Testimony of Briccio Mabiling on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Briccio Mabiling on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Briccio Mabiling on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945

This page contains the testimony of Briccio Mabiling of Lipa, Batangas on atrocities committed by the Japanese in the town in 1945. 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.

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

[p. 1506]

[The name above in most likelihood should be Briccio Mabiling]

called as witness on behalf of the Prosecution, being first duly sworn through Interpreter Rodas, was examined and testified as follows through the Interpreter as follows:


Q (By Captain Pace) Give your name, please.
A Briccio, Mabiling. [likely Briccio Mabiling, without the comma]
Q Where do you live?
A Lipa, Batangas.
Q Where did you live on February 21, 1945?
A In Lipa.
Q Is that the town of Lipa?
A Yes.
Q What happened in the afternoon of February 21? A We were in a big house and we were playing poker. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon, many Japanese came. They had bolos and bayonets with them, and they had also guns, many guns, and we were asked to get down one by one and we were all tied. We were asked to go to a big house.
Q Where was the big house?
A Inside the town. We were asked to get inside the apartment downstairs. When we were inside the apartment downstairs, they did not remove the rope that tied our hands.

[p. 1516]

Q How many people were there?
A About 700.
Q Were they all tied?
A Yes, all of them.
Q How long did you stay in this house?
A Until 7 o’clock that night.
Q What happened, then?
A They untied us about 7 o’clock at night, and they told us to go upstairs one by one. Then, as soon as we reached upstairs, they told us to look at a light bulb.
Q What kind of a bulb?
A 500 bulb — watts, rather.
Q An electric bulb?
A Yes.
Q Was the bulb lit?
A (No response.)
Q Was the bulb lighted?
A Yes, sir, it was lighted.
Q What else did you see there?
A They told us to look at the lighted bulb, and there was one Filipino on this (indicating) side of the stairs, and when the right hand was raised, he was brought to the room; and if the hand was not raised, then we were brought down to the garden.
Q Just a moment. Were you men one by one led past this light?
A Yes.
Q As you were led by, was there a man sitting by the light who looked at you?

[p. 1517]

A Yes.
Q Was he the man who raised either his right or his left hand when the men passed by?
A If he recognized a man, he raised his hand; and if not, no.
Q What happened to the man who passed this hooded figure and he raised his hand?
CAPTAIN REEL: Sir, we object to this question. There has been no testimony that this figure was hooded.

CAPTAIN PACE: I withdraw the question and establish that definitely if it isn’t in the record.


Q (By Captain Pace) How was the man dressed who was sitting under the light?
A He was not seated; he was standing.
Q How was he dressed?
A His face was covered with a mask.
Q Did he raise his hand when you passed him?
A I did not see, because my back was turned to him.
Q Were the men divided into two groups?
A When the man raised his right hand, those men were taken into the cellar of the house; and when not, the men were led to the garden.
Q Were you led to the garden or to the cellar?
A To the garden.
Q Out of those 700 men who were taken there, how many were led to the garden with you?
A Maybe, we were around 300.
Q About how many men were taken to the cellar?

[p. 1518]

A Maybe 400.
Q What happened to those of you who were taken to the garden?
A We were hanged. We were hanged by three Captains, Japanese Captains, and aided by his soldiers who were watching us.
Q How did they hang you?
A They said they were beating up the bad ones and they were leaving the good ones behind.
Q Which group were you in, the good ones or the bad ones?
A I knew that I was with the good group, because they called us to a meeting.
Q What happened to the group that was left behind in the cellar?
A I do not know anything about them anymore.
Q Have you ever seen any of those 400 men who were left behind in the cellar alive since that night?
A No, none.
Q Have you ever talked to anybody since that date who has ever seen one of those men alive?
A No, I did not see anyone of the 400 anymore.
Q What happened to you after you left the garden?
A I went home.
Q What time was it when you went home?
A 11 o’clock at night.
Q When did you see the Japanese again?
A On February 22.
Q That was the following day?

