and Japanese General Homma Masaharu at the former residence of the U.S. High Commissioner, January, 1942

In October, 2013, the country will mark the 70th anniversary of the so-called Second Republic established under Japanese auspices.

In anticipation of that event, the project aims to complete the publication of the Iwahig Prison Diary of Antonio de las Alas, a prominent prewar political and business figure, and member of the Laurel government. His diary, written while he was detained by Allied forces awaiting trial for collaboration, gives a thorough account of the dilemmas and choices made by officials who served during the Japanese Occupation, including their motivations and justifications for remaining in the government.

The diary of de las Alas goes backward and forward in time: starting on April 29, 1945 he details the tedium and petty bickering of prison life, he also gives an insight into politics and society during the Liberation Era, while extensively recounting his experiences during the Japanese Occupation.

Salvador H. Laurel, son of occupation president Jose P. Laurel, was tasked by his father to keep a diary of their going into exile at the hands of the Japanese (see entries from March 21, 1945 to August 17, 1945).

His account bears comparison with the conversations recorded by Francis Burton Harrison, prewar adviser to President Quezon, who again served as an adviser during World War II, when the Philippine government went into exile in Washington D.C. His entries covering the government-in-exile begin on May 30, 1942, and come to an end on May 31, 1944.

In the Philippine Diary project, other diarists put forward different facets of life in the Philippines during the Japanese Occupation.

Charles Gordon Mock, an American originally imprisoned together with other Allied civilians in the University of Santo Tomas, details his experiences as a prisoner-of-war transferred to Los Baños on May 14, 1943.

The experiences of soldiers and guerrillas are captured in the diary entries of Ramon Alcaraz –his entries chronicle the transformation of a prisoner-of-war into a soldier serving in the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Constabulary: and how he used his Constabulary postings for guerrilla activities (the progression of this development can be gleaned from a sampling of entries: June 30, 1942; August 3, 1942; August 30, 1942; February 20, 1943).

The diary of Felipe Buencamino III ends with his first few weeks as a prisoner-of-war in the concentration camps established by the Japanese; but he resumes his diary on September 21 1944, at the tail end of the Japanese Occupation (see October 2, 1944 for an example of the growing anticipation of the end of the Occupation): in fact, his diary ends just at the moment of Liberation.

His father, Victor Buencamino, chronicles the frustrations, fears, and tedium of being a mid-level official still serving in the government, not so highly-placed as to be ignorant of public opinion, but also, trapped between public opinion and his own problems as someone in government. His diary serves as a counterpoint to the diaries of soldiers and officers in the field, and to the other diaries describing life during the Occupation.

Two other diaries remain to be uploaded extensively, namely the Sugamo Prison diary of Jorge B. Vargas, onetime Chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission, and Laurel’s wartime ambassador to Japan, and the diary of Fr. Juan Labrador, O.P, a Spanish Dominican who kept a diary during the Japanese Occupation. But perhaps these will have to wait for future anniversaries.

You can browse the entries of the diarists mentioned above by clicking these links to view their entries in reverse chronological order:

Antonio de las Alas

Ramon A. Alcaraz

Felipe Buencamino III

Victor Buencamino

Francis Burton Harrison

Juan Labrador O.P.

Salvador H. Laurel

Charles Mock

April 29th, 1946

Haircut at 9 am. today——Old barber—1 zipper.

At exercise this afternoon Laurel wanted to discuss what we thought Roxas would do on collaborationist issue. He is for contacting Roxas directly as soon as we get home as to his plans. I suggested that as far as I’m concerned don’t think it advisable to talk to Roxas directly or indirectly as I feel he would act in the best interest of all without any prompting from any of us, which after all, he may resent. Moreover both Aquino & I are almost sure Alunan & the crowd in Manila must certainly have already discussed this matter with Roxas, as it was one of the hottest issues of presidential campaign. Don’t believe it would be dignified on our part to.approach Roxas personally in our own interest, we should leave him to act absolutely freely as we know, he is fully aware of everybody’s situation during Jap occupation.

Papers we got today, Nip Times of April 27 & 28 practically concede Roxas election.

Junior Lieutenant came in at 4 p.m. for cigarette money. Gave him Y16.

April 25th, 1946

Early today rec’d April 8th number of “Time.” While going down to breakfast heard that Stahmer had been put in solitary confinement. Seen him later at his usual seat at table, however, but by morning exercise time he was gone supposedly taken out to be sent to Germany either to testify in the Nuremberg trials or to be tried himself.

First news we got thru Laurel Jr. hearing kitchen radio was this am. at exercise time to the effect that Roxas was winning in the early returns which we supposed must be Manila and neighboring provinces five to two. This buoyed everybody up, specially Laurel who had been very low these days. My analysis of reported resuts— (1) that all those who in some way or another had served during Jap occupation, and that included practically every Commonwealth Govt. official of any consequence, both political, administrative, judicial and economic—started to work for Roxas only after lapse of deadline for filing of cases in People’s Court. (2) That all those who in one way or another are personally or politically identified with or sympathetic to us who served the people during enemy occupation, Laurel, Aquino, Osias, Yulo, Recto, Alunan, Paredes, myself, everybody all worked tremendously hard after cases were filed against us, on assumption that Roxas’ record being more or less identified with or similar to ours, his success would result in better understanding or appreciation of our cases or the whole collaborationist issue, for which Roxas was attacked by Osmeña supporters; (3) that people felt Roxas was Quezon man being supported openly by Doña Aurora and thru Morato; (4) the guerilleros really had more confidence in Roxas, was more identified with him than with Osmefia; and (5) that all thinking and responsible elements in Phil. must have condemned Osmeña’s unholy alliance with the dissident groups of Hukbalahaps and others. We all hope the final result will be considered a popular vindication of our course of action during dark days of enemy occupation. This means, the Confesors and the Cabilis who claimed monopoly of patriotism have been kicked in the ass by the majority of the people themselves.

