1st Letter Asking for Reconsideration of the Major Phillips Unit, September 1946 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore 1st Letter Asking for Reconsideration of the Major Phillips Unit, September 1946 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

1st Letter Asking for Reconsideration of the Major Phillips Unit, September 1946

The Major Phillips Unit was a guerrilla unit that was founded and operated in or around western Batangas town of Calatagan. It was commanded by one Emilio Macabuag and took its name from a United States Army intelligence officer from whom the guerrilla outfit took directions until the latter was caught and killed by the Japanese. In this document1 Macabuag wrote to the US Army asking for reconsideration, expressing his and his men’s shock at not having been recognized and providing a very comprehensive essay on the reasons why the unit should be reconsidered.

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Guerrilla Files

Calatagan, Batangas

30 September 1946

APO 707

S i r :

I have the honor to request for reconsideration of the decision of your office in rejecting the request for recognition of [the] “MAJOR PHILLIPS UNIT.” My men and I were shocked by the decision because there was not a single man in our unit who had not actually rendered service as a guerrilla in numerous operations against the enemy.

[The] “MAJOR PHILLIPS UNIT” is in fact and truth a genuine guerrilla organization and not a fake unit that exists in name only as alleged in the letter dated 18 August 1946. The unit is independent of any large guerrilla organization that claims existence in this province. The insinuation of being a fake guerrilla [organization] is very revolting to our feeling[s] and conscience after all the years of hardships, sufferings and miseries during the Japanese occupation while we actually worked and sacrificed for America with an unfailing faith. We had faced dangers, sufferings and death. We had tasted the beastly and inhuman tortures the Japanese could devise, leaving on some of our men scars and marks that can never be effaced. Some met heroic deaths at the hands of the enemies but we were never daunted. Of course, we cannot help feel resentful when branded as fake after all that we had done. Somehow, there was a misrepresentation resulting [to] and injustice to our cause. I am, therefore, appealing to your sense of justice and fairness.

When our company was named “MAJOR PHILLIPS UNIT,” it was in honor of the brave and intrepid American who came to the Philippines at the time when our country was overrun by the Japanese. He formally attached this unit to his party after submitting to him the roster on 8 December 1943. He assigned us various intelligence missions both military and naval which we had accomplished faithfully. He sent to our unit a radio transmitter and receiver operated by two members of his party from GHQ, SWPA and a secret radio station was established at Cape Santiago, Calatagan, Batangas. After his death, I reported to his successor, Lt. Commander George F. Rowe (known at that time as Commander Nicholson) at his base in Mindoro and our unit continued operations. Another radio station was maintained at Mt. Luya near the town of Balayan and our men actively participated in its successful operation. When the Americans finally landed at Nasugbu, Batangas on 31 January 1945,

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my men had already destroyed the telephone lines in the region comprising Balayan, Tuy, Nasugbu, Lian and Calatagan. Our various detachments joined in the fight with the different combat units nearest to them. Thus, men at Balayan joined Col. Mariano H. Cabarrubia’s famed combat battalion that liberated Tuy and Balayan and liquidated the Japs at Balayan, Tuy, Lian and Calatagan. In Calatagan, I led my men in mopping up operations against the Japs when the town was liberated by the ROTC Hunters. When the different combat units were ordered to Camp Murphy, our men detached themselves and returned to HQ. Although our assignment was intelligence, we never hesitated to fight the Japanese whenever we had the opportunity to do so. Some members of the Major Phillips party from Australia like Major Ricardo C. Galang and M/Sgt Benjamin Harder are still alive. Commander Rowe and his able assistant, Sgt. Berg, are in Manila. Col. Mariano H. Cabarrubia is staying in Nasugbu. They are all responsible men who know of our activities. They are competent witnesses of our activities.

When we were operating a radio station in Cape Santiago, Calatagan, Batangas, it was maintained by our unit and its security was our primary concern. No other unit was apprised of the existence of this station and no person except those definitely assigned to the station was allowed to stay there. Yet after the liberation, I was surprised to know that many units are claiming to have operated the station or had participated in its operation. There is even a unit whose existence I came to know only during the liberation that had the temerity to claim my unit to be only a part of the same. I had never paid any attention to the claims of the other units because as an intelligence operative, I know about every unit that tries to claim recognition within the sector assigned to me by the late Major Phillips. I was even believing that our unit is known by GHQ because we had been attached to a party that represented it in the Philippines and I had even submitted my roster long before other units were born.

When I received the letter of rejection and the five conditions or shortcomings of my unit leading to disapproval, I was stunned because I know that I had fulfilled almost all the requirements and I was wondering why there were other units who were recognized and given liberation pay when I know absolutely that with the possible exception of condition letter “c,” no other unit had lived up to the requirements except the combat battalion of Col. Cabarrubia and the ROTC at Cutad. Although my unit is an intelligence company, I can say with pride that my unit had the distinction of having engaged the Japanese in combat before the Americans landed here. I am also aware that while my men continued operations against the enemy, the big units that purport to be combat forces were never seen by us in the field for they exist in roster only and lived in the towns.