[p. 1519]

A The next day.
Q What time did you see the Japanese?
A Maybe around 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Q What happened to you?
A I went to my brother, and I was asking for something. When I reached there, his house, he was not there. I was waiting for him, because he was going to come and the children ran and they cried, “There are Japanese! There are Japanese!”
Q What time was this?
A Between 4:15 and 4:20 in the afternoon. I did not mind them, because I thought they were children playing.
Q Did the Japanese pick you up on the 22nd?
A Yes. That afternoon, when I peeked out of the window, I saw some Japanese with guns pointed at me, and they told me not to run.
Q Where did they take you?
A To the garrison.
Q What garrison was that?
A Japanese garrison.
Q In Lipa?
A In Lipa.
Q What happened to you after you got to the Japanese garrison?
A When I arrived there, I saw — we were 60 together taken there, and we also saw that there were many people there who were caught before us.
Q How many people altogether were at the garrison?
A About 600.

[p. 1520]

Q What happened there at the garrison that night?
A When we were there that night, we were all tied very tightly.
Q Yes?
A At 11 o’clock that night, we were taken, six by six.
Q Where were you taken?
A We were brought to the back of the garrison, near the bamboo trees.
(A photograph was marked
Prosecution Exhibit no. 249
for identification.)
Q Will you look at Exhibit 249 for identification and state whether or not that this is a photograph of the bamboo trees back of the garrison to which you were taken?
A Yes, it is.
Q Is that you in the picture?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.


CAPTAIN PACE: I offer this exhibit in evidence, sir.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: There being no objection, it is accepted in evidence.

(Prosecution Exhibit No. 249
for identification was
received in evidence.)
Q (By Captain Pace) How many people were taken to the bamboo trees?
A We were 17 groups of 6 people, 6 people each.
Q How many groups were taken ahead of you?
A If it was not 10, it was 11.
Q Do you know what happened to those people?
A Yes.

[p. 1521]

Q What happened to them?
A One group of six each was taken one by one, and they were taken at our backs, and when they were taken to our backs, the Captain shouted, and after the Captain shouted, we heard screams of the Filipinos. They said, “It hurts! It hurts!”
Q And there were 10 or 11 groups of Filipinos, six in a group, taken around where you couldn’t see them, and in each case, did you hear those screams and shouts?
A Yes, I heard.
Q What happened, then?
A After I heard the shouts of the Filipinos, there was a Japanese who shouted in front of the garrison. The soldiers ran in front of the garrison when they heard this shout. When they arrived at the garrison where that Japanese shouted, the Japanese who went there made their guns ready, had their guns ready to fire. While they were there, the Japanese who ran to this man who shouted, took advantage of trying to remove the ropes that tied my hands and successfully; I was able to untie myself and broke my way in the canal. Then, I crept and tried to get farther and farther away.
Q You were successful in escaping from the bamboo grove, located back of the Japanese garrison, is that right?
A Yes.
Q Before you escaped, 10 or 11 groups of six each were taken away, is that right?
A Yes.

[p. 1522]

Q And it was then that the Japanese left the scene, after some other Japanese had yelled something, is that right?
A Yes.

[p. 1523]

Q Were those people taken to the bamboo grove civilians?
A Yes, they were civilians.
Q When you escaped on the night of February 22nd, where did you go?
A I went home.
Q Were you at your home on February 24, 1945?
A Yes, I was.
Q What happened on February 24th?
A The Mayor of Lipa told us to go away.
Q Who was the Mayor of Lipa?
A Dominador Luz.
Q Where did he tell you to go?
A He asked the policemen to go around and tell us to go to the municipal building, and when we arrived — We all went to the municipal building, and when we arrived, there he told us to get away.
Q Where did he tell you to go?
A He didn’t tell us where to go, but he just said, “Get away!”
Q Where did you go?
A I went home first and prepared all my belongings that I could carry preparatory to going away.

CAPTAIN PACE: Wait a minute. Interpret what he just said and then we will start over again.


CAPTAIN PACE: Interpret what he was just saying.

A (Through Interpreter Rodas) My companions went ahead and I was left in the house to get some rice.

