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December 30, 2017

Lt. Wilcox's Statement on Alleged Bribery by Guerrilla Units under Investigation

The Laurel Regiment, 45th Division, I Corps of the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG), started as an independently organized unit in Talisay, Alitagtag and Taal under the command of one Amando Laurel of the Municipality of Talisay. Later in the war, this guerrilla unit would become affiliated with the PQOG, a large guerrilla organization that operated in Luzon during the Japanese occupation up to the liberation of Batangas. In this document1, one Lt. Grant Wilcox, a US Army officer investigating the Laurel Regiment for possible recognition, filed a report on an attempt by members of the unit to offer him gifts or “bribes.”

[p. 1]

Statement by Lt. Wilcox, Pertaining to the Offering of
Bribes or Gifts by Guerrilla Units under Investigation.

The incident mentioned occurred following the contact of the 46th Inf Regt, 45th Div, PQOG (President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas). This unit is usually known as Laurel’s Regt.

On the morning of 8 August 1946, M/Sgt Sebastian G. Songsong, PA, and I departed from Manila by jeep for Talisay, Batangas. We were accompanied by the executive officer of Laurel’s Regt, Maj. (Grla rank) Pedro E. Gahol. Upon our arrival in Talisay, we contacted the 2d Talisay Bn, PQOG, which is affiliated with Laurel’s Regt. M/Sgt Songsong and I spent the afternoon interviewing members of the 2d Talisay Bn. We stayed overnight in Talisay, sleeping in the Catholic convent. The next morning, 9 August 1946, we departed from Talisay by motor launch for Volcano Island to contact Laurel’s Regt.

Laurel’s Regt has had one company recognized, and the unit’s roster was screened down to a Bn. of 865 members in the request for recognition, submitted to Guerrilla Affairs Branch, Hqs AFWESPAC. The commanding officer is Lt. Col. (Grla rank) Amando Laurel, owner of about half of Volcano Island (9 Sq. Mi.) where he has a large herd of cattle and several horses. He also collects a share from the nightly fishing take of Lake Taal. Lt. Col. Laurel is a distant cousin of puppet president Jose P. Laurel, Sr. The members of Laurel’s Regt. are from the three towns of Talisay, Alitagtag and Taal, all in Batangas province and on or near the shore of Lake Taal. Somewhat over 200 members of the unit were present for the interview when we arrived at the island. Upon completion of the interview, M/Sgt and I stayed overnight on Volcano Island.

On the morning of 10 August 1946, M/Sgt Songsong and I returned to Talisay accompanied by Lt Col Laurel, Maj Gaholand Maj (Grla rank) Emerenciano Biscocho. On the way up to the Catholic convent from the beach, Maj Gahol stopped at a food store and inquired if they had a place where we could speak in privacy. On the way around the building, M/Sgt Songsong, upon being told that Lt Col Laurel, Maj Gahol and Maj Biscocho wished to speak to me in private, left us. In the back of the building was a crude sort of beer garden. Upon sitting down, Maj Gahol or Maj Biscocho (I don’t recall which) drew out a roll of bills and said something about — that it wasn’t much, but they wanted to give me a small gift. I refused with a great quantity of excuses and apologies, trying not to disturb their feelings. It developed upon questioning that the money had been collected from the members of the unit. The money in question was a fair size of roll of Philippine currency which Maj Gahol and Maj Biscocho held in their fists. The outside bill was a ten peso note. It would be difficult to make anything close to an accurate guess as to the total valueof the roll of currency.

[p. 2]

Lt Col Laurel made no further persuasion upon my refusal other than to say that I should take the money. However, Gahol, and especially Biscocho, furthered their persuasion. Gahol stated: “You must take it because we can’t give it back to the men.” I offered the alternative of throwing a party for the men with the money, and I further stated that I definitely refused to accept the gift. I broke this part of the incident up by standing and again definitely refusing, but shaking their hands and thankin them for their good intentions.

Following this, we rejoined M/Sgt Songsong and walked on to the Catholic convent, where we had left our jeep and other effects which were not necessary on our trip over to Volcano Island. While I was packing my field bag in the bedroom, I noticed Maj Biscocho in the living room approach M/Sgt Songsong and attempt to hand him the roll of currency. M/Sgt. Songsong, politely and definitely, refused. Upon my abrupt entrance into the room, Maj Biscocho put the roll of currency into his pocket and moved down the stairway. I followed him down and upbraided him for trying to pass the money to M/Sgt Songsong. I further warned him that nastier action would be necessary on my part if I should later discover the money in the jeep’s glove compartment or slipped in among my personal effects. I informed Maj Gahol about Maj Biscocho’s attempt to pass the money to M/Sgt Songsong and informed him also that I did not want to discover the money later among my personal effects where they might hide it.

Lt Col Laurel, Maj Gahol and Maj Biscocho accompanied M/Sgt Songsong and myself to Bo. Ambulong where we contacted the Ambulong Unit, PQOG. After the completion of the interview with the Ambulong Unit, Lt Col Laurel returned to Talisay. Maj Gahol and Maj Biscocho accompanied M/Sgt Songsong and myself to Tanauan where they caught a bus to Taal, Batangas, their hometown. No further attempt was made to anyone to give the money to M/Sgt Songsong or myself, nor did the gift of money appear later in either of our personal effects where it might have been hidden.

Col Vicente S. Umali, overall commander of the PQOG, was informed of the above incident. He expressed surprise and stated that he did not believe Laurel had much to do with the idea or with the collecting of the money from the unit members. Col Umali further stated that, in his belief, Maj Biscocho was the type of person to get such ideas.

The investigation of Laurel’s Regt. (46th Inf. Regt, 45th Div.), PQOG, is not complete as of this date.

M/Sgt Songsong and I are assigned to investigation of all the units in the PQOG organization. This is the only incident of this nature that has occurred during our investigation of PQOG units.

[Sgd.] GRANT S. WILCOX
O-1339330
2d Lt, Infantry

[p. 3]

I was with Lt Wilcox in Talisay, Batangas, on the date of 10 August 1946, when the above-mentioned incident occurred. I can bear witness as to the accuracy of the above statement of Lt Wilcox.

[Sgd.] SEBASTIAN G. SONGSONG
123464
M/Sgt PA


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Notes and references:

1 “Laurel’s Regiment, 45th Division, I Corps, PQOG,” File No. 271-19, online at the United States National Archives.


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