Stahmer was back after lunch——apparently bad weather——He may have to stay longer like the Chinese until somebody in the army remembers to give another order. It seems army authorities are at loggerhead as to what to do with him. One party says he is needed in Nuremberg as witness, another party says he is needed here for trial. It’s a toss-up just like most everything in MacA’s head these days.

Afraid had allowed my enthusiasm run away with myself. Read that dispatch about first returns and it merely says from early returns from five precincts, Roxas was leading 5 to 2 —Five precincts! They don’t mean anything in Phil. presidential elections. He may yet win by reason of being already in power and used at least his people, and not quite a few electoral tricks. Anyhow hope we will soon be back.

Rained all day —exercise both am. and pm. inside.

April 24th, 1946


All four back issues of NT came this am. just before exercise—-nothing yet about Phil. Elections.

While at exercise was called out I thought for interrogation. Turned out pleasant surprise to be visited by Father Kennedy S.J. who was rector of Ateneo de Cagayan. Said he was liberated from Cabanatuan by Rangers together with five hundred other Americans-—was down to 120 lbs. and had been left behind because might die. Said had just come back from Manila yesterday, going tomorrow to Hokaido for duty with 11th Airborne Div. Asked how he could get in touch with Leoni—-—told him Leoni was last heard from in Gora Hotel. Suggested he inquire from Father Bitter of Joshi Univ. or Haguiwara of Gaemusho or Central Liaison Office of Jap. Govt. ——Said Ateneo High School was back in Guipit but expected to reopen with College courses in San Marcelino Seminary and Sta. Rita Hall on June 5 —also Ateneo de San Pablo (Laguna) Ateneo de Cagayan (Misamis) Ateneo de Tuguegarao— Said living conditions in Manila are still high and dificult, there are more than one million people in city—no farming at all, no carabao yet from India or Siam had arrived——everybody waiting for elections to be over and perhaps things would settle down—prices still high meat 4 to 4-1/2 pesos kilo rice
2 to 2-1/2 pesos a ganta-—Servants very expensive not less than 90 to 120 a month—but servants cannot live on 100 pesos even—Said Lt. Col. Lim, Manuel had been put in charge of all army war crimes prosecution—-Never heard of Tañada —People’s Court seemed to be very slow—Recto indicted about two or three weeks ago, had written a book. but was unable to get a copy—- Will return to Manila in six weeks and will surely pass by here to see me again. Said there was very strong Roxas reaction during last ten days of campaign—Roxas claimed would win in 48 provinces, only conceding loss in North Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija-——Nueva Viscaya whose governor was killed while driving in his car only few days ago. Tarlac about 50-50_ according to Father—about 70% of people in Manila still with malaria—all schools that are open are full—there didn’t seem to be very much news about Collaboration trials in newspapers. Had not met any of my family, but came to see me because he knew all my boys, had seen Ateneo students said Rogelio LaO asked him to look for him—Rogelio left seminary and married American girl who hadd studied in States. Spent more than 1/2 hour with me. Started conversation by stating he did not come as an Army man apologized for his uniform, but as a priest——Hope we will be back in Manila before he returns thru Tokyo, but would certainly be glad to see him again if we are still here, and will look him up if we are already in Phil.

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.

August 31, 1945, Friday

I have been asked many times how the Japanese financed themselves during their regime.

They came here bringing with them Japanese military notes. It can be assumed for certain that those notes are not backed by reserves. There is nothing behind it except the backing of the Japanese government. As a matter of fact, they are not currency or money. They are in reality requisition slips. Instead of forcing the Filipinos to give them food, equipment and materials, they found this indirect and less painful way of attaining their wishes. At the beginning the circulation of the currency of the Commonwealth was allowed. Following the economic law that bad money drives away good money, the latter soon disappeared in the market. Later, the Japanese made the circulation of the currency of the Commonwealth illegal. Those caught exchanging military notes for Commonwealth notes were taken to Ft. Santiago and punished for committing a hostile act.

The Japanese government then established the Southern Development Bank. They did not use the two Japanese banks, the Yokohama Specie Bank and the Taiwan Bank, except that the Taiwan Bank was used to liquidate the American and other foreign banks. As a matter of fact, the Southern Development Bank was not a bank but acted as a branch here of the Japanese Government Treasury. It was given the sole power of note issue. All the military notes were distributed through it. I had numerous discussions with the Japanese as to the nature of these notes. They have always insisted that they were Southern Development Bank notes, whereas I always maintained that they were Japanese Government notes. I did not feel it proper for the Philippine Government to deal with a private bank.

The Japanese, unlike the Americans, practically made the countries occupied by them defray all the expenses of their Army. They did this by means of the issuance of military notes. I also have no doubt about this as I happened to see the Japanese Government budget. In the statement of income, there was included what was called Contribution of the Southern Islands. (I was not sure what they called it, but I am sure that there were billions — 17 billion as I remember — provided as income from the Southern Islands.) As there was no direct request for funds, necessarily they must come from the proceeds of the military notes. They cannot ask for direct contribution because nobody or very few would give. This was shown when subscriptions were opened for the Philippines to buy and donate an airplane to Japan. Very little was collected and the project was stopped. It would not have been possible to collect a sufficient amount to buy even a small airplane unless force was used, as was done in many cases. As a matter of fact, those military notes were no more, no less than requisition slips. The whole financing of the Japanese, including the expenses of the Army and Navy and what they called war development companies, was exclusively handled by the Southern Development Bank.