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There were not enough arms to be used and even when the Americans landed, few arms were issued, not even enough to arm all the squad leaders only of recognized units. I am not discrediting other guerrillas but I am only setting a comparison and, in the light of the situation, it is not wonderful that we feel something is amiss and that our case merits a re-investigation. I also want to apprise you, sir, that I am telling you the truth in the best possible expressions I can command for unlike others, I am admitting that I am no expert of the English language.

My appeal for reconsideration is made on the following bases:

(a) That the unit was maintained in the most satisfactory manner possible in the field against the enemy. The allegation to the contrary is unfair. My men were deployed in strategic positions and were always on hand at their respective fields of operation. Whenever possible, enemy installations and communications were destroyed. In some cases, actual armed contacts with the enemy were made. One such encounter took place at Mananao, Paluan, Mindoro when the Japs raided the OP of Major Phillips HQ, resulting in the deaths of seventeen Japs, and another at Talibayog, Baha, Calatagan when a Jap patrol engaged my detachment, resulting in the death of my detachment officer. We maintained under our unit a secret transportation system engaged in transporting both American and Filipino operatives from Mindoro to Luzon or vice-versa, or supplies, arms and men while we took care of them either at HQ in Calatagan or at the Balayan Detachment HQ under my Ex O. Throughout the years 1943 to January 1945, we maintained this system besides various intelligence operations, operations of radio stations and sabotaging of Jap installations. After January 1945, my men were in actual fighting against the Japs until after the mopping up operations were completed. When the Americans landed by PT Boat at Cape San Pedrino in Balayan Bay, it was my detachment that was at hand to receive them. I personally submitted to Sgt. Donald Ash a detailed map of the sector comprising from Nasugbu to Lemery containing the exact locations of all Jap fortifications, installations, headquarters and supplies including the number of arms and boxes of ammunition and also the number of Japanese soldiers. When the Americans asked for aid from guerrillas to guard the exit of the Japanese marines from the base at San Piro at the southern and western end of Balayan Bay because there was a plan to attack San Piro by PT Boats, no units could furnish the men except Col. Cabarrubia who was far up north. However, I furnished a small detail but this was intercepted by a Jap patrol and, in the encounter, I lost a man. Thus, the attack did not materialize. Why other units that were supposed to maintain big combat forces were not able to furnish men was obvious because they had no arms. This proved that my men were always in the field. When the Americans landed, my men did not remain idle but immediately joined in fighting the enemies.

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(b) The activities of the unit must have contributed to the eventual defeat of the enemy. Of course, it will be hard to measure exactly the effects of our activities for we were only a very small part of the huge American force that finally defeated the enemy. However, we had done our best efforts and had consistently rendered services not only during the liberation when victory was a sure thing but also during the dark days of the occupation when people were afraid to join the resistance and the coming of the Americans was yet remote. When the liberation came, we did not hesitate but at once joined actively in the fighting. If our activities did not contribute to the eventual defeat of the enemy as alleged in your letter, then which guerrillas’ activities in this region did, then, since most units showed their existence and activities only after the American landing when the enemies were already defeated. I am setting here an outline of our activities and I would like it compared with the activities of other units that existed in our region. These activities were honestly done and not alleged activities only.

(a) From 13 June 1943 to 7 December 1943
1. Organization of the unit with members from Calatagan and Balayan. This unit consisted a battalion.
2. Campaigning for resistance against the Japs and counteracting heavy Japanese propaganda.
3. Intelligence work about the Japs’ movements, installations and arms.
4. Contact with operatives of General Peralta’s Panay guerrillas at Mindoro under Lt. Col. Hurado.
5. Contact with Major L. H. Phillips and his party who landed by submarine from GHQ, SWPA on 13 November 1943.
6. Instruction from Major Phillips and assignment given and a request for only a company to be attached to him.
(b) From 8 December 1943 to July 1944
1. Formal attachment of the reception intelligence company to Major L. H. Phillips on 8 December 1943, this company named as “Major Phillips Unit.”
2. Assignment of various intelligence missions to the unit which were immediately accomplished.
3. Establishment of a secret radio station at Cape Santiago operated by two operators from SWPA. This station was maintained by [the] Major Phillips Unit.
4. Rescue of four Americans from Batangas which were brought to Mindoro at HQ of Major Phillips.
5. Transporting to and from Mindoro of men, materials and equipment.

