Testimony of Ricardo Castillo on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Ricardo Castillo on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Ricardo Castillo on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945


This page contains the testimony of Ricardo A. Castillo of Santo Tomas, Batangas on atrocities committed by the Japanese in the town in 1945. The pages contained herein are now declassified and were part of compiled documentation1 of war crimes trials conducted by the United States Military Commission after the conclusion of World War II. This transcription has been corrected for grammar where necessary by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore. The pagination is as it was contained in the original document for citation purposes.

War Crimes Trial in Manila
Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila.  Image credit:  U.S. National Archives.

[p. 1837]


called as witness on behalf of the Prosecution, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:


Q (By Major Opinion) Please state your name.
A Ricardo A. Castillo.
Q Age?
A 39 years of age.
Q Address?
A Santo Tomas, Batangas.
Q Nationality?
A Filipino.
Q Are you at present municipal secretary of Santo Tomas?
A What?
Q Are you at present municipal secretary of Santo

[p. 1838]

A Yes, sir.
Q In the months of February and March, 1945, were you municipal secretary?
A Yes.
Q As municipal secretary, did you have anything do to about the compilation of data regarding deaths among the inhabitants of Santo Tomas?
A Yes, sir.
Q What was your specific duty?
A I was instructed by the mayor to compile reports on people massacred by the Japanese and houses burned by the Japanese, too.
Q And what did you do after you received that instruction?
A I wrote letters throughout the whole — to all barrio lieutenants of the municipality of Santo Tomas to ask for data for this purpose.
Q When did you write that letter?
A That was about the month of February.
Q What year?
A 1945.
Q And did you receive replies or data required in your letter?
A Yes, sir.
Q From the barrio lieutenants?
A Yes, sir.
Q What did you do with the data?
A I asked the clerk of the municipality to prepare

[p. 1839]

those lists for me out of those lists submitted by the barrio lieutenants.
Q Was the preparation made by your clerk under your direct personal supervision?
A Yes, sir.
MAJOR OPINION: Mark this for identification, please.
(Copy of partial report on war
mortality between February and
March, 1945, municipality of
Santo Tomas, Batangas Province,
was marked Prosecution Exhibit
No. 282 for identification.)
Q (By Major Opinion) Showing you this Exhibit 282 of the Prosecution, will you please state what that list purports to be?
A This list are [of] copies that were prepared by my clerk under my supervision.
Q When was that prepared, do you remember?
A This was prepared about the month of April.
Q Why was it prepared? Was it requisitioned by any officer?
A The War Crimes Investigator asked the mayor of Santo Tomas to furnish him with copies of — with reports for this purpose. The War Crimes Investigator was so hurried that we were unable to prepare the — to submit to them the whole — all reports on this purpose. We have so far submitted a partial list.
Q So that this Exhibit 282 is only a partial list —
A Partial list.
Q — of those killed in the municipality of Santo Tomas?
A Yes, sir.

[p. 1840]

Q Referring to the list, the first three pages thereof, it is captioned as being a “Partial Report on War Mortality Between February & March - 1945 (Poblacion).” What do you mean by “Poblacion” mentioned in this page?
A That is — “Poblacion,” that is the — the township.
Q Are barrios included in the Poblacion?
A The barrios are not included in the Poblacion.
Q These first three pages of the list, which give the total number of 194 killed, plus 15, a total of 209, from what source or data did you get and make compilations thereof?
A These data were gathered by members of the municipal police force and under my supervision.
Q What was the procedure followed by the police force as well as the barrio lieutenants in the gathering of this data? Did they go from house to house?
A Yes, sir.
Q Was that the instruction which you had given them?
A Yes, sir.
Q To go and see house from house to house and ask every person of the family killed?
A Yes, sir.
Q Referring to this last page of the list, Prosecution Exhibit No. 282, there appears a total of 411 persons killed in the barrio of Santa Cruz, municipality of Santo Tomas. Where did you get this data from?
A These data were submitted by the barrio lieutenants of Santa Cruz.

[p. 1841]

Q Did you examine yourself the data furnished you by the barrio lieutenants?
A Yes, sir. Before asking them to prepare a final list, I used to look at the reports.
Q Now, then, are the numbers shown in these two places, Poblacion and Barrio Santa Cruz, correct?
A Yes, sir. They are partial lists.
Q Partial lists. How many barrios are there in the municipality of Santo Tomas?
A There are — there were — There are 25 barrios in the municipality of Santo Tomas.
Q You say that at the time these data were furnished you by the War Crimes Investigators, there were no reports received as yet from other barrio lieutenants?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you receive them all, now?
A I have received them already now in my office.
Q Did you make a compilation of these reports now?
A Up to the present, the compilations are not yet finished.
Q How many, more or less, was the number of persons killed as shown by the reports that you received lately from the barrio lieutenants?
A I don’t remember how many more.
Q How many, more or less, were killed?
A Well, my estimate is not less than 2000 people in Santo Tomas were massacred by the Japanese.
MAJOR OPINION: I offer this as evidence for the Prosecution.

