Testimony of Eugenio la Rosa on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Cuenca, Batangas in 1945
MAJOR KERR: Do you speak English?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
A Eugenio La Rosa; Cuenca, Batangas.
Q Where do you reside?
A Lawyer by profession and mayor of Cuenca, Batangas.
Q How long have you been mayor of [Cuenca] Batangas?
A I was appointed on May 11, 1945.
Q In your capacity as mayor of Cuenca, did you receive orders from the governor of the Province of Batangas to investigate the deaths that took place in your municipality during the Japanese occupation?
A Yes, sir.
Q Pursuant to these orders, did you issue orders to persons who work for you and who are under you?
A Yes, sir.
Q To collect such information?
A Yes, sir.
Q And as a result of the orders which you received
A Yes, sir.
Q During what period?
A During the period from February 3 up to April, 1945.
pino civilians killed by Japa-
nese – February and March, 1945
– Municipality of Cuenca was
marked Prosecution Exhibit No.
278 for identification.)
A This is a copy of the report I submitted to the office of the provincial governor sometime in May — about the early part of June, 1945.
Q Does it contain the names of people who died in the municipality of Cuenca during the period you have just described?
A It contains the names of persons who died due to the Japanese atrocities, not by natural death.
MAJOR KERR: Sir, I submit that a report of this nature would be admitted even in a court of law. It has been identified as an official government report, and the
THE WITNESS: Your Honor, may I say, it has been verified —
CAPTAIN REEL: If I may continue, sir.
We feel that under the circumstances, the categorizing of this exhibit according to cause of death is objected to. The mere fact that it is called and “official” exhibit, that the word is used, has no bearing on the case whatsoever.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Subject to any objection by any member of the Commission, the objection of the counsel is not sustained.
A Yes, sir.
CAPTAIN REEL: At this time, sir, we wish to object to the exhibit in its present form with the language as it exists in the present form of the exhibit.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: On page 1 of the document, in the first line, the words “killed by Japanese” or, rather, the words “by Japanese” are stricken from the record. That
Does the Defense wish to point out anything else?
CAPTAIN REEL: No, sir.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Subject to the objections stated, the document is accepted in evidence.
for identification was re-
ceived in evidence.)
A As far as I can remember, it contains 358 names.
Q Is that a complete or a partial list?
A That’s a partial list.
Q Does this list contain the names of any persons who, according to your official records, died natural deaths during that period?
A It does not contain persons who died natural deaths.
Q Does it contain the names of persons who died due to the hazards of war during the period?
A No, sir.
A I arrived in the municipality of Cuenca on March 19, 1945. Prior to that date, I was outside the vicinity of Cuenca. I was in the neighboring municipality.
Q What were you doing?
A I was hiding from the Japanese.
Q Were you able to tell what was going on in the municipality in which you were located and in Cuenca at that time?
A In the municipality where I was, the Japanese used to come there and get cattle and horses and provisions from the people where I was.
Q Well, since you have become mayor of Cuenca, has it been your duty to find out what happened in Cuenca during the entire period of the Japanese occupation?
A It was my duty imposed by my superior, the provincial governor.
Q In your capacity as mayor and in pursuance of your official duties, have you made an investigation and have you made inquiry as to what happened in your municipality during the period 5 February 1945 through April 1945?
A I ordered my secretary to make a census of all deaths according to the municipality of Cuenca from February 3 up to the time — (pause)
A Yes, sir. And that is a copy of his report. It was submitted to the office of the provincial governor.
Q Does it contain the names of any persons who died due to the actual combat between the Japanese and the Americans?
GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission desires that the Prosecution establish more definitely the instructions which the witness received from the provincial governor.
CAPTAIN PACE: Yes, sir.
A The instructions — A form was furnished my office and in the form, it was headed “Deaths Due to the Japanese” —
Q Excuse me, sir.
A — “Deaths Caused by the Japanese.” That was the only information being asked by the circular of the provincial governor.
A Yes, sir.
Q Will you tell on what date or dates you received what orders, and exactly what each one of these orders said in relation to this investigation?