This bank made every effort to exercise all the powers of a Central Bank and of a clearinghouse. It insisted that all the other banks deposit their funds with it, especially the reserves of the banks. I opposed this very strongly. I was willing to stake even my life to uphold my view. All the bank managers naturally were afraid to have any sort of issue with the Japanese. I told them that they need not assume any responsibility. I gave them orders not to deposit with the Southern Development Bank without my express authority and order. At that time, there were already on deposit in the Southern Development Bank funds of the different banks amounting to about 1000,000,000 pesos. About three-fourth or four-fifth of the funds belonged to the Philippine National Bank.

It must be stated in this connection that at the beginning I had no supervision over the Philippine National Bank. Supervision was being exercised by Malacañan. The reason was that the P.N.B. was a government corporation and Malacañan was in charge of all national companies. Later, I found out that it was Executive Secretary Pedro Sabido who was handling P.N.B matters. Even after his appointment as Minister of the new Department of Economic Affairs, he attempted to continue exercising the powers; as a matter of fact, after his appointment, he became even more insistent. He contented that the supervision of the Philippine National Bank properly belonged to his department since the bank was a government corporation and his department was in charge of all government corporations. He further contended that the Department of Economic Affairs should control the Philippine National Bank to enable it to realize the purpose for which it was established and also to facilitate the financing of the national companies.

Finally, he contended that, under the law, the Secretary of Finance is already the head of the bank, and it is not proper nor advisable for the Secretary of Finance to be also the Supervisor; otherwise; the Secretary of Finance would be supervising himself. I refused to devote much time and words to the discussion which was academic. So far as I was concerned, the argument I emphasized was that I found it impossible to supervise the banking and financing business unless all the banks were under me. Supervision over the P.N.B. was especially necessary since at least 70% of banking transactions in Manila was handled by the Philippine National Bank. I concluded in a memorandum to Pres. Laurel that if he decided to deny my request, I would strongly recommend that the supervision over all banks be transferred to the Ministry of Economic Affairs. After due consideration, the President told me that he fully agreed with me and he would immediately issue an order accordingly.

Days and weeks passed, the order did not come. I found out that the Minister of Economic Affairs was very insistent. So the President decided to submit it to the Council of State composed of Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña as President, and Don Miguel Unson, Don Pedro Aunario, Don Rafael Corpus, Don Ramon Fernandez and Don Jose Paez. The Council considered the matter very thoroughly and even heard the arguments of Minister Sabido. The President, and this was confirmed later by Don Miguel Unson and Don Rafael Corpus, advised that the Council upon preposition of Don Miguel Unson, decided unanimously in my favor. He assured me that he would issue the order forthwith.

Days passed; weeks passed, no order came. I decided to prepare the order myself and give it personally to the President. It was not signed and issued. I prepared another and left it with the President. After a few days, I asked him about it. He was surprised that I had not received it yet. I prepared another and this time I did not leave Malacañan without the President’s signature.

After the President signed the order, I immediately called Mr. Carmona, President of the P.N.B.. I must first state that under the order, I had all the powers of the Board of Directors of the Bank. I asked him about the deposits. He told me that he had submitted the matter to Malacañan and that no objection had been expressed on the part of Malacañan to the existing arrangement. When I asked for a written authority, he advised that he had not received any and that his experience was that he got no action from Malacañan on matters taken up by him, or at least action was delayed for weeks and even months.

I asked him to explain how he happened to have such a large deposit in the Southern Development Bank. He answered that from the very beginning the military people as well as the Manager of the Southern Development Bank requested him and even ordered him to deposit all excess funds of P.N.B., or funds not needed for ordinary daily transactions, with the Southern Development Bank. Pressure was used so that he had to make some deposit, but he assured me that it was far from what he could have deposited.

The Japanese reorganized the clearing house. Under the new system, all clearing balances were kept by the Southern Development Bank. There was no liquidation and the funds could be withdrawn only when the corresponding bank needed funds. So the deposit of P.N.B. in the Southern Development Bank increased everyday. This was also true as regards the other banks, Bank of the Philippine Islands and Bank of Commerce. They were also being required to make deposits. They said that they had to conform unless they wished their banks closed and their officers accused of a hostile act. I ordered them not to deposit. When they expressed fear, I told them that they should tell the Japanese that, per my order, they had to secure my approval. I also told them to withdraw their balances in the clearing house from the Southern Development Bank.

Mr. Hariguti Takahashi and the Manager of the Southern Development Bank came to me to request me to authorize the deposits. I flatly refused. This is one of many similar incidents I had with the Japanese. One instance was when a large Japanese sugar concern wanted to acquire the Philippine Refining Co., which was owned by the government and practically had the monopoly of sugar refining in the Philippines. An official of the company was told that an unfavorable recommendation from him would be interpreted as a hostile act. I told him to tell the Japanese to talk to me. The Japanese never came to see me. Another instance was when the Japanese Army proposed that the Textile Department of the National Development Company be constituted into a separate company and recapitalized with equal participation of the Philippine and Japanese governments. The participation was later changed to 40% for the Japanese and 60% for the Filipinos. I was made to understand that the plan had already been agreed upon by somebody in Malacañan. I prepared a memorandum strongly opposing the plan. The reason I gave was that the National Development Company, as any other national companies, was formed not for profit but rather to carry out national economic policies. Another time was when Colonel Utsonomiya, later promoted to General, approached me to ask me to allow the importation of opium. I told him that the laws prohibited the importation of opium and penalized its sale. Twice the Colonel approached me. I maintained my position. When it came to protecting our people and their rights, I ignored consequences absolutely.

In connection with the banks, a Japanese officer came to see me. He said that it had been reported to them that in the Ministry of Finance, there was somebody who was anti-Japanese and always worked against them. I knew it was merely a ruse. I answered that I assume responsibility for anything done in the Ministry of Finance.

Mr. Carmona wisely did his best to attain our purpose without unnecessary exposition. Carmona was so capable and prudent that he was able to withdraw a very good portion of the deposit and to maintain the deposit at a very low level.

My views and actions were fully reported to the President and he approved.