[p. 1842]

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Any comment by Defense?

CAPTAIN REEL: Yes. Defense objects to the fourth column throughout this exhibit entitled “Cause of Death” as not being within the knowledge of the witness or the investigator. Outside of that, there would be no further objection.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The column on each page of the exhibit headed “Cause of Death” is accepted by the Commission with the exception of the words “by Japs.” The entry in this column after each name would remain “Killed.” With that exception, the document is accepted in evidence for such probative value as the Commission may attach to it.

(Prosecution Exhibit No. 282
for identification was re-
ceived in evidence.)
Q (By Major Opinion) Mr, Castillo, you have been residing in the municipality of Batangas —
A Santo Tomas.
Q I mean, Santo Tomas. (continuing) — until what date?
A I am still residing in Santo Tomas.
Q On the 10th of February, 1945, where were you residing?
A In the municipality of Santo Tomas.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: A little louder, please. A little louder.
Q (By Major Opinion) On the 11th of February, 1945 — Speak louder, please, and face the Commission.
A On the 11th of February, I ran away from my home became the Japanese came into the town of Santo Tomas.
Q What time did you run away?
A About 6:00 in the morning.

[p. 1843]

Q Where did you go?
A I went to the other side of the river to escape from Japanese massacre.
Q Why did you run away?
A I was informed early in the morning — I was informed by — I was in the other house, in my neighbor’s. I was at my neighbor’s house and there, I was followed by my house-girl and I was told that there were two Japanese in my home looking for me. I was afraid that they could be hunting me or he would get me and so I ran away.
Q Let me see. Let us straighten this out Mr. Castillo. Where did you sleep the night of 10 February 1945?
A I slept in a small hut back of the yard of our home.
Q Within your own land or yard?
A Not within our yard but back of our yard.
Q How far was it from your house?
A About 500 meters from my home.
Q Your house borders on a street, does it?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you slept that evening of 10 February 1945 at the back —
A At the back.
Q — part of your house in a small hut?
A Yes, sir.
Q At what time did you go to that hut?
A About 6:30 in the afternoon of February 10th.
Q Why didn’t you sleep in your own home and, instead, you preferred to sleep in a small hut?
A Because we heard — There was news to the effect

[p. 1845]

that the Japanese arrived in the municipality of Santo Tomas, and that they were hunting men.
Q Now, from the street where your house was located, could this small hut where you slept be seen?
A No, sir.
Q So that you slept that evening in a small hut?
A Yes, sir.
Q For what purpose?
A I was intending to see whether there wasn’t still Japanese in town, and if the Japanese were all gone, I would take my family back to my home in order to settle again, peacefully.
Q What did you find out when you went out of the hut?
A (No response.)
Q What did you find out?
A I did not see any Japanese, then, but when I was in my neighbor’s home to inquire if there were really Japanese, my house-girl told me that there were two Japanese looking for me. And so, I ran away.
Q That they had been in your house? The two Japanese had been in your house?
A Yes, sir.
Q And what did you do, then?
A I ran to escape from being caught by the Japanese.
Q To what place did you go?
A The first time, I ran intending to go [to] the mountain

[p. 1845]

where I believed that I would be safe. When I reached a house along the highway, I was told by the people in the house near the highway that there were Japanese along the streets, and so, I was advised to run away. I ran across the river. While I was in the middle of the river, two shots were fired at me and I thought and I believed that those shots were coming from the Japanese already.
Q When you left the hut, who were the members of your family who were in the hut?
A My wife, —
Q Name?
A Paciencia Castillo, aged 36.
Q Children? Did you have any?
A Two children.
Q Names?
A Feodoro Castillo, about five years old, and my girl child, about three years old, Adolfo [probably Adolfa] Castillo. My uncle and his wife were also with me in the hut.
Q Did you have any mother-in-law there?
A My mother-in-law was left at my home to watch our home because everything, all our belongings, all our food, clothing and everything, we in our home and we believed that if the Japanese saw that there were no people in the house, we were afraid that our house would be burned. That was the belief during those days: that when the Filipinos were out of the house, the Japanese had to burn them.
Q Mr. Castillo, you left and crossed the river?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you come back to see your family or the members

[p. 1846]

of your family who were left in the hut?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where?
A The next day.
Q Did you find them?
A I was informed that they were already massacred by the Japanese.
Q And you did not find them, therefore, in the hut?
A I did not find them in the hut.
Q None of them. At what time the following morning, say, 12 February 1945, —
A Excuse me. I did not have a chance to go to — to go back to our home, because there were Japanese there in the town the next day. When I returned back to near my home, I was at the river where the Japanese — where there was no Japanese. I was informed by my friends and relatives that my wife and the whole members of our family were killed by the Japanese.
Q Now, Mr. Castillo, how many members, all the members, of your family were killed by the Japanese?
A The members of our household — 13 members of our household were killed by the Japanese. The immediate members of the family — that means my wife, three children — that means four; my mother-in-law — that means five; my niece, that means six; and my house-girl We were seven.
Q Seven?
A Seven members.
Q Were there evacuees in your house at that time?
A There were four evacuees from our home and three

