The Gagalac Guerrilla Group was one of the groups operating in Batangas that was given official recognition by the United States Army after World War II. In this undated document1, the Judge Advocate Service of the Gagalac Guerrilla Unit makes an appeal on behalf of its personnel who had not been given due recognition, either by the Philippine or the United States government. The document is edited here in and there for grammar, spelling and punctuation.
AN APPEAL FOR RECOGNITION
(By: Unit’s JAS)
This is an appeal to your sense of justice and fair play – an attempt to translate in terms clear and unambiguous the incoherent and inarticulate sentiments of the vast multitude whose cause we have the honor to present. We only hope that we could do justice to their feelings; we respectfully pray that you will render justice to their appeal. This is no isolated case of a guerrilla unit unjustly denied recognition – our unit forms but a fraction of the thousands whose services to the ideals of liberty, democracy, and national honor deserve a well-merited recognition.
Patriotism is never evaluated or recompensed in terms of money. This truism, we are full aware of. But when the sovereign authority, in pursuance of a benevolent policy of endowing benefits to those who are deserving of its bounty, extended recognition to guerrillas who participated in the resistance movement against the enemy, it is only but fitting and proper that those who did participate in said movement and gave their full measure of devotion should, as a matter of right, be duly accorded recognition. We are fully confident that an investigation will justify our claim that the Gagalac Guerrilla Unit is one such unit worthy of recognition.
On the second day of June, 1942, a small group of intrepid citizens banded themselves together into an organization with the manifest purpose of carrying on the struggle against the Japanese invaders. Thus was created the Gagalac Guerrilla Unit. Those were the dark days of Bataan and Corregidor. When, under the guise of national salvation, the bankrupt leadership of professional politicians was dangerously committing itself toward treasonable collaboration with the enemy, when, dazed and bewildered, the middle class elements and the intelligentsia contentedly watched the life-and-death struggle as sedate fence-sitters, these otherwise uncomplaining and very much abused men of common clay – illiterates, mostly – carried on where the gallant stalwarts of Bataan and Corregidor had left. Rather than buy a coward’s peace, they preferred a life of unbearable hardships and continuous struggle. In their simple hearts, they knew that they had a duty to discharge, that there could be no working compromise between national decency and opportunistic collaboration – they, therefore, chose to follow the only road that led to liberty, democracy, and national honor.
From a small group of thirty-five, the Gagalac Guerrilla Unit gradually increased its membership to over a thousand men. With few exceptions, the recruits came mostly from the laboring class. And yet, surprisingly as it may seem, it is this group which can honestly and truthfully claim the distinction of being the first in Batangas province to actively resist the then-all powerful Imperial Japanese Army. And what is more, they went further than what duty required of them, gratuitously and at great personal risk performing police functions. Against the local puppets and Japanese understudies, they exerted pressure for them to amend the error of their ways. Japanese paid spies and agent provocateurs were, their guilt having been first fully established, ruthlessly liquidated. And when the Allied tide of fortune was at its lowest ebb, these guerrillas kept forever burning the flames of hope and eventual salvation in their hearts, steadfastly refusing to believe the propaganda that the Americans could not and would never come back.
The facts speak for themselves. These are not near assertions. We are confident that a fact-finding investigation will fully vindicate our stand. Indeed, we hope that such an investigation should be made. When other organizations and the same locality dedicated toward the realization of a common ideal but of lesser impressive history are fully recognized as a whole unit, we can perceive off no reason or appreciate any excuse why an organization so similarly dedicated should be denied recognition as a whole unit. Such is the sad case of the Gagalac Guerrilla Unit. Only one company out of a whole regiment has been processed. In principle, the Unit has been recognized; actually, only a partial application of the extended recognition was made.
We submit that short should not be the case. A mistake certainly was committed. As was explained in the letter of transmittal, the fault largely lies with the Executive Officer of the Unit. But as also explained therein, his mistake or omission is excusable. Another man similarly situated could not have done any better.
Sir: We ask for simple justice. I beg to repeat, these men are of common clay. Brutality and vandalism in an enemy, they could understand, partiality in treatment is something they will not comprehend. Withstood the terrors of Japanese brutality; we hope that day could tolerate with patience and equanimity the ineptitude of their own government who ought to give them their just due. Again, we repeat, we ask for simple justice.
Judge Advocate Service
(Gagalac Guerrilla Unit)
MAXIMINO C. MONTENEGRO
[Sgd.] MAXIMINO C. MONTENEGRO