Testimony of Eufemia Banaag Almazan on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945
A Eufemia Banaag.
Q What is your age?
A Twenty-nine years old.
Q Where do you reside?
A Barrio Luntal.
Q What is your nationality?
Q Are you married?
A Yes, I am.
Q What is the name of your husband?
A Ignacio Almazan.
Q What is your occupation?
Q Where were you on February 16, 1945?
A I was in Luntal.
Q Is that a part of the municipality of Batangas?
A Yes, sir. [This part of the transcription seems dubious. From all indications, the “Luntal” appears to be the one in the municipality of Taal.]
Q Do you recollect what happened on the 16th of February, 1945?
A Yes, I do recall.
Q Will you please relate to us what happened?
A Yes, I can.
A On February 16, the Japanese set fire to Luntal, so we fled to Eugenio Badillo for safety.
Q When you use “we fled,” we would like to know who do you include in the word “we” so that the Commission understands.
A I meant my father, my mother, my brother and sister and my children.
Q Will you please name them to us?
A Irenia Almanzor, my mother; my father was Pedro Banaag; my brother was Simeon Banaag; my older brother was Nicomedes Banaag; Maria Concepcion Banaag was my sister; another sister was Rosita Banaag; another sister was Adoracion Banaag; Sotero Banaag was another brother; my children were Aguida Almazan and Jose Pepito Almazan.
Q Where did you go after you left the barrio Luntal?
A We went to Eugenio Badillo to hide.
Q Did you hide in a house?
A We went in front of the house where there was an oven, that is, a mill.
Q How many were you in that house?
A In the house, there were about thirty. Downstairs, there were about seventy.
Q Were they all Filipinos?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did they compose of men, women and children?
A Yes, there were men, women and children.
Q While you were in the house, what happened next?
Q Were there pregnant women in the house?
A Yes, there were.
Q Can you give us their names?
A Fortunata Opino.
COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission agrees with you.
A If anybody arrived?
A We were really there, the thirty of us who were there.
Q When you were all together in that same place, do you remember having seen anyone coming to that place?
A There were two Japanese who came.
Q Were they soldiers?
A They were soldiers because they were carrying things to kill.
Q What is that thing to kill that you refer to?
A Machine gun.
Q Can you recall anyone in this room right now who was among the soldiers you saw during that time?
A Yes, there is.
COLONEL HAMBY: It is so noted.
LIEUTENANT BANZON: That is right.
MR. MORRISON: No objection.
LIEUTENANT BANZON: Will you please step up and point out this Japanese?
COLONEL HAMBY: The interpreter will ask the witness whether she understands the question.
(Interpreter Campomanes translated to the witness.)
THE WITNESS: I understand.
COLONEL HAMBY: The interpreter will ask the witness whether she can identify and of these accused.
INTERPRETER CAMPOMANES: She pointed already, sir. She said the third one.
THE WITNESS: He is.
LIEUTENANT BANZON: Let the record show that this witness pointed to the accused, Tetsusaburo Ito.
MR. MORRISON: May the record also indicate that she did not identify that man in the screening at noon today.
COLONEL HAMBY: Proceed.
MR. GUTHRIE: I believe that is highly improper. If counsel desires to introduce testimony to that effect,
LIEUTENANT BANZON: You said before that there were two Japanese who arrived in that place?
Q Were there any Japanese who came to the same place?
A There were more.
Q About how many were there?
A More or less sixty.
Q Upon their arrival, what did they do in that place?
A When they came there, they killed.
Q How many people were killed in that place?
A The killing from the houses was different from the killing downstairs.
Q Were the people around the house machine-gunned and shot by rifle or bayoneted?
A They were shot and they were bayoneted.
Q How about those people inside the house?
A There was a machine gun placed one full arm’s length from the door.
Q Of those killed in the house, how many were small children or babies or at least one year old?
A More or less fifteen.
Q Were they under one year? Do I understand that they were under one year?
A There were more under one year old.
Q How many people were in that same place altogether?
Q Were they all civilians and non-combatants?
A Yes, they were not.
Q Do you know of any who were members of guerrilla units during that date?
A No, sir.
Q Do you recall whether there was any fighting in that place before that date?
A None, sir.
Q After shooting the people inside the house, what did the Japanese do with the house?
A They set the house on fire.
Q How many with you in the house were able to escape?
Q Who were they?
A I, Eufemia, and Rosario.
Q Do you know the surname of Rosario?
A No, sir.
Q And how many were able to survive that same atrocity of those who were around that house?
Q Will you please name or give us their names?
A Rufino Lescano, Julian Banaua, Saturnino Banaua, and Rufino Banaag, my brother.
Q How many members of your family were killed in that same atrocity?
A My mother, Irinea Almanzor, my father Pedro Banaag, Simeon Banaag Nicomedes Banaag, Concepcion Banaag, Rosita
(The Commission then adjourned at 1505 hours, until 0830 hours February 1, 1947.)
COLONEL HAMBY: The Commission is in session.
MR. GUTHRIE: Sir, the Commission is present, the accused are each present together with their counsel, and the prosecution is present.
At the conclusion of the session yesterday, the witness on the stand was Eufemia Banaag Almazan and her direct examination had not been completed.
At this time, I would like to swear in a new interpreter who was not present yesterday.
(Mrs. Rosario F. Rodas was then duly sworn as an official interpreter in this case.)
LIEUTENANT BANZON: Mrs. Eufemia Banaag Almazan is the same witness who was sworn yesterday in this Court and has testified during the last session of yesterday and is now going to continue her testimony.
(Interpreter Rodas interpreted to the witness.)
A Yes, sir. I have a wound at the back.
Q How many wounds did you have?
Q Were they from bullet wounds?
A Yes, bullet wounds.
MR. MORRISON: If the Commission please, will counsel please ask the witness where she was wounded and I won’t object?
COLONEL HAMBY: Do that, please; propound the question.
A Yes, sir. Here at the back of my neck, one on my right shoulder blade and one is under my left armpit. (Scars were exhibited by the witness on her body in open court.)
Q Immediately after the shooting, what did you do?
A I was in the house at that time, so I jumped through the window and I laid flat so the Japanese wouldn’t see me.
Q But before you left the place, were you able to recognize some of the victims lying on the ground?
A There were, sir.
Q Will you please give us some of their names?
A I can tell, sir.
A Shall I tell those that I know?
Q Yes, were you able to recognize some of the victims in that atrocity before you left?
A I only looked at my parents and my relatives and after that, I left already.
Q Who, among the members of your family, were killed?
That is all, your witness.
A He was a laborer at stone-cutting, he was a stone-cutter.
Q Was your husband at any time in the guerrillas?
A No, sir.
Q Do you know of any guerrilla activities in or in the vicinity of Taal?
A No, sir.
Q Were there any similar incidents such as those you described in Taal prior to February 16, 1945?
A There was none.
COLONEL HAMBY: Any further examination of this witness?
MR. GUTHRIE: No further examination.
COLONEL HAMBY: Questions by members of the Commission? There appearing to be none, the witness is excused.
|Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Eufemia Banaag Almazan 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.