I had many other incidents. During a bombing raid, a boat loaded with military notes was blown up and all along Malate and Ermita, it rained notes. They were picked up by the people and spent. The Japanese who had the serial numbers of the notes prohibited the circulation. I protested on the grounds that the notes were already in the hands of innocent persons. For instance, there was Mrs. Mariquita de Ocampo who sold her furniture for 7,000 pesos as she needed the money. Afterwards, nobody would accept her money. What fault had she committed? Finally, the notes were accepted.

The Japanese wanted the administration to be self-supporting. They themselves prepared and imposed the approval of tax laws. From the beginning, my plan was not to change our tax laws; not to burden the people with more taxes than what they had to pay before the war. But how do we finance the government? Of course I had to make it look like I was trying to increase the income by means of assistance of our people. So I did not object to the increase in the income tax law, although I insisted that low incomes not be taxed and larger incomes not be taxed as heavily as in other counties. This is also the reason why I sold an amount of bonds instead from where I proposed to get the money.

Even during the time of the Commission, we borrowed money from the Army, It reached the amount of ₱23,000,000. During the Republic, I secured a credit of over ₱100,000,000 from the Bank of Japan, about ₱50,000,000 of which I got through the Southern Development Bank. When I submitted it to the Cabinet, there was some opposition. I did not argue, but after the meeting I explained to Minister Osias who was the one strongly opposed that my purpose was to charge to the Japanese as much of our expenses as possible. The Japanese Army after the establishment of the Philippine Republic tried to collect our previous indebtedness of ₱23,000,000. I declined on the ground that the Executive Commission was a mere instrumentality of the Japanese Administration. The amount was never paid.

Returning to inflation, I could do nothing as the Japanese did not want to give any power which would enable me to do something. I thought and thought about what to do until I came up with the idea of establishing a Central Bank if I could get the Japanese to approve my conditions. Some of them were: (1) That the Central Bank shall have the sole power of issue of notes. With this I meant to curb the unbridled issue of notes by the Japanese and the unlimited grant of credits to Japanese companies. (2) That the Ministry of Finance shall have jurisdiction and power of supervision over the Japanese banks. I demanded this most important power to control large credits given by the Japanese banks to Japanese companies and nationals. (3) That the Central Bank shall be the depository of the reserves of the other banks. And (4) That the Central Bank shall handle the clearing house balances.

The Japanese were opposed to my plan at the beginning, but in view of the fact that we were a Republic and they therefore could not openly deprive us of the right to exercise powers belonging to all independent states, they changed their tactics. They instead did their best to delay the establishment of the bank. They put up all kinds of objections and suggested many modifications. They wished preferential treatment or at least equal treatment for Japanese banks. I could not of course accept this. Mr. Haraguti, while I was speaking before the National Assembly about the establishment of a Central Bank, sent me a memorandum. I got the impression that he was opposed to it or wanted to delay it. I immediately suspended the proceedings and charged that Mr. Haraguti was out of line. He immediately saw me and tried to explain that such was not his intention. I know English well, I believe, and I had no doubt that my interpretation was correct.

The bill was approved by the Assembly but upon the request of Speaker Aquino a provision was inserted to it so that the establishment of a Central Bank would depend upon the promulgation order by the President. Aquino at the beginning was strongly opposed to the bank; later, he withdrew his objection but was evidently not interested in its establishment. However, the Japanese had not given up. We had no facilities here for the printing of notes and this had to be done in Japan. We prepared the necessary designs. We were told that all the printing presses were busy printing notes for other countries and that they could not begin making delivery until May, I believe of 1945. I went to Japan where I made every effort to expedite it but in vain. I was told that the delivery had to be periodic and the amounts for each period could not be very much. The matter remained in that state until hostilities in the Philippines began.

Another reason why I wanted the Central Bank was that I did not want to have a shortage of notes. We had a terrible crisis about the first months of 1944 because the ships used for transporting the notes were probably sunk or blown. The Japanese banks had no more available notes and the Southern Development Bank had only about ₱10,000,000 in notes of 10, 20 and 50 centavos. The Japanese banks suspended payment, and there was a run in all the banks as the public feared that the banks had no more funds. The Japanese banks, including the Southern Development Bank, wanted to get the notes of the Filipino banks. I refused to authorize the Filipino banks to loan their funds to the Japanese banks. I also instructed the Manager of the Philippine National Bank to withdraw a part of its deposit from the Southern Development Bank. We were all very much worried. Stoppage of payment of banks would paralyze business. All demands for withdrawal in Filipino banks were met. The Philippine National Bank, however, had to offer notes in small denominations. Generally, those wishing to withdraw big amounts desisted as the package of the money would be quite bulky. After a few days, shipment of notes came and the crisis passed. Because of this, I inquired about machines and materials in the Philippines that could be used in case of shortage of notes. We could print here but in limited quantities.

* * * * *

We heard on the radio that Truman had said that the Philippines might have her independence in 4 or 5 months. This means that we may have our independence by next January. I welcome it; I want to have it right now. We would have been spared the loss of billions of pesos and thousands of lives if only people ceased to be mentors of other people.

This means the election will have to be held soon. We may not even be able to take part in the elections. Until we are cleared, we cannot be of much service.

According to the radio, Ambassador Vargas was found in Tokyo and he is a very worried man. He was generally criticized for having been very weak with the Japanese. We were aware of it and we thought him a useless man and an incapable executive. But after we reflected, it may well be that under the circumstances, he did what would be of the greatest benefit to the people. Supposing that instead of getting the confidence of the known murderers, the Japanese, he had fought and defied them. He becomes a hero. But he sacrificed his country for w would have meant direct or almost direct rule by the Japanese. Instead of 200,000 dead, we probably would have had to mourn the loss of millions of our countrymen. Vargas has done much for our country.

