We have just received the Free Philippines of August 23. It is reported therein that the Chinese troops will occupy various areas, among which is Hongkong. In the same paper there is an item to the effect that Premier Attlee of Great Britain stated before the House of Commons that plans for reestablishment of British Administration in Hongkong “are fully prepared”. Do the British mean to return Hongkong to the Chinese or not? Apparently, there is no such intention. Japan is being ordered to return all the lands she had acquired by force. Hongkong was occupied by the British against the will of the Chinese. Why should not it be restored to the Chinese? Such inconsistency has absolutely no justification.
Domei reports by radio the following statement by Laurel:
“In view of the reoccupation of the Philippine Islands by the United States and the reestablishment therein of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the acceptance by Japan of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945 and the consequent termination of the Greater East Asia War, the Republic of the Philippines has ceased to exist.”
Gen. MacArthur on August 24, 1945 issued the following statement:
“On the 29th of December 1944, when I ordered the interment by the Army of the United States of citizens of the Philippines who voluntarily gave aid, comfort and sustenance to the enemy, I stated that the military would relinquish control of such persons to civil authorities at the conclusion of hostilities. On V. J. Day, or shortly thereafter, in keeping with that statement I have directed this transfer of jurisdiction from military to civil authority.”
“This step is taken in the firm conviction that the Philippine Commonwealth Government is prepared to deal justly with those persons accused of collaboration, the crime of treason. I am sure that the democratic principles of which the Philippine Commonwealth Government is based will guarantee swift punishment for the guilty and equally swift exoneration for the innocent.”
General MacArthur also pointed out that the Army’s prompt relinquishment of jurisdiction over persons accused of collaboration is “in conformity with my previously expressed view that civil authority should be completely restored as quickly as practicable after the cessation of hostilities.”
Acting on Gen. MacArthur’s announcement, Pres. Osmeña, in a special message to Philippine Congress on August 24, 1945, recommended the creation of a Special Collegiate Court to try all collaborators.
The President stressed that the Court should be composed of judges of First Instance “who did not work under the Japanese or engage, directly or indirectly, in the buy-and-sell business with the enemy.”
Osmeña also proposed the appointment of a staff of special prosecutors, headed by the Solicitor General.
Decisions of the Special Collegiate Court would be appealable to the Supreme Court. He added:
“In view of the fact that some members of the high tribunal may be disqualified under the requirements specified, the President recommends that judges of the Court of First Instance be authorized to sit in the tribunal in lieu of the justices who may be disqualified.”
The above news came like a bombshell in this prison. Everybody was dumbfounded. Everybody was disappointed. Everyone of us of course would prefer to be accused and duly tried so that when our vindication comes, it will be accompanied by a formal declaration of our innocence. But in view of the special circumstances, we thought that another course would be taken. As America won the war with hardly any loss of time, we thought that America would be more magnanimous and just forget everything. Also, all the Filipinos seem to wish unity and we thought they would want to finish at once the collaboration issue as this is dividing our people. But it seems that Osmeña wishes to go ahead with our cases. We welcome such a decision and we will fight to the last ditch. Our faith in him is waivering and I am afraid that we will not be able to be with him. What a difference in attitude between Osmeña and General Tito of Yugoslavia and General de Gaulle of France.
What could be his motive? Some believe that he is ill-advised by those who hate the “collaborationists”. Some think that he feels that we will prejudice his candidacy as he assumes that the great majority of the “collaborationists” would be against him. Others are of the opinion that there is imposition on the part of the Americans in which case we will have to conclude that he is a weakling. Few others assert that Osmeña’s mind is already far from what it used to be and his judgment is not as accurate as it used to be. For my part, I am willing to give him the benefit of a doubt by preferring to believe that it is his duty to push our cases to the end after passing through certain proceedings.
So there is no amnesty.
Why did he have to recommend to Congress the creation of a Special Collegiate Court? Has he no confidence in the regular courts? Why did he have to provide that judges who served during the Japanese regime cannot sit in this Court? If he has no confidence in their impartiality and honesty, why did he reappoint them? This requirement leads us to think that he is interested in our conviction and he does not want to take any chances by allowing men who served in the former regime to take part in the proceedings. At any rate, his plan would delay our cases. I am sure that such a bill cannot immediately be approved in Congress, or may be disapproved. What happens then?
From the beginning, I feared that we might become victims of politics. This is the reason why I had been saying that we would not be released until after the elections of November. Now it may be the plan to hold us until after the elections to eliminate us from the elections.
We demand that we be given an immediate trial and that in the meanwhile we be allowed to be out on bail so that we can prepare our defense. Now we see the necessity of getting together, of organizing our own party so as to protect ourselves and fight those who caused us this martyrdom.
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Autograph hunting continues. People asking for our autographs are not only our companions, but many ladies in this community whom we had not met. It shows their sympathy towards us.
I cannot keep track of all of them. I shall only copy one or two.
To Miss Pino: “Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, I have heard so much about you that I feel as if I had known you for a long time. We are here bereft of the warmth of the hearts of our families, relatives and friends. If our suffering had not been as intense as it could have been, it is because we found persons whose kindness and sympathy toward us make us forget our pains and worries. To you more than anybody else we owe this consolation.”
In the afternoons, we are allowed to play games at the plaza or Colony Square. There is a school along the way and we usually stop to look at the girls and the teachers. Evidently, they know who we are. Whenever the opportunity arises, we engage them in lively and friendly conversation. I recall a Miss Pino, a very pretty girl. She sent us many gifts.
Col. Torillo: “My greatest satisfaction during our forced stay in Iwahig is that it gave me the pleasure and opportunity of knowing persons who can be a credit to any country. Among them is you, Col. Torillo, whom I have learned to like and to admire. The work assigned to you here is a most difficult and delicate one. You certainly acquitted yourself admirably.”