Testimony of Hilario Laro on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945
A Hilario Laro.
Q Where do you live?
A Mahabangludlud [Mahabang Lodlod], Taal, Batangas.
Q Will you repeat that, please? The name?
A Hilario Laro.
Q Where do you live?
A Mahabangludlud, Taal, Batangas. Mahabangludlud, Taal, Batangas.
Q Where did you live on February 16, 1945?
A In Pisa.
Q Is the barrio of Pisa located about halfway between the barrios of Cultihan and Luntal?
CAPTAIN PACE: Cultihan and Luntal.
A. Yes. I heard firing and I saw burning of houses, so I went to the ravine.
Q You went where?
A To the ravine.
Q Where is this ravine?
A In between the road of Pisa and Luntal.
Q How many people went with you to the ravine?
A 150 persons.
Q After you got there, what happened?
A About a half hour afterwards, [the] Japanese came and told us to go out, and we were tied — our hands were tied. These Japanese had fixed bayonets.
Q What did they do after they tied you?
A They told us to go about twenty meters away and then they fired outside and threw hand grenades at us.
Q But did they do anything else to you?
A Nothing more.
Q Out of the 150 people who were taken out of the ravine and tied, how many were killed?
A 66 died and four were wounded — 46 died and four were wounded.
THE WITNESS (through the Interpreter): 46 died.
CAPTAIN PACE: May we have another interpreter, please?
THE WITNESS (through the Interpreter): 146.
A Only four were wounded.
Four or forty-four? How many?
THE WITNESS (through the Interpreter): Only four were wounded.
wound was marked Prosecution
Exhibit No. 271 for identi-
A This is my picture.
Q What is that mark on your left shoulder?
Q What caused it?
A Hand grenade.
|Actual picture of Hilario Laro showing a deep wound on his back. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|
GENERAL REYNOLDS: There being no objection, it is accepted in evidence.
for identification was received
was marked Prosecution Exhibit
No. 272 for identification.)
A Arano Navarro.
Q What is the mark on his left arm?
A A wound.
Q Was he one of the four people who survived with you?
A Yes, he was one of us.
for identification was re-
ceived in evidence.)
A 146 people died.
You may inquire.
A We went there.
Q But you went there the minute this firing started; is that correct?
A We went there when we heard the firing.
Q And you thought it would be safer running outdoors into the firing and going to the ravine than staying in your house; is that correct?
A I went to the ravine to save my life.
Q Yes. As a matter of fact, you knew that if you stayed in your house, you might be injured in the pitched battle between the guerrillas and the Japanese; is that the truth?
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Objection sustained.
Q Do you know whether there was an active unit in that area?
A Not even one. I don’t know why.
THE WITNESS: (through the Interpreter): None.
GENERAL DONOVAN: I would like to know how they were tied up after they came out of the ravine. Were they tied hand and foot, thrown to the ground or what?
(Whereupon, the Interpreter put the question to the witness.)
THE WITNESS (through the Interpreter): Our left hands were tied — left hands.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Lapped?
THE WITNESS (through the Interpreter): No, only one hand. I was tied on the left hand but others were tied with both hands.
GENERAL DONOVAN: That is all.
THE WITNESS (through the Interpreter): We were lined up and tied.
CAPTAIN PACE: Will you ask the witness to describe how each man was tied and if they were tied to one another?
CAPTAIN PACE: There is another interpreter here now, if we may use him.
CAPTAIN REEL: I have another question or two of this witness, sir.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Very well.
A When the Japanese arrived, we hid in Pisa.
Q But during the major part of the occupation, did you live in this barrio?
A We were in Pisa.
Q And during that period, did you ever hear any firing before?
Q And had you ever had occasion to run and hide in the ravine during the year previous to February 16, 1945?
A I hid there only on February 16th.
|Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Hilario Laro in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.