2nd Testimony of Juan Vergara on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore 2nd Testimony of Juan Vergara on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

2nd Testimony of Juan Vergara on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945

This page contains the testimony of Juan Vergara on Japanese atrocities committed in the town of Taal, Batangas in 1945. Vergara also testified in the trial U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita, the transcription of which is also available at this web site. This particular transcription is from her testimony in U.S.A. v Shumpei Hagino, et. al. The pages contained herein are now declassified and were part of compiled documentation1 of war crimes trials conducted by the United States Military Commission after the conclusion of World War II. This transcription has been corrected for grammar where necessary by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore. The pagination is as it was contained in the original document for citation purposes.

[p. 31]


witness for the prosecution, being first duly sworn, testified as follows through Interpreter Campomanes:



Q Please state your name.
A Juan Vergara.
Q How old are you?
A Twenty-eight years old.
Q What is your nationality?
A Filipino.
Q Where is your residence?
A Cubamban [Cubamba], Taal, Batangas.
Q Do I understand that Cubamban [Cubamba] is a barrio of Taal?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where were you on February 16, 1945?
A I was in my house.
Q Where was your house during that time?
A It was in Cubamban [Cubamba].
Q Do you remember what actually happened during that time?
A Yes, sir.
Q Will you please tell us what happened during those days?
A Yes, sir.
Q You may proceed.
A On February 16, 1945, my parents and I were at the house around eight o’clock in the morning. We heard some shots. I brought my wife and children near a brook where we

[p. 32]

could hide.
Q Who were those who remained in your house?
A I left my father, Jose Vergara, and my mother, Demetria Dinglasan, my sister Rosario Vergara and another sister, Leonarda Vergara, and my aunt, Antonia Vergara.
Q When you left your house, what happened next?
A We were sixteen who went to the brook to hide.
Q Do you know the reason why your father and the rest of your family remained in the house?
A I left my parents at home because they were already rather old and my mother at that time was ill.
Q How old was your mother then?
A My mother was sixty years old.
Q And your father?
A About seventy years old.
Q How far was the ravine from your house that you went to hide in?
A More or less two hundred yards.
Q Do you have any relation to the other members of the family who hid in that same ravine that you were in?
A They were all my relatives.
Q Will you please tell us what happened, or what took place, in the ravine itself while you were hiding?
A While we were hiding, four Japanese soldiers, with rifles, found us.
Q At what time of the day was that?
A It was around 9 o’clock in the morning.

[p. 33]

Q Will you please proceed to tell us what happened or what the Japanese did to you on that date?
A When we were found by those four Japanese soldiers, one of them spoke in Japanese and after he had finished speaking, they began shooting us.
Q How many were killed out of those sixteen people in the ravine?
A Twelve were killed.
Q Do you know, can you recall all their names?
A Yes.
Q Will you please give us their names?
A Yes, sir. Josefa Caraos, Antonia Encena, Natalia Hernandez, Juana Palicpic, Aquilina Punzalan, Esmenia Berena, Magdalena Berena, Potenciano Berena, Egmedio Berena, Gregorio Berena, Miguel Alcantara and Marcelo Pangalan.
Q Could you recall how many of those victims were under ten years old?
A Among the victims, none was below ten years old.
Q About how many, or how about below fifteen years of age?
A Below fifteen years of age, there were four, Potenciano Berana, Egmedio Berana, Gregorio Berana and Marcelo Pangalan.
Q Would you give us the names also of the people who were above fifty years of age being the victims of that atrocity?
A Josefa Caraos, Antonia Encena and Esmenia Berena.
Q Then how many of you survived that same atrocity?
A We were four who survived the atrocity.

[p. 34]

Q Who were they?
A The first one, I, myself, my wife, Ramona Hernandez, my daughter, Lucila Vergara, and my aunt, Ramona Vergara.
Q What did the Japanese do after shooting all the victims?
A After the shooting, they left us.
Q And what did you do?
A We just stayed there because we were wounded.
Q During your stay in that ravine, did you have time to look at those victims?
A Yes, sir.
Q How long did you stay in your hiding place?
A Until five o’clock in the afternoon.
Q And were did you go after that time?
A We went home. When we reached home, we saw it was no longer a home, it was burned and my parents, father, mother and aunt were all killed.
Q As a survivor of that atrocity, did you have any scars?
A Yes, I have.

MR. GUTHRIE: Will the Commission allow this witness to indicate where the scar is located?

COLONEL HAMBY: Where is the scar located?

MR. GUTHRIE: Right on the abdomen.


MR. GUTHRIE: Will you please raise up your shirt and show the scar to the Commission?

(Witness complied.)

MR. GUTHRIE: Let the record show that there is a scar on the abdomen together with a bullet still on the inside of the abdomen.

That is all, your witness.

[p. 35]



Q Mr. Vergara, do you know the reason for these killings?
A No, sir.
Q Were there any such killings prior to February 16, 17 and 18, 1945, in Taal or in the vicinity?
A None, sir.
Q Can you tell the Commission how active the guerrillas were in that vicinity at that time or prior to that time?
A I don’t know about any of the guerrillas.
Q Were you aware of the imminent landing of the Americans?

MR. GUTHRIE: Object, that is far-fetched from the direct examination mentioned just recently.

MR. MORRISON: If the Commission please, this witness stated he does not know the purpose of these killings. I should like to bring out the fact there was guerrilla activity, as to whether the witness did know of the imminent landings of the Americans which would tend to increase guerrilla activity which in turn would be a reason for this expedition having taken place.

COLONEL HAMBY: The Law Member will rule.

COLONEL POBLETE: Objection overruled, witness may answer.

A No, sir.

MR. MORRISON: That is all.



Q Do you know whether there were any guerrillas among the victims who were killed by the Japanese during that time?

[p. 36]

A No, sir.
Q Were they all civilians?
A Yes, sir.

MR. GUTHRIE: That is all.



Q Do you have any knowledge of any guerrilla activities in Taal or in the vicinity of Taal at any time prior to February 16, 1945?
A None, sir.

MR. MORRISON: That is all.

COLONEL HAMBY: Questions by members of the Commission? There appearing to be none, witness is excused.

(Witness excused.)

Manila War Crimes Trial US Army
Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila.  Image credit:  U.S. National Archives.

Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Juan Vergara in U.S.A. v Shumpei Hagino, et al.,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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