A I cannot exactly remember the exact date, but I received the orders in May, and one of these orders also included that the number of houses burned by the Japanese must be — I must submit a separate report on the number of houses burned by the Japanese, and in the other form, it was prescribed there “Deaths caused by the Japanese.”
Q Well, you received this form. What instructions and orders went with that form?
A To investigate and get the names of the persons that were killed by the Japanese and submit a report in conformance with that form. The form had to be filled out. The form is —
Q And in the normal performance of your duty, was it necessary to keep records of everyone who died from natural causes in your municipality?
A It is not my duty. The local registrar has to attend to that.
Q Who does that?
A The local registrar.
Q So the only duty you had was to determine the names of the people who were killed by the Japanese?
A That was in pursuance to the specific orders of the Provincial Governor.
A I cannot quote [to] you verbatim, but that is the tenor. I was required to make an investigation, and the form was furnished with names, and so forth, that they were killed by the Japanese. The title was very clear: “Killed by the Japanese.” It does not call for any deaths by other causes except killed by the Japanese.
Q And in this exhibit which is now in evidence and which you identified, that is the form which was prescribed by the Governor of Batangas, is that right?
A Yes, sir, that is the form.
1. The foundation questions have shown conclusively that it is not within the witness’ knowledge;
2. The foundation questions have shown that, although he may have orders from above to get certain information, the information he ordered his secretary to get was a census of all the dead.GENERAL REYNOLDS: The objection of counsel is not sustained.
A What? I beg your pardon?
Q Do you remember the question?
A Please repeat the question.
Q Are the names of any persons on that list who died due to the fighting between the Americans and the Japanese during the liberation of your municipality?
A I don’t remember names having been included there.
Q I beg your pardon?
A I don’t remember names having been included in there who died from fighting between the Americans and the Japanese.
Q Will you please repeat your answer more slowly?
A I said I don’t remember having included in the report names of persons who had died as a result of fighting between the Americans and the Japanese.
Q How many people, if you know, died due to the fighting between the Americans and the Japanese in your province?
A So far, there were only very few.
Q About how many?
A I think I didn’t get that — . I wasn’t required to submit a report on that, and I did not order my secretary to make an investigation as to how many were killed as a result of the fighting between the Americans and the Japanese. But I know it was very few.
Q By “very few,” what do you mean?
A It is just around ten, or a little bit over ten.
Q So that even if they were in this report, it would
A It would be insignificant.
Q It would not be more than 10?
A Yes, sir.
CAPTAIN PACE: You may cross examine.
A I beg your pardon, sir?
Q Was Cuenca subjected to an artillery barrage?
A Yes, sir.
Q And how long did that last?
A It started on March 9th up to April.
Q April what?
A April, 1945.
Q Do you know what date in April?
A I cannot recall exactly the date in April.
Q You said that it wasn’t your duty to count natural deaths. You named somebody else, and I didn’t quite get that office. Whose duty was it to count the natural deaths?
A Under the laws of the Philippine Islands, the municipal treasurer is also the civil registrar.
Q I beg your pardon?
A Under the laws of the Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands, the municipal treasurer is also the civil registrar,
Q While the Japanese were occupying, there was no civil registrar or treasurer, was there?
A When the Japanese were —
A — under occupation?
Q That’s right.
A There was.
Q Do you have his report?
A The municipal treasurer has his report, but now I tell you that he has none because our municipal building was burned.
Q So you don’t have any report made of deaths by natural causes during the Japanese occupation?
A There was, but if there was, it is no longer existing now because of the burning of the municipal building and all the contents of it.
Q And was the building burned during the barrage?
A Well, I cannot tell you that, because I was not in Cuenca at the time. Only when we arrived there, the municipal building was gone.
Q And during the artillery barrage, was there a register for the city treasurer on duty in Cuenca?
A During that time, there was no government existing, because chaos was reigning — disorder.
Q One more question: What time of the year, day and date as near as you can remember, did you give your order to your secretary to make a census of all the dead in Cuenca?
Q Can you place that date a little more exactly?
A In the early part of May, 1945. If I had the circular, I can give you the exact date.
CAPTAIN PACE: Thank you very much.
|Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Eugenio la Rosa in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.