|Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila. Image credit: U.S. National Archives.|
A Leoncio Tolentino.
Q And your age?
Q Your address?
A Santo Tomas, Batangas.
Q Your nationality?
Q Around 5 o’clock A.M., February 11, 1945, did you see some Japanese soldiers in front of your house?
INTERPRETER LAVENGCO: I beg your pardon. Will you please repeat the question?
MAJOR OPINION: Will the reporter read the question?
Q (By Major Opinion) What did you do when you heard the shouts?
A I peeped through the window.
Q What did you do after that?
Q The door of what?
A The door near the ladder.
Q The door of the house or of the fence?
A It was the door of the house itself.
Q Now, please state to the Commission very briefly what happened that morning.
A Then, the Japanese went upstairs and told us to come down and form a line one by one.
Q Please proceed.
A There were seven in all.
Q Seven Japanese?
A Yes, seven Japanese.
Q Was there an officer with them?
A There was an officer; one of them was an officer.
Q How do you know he was an officer?
A He had a saber.
Q Was he wearing an insignia?
A There were two bars and two stars.
Q Was that an officer of the Army, and MP officer, or a marine officer?
A I cannot tell exactly, but I presume that they were army officers.
Q How about the Japanese soldiers, to what unit did they belong? Were they army, marine or navy?
A I cannot tell them. I think they belonged to the Army.
Q Now, please state to the Commission very briefly what happened.
A After we went down to the ground, we found out that
A And then we were told to walk one by one to the town, and they brought us to the house of Bathan.
Q When you left the house, your house, for Bathan’s house, and when you arrived at the house of Bathan, were there any people inside the house?
A We found other people in the house.
Q Did the other people come to the house of Bathan after you arrived at that house?
A When were imprisoned in the house, there were some people that came there.
Q How many people were there in all at the house of Bathan?
A I think there were six persons in all.
Q Please proceed and tell us what happened there.
A After that, the Japanese soldiers closed the doors and the windows and three Japanese soldiers with ropes tied our hands backwards. After we were tied, after all of us were tied down, they brought us out of the house and we were tied to each tree; each man to a tree. We were all tied, all of us, and the Japanese officers were having a little caucus meeting which we could not understand. We were all tied to the trees and the Japanese officers came and they were talking, they were talking with the other soldiers in a language we could not understand.
Q Will you please repeat your answer and will the Interpreter please listen to the statement so we can understand it?
A After they were talking together, me and my brother were released, and together with some women, all in all around — we were all about 25 people and they were told to go with us.
A We were brought to the Malvar Elementary School.
Q How many of you were at the Malvar Elementary School?
A When we arrived, there we were all about four in all.
Q Who were they?
A Artemio Tolentino, Lucia Tolentino, Alberto, and Luis Lebrea.
Q What part of the Elementary School were you taken to?
A We were taken to the Malvar Elementary School, in the western part of the Malvar Elementary School.
Q How many Japanese were in there at that time?
A There were three of them.
Q Now, please proceed.
A When we were there, one of the Japanese was covering the eyes of my brother. After blindfolding the eyes of my brother, the Japanese soldier was asking me what I could tell him where some men were. After my brother was blindfolded, one of the Japanese soldiers was asking me where I could find Governor Malvar.
Q Please proceed.
A I said, “I don’t know,” and the Japanese soldier said that I was a liar. Afterwards, he questioned me and wanted to
Q Please proceed.
A Afterwards, he also asked me the Chief of Police’s name and I answered, “I don’t know.” And the Japanese soldier was getting mad and he beat me and kicked me and slugged me. There was a soldier and they were going to bayonet my brother. I kicked the soldier backwards and crossed his path to the one who was going to bayonet my brother. I hit him in the stomach with my head.
Q Did you succeed in kicking the Japanese soldier and thrusting your head against the stomach of another Japanese?
A Yes, I did it.
Q Why did you have to do that?
A Because they said they were going to kill all of us.
Q What happened to the Japanese against whose stomach you thrust your head?
A I knocked him down.
Q What happened to the Japanese whom you kicked?
A He tumbled down, himself.
Q What happened after that?
A When they tumbled down, I also tumbled down. Then, after they were on their feet again, they took their rifle and they butted me in the face. After they butted me, one of them tied my eyes and the other one stabbed me in the back. After the Japanese soldier stabbed me in the back in which the point of the bayonet came out of my breast, they — what they did, they made just a plaything out of my breast; they moved it to and fro.
A I cannot tell exactly, but I can tell the point of the bayonet almost touched my face.
Q You mean to say the bayonet was twisted through your body?
A I don’t mean it so but I feel the bayonet came out of my breast and touched my face.
Q What happened after that?
A After then, the soldier pulled back the bayonet and gave me another thrust to the right abdomen, to the right side of my back, and then I fell unconscious.
Q When you fell down, were you unconscious or conscious?
A I could feel a little bit conscious when I fell down near the well.
Q What kind of well was that?
A It was a latrine, a Japanese latrine.
Q Were you just right on the border of that latrine when you were bayoneted by the Japanese?
A We were on the front side of the Japanese latrine.
Q Now then, when you fell down the side of the latrine, what happened?
A When I fell to the latrine, the Japanese almost stabbed me in the back.
Q How long did you stay there?
A It was a long time; around three hours.
Q Now, at what time did you get out of the latrine?
A It was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you require any medical attendance? Did you inquire for medical attendance?
A I could not find [a] physician during this time, so was the only one who attended to my wounds.
Q Did you see what were inside the wounds?
A I could see nothing but only the mucous of the wound when I was touching it. Some parts of the wound had some worm.
Q Now, Mr. Tolentino, before February 11, 1945, around 9 or 10 February 1945, were you in the poblacion or in the town of Santo Tomas?
A No, sir.
Q Did you know about the burning of the town of Santo Tomas?
A I know the first part; that was a Friday night.
Q What was the date of that?
A February 9th.
Q Whose house was first burned?
A It was the house of Bibiano Meer.
Q Was it in the evening, or daytime? Was it nighttime when it was burning?
A It happened at night.
Q How do you know it was the house of Bibiano Meer?
A Because someone went to my house and told me the house of Bibiano Meer was burning.
Q Of your own personal knowledge, did you know whether
A I know. Where it led to the lower part of the poblacion.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Has the defense any questions?
CAPTAIN REEL: No, sir.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: Witness excused.
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Leoncio Tolentino in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.