[p. 1524]

Q (By Captain Pace) Did you see the Japanese on February 24th? If so, where did they take you?
A Yes, I saw.
Q Where did they take you?
A They got me from my home. He was with a Filipino — Filipino and Japanese. One of them told me to go away, and the Filipino said if I would go away, I would be killed.
Q Where did the Japanese take you?
A He brought me to church.
Q Is that the Lipa Cathedral?
A Church of Lipa.
Q How many people were taken to the church at Lipa?
A When I arrived there, there were already many people inside, and once you were taken there, you were tied very tightly.
Q How many men were there?
A Maybe around 500.
Q How many women and children?
A Children were around 50, and women, old and young, were around 200.
Q Where were the men put?
A At first, the men were inside the church.
Q Where were they taken, then?
A When the women were taken in, we were asked to go out and we were led to the grounds.
Q You mean the churchyard?
A Yes, the churchyard.
Q How many men were in the churchyard?

[p. 1525]

A All of the men were led there.
Q How many men?
A Around 500.
Q What time were the men taken to the courtyard?
A We were caught about nine o’clock in the morning and we were taken to the grounds about twelve o’clock.
Q How long did you stay in the grounds of the churchyard?
A We were there until one o’clock. That was the time when I escaped. Until one o’clock midnight.
Q That would be one o’clock in the morning of February 25th?
A Nine o’clock in the morning when I was apprehended, caught.
Q You were in the churchyard at 12:00 noon, February 24th, with 500 men, is that right?
A Yes.
Q How long were you there before you were molested by the Japanese?
A Four o’clock in the afternoon.
Q What did the Japanese do at four o’clock in the afternoon?
A At four o’clock in the afternoon, [the] Japanese came with fixed bayonets and they pierced us with their bayonets because we were sitting then, and they wanted us to stand.
Q What did they do to you with their bayonets?
A I was pierced by the Japanese bayonet.
Q Did they bayonet everybody in the churchyard?
A All those that were sitting down, and they were

[p. 1526]

able to reach, they bayoneted, but those who were already standing, they were not.
Q What did they do to those who were standing?
A We were lined up one after the other in lines of two.
Q What happened then?
A At about seven o’clock at night, more Filipinos came. We don’t know where they came from. And then, trucks came, and when the trucks came, they picked up some Filipinos and loaded them into the trucks.
Q Were they live Filipinos or dead Filipinos?
A Alive. They were alive Filipinos who were loaded in the trucks.
Q How many Filipinos were bayoneted in the churchyard?
A I cannot tell, because it was night time.
Q How many truckloads were taken?
A If it was not seven, it’s eight.
Q How many people did they put on each truck?
A It was between 30 and 40. It all depended on the size of the truck.
Q Were you taken?
A No.
Q Do you know of anybody else who was not taken who was in the churchyard?
A After I escaped, I don’t know, because I had not seen them since then.
Q Have you ever seen the people who were put on the

[p. 1527]

trucks alive since the day they were put on those trucks?
A No.
Q Do you know of anyone else who has ever seen those people since that day?
A No.
Q They were residents of Lipa, were they?
A Most of them were from the barrios.
Q And you have been in the municipality of Lipa since that day?
A From that time I escaped, I went to Lipa on May 16th.
Q Since then, have you been in Lipa?
A Yes.
Q You have never seen those people since, is that right?
A I have not seen any of those people I knew.

CAPTAIN PACE: You may inquire.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission will recess for approximately ten minutes.

(Short recess.)

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission is in session. Proceed.


Q (By Captain Sandberg) Now, you have told us about this man who was wearing a hood. Was he a Filipino?
A (Through the Interpreter) Yes.
Q And he was selecting which men would go to the garden and which men would go to the cellar, is that correct?
A Yes.

[p. 1528]

Q Now, you said that when he recognized the man, he raised his hand, I believe?
A He raised his hand for every person he wanted placed in the room.
Q Well, what did you mean when you said on direct examination, “when he recognized the man?”
A The ones he knew and the ones he wanted to — he chose, he led him to the room.
Q Well, do you know what basis he was using to choose these men?
A No.
Q Now, you stated on direct examination that you were taken to the garden and “hanged” there.
A No “hanged,” but they tied my hands very tight.
Q You mean that your hands were tied behind your back in the garden?
A When we were in the garden already, we were not tied anymore.

