Hope for our release is just like a stock market; it goes up and down. One day everybody appears happy; the next day, disappointment and deep sorrow reign. Today we are all in high spirits for a reason which I shall now explain.
The urgent need for a separate toilet for the officer class has been felt for some time. Plans were drafted by Engineers Paez and Bayan. Construction was commenced a few days ago under the direction of the two engineers and the supervision of Don Teofilo Sison. This morning, while Mr. Bayan was on his job, the Colonel-Superintendent came although it is not inspection day. This Superintendent, unlike his predecessor, comes quite frequently. Engineer Bayan since his arrival had been having trouble with his teeth. He had consulted Army dentists who believed that all his remaining teeth should be pulled out and a complete set of false teeth be made. Evidently, the Colonel was told about it and he probably remembered it. The Colonel urged Mr. Bayan to have his teeth work done. Mr. Bayan answered that he would prefer to have it done in Manila as it would be very inconvenient for him. He explained that if all his teeth were pulled out, he would need a special diet. In Manila, in his own home, his family could prepare his special food. The Colonel answered that such special food could not be provided by them, but he would make arrangements whereby he would be served before everybody else. Engineer Bayan made the following remarks evidently in order to reinforce his refusal to have his dental work done here: “I expect to be released soon”. Mr. Bayan was probably not aware that he released a trial-balloon to find out something about our possible release. The Colonel spontaneously stated: “The probability is 90% that you will be released without trouble as the government is very interested in you. That is the way I look at it.” Adding, “So you are going to wait.” “Yes”, answered Mr. Bayan.
Those who heard this exchange lost no time communicating to others the good tydings. Senator Sebastian ran inside our barracks to tell us the conversation he heard. Naturally, we all became very anxious and listened very attentively to the narration of the Senator. Not contented with secondhand news, Mr. Bayan was shoved into the midst of the happy crowd and made to repeat the conversation. He was cautioned to use the exact words of the Colonel. Mr. Bayan was very accommodating. He kept repeating the conversation every time a new listener came around, notwithstanding his difficulty in talking on account of the condition of his teeth.
There was general rejoicing in the quarters of the officer class. The rejoicing soon spread to the quarters of the enlisted class. The whole morning the conversation was the topic of vivid comments. There were different versions as to the application of the ninety per cent. Senator Sebastian who heard the conversation gave his version as follows: “Ninety per cent will be released.” Recto concurred with this version, adding that the ten per cent referred to Mr. Bayan who will have to remain so that work on his teeth could be finished. The new version did not in any way dampen the enthusiasm as everybody expects not to be included in the ten per cent. The enthusiasm was such that the “bread and water” ration given us at the mess was devoured in no time. In his bewilderment, Mr. Bayan approached the ration table more than once. Don Quintin Paredes became a disciple of Dr. Samari, predicting that comments will continue for two days.
The expression “without trouble” has been interpreted by some to mean that there will not be any formal inquiry. Others believe that he meant that our cases are meritorious ones.
No news referring to us has provoked as much enthusiasm as this one. It is pointed out that the Colonel is in a position to know and he must have based his statements on some tangible facts. He could not have referred to the interest of the government unless he knows it positively.
God bless the Colonel. He certainly has revived our fading hope.
Sensational news are reported in the newspapers we have just received.
The first is to the effect that Representative Emilio de la Paz of Rizal, who was defeated by Representative Jose Zulueta of Iloilo for the Speakership, hurled charges that his defeat meant that there were still vestiges of Japanese influence in Congress. When informed that the Committee on Internal Affairs of the House of Representatives would require him to substantiate his charges, he stated that he is prepared to prove them. Many interpret the act of de la Paz as one of spite because of his defeat. I am willing, however, to grant him the benefit of a doubt. I credit him with sincerity and courage to denounce what he thinks is an evil or inconsistency in the acts of our public officials. As a matter of fact, if the acts attributed to many of us in this prison constitute collaboration, there are many members of Congress who are collaborators. I think I have already named somewhere in these writings some Senators guilty of the same acts for which we have been detained. In the House there are many who took active part in the pacification campaign. Some of them have amassed fortunes for activities during the Japanese regime. One was connected with a business providing lumber to the Japanese. A probe will perhaps disclose facts which may be the basis for the charges of Representative de la Paz.
The second news is to the effect that Cabili had accused President Roxas of the Senate of having sent him a form letter urging him to surrender to the Japanese. On the surface, the charge seems to be serious, if true. I do not know the facts, but there may be a satisfactory explanation for this. The date when the letter was written is very pertinent. Roxas after his appointment as Brigidier General, was placed in charge of the military operations in Mindanao. He was the head in that Island. When Corregidor was occupied by the Japanese, Gen. Homma declined to accept the surrender of Wainright and his men unless Wainright surrendered the rest of the USAFFE in the Philippines, being the Commanding General with jurisdiction over the whole Philippines after the departure of Gen. MacArthur. By radio and letters, Wainright communicated this condition for surrender set by Gen. Homma to all the District Commanders in the Philippines ordering them to surrender. Brigadier General Roxas probably only transmitted the order of Gen. Wainright. Roxas will undoubtedly clear up the situation.
Col. Peralta, the patriot and guerrilla hero of Panay, whose exploits won for him one of the highest decorations given to military men, wrote a letter to Pres. Osmeña, urging the latter to follow a moderate policy on the collaborationist problem for the sake of unity. I already had a high opinion of Col. Peralta. With his letter, my admiration for him has heightened even more. His motive for recommending such a policy is sublime and highly patriotic. It shows his intense love for his country. In war time, he had risked his life so that the liberty for which our forefathers had shed their precious blood, could be attained and preserved. Now in peace time, he urges unity as disunion at this crucial period in our history may cause us to lose whatever liberties we may have already won and even endanger the independence of our country which is already assured. I think much more will be heard of Col. Peralta. He will some day be in a position of great responsibility in our country. I have never seen him. It shall be a pleasure and an honor to meet him.
Dr. Moncado brought news substantially confirming the statement of the Colonel. I am still pessimistic.