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6. Encounter with Japs at Mananao, Paluan, Mindoro resulting in the deaths of seventeen Japs.
7. Death of Major Phillips at Mindoro and raid on the station at Calatagan and the capture of the members of the detachments at Cape Santiago and Mt. Hukay.
8. Resumption of interrupted intelligence works.
(c) From August 1944 to February 1945.
1. Intelligence operations continued and gathering data about the Japs’ fortifications, installations and deployment.
2. Help in the maintenance of another secret radio station at Mt. Luya near Balayan.
3. Reported to Commander Rowe who succeeded Major L. H. Phillips with other members of Major Phillips’ party from Australia.
4. Contacting Americans who landed by PT Boat at Cape San Pedrino and gave the Americans all detailed information needed.
5. Encounter with Japs at Talibayog resulting in the death of the detachment officer.
6. Landing of the Americans at Nasugbu, Batangas and beginning the active actual combat with the Japs.
7. Made final report to Commander Rowe at Camp Nimitz, Mindoro, on February.
(d) From March 1945 to the present.
1. Engaged in mopping up operations against the enemies at Calatagan while the detachment at Balayan attached itself to Cabarrubia’s Combat Battalion.
2. Return of all men to HQ Calatagan, Batangas, waiting for call because we thought that we were not forgotten by SWPA’s party that made us work for them.
3. Submitted the roster to AFPAC and did not know it lacked so many items worthy of rejection until 12 August 1946.

This is the rough outline of our activities, activities that were true and actually rendered. In my estimation, they had materially contributed to the defeat of the enemy even to a very small extent.

(c) I am ready to admit the fact that no adequate records as enumerated in letter “c” of your letter of rejection were maintained but I can tell frankly that I did not know of these items until after I had received the letter. When I had submitted the roster on 5 October 1945, no other requirement was asked

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from me and I was just told to wait. When AFPAC was moved to Japan and AFWESPAC took over, I remained waiting until we were finally contacted. Even then, no mention was made about the data missing from my roster. I became [aware] of our shortcomings only when I read the letter dated 12 August 1946 that it was one of the reasons for disapproving the unit.

(d) The allegation that the members of the unit did not devote their entire effort to military activities to the exclusion of normal civilian occupation and family obligation is only partially true. However, those members who engaged in civilian occupation were really rendering dangerous and delicate services because they were especially assigned operatives on definite objectives. These people were, in most cases, supported by the HQ. They had to follow normal civilian living routines in order to accomplish their missions.

In many cases, the situation demanded that guerrillas work for their living. It must be considered that [the] food situation during the Japanese time was acute and the Japanese were always after the food of the impoverished civilians. Most guerrillas came from the ranks of the poor and middle class and rich people who were guerrillas were very rare. Besides, we were guerrillas and our food supply was always uncertain. Thus, we devised a way of raising our own food instead of taxing the people who were already poor and lost their sympathy. In our region, there was no unit that devoted their entire period in guerrilla works unless they were telling lies. We worked as intelligence operatives on intelligence missions and we ought to know these things or we were not worth our salt. I still believe that what we had done was the best during the situation and did not in any way hamper or prejudice our guerrilla activities.

(e) The last consideration that many members lived at home supporting their families by means of farming and other civilian pursuits and assisted the guerrilla units on a part time basis only is again only partially true. In our case, all the members worked for the unit on a full time basis and those who engaged in work to secure food and supplies did so under my instruction for the good of the unit and to further maintain the guerrilla activities we were engaged in. Those members cannot be charged of not working for the unit because they really were always in the job of guerrilla activities.

In our region, the situation and condition were such that it was practically impossible for guerrillas not to work or partly stay at home to earn their living. No unit was so established to be able to even support its members and practically no unit ever maintained a CP or hideout in the mountains. Practically all stayed in the towns with the exception of those who were engaged in intelligence work and those members of combat forces. The Japanese were so well deployed in our region that there was practically a garrison in every municipality or Japanese agents. If they discovered the absence of many males, they

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usually punished the inhabitants and forced them to tell of their whereabouts. Since the guerrillas were not in a position to oppose the Japanese, they were forced to stay in town and they waited for the opportunity when they would be armed. The opportunity never came, because when the Americans landed in Batangas, they did not have enough arms to supply the guerrillas and just a few were given to the combat forces that fought the Japanese and drove them away. In comparison with big units who maintained a large number of men in their rosters and apparently had done nothing due to lack of arms, our unit stands out as the one that had been constantly working througout.

I am pleading for the reconsideration of my case, the case of the poor and forgotten men. Although my members came from the rank and file of the poor and middle class, they were the ones who utterly disregarded their own welfare and without hesitation engaged in the perilous underground work against the enemy. While others looked with doubt and fear during the dark hours of the occupation, we were bold enough to organize and work and blazed the way. Now, we were stampeded by the big units who finally woke up to the realization that they were guerrillas after the surrender of Japan and should be recognized and paid for their efforts during the occupation. But I have a sublime faith in American justice. I know that truth and fact will finally triumph. With these in mind, I am asking for a reconsideration, a thorough reinvestigation of my case so that its real merit could be brought to light.

Very respectfully,

Captain, CO Major Phillips Unit
Notes and references:
1 “MAJOR PHILLIPPS UNIT,” File No. 83, downloaded from PVAO.
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