CAPTAIN SANDBERG: If the Commission please, I am simply trying to check up on an interpretation. The Interpreter stated that the witness said he was hanged, which was obviously ludicrous.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Apparently, it is a misunderstanding in translation. The Commission would like to have the point cleared, exactly what was meant.

CAPTAIN SANDBERG: I would like to ask the Interpreter what the witness said, when he said he was “hanged,” on direct examination.

THE INTERPRETER: The witness used one word — he

[p. 1529]

said “maigting,” because in Tagalog, by “bitin,” we mean “hang.”

CAPTAIN SANDBERG: Hanged by the neck?

THE INTERPRETER: Yes, but he says he said in Tagalog, “mahigpit,” which I mistook for “bitin,” which means “hang.” But now, he says — in fact, he reminded me when he came in that what he was telling was —

THE WITNESS: “Maigting.”

THE INTERPRETER: Which means the hands tied together very tightly.


Well, now I just understood the witness to testify that his hands were not tied in the garden. Will you ask him whether they were tied in the garden, or if they were not?

(Whereupon, the Interpreter translated to the witness in Tagalog)

THE INTERPRETER: “No. When I was in the garden, my hands were not tied.”

CAPTAIN SANDBERG: Now, frankly, if the Commission please, I am completely at sea. The Interpreter just stated that on direct examination, he said something that might have been “hanged by the neck,” but on closer examination, it means his hands were tied, and now —

GENERAL REYNOLDS: I believe that point is clear. The witness meant his hands were tied, but it is not clear when they were untied. He just testified that in the garden, his hands were not tied. The Commission is also unclear, and you can attempt to clear it up.

[p. 1530]

Q (By Captain Sandberg) When you were taken into the garden, were you assembled there?
A Yes, we were assembled there.
Q Did you say on direct examination that you were assembled in the garden?
A Only us who were called to a meeting were assembled together.
CAPTAIN SANDBERG: If the Commission please, I believe that it is a misinterpretation of the word “assemble.” At least, that is the indication we got from a person who speaks Tagalog in the audience.
Q (By Captain Sandberg) Now, at this meeting, what did the Japanese tell you?
A They said that they were selecting the good ones and the bad ones; the good ones, they would allow them free, and for them to go home, and the bad ones would be taken.
Q And they told you that you were one of the good ones, is that right?
A Yes.
Q Now, did they tell you what they meant by a “good” Filipino, as distinguished from a “bad” Filipino?
A No, they did not tell me what a good Filipino was, and a bad one.
Q Did they use the word “guerrilla” at any time?
A No, they did not use.
Q Now, who conducted the meeting?
A A Japanese captain.
Q And did he speak in Japanese?
A He spoke in Japanese with a Tagalog interpreter.

[p. 1531]

Q Now, did he say anything in addition to the fact that the “good” Filipinos would be permitted to go home?
A The only thing he said was that all good Filipinos would be sent to their homes.
Q Now, coming to the 24th of February, when you were in the church, you testified that the Japanese bayoneted some of the Filipinos who were sitting is that correct?
A Yes.
Q And they didn’t bayonet any of the Filipinos who were standing, is that also correct?
A Yes.
Q Was the purpose of the bayoneting, as you described, simply to indicate to you to stand up?

I will rephrase that.

Did the Japanese use their bayonets in order to indicate to the people who were sitting down that they wanted them to stand up?

A I do not know.
Q Now, you were pricked by a bayonet?
A Yes.
Q Now, can you tell us the names of the people who were put on trucks?
A I do not remember.
Q You can’t remember the name of even one of the people who was put on the truck?
A One only.
Q Only one?
A One only.
Q Now, you testified on direct examination that you

[p. 1532]

had never seen any of the people who were put on the truck alive again.
A I have never seen them.
Q Was it dark when they were put on the truck?
A Dark.
Q If you only know the name of one of the people who were put on the truck, how can you say that you have never seen any of them alive?
A I did not see. I have not seen anyone.
(Witness excused.)
Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Briccio Mabiling in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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