August 16, 1945, Thursday

This morning, I modified my opinion as to when we will leave. I believe now that it will not be before the end of this month. It will be sometime in September or October. The reason for my change of view now is that I think Laurel, Aquino and Vargas, who are still in Japan, will be brought to the Philippines and I think their cases as well as the Ministers’ will be tried or investigated at the same time. Since the cases of those three or more serious, they may not be considered until after some time and, therefore, our cases will also be delayed.

It is reported by radio that Emperor Hirohito will fly to Manila, in a Japanese plane from Tokyo to Okinawa and in an American plane from Okinawa to Manila. MacArthur has been designated as Commander-in-Chief to receive the surrender of Japan. The representatives of the vanquished always come to the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander or to the place indicated by the latter. MacArthur’s headquarters is in Manila; therefore, the Japanese Representative should go there. But why Hirohito precisely. I can’t understand why it cannot be Premier Suzuki. I do not believe the United Nations will deal with the Premier, however; he will probably be one of those to be arrested and accused as a war criminal. But his cabinet can fall and a Pacifist Cabinet could be created under the Premiership of Konoye, Konoye can then sign the peace terms. But it seems it has to be Hirohito. What a humiliation! Before, he was a proud ruler, considered as god himself. His words were law and divine order at the same time. Now he is under the orders of MacArthur.

I suggested to Compadre Serging Osmeña that he write a letter to his father. I so suggested because it seems that they are already in good terms. I explained to him that his father is an experienced and shrewd politician. Serging ought to know that just now his father is at a disadvantage as regards the collaborationists inasmuch as Roxas has openly thrown himself on their side. I told Serging that he write his father that there is discontent here on account of his passive attitude. He should suggest to his father to do something; to make a “golpe” (sensational and radical act) which will boost his stock among the “collaborationists” and such “golpe” should be a general amnesty proclamation freeing everybody accused of collaboration. This may incline the collaborationists to his side or at least put him in a better position to approach them later. I found Serging rather reluctant for reasons which he explained. The reasons involved family relations among the father, mother-in-law and Serging.

* * * * *

Excerpts from a letter of Roy W. Howard, the principal owner of Scripps-Howard newspapers, dated at Manila, July 30, 1945 to Arsenio Luz:

My chief purpose in coming here, aside from a desire to confer with Gen. MacArthur and get a picture of the general situation, was to see if I could be of any help to you. I wish that it were possible for me to report success, but after pursuing every line that is open, and discussing your case with everyone I know who might be in a position to help, I am afraid that as far as your immediate release is concerned, my effort has been a failure.

It is my sincere belief, Arsenio, that in spite of any action that can be taken, including even legal action, the group held in Palawan now will be kept there until the conclusion of the war with Japan. I realize that this is going to be very tough, and I doubt whether were I in your place it would be possible for me to reconcile myself to the belief that remaining there is the best course. But in my efforts I have run into a few facts which, without in any sense justifying the action taken against you, throw a light on the situation which I want to pass along to you.

In my efforts I have talked to Gen. MacArthur, Gen. Thorpe, head of the C.I.C., Pres. Osmeña, Manuel Roxas, Phil Buencamino, Salvador Araneta, Manolo Elizalde, Chick Parsons, Paul McNutt, and others. They have all been very sympathetic and have helped me to the best of their ability. But we have all run into a stone wall in that Gen. MacArthur is embarked on a course which I am convinced he believes to be in the best interest of the Filipinos, and from which I do not believe it is going to be possible to dissuade him. As I see it, the situation boils down to about this:

MacArthur is fighting a war and doing a most magnificent job of it. However, the job is one calling for the most intense concentration, and despite what I am sure is his keen realization of a pot of political and purely domestic needs, he is having a straight line and giving no consideration to any proposition except killing Japs.

I have no doubt that he suspects there are men at Palawan who are entirely innocent, and many who have been guilty of nothing more serious than indiscretion or bad judgment. To attempt to sort those men out, however, would, if justice were to be done, be equivalent to bringing about trials at this time. I can see many reasons why this would be inadvisable, the chief one being that at the rate of which feeling is dying down, it is obvious that there will be much less emotionalism attaching to collaboration trials later on, than would be the case today.

If trials were to be held today, they would of necessity be trials before an American military tribunal. I suspect Gen. MacArthur feels that not only will Filipino courts be more competent to judge Filipino psychology, but that Filipinos, knowing the conditions existing in Manila and the pressure that put to bear on people like yourself, will be infinitely more lenient than would be the case with a hard-boiled, wholly impersonal military court. In any event, Arsenio, at the end of the week’s effort, in which I have thrown in everything I have without obtaining any redress in your case, I am forced to say that I think that is the way the thing stands, and while Gen. MacArthur has promised to have prepared for his own personal consideration a review of your case, I do not honestly advise you to count on much of anything happening in consequence.

The real purpose in writing this letter is this: I do not need to tell you, I am sure, that my own faith in your innocence of any action prejudicial to the United States has never waned. That will not be either news or a surprise to you. What is more important, however, to you… something which I am not sure you fully appreciate is that no one from Gen, MacArthur down has expressed to me the slightest belief that any action which you took under the stress of occupation conditions was in any sense an action aimed against the interests of the United States, and no one to whom I have talked has expressed the slightest doubt of your loyalty to the United States and to your American friends. That goes straight, Arsenio, and without any discount.

To give you a complete picture, however, I must add that some of your friends, even though they are understanding and tolerant, feel that you may have on occasion been a bit indiscreet and not used your head as effectively as might have been the case. Everyone realizes, however, that hindsight is sometimes better than foresight, and I haven’t the slightest doubt that aside from the discomfit and inconvenience of being held in custody for the very few months during which this war is going to continue, you will ultimately be restored to complete standing in this community and given a complete bill of health.

