The Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT) was a large guerrilla organization that operated in Luzon during the Japanese occupation during World War II up to the liberation of the Philippines. The organization was founded by the retired American Army officer Hugh Straughn and had units in many localities in Luzon, including Batangas. The GHQ Batangas Force, purportedly founded by one Jorge Espina, who was subsequently killed by the Japanese, was one of the units who sought recognition as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the United States Armed Forces. In this document1
, one R. L. Perez of the Constulary wrote to Espina about the death of one Clemino.
Sept. 7, 1943
My dear Mr. Espina:
In reply to your letter of the 24th minst. [sic] let me tell you the following story surrounding the death of E. Clemino which took place last week. It was one morning at about 9:30 A.M. when Clemino with his father in law and brother in law, respectively, came into my office. Clemino himself told me that he has been wanted by the local garrison, and that his father and brother in law were imprisoned, and to be imprisoned till he surrendered. Then, of course, I advised him in a very brotherly way that inasmuch as he was already here in my office, I could accompany him to the garrison and I even promised him that I would assume all the responsibilities of his lateness and that no penalty whatsoever would be met by him providing he agreed with my reasoning. At this instance, he asked me to think it over, to which I agreed and he left with his father and brother in law. After an interval of about half an hour later, he returned together with his former companions, and asked me to let him sign his oath in my office. I told him that it could not be enough for it was always the garrison commander who executed the oath, and again I told him that he had nothing to fear whatsoever; I would tell the commander that he just arrived last night, and upon learning from his home folks that he was wanted, he came to my office and surrendered voluntarily, and in such a case, I could guarantee his immunity from penalty as have been among many of our folks who surrendered and took oath a day ago only.
Much to my surprise, he turned to his father in law and told him harshly, “Bakit baga kayo natatakot mapriso, hindi pa kayo pinapatay ay iyak na kayo kaagad?” The father said, “Anak ko, kaya lamang ako nakalabas ay ipinañgako kong hanapin ka, kung hindi kita maiharap ay ang sabi’y kami ñg iyong bayaw ang kapalit, hindi ka baga naaawa sa amin?” With tears in his eyes, the father pleaded with him to come with us, and even told him, “Ano pa ang iibigin mo, ang ating Mayor ay handang magsabi ñg lahat na ikaluluag mo hanggang sa ipinañgañgako ñg Mayor na walang parusa ka na matatamo?” On all these pleadings of his father and my constant encouragement to him, he immediately stood up and told his father in front of me, “I will not and cannot surrender in any way.” When the father noticed him standing, the father attempted to stop him, but he ran away which caused a horrible commotion in the municipal hall. It so happened that there were some policemen in the hall and, upon noticing that Clemino was being pursued by his father and brother, and as the people were also terrified of the movement, the said policemen ran also after him and calling him to stop, but Clemino instead upon reaching the front of Col. Caedo’s house, turned to the police and fired two shots at the police.
Coincidentally, there were Japanese soldiers who were drilling in the Batangas Public Plaza at the time, and upon noticing the firing, some of these Japanese soldiers joined the pursuit, and fired at Clemino. When the running afray was noticed by the constabulary soldiers who were then stationed at the old Canent’s house, some constabulary men also came up with their guns and shot, until Clemino himself was cornered in a house backyard near to our old chum Ramon Abaya. He was just noticed to fall, and the Japanese soldiers ordered both the police and constabulary men to take the body and revolver to the garrison. The policemen put him on a carromata and reported the fatal incident to the garrison, and it was but natural that his 45 revolver was taken by them. Aside from this gun, nothing was taken from his body but his cap, jacket, which was taken by his brothers in law. As to who exactly killed Clemino, I cannot be positive, as all the forces who joined the melee all fired at him.
Such is the surrounding story of the death of Clemino, who would have been saved had he only agreed with my advice and believed my sincerity as a friend.
Thanking you for your letter, and wishing you safety all days and nights; also best regards to you and your new partner.
[Sgd.] R.L. Perez
Mr. George B. Espina
Notes and references:
“GHQ, Batangas Force, FAIT,” File No. 110-3, downloaded from PVAO.