[p. 1847]

evacuees from Santo Tomas.
Q What happened to those 13?
A All of them were massacred by the Japanese.
Q How many relatives of yours were killed?
A Well, most of my relatives were massacred by the Japanese because —
Q Just give us the total, please.
A I cannot be less than 13.
Q Now, did you stay in the Poblacion or town of Santo Tomas since that day when you came back February 12, 1945 or did you leave Santo Tomas again?
A I was unable to go back to Santo Tomas. The other side of the river was the municipality of Taiwan [Tanauan], and I confined myself to this place because there were no Japanese.
Q You mean to say, on the 12th, as soon as you received the information about the killing of your family, you left and went back again to the other side of the river?
A Yes. Yes, sir.
Q And did you come back again after that?
A Well, the third week, I managed to go to my home and visit what had happened.
Q Were you able to visit your home?
A I was able to visit my home with the help of my friends and relatives who looked after my safety.
Q Now, did you bury any dead bodies?
A Well, after a week, I was unable to bury the dead bodies. I just saw the bodies on my way, because along my way, I found one of the places where the massacre was done — was along my way going to the other side of the

[p. 1848]

Q You said you saw so many dead bodies after a week. How many dead bodies, more or less, you saw?
A Well, in the place along my way, it could not be less than fifty — fifty people.
Q Now, when the American liberation forces came to Santo Tomas, where were you?
A I was with the — The first time I heard of the liberation of the municipality of Santo Tomas, I managed my way to go home with the purpose in view to bury all these dead bodies, because I pictured out that it would be impossible for me to identify my immediate members of my family and everybody.
Q Now, when was that?
A That was about the month of — about the end of the month of March.
Q Were the liberators already in Santo Tomas?
A The liberators were already in Santo Tomas.
Q You went there?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were you able to bury the —
A Yes, sir. With the help of those who were — whose families were also massacred by the Japanese, we were able to bury them all.
Q Now, those bodies that you said you saw, were they the dead bodies of civilians or military men or armed forces?
A Civilians. There is no doubt that they were civilians because there were skulls still with long hair, and those must have been women. Clothing of women were there, too.

[p. 1849]

Q Were they male or female or adult or children?
A Well, most of them were those, because I was unable to find the bones of children. It was very hard to identify the bones of children.
Q Mr. Castillo, had the Japanese been burning the town of Santo Tomas?
A Yes, sir.
Q When?
A On the 11th of February.
Q What part of the Santo Tomas municipality was burned?
A The barrios of San Rafael, Santiago, and Santa Anastacia.
Q How do you know those barrios were burned?
A Because I saw them from the place where I ran to hide from the Japanese on the 11th.
Q Were all houses therein razed to the ground?
A All houses were razed to the ground except one which I found. I said “except one” because when the liberator forces were already in Santo Tomas, and I went with them, I found out that there was but one house left.
Q How about the Poblacion of Santo Tomas? Was it burned, too?
A The Poblacion of Santo Tomas — not all of the houses there were burned by the Japanese.
MAJOR OPINION: That’s all, sir. Cross examine.


Q (By Captain Reel) Did you see anybody killed in Santo Tomas?
A (No response.)

[p. 1850]

A I did not see the killing.
Q Did you see any buildings burned in Santo Tomas?
A Yes, sir.
Q You saw the burning of fire?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where were you?
A I was on the other side of the river. This was two days before the general massacre of the civilians. And on the 11th of February, when I ran away to the other side — to the other side of the river, that was the municipality that was under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Taiwan [Tanauan]. I also saw the burning of the houses along the road going to Colombo. That was the barrios of Santiago, San Rafael, and Santa Anastacia.
Q Do you know whether there was any fighting in Santo Tomas when the Americans came?
A Yes, sir; there was.
Q And there was some artillery shelling?
A Yes, sir; there was.
Q And air bombardment?
A Yes, sir.
CAPTAIN REEL: That’s all.


Q (By Major Opinion) Just one question, please. When was that fighting referred to in the cross examination questions?
A That was in the later date.
Q When?

[p. 1851]

A That was in the later date. That was in the later date.
Q Later date?
A Later date.
Q You mean to say, it was after 11 February 1945?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many days, more or less, or how many weeks, more or less?
A The liberation of Santo Tomas took place about March 29th and about two weeks before the liberation, there was constant bombing of the municipality of Santo Tomas.
Q You mean to say, constant bombing took place or might have taken place around March 14th or 15th?
A Yes, sir; March 15th.
MAJOR OPINION: That is all, sir.

The witness is excused

(Witness excused.)
Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Ricardo A. Castillo in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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