If your old sense of humor is still working, and I have no doubt that you still possess it even though it may have been scuffed up a bit, you may smile at a line of reasoning which I have given Carmen, and which I put forward in all seriousness. I realize the ridiculousness of a man on the outside arguing to the man who is detained, on the virtues of being in jail, and yet I think in your case there is some virtue in the situation.

Let me explain: If it were possible to exercise any influence to get you sprung at the present time, and I had an opportunity to do so, I would advise you to turn your back on such an opportunity. My reasoning is this: if you were to come out under such circumstances and without a trial, there would always be hovering over you a suspicion that may be you were at liberty not because of innocence, but because of some pull you were able to exercise. Such a situation would be a handicap to you and your family for the rest of your life. On the basis of what I have been told, and I am not going to attempt to state here which man or men most influenced my judgment (although I assure you they were among your best friends and American well wishers), I believe that the hearing which you will certainly get immediately upon the conclusion of the war and the turning of this whole problem over to the Philippines, will give you a clean bill of health and completely establish your innocence of any action that would prejudice your standing either with Filipinos or Americans. For whatever my judgment is worth, the value of this bill of health and official establishment of your innocence will over the long haul more than compensate for the few additonal weeks or months that you may be denied your liberty.

As I said, this argument, sound though I am convinced it is, may be one easier for me to make on the outside than for you to accept on the inside. I know, however, that you will not doubt my honesty, even though you should doubt my judgment, when I tell you my opinion of the tremendous value which I believe will attach to your exoneration, as distinct from the situation which might result if you were released in consequence of political pressure, even though there was the possibility of exerting political pressure, a possibility which I am sure does not exist.

I would of course have come to Palawan to see you, had it been possible to do so. I even made some efforts in that direction, but became convinced that not only could I have been of no value to you down there, but to have made the trip might have in some degree prejudiced your case.

Now for one more point, and then I’ll wind up this interminably long letter. In April, before his death on August 1st, I visited President Quezon at Miami, Florida. At that time he was on his death bed and I think fully realized that his number was up. He talked with extreme difficulty and only in a whisper, because the tuberculosis had reached his throat. I won’t attempt to quote all of his conversation, but merely that which has a bearing on your situation, and on his unshakeable faith in you and confidence in your loyalty and integrity. There had at that time come back to the United States varied stories of collaborative action being taken by Filipinos. Cases discussed with a number of these people, some of whom I knew and others whose names had slipped me, but whom he insisted I had met and who knew me. Finally, he turned to me and said:

Roy, I do not know about all of these people. I am worried about Jorge Vargas. The reports on what Jorge is doing are not good, though I find it very difficult to believe that any one so long associated with me would turn out to be disloyal to me, to the Filipino people, and to the United States. I must admit that I am having to reserve judgment. About some of your friends, however, I would advise you to have faith, just as I have. There are some of them to whom disloyalty would be impossible and I include in this list Alunan, Joe Yulo, Arsenio Luz, Phil Buencamino…’

In addition he named those several others — people whom probably I would recognize if I saw them, but whose names at the time did not mean much to me.

Quezon told me at that time the instructions that he had left with his friends, and added that he was now in touch with those men by clandestine short wave radio. He also told me that within a week he had received a call from one of his men, a Filipino doctor, who had returned to the States from Manila within the preceding forthnight.

At home I have a diary memorandum which I wrote that night, in which I have Quezon’s exact words. The foregoing quotation, however, is to all intents and purposes correct and accurate.

…I am no seventh son of a seventh son, but I venture the prophecy that this war will be over before the end of the year and that your complete restoration to your family and to the position which you have so well earned in this community, will have been effected before the New Year is many days old.

Mr. Howard is one of the two or three great newspapermen in the United States now living. The news above is the most authoritative we have received inasmuch as it is the result of his personal conferences with MacArthur in whose hands our destiny lies. Therein it is clear that we will not be released while the war lasts. He believes that even if we can go now we should not accept it as there will always be the suspicion that we got out as a result of influence. Whereas if we are acquitted after due trial, we will be given a clean bill of health, and, therefore, be restored to our old position in the community. Such was my opinion from the beginning. We do not positively know what we are charged of. But under the circumstances, we presume that it must be treason to our country and disloyalty to the United States. As to the latter, I have never been disloyal to the United States but if they insist, I would not mind it because after all deep in my heart I do not recognize loyalty to any country other than my own. But the charge of treason to my country is very serious. From all indications at the present time, only prejudiced Filipinos believe that we have been traitors and they constitute a very small portion of our population. But how about future generations who do not know the facts personally? If our declaration of innocence now is not recorded, they may get the idea that we have done something against our country. So it is preferable that we be submitted to a trial in order that our formal vindication may be decreed if we are found not guilty.

July 31, 1945 Tuesday

Yesterday, I received a long letter from my wife containing plenty of news.

Immediately after the occupation of Manila, Gen. Maeda, Chief of Staff of the Army of Occupation, sent a message to Vargas, then Mayor and a ranking Member of the Cabinet, giving instructions that a governmental organization be created to carry out the policy of the Japanese contained in a proclamation issued by Gen. Homma, Commander in Chief, par. 3 of which provides:

The authorities and the people of the Commonwealth should sever the relations with the United States of America and trust the just and fair administration of the Army, obeying faithfully all its commands, cooperating voluntarily with it in its stationing and activities here and supplying military supplies when asked.

In his inaugural address at the opening session of the First Congress of Philippines on June 9, 1945, Speaker Jose Zulueta quoted the declaration of prominent people (34) assembled at the house of Speaker Yulo in response to Gen. Maeda’s orders.

In response to the Message of Your Excellency as Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Forces, on the 8th of January 1942, through Hon. Jorge B. Vargas, we have duly taken note of the contents thereof and respectfully express our gratitude for your Excellency’s words of solicitude over the welfare of our people.

