A Brief History of the Manila Group of the Rillo-Neri Unit

The Rillo-Neri Unit was a guerrilla organization that was allegedly formed in the town of Balayan, and again allegedly by the authority coming from Col. Hugh Straughn, founder of the Fil-American Irregular Troops. It was supposed to have conducted intelligence work, kept peace and order and helped in the evacuation of the citizens of Balayan, Lemery and Tuy. Its combat team was also said to have participated in combat during the liberation of Batangas. While this guerrilla group failed to obtain full recognition from the United States Army, 130 of its members were recognized as a combat team and another 400 gained recognition with another guerrilla outfit, the Blue Eagle Brigade. In this document1, a short narrative on the Rillo-Neri’s Manila branch is provided to give the reader/researcher a better overall background on this organization.

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Guerrilla Files jpeg
RILLO-NERI UNIT
FIL-AMERICAN IRREGULAR TROOPS
UNDER COL. HUGH S. STRAUGHN

---------------

HISTORY OF THE MANILA GROUP OF THE UNIT

Besides the activities cited in paragraphs 10th and 11th of page 2 under “FOUNDERS,” in appreciation of the work of the ladies’ unit, should be added that in collaboration with the group headed by Miss Maria Martinez, said members raised funds, food supplies and medicine for the support of military prisoners confined in Muntinglupa from the year 1943 toward the middle of the year 1944. Members of the said unit also collected clothing besides money and supplies for the use of the military prisoners that escaped from Muntinglupa during their stay in the province of Cavite where they were sought after by the Japanese Military Police and the Philippine Constabulary. Mrs. Rillo plied between Cavite and Manila bringing messages with her and supplies for the escaped military prisoners in Cavite and she also made contact with the respective families of said prisoners who lived in Manila.

Mrs. Gertrudes B. de Luc, widow of an American, began her activities before the fall of Bataan. Her house became Camp No. 9 of Vinzon’s Guerrillas, where she took care of various American officers among whom were Lt. Shafer, Lt. Moore and Capt. Schelby, all presumably dead and Lt. Charles Silhavy, Liaison Officer of Gen. Wainright, who was among the war prisoners with the general. Mrs. De Luc, together with Capt. Eulogio C. Nadal, were arrested by the Japanese in Camarines, brought to Manila and imprisoned in Fort Santiago for almost two months. Upon their release on August 29, 1942, they contacted Mrs. Rillo and began their underground activities again. Mrs. De Luc spent more than ₱18,000.00 in supplies for maintaining the officers and soldiers quartered in her house.

Before the fall of Bataan, Colonel Rillo was able to contact some Americans in the house of Mr. Nazario located in one of the barrios of San Jose del Monte at the foot of Ipo Mountain. This group of Americans consisted mostly of civilian employees of the Finance Department of the Quartermaster, whom Col. Rillo met before the Japanese invasion in connection with his business with the United States Army. The group was headed by Hester, Lavaskay and Baruel who were being fed and cured for by the Nazarios, owners of the Manila Blue Printing. In his second visit to the Nazarios, he brought with him foodstuffs, matches, medicine and copies of newspapers published by the Japanese Army. In his attempt to make the third visit, Col. Rillo was arrested by soldiers of the Japanese Garrison at Balintawak. He was stripped of his clothes and tied to a post under the heat of the sun for 6 hours because the Japanese would not believe Col. Rillo’s explanation that he was going to see a friend at San Jose del Monte and give said friend the provisions and supplies that he was carrying then. The medical supplies, canned foods, bread, and fruits which Col. Rillo brought with him were worth ₱1,000.00 collected by the Manila Group of the Unit which appeared before the eyes of the Japanese soldiers at the Balintawak Garrison to be exceptionally excessive for a small Filipino family to receive. About $50.00 in American bills in different denominations and a cheque worth $1,000.00 given to him by Dion Castillo Iñigo were found in the possession of Col. Rillo which led the Japanese to suspect even more that Rillo was connected with the underground movement.

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From that time on, Col. Rillo without his knowledge, was being shadowed and spied at by the Japanese operative which led to his arrest on June 6, 1942. He was released on December 25, 1942, after having been subjected to merciless tortures during his confinement in the Meisic detention station where he was lodged by the Airport Studio Military Police. Iñigo was arrested by the Japanese in November 1944, and brought to Fort Santiago where he was executed before the liberation forces arrived in Manila.

As to the Medical Staff, Capt. Sancianco, M.D., treated free of charge over 300 members of the guerrillas and ex-soldiers and their families and provided medicine from his own drugstore gratis et amore to an amount not less than ₱20,000. Dr. Magbag, Assistant Chief Surgeon, entered the service of the Bureau of Health and solicited an assignment in Batangas in the malaria control campaign of the said bureau in order that he might be able to contact Col. Rillo’s men in Batangas. After his assignment in Batangas, he sought another assignment in Muntinglupa Prison Camp in order that he might be of assistance to the military prisoners. 1st Lt. Josefina L. Sancianco, medical student, assisted her father in the clinic while Capt. Perfecto C. Fernandez, pharmacist, provided an anti-malaria preparation known as “Quinosil.” Capt. Perfecto C. Fernandez had given away medicine value at more than ₱250,000.00, mostly anti-malaria preparation in ampules. Dr. Teodoro U. J. Herrera maintained a separate clinic for the treatment of ex-soldiers.

The Propaganda Staff headed by Capt. Adolfo G. de la Rosa had continuously been spreading propaganda or broadcasts from hidden radio sets and there was a time when they obtained a transmitter which they were able to use in communicating with Australia for a brief period of time. They did not use this transmitter for long because it was captured by the Japanese. Capt. Nicolas Estella (Estrella?) covered the enemies’ activities and activities of enemy spies in Parañaque. He had to raise funds and was offered by the well-known Fernandez brothers of Manila financial assistance for the activities of the unit, but it was not accepted by Col. Rillo because there was no need for it at the time.

In the Intelligence Operative Staff, under Maj. Macario V. Linsao (Reserve Officer, World War I), Capt. Federico de la Rosa, an architect, was in charge of charting military installations especially sectors of Manila mined by the enemy. He was killed by the Japanese in the southern part of Manila while performing his duty. 1st Lt. Alejandro Pastor was arrested and executed by the Japanese on February 15, 1944.

Some members of the Manila Roster of the unit were lucky enough to evade arrest. The following members, less lucky, had suffered imprisonment or were killed in the performance of their duties:

1. Major Nazario B. Rillo was imprisoned in Fort Santiago from August 5 to October 5, 1943.

2. Capt. Gertrudes B. de Luc was arrested in Camarines Sur, brought to Fort Santiago and released on August 29, 1942.

3. Maj. Alejandro Sancianco was arrested and executed about December 1944.

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4. CAPT. Adolfo de la Rosa was arrested and confined in Fort Santiago for 5 months.

5. Capt. Federico de la Rosa was executed in February 1945.

6. 1st Lt. Alejandro Pastor was arrested on February 15, 1944 and executed on October 20, 1944 in Fort Santiago.

7. Capt. Federico C. Fernandez was arrested and confined in Fort Santiago for a couple of months.

8. 1st Lt. Dion Castillo Iñigo was arrested in November and executed in Fort Santiago.

9. Maj. Mac V. Linsao was imprisoned in Fort Santiago for a couple of months.

SALVADOR B. RILLO
Colonel, Infantry
Commanding

SBR/1



Notes and references:
1 “Rillo-Neri (Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team),” File No. 110-9, online at PVAO.

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