Testimony of Juan Vergara on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Taal, Batangas in 1945
A (Through the Interpreter) Juan Vergara.
Q Where do you live?
Q Did you live in Cubamba on the 16th of February, 1945?
A I lived in Cubamba on February 16.
Q And what happened on that morning?
A 8 o’clock in the morning, we heard firing and we hid, with my family.
Q Where did you hide?
A We hid in lagnas?
CAPTAIN PACE: What is “lagnas?”
THE WITNESS: Ravine.
THE INTERPRETER: “Ravine.”
CAPTAIN PACE: Will you ask the witness again where he and his family hid?
(Translated to the witness.)
THE WITNESS: (Through the Interpreter) With my family, I went to the ravine.
A (Through the Interpreter) The ravine is located on
Q How many people went there?
A We were 15 who went to the ravine.
Q What happened to you there?
A Four Japanese saw us and they shot us.
Q How many people did they shoot?
A All 15 were shot, but only 12 were killed. Two were wounded and one was not wounded.
Prosecution Exhibit No. 270
A This picture shows the scar of my wound.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: There being no objection, it is accepted in evidence.
for identification was
received in evidence.)
A Yes, 4 o’clock, I went back.
Q What did you find there?
A I saw that my house was burned; my father, mother, one aunt and two sisters were dead.
Q How did your father, mother, aunt, and two sisters meet their deaths?
A My father had wounds; my mother, aunt and two sisters were burned.
A All of them were dead.
A Yes. I heard firing at 8 o’clock in the morning of February 16.
Q And where did you hear this firing coming from?
A I just heard the firing; that is all.
Q Do you know what kind of firing it was?
A I just heard firing; that is all.
Q Do you know what kind of firing it was; whether it was rifle, machine gun, artillery, or what?
A I just heard firing; that is all.
Q Had you ever heard firing before?
A Since the beginning, I had heard firing.
Q Since the beginning of what?
A Since I lived in my house, I had heard firing.
Q Well, did you hear any firing out there during the year 1943?
A I heard, but few firing.
Q Did you hear any firing there during the year 1944?
A I heard nothing.
Q Well, now, when after that, when after 1944 did you first hear firing out there?
A I heard again on February 16.
Q And prior to February 16, for at least one year, you
Q Do you know who was firing?
A I know who was firing on February 16, because [the] Japanese fired at us.
Q But when you heard this firing, you didn’t see who was doing the firing, did you?
A I knew and saw who fired when we were fired upon.
Q Well, didn’t you tell us on direct examination that at 8 o’clock in the morning, before you went to the ravine, you heard some firing?
A I heard firing before we went to the ravine, but I did not see who were firing.
Q Yes. Now, do you know whether there were active guerrilla bands in that area on the 16th of February who might have been firing or fighting with the Japanese?
CAPTAIN PACE: I object to the question, if the Commission please, because he has already testified that he doesn’t know who was doing the firing in the neighboring barrio.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Is there some particular point you are trying to reach with the question?
CAPTAIN REEL: There is, sir. I don’t believe the question was directed to the firing; this question was directed to activity in the area. If the reporter will please read the question back, I think the Prosecution will realize that it has misunderstood the question.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Reporter will read back the
CAPTAIN PACE: The witness has already testified, sir, that he doesn’t know who was doing the firing; he didn’t see it.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: So it seems also to the Commission. Would Counsel like to have any specific answer read back?
CAPTAIN REEL: I will withdraw the question and rephrase it, so there will be no question about it, sir.
A (Through the Interpreter) I knew nothing about it.
Q As I understand it, it was you heard firing that you ran to the ravine, is that the reason?
CAPTAIN REEL: If the Commission understands that that was the reason, I don’t wish to pursue it any further.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Yes, we do so understand.
A When I was in the ravine, I heard much firing.
|Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Juan Vergara in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.