We beg to inform Your Excellency that, in compliance with your advice, and having in mind the great ideals, the freedom and the happiness of our country, we are ready to obey to the best of our ability and within the means at our disposal the orders issued by the Imperial Japanese Forces for the maintenance of peace and order and the promotion of the well-being of our people under the Japanese military administration. Consequently, we have constituted ourselves into a provisional Philippine Council of State and we are immediately proceeding to draft our Articles of Organization in line with your Excellency’s advice.

I am not sure that the above is the exact text of the letter we signed. I took notes of all that happened and what were said in the meetings held in the house of Speaker Yulo, but unfortunately I lost them all when my house was burned.

I recollect very distinctly that we drafted and redrafted our answer many times. In the original draft instead of “advice” in the second paragraph it was “order”, we wanted to make the people know that we did not voluntarily offer our services, but that we were ordered to organize some form of administration. Our proposition was not accepted by the Japanese and we had to accept “advice” as a substitute. Instead of the “great ideals” and “freedom”, we used “independence” in the original. It will be remembered that from the very beginning we did not want to accept anything unless the independence of our country was assured. Without such assurance we were prepared to suffer whatever consequences our refusal may bring. The Japanese, on the other hand, did not want anything inserted referring to our independence. But in view of our insistence, they communicated with Tokyo for instructions. Tokyo apparently agreed to our demands; in fact, on the 21st of January, Premier Tojo delivered a speech before the Diet which, among other things, announced their policy of granting our independence upon compliance of certain conditions. The authorities, insisted in the use of “grand ideals” and “freedom”. Upon an inquiry, however, this was clarified to mean independence.

The inaugural speech of Speaker Zulueta was pronounced unanimously as an excellent speech. It showed that Mr. Zulueta has matured to statesman. His defense of the collaborators was superb. His statement of facts, however, was not exactly correct. We did not immediately constitute ourselves as Council of State. The meetings in the house of Speaker Yulo were informal. Those who attended were called by the Speaker to consider the order of the Japanese Military authorities. The statement in our answer about constituting ourselves into a provisional Council of State was the first mention of any Council of State, and as may be seen, it was only provisional and had yet to be approved by the Japanese military administration.

A newspaper has published that persons close to official circles have given the news that “small collaborationists” may be released when the Japanese pockets still in existence in the Philippines are wiped out, inasmuch as military security could no longer be endangered. “Big collaborationists” like members of the Cabinet of the last Republic, will be detained during the duration of the war, but they may be released upon the guarantee of the Philippine government.

To me, this is not good news. Why should there be any distinction between big and small? Insofar as military security is concerned, the small collaborationists are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the big collaborationists.

The guarantee required of the Philippine government will place us in the vortex of politics. We will be placed into the hands of politicians. This is precisely what I have been fearing. I fear that our release or continuation under detention would depend upon whether it will favor or prejudice the political aspirations of the official concerned.

In connection with our letter mentioned previously, it should be added that we purposely used the word “obey” in order to indicate that we were being ordered, thereby attaining the purpose we had in wishing to use the word “order” in the first part of the second paragraph.

On July 25, 1945, there was a Reuter’s dispatch from Washington, substantially saying as follows: Senator Albert Chandler (Democrat, Kentucky) and a member of the Senate Military Affairs Committee told Reuter today, “I shall make use of the Senate Debate on the ratification of the San Francisco Charter to bring to the attention of my colleagues the question of the political future of India.

“I have studied with great care the reference in the Charter to dependent territories, and I would like to clarify the position that India would occupy in this new world organization.

“The Charter promises ultimate independence to all countries and I would like to know what steps can be taken by the new organization to bring about India’s complete freedom and independence.”

The Senate voted against the United States’ participation in Pres. Wilson’s League of Nations. This time the participation in the new league was approved and thus commits America to full-scale cooperation in the New World order. There are many causes of the failure of the former League of Nations. To me, one of them which I consider one of the main causes, is the failure to draw in the United States. Any world organization without the United States cannot endure. This is not only because of the greatness and importance of the United States among nations but also because she has assumed a virtual protectorate of the North and South American continents. This protectorate will extend to the Philippines.

I have already commented on the San Francisco World Charter insofar as its provisions referring to dependent peoples are concerned. I criticized this provision for not being clear and specific enough. There should not be the least doubt that the Charter will insure independence to small states and dependent peoples. Colonization must be eliminated for all time. This is necessary, not only to prevent wars between two or more nations, but also to avoid revolutions, rebellions, massacres, or just individual cases of killing, imprisonment or political persecution. If this policy had been implanted about the middle of the 17th century, there would not have occurred the American revolution; there would not have been recorded the many bloody revolutions of South American countries; we would not have suffered on account of our revolution against Spain. Rebellions of dependent peoples have caused death and untold suffering of a great number of people. Massacres, like that of Amritzar, India, have taken place because of the libertarian movements on the part of the people. How many lives have been lost for the cause of liberty! How many have languished in Britain for heading or championing separatist or liberal movements! How many have been deported, banished from the country that has given them life, and separated from their dear ones! All these horrors must be prevented at all costs.

* * * * *

            Autograph hunting continues. To Dr. Lanuza, I said: “Together we shall be up to the end of the journey.” What I mean is that having suffered together we shall be united in all efforts to win our vindication and to serve our country.

To Mr. Carmona: “I shall never forget the days when we together shared equally the joys and sorrows of life. This has cemented the friendship which binds me with you.”

July 21, 1945 Saturday

This is inspection day. We prepared our bed, baggage, everything. My family will be surprised at how well I can arrange my things. This is one of the many good things we have learned here. The bed cover is neatly folded, the mosquito net properly placed. Our mess kit and toilet articles, all very shiny, are meticulously arranged on our bed. It is a pleasure to see them.

After the inspection, Col. Gilfilan suddenly appeared in our quarters and engaged Minister Paredes in conversation. As usual, whenever he comes we get jitterly expecting that he was going to give us hell. After the appropriate preliminaries, they proceeded to discuss our case. Evidently, the Colonel had already submitted our letter to General MacArthur. He added that he had other papers about us but he had not seen our memorandum submitted to Mr. Stanford of the C.I.C. As reported by Mr. Paredes the conversation is substantially as follows:

The Colonel came prejudiced against us. Like others, he thought we had willingly collaborated with the Japanese, committed acts constituting treason to our country, and harbored anti-American feelings.

Paredes related how we happened to be in the service during the Japanese regime. He said that under the circumstances, we could not possibly do otherwise unless we wanted to endanger the lives of our people. We need not wait for guns to be pointed at us. The Japanese did not hesitate to arrest, punish and even kill. The people were unprotected. Furthermore, there was the danger of the administration falling into the hands of real pro-Japanese men like Ricarte, or of irresponsible rascals, like Benigno Ramos. These men had acted before and during the Japanese occupation as spies. They had not only baited the Japanese to commit atrocities but had no hesitation themselves to rob, abuse and even kill. This was the situation. We had to choose between inaction or action, hiding in the mountains or acceptance of the office which placed us in a position to protect or serve our people as best we could. We harbored no illusions about it but we preferred to take our chances to see what we could do for our people. We feel we did a satisfactory job. So many were killed; more than 500,000 people died because of Japanese brutality. But what would have happened if we did not accept? Knowing now what the Japanese are capable of, it will not be an exaggeration to say that at least one fourth of our population would have perished.

The Colonel nodded with approval. But evidently there were many doubts lingering in his mind. He asked why the Republic declared war against the United States. Paredes explained. He said that even before the inauguration of the Republic, Pres. Laurel was called to Tokyo where Premier Tojo himself expressed their desire for the Philippines to declare war against the United States and Great Britain. The Japanese Premier was very insistent. Laurel boldly refused. He spoke with frankness. He reasoned out that it would not be decent for us to declare war against the United States. The reasoning of Laurel was so sound that the Filipinos present, Aquino and Vargas, were astounded. No publication was ever made of the incident, but rumors about the incident rapidly spread and the people admired his courage. Tojo did not compel Laurel, but the Japanese never gave up on the idea. Every time there was a propitious occasion, the Commander-in-Chief and other generals spoke to the President about the declaration of war.

But the most serious request was when U.S. air attacks on Davao began. It should be remembered that there was a Pact of Alliance between the Philippines and Japan. The Japanese invoked the provisions of the Treaty.

A word about this treaty must be said. It was a treaty of Amity and Alliance. It was given wide publicity by the Japanese; they presented it as an outright alliance. The full document was never published. It was really a unilateral agreement. Whereas Japan had to fight for us, we were not under any obligation to help or fight with them. But of course, lest our true colors be discovered, we accepted that if the Philippines were attacked, we would defend our territory. In the case of Davao, Laurel did not consider it a threat to our territorial integrity, so he did not declare war. He promulgated, however, a proclamation declaring martial law. He thought this would satisfy the Japanese, but it did not — they kept requesting that formal declaration of war be made. American air bombardment of Manila took place on the 21st of September 1944. The Commanding General and the Ambassador saw the President and insisted on a declaration of war. We had special meetings of the Cabinet and secretly we planned what to do. It was evident that the members of the Cabinet were against it, and almost all the assemblymen. So were the members of the Council of State composed of Chief Justice Avanceña as Chairman, and Messrs. Miguel Unson, Pedro Aunario, Ramon Fernandez and Jose Paez. Even the President himself was not in favor. But above all, the people were decidedly against it.

But Roxas had a vision. He could see what could happen if something was not done. So he advised the President to issue some kind of a proclamation about the war. The Constitution provides that war can only be declared by the President with the concurrence of the National Assembly. The Japanese offered to facilitate plans to bring the assemblymen to Manila. But we made every effort to prevent a quorum in the Assembly. It was unanimously approved that no declaration of war be made; that a mere state of war be declared. There is of course a big difference between the two. The declaration of a state of war merely recognizes the state then existing which was the armed conflict prevailing in the Philippines. Every effort was made to eliminate as much as possible statements concerning America without the Japanese noticing it. As part of the plan, the President, a day or two before the declaration was issued, stated that there would be no conscription of the Filipino youth. Pres. Laurel somehow learned that the Japanese would order the conscription of the Filipino youth. The young people would be trained to fight Filipino and American forces. The proclamation contained no provision for conscription. In making the assurance, his intention was to be able to answer the Japanese in case they asked for such conscription, that his prestige would be adversely affected if he did not stand by his word. What good is a declaration of war without conscription? These are the facts. But of course the Japanese announced to the world that it was an outright declaration of war.

Colonel Gilfilan also asked about the labor conscription. It was also explained that this is one of those things that just could not be avoided. But let us examine the wording of the proclamation. It will be seen that it is a useless proclamation. It provides that labor conscription may be ordered by the Military Governor when deemed necessary.

The Colonel expressed surprise, “Did Laurel do all that?” He made Paredes to understand that he did not consider us guilty of any punishable act. He stated, though it is not known whether it was said jokingly, that a jury better be created and he be made a member of it.

He is confident that we will be detained only during the duration of the war. He said that his tour of duty is already over but he decided to stay until we were released. This is interpreted by us to mean that the war may end soon. As the Colonel started to leave, he stated that he would help us.

There is a lot of speculation as to why he came. Some believe that he knows something more definite about our early release, and so he wanted to have closer relations with us. Others say that he is authorized to investigate our case and was investigating our case. The rest believe that something involving us is going on in Manila and that the Colonel had been called for a conference. He is preparing himself.

Needless to say, our hopes are again quite high.