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

Testimony of Soledad Lacson on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945


This page contains the testimony of Soledad Lacson 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.

Yamashita and Muto with American personnel
Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita and his Chief of Staff Gen. Akira Muto with American personnel after their surrender to U.S. Forces in Kiangan, Northern Luzon.  Image credit:  U.S. National Archives.

[p. 1813]


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, age, nationality, and address.
A Soledad V. Lacson, Santo Tomas, Batangas; age of 27 years.
Q What part of Batangas do you live in, did you say? What —
A Our house is on Real Street near the municipality.
Q In the morning at five o’clock of 11 February, 1945, were you visited by Japanese soldiers in the vicinity of your house?
A Yes.
Q During that time, what happened?
A During that time, we were still sleeping on February 11, Sunday morning. At about 5:00 A.M., the Japanese opened our door and said that there was a meeting. “Come out!”
Then, we all came here and we were placed in a small house, at the house of Bathan.
Q What is the name of it?
A Bathan. Bathan. There were 60 or 70 men, women and children.
Q In the house of Bathan?

[p. 1814]

A The house of Bathan. When we entered the house of Bathan, the Japanese sergeant tied all men at the back.
Q Tied their hands behind their backs?
A Yes.
Q How many men were those who were tied?
A About seven men.
Q Do you know them?
A Yes.
Q Can you name them?
A Yes. Artemio Tolentino, the first one; Octavio Tolentino, second; Leoncio Tolentino; —
Q Is Leoncio Tolentino here now?
A Yes, one of the witnesses. Then Conrado Tolentino; then Apolinario Tolentino; then Granada Tolentino and the last one was Vicente Tolentino. Seven in all.
After the men were tied, they were brought downstairs and tied again to the — under the house. Some were on the tree. They were tied. The ropes were tied to the tree.
Q To the tree?
A Then the door was shut and then all —
Q What door was shut?
A The door where we entered.
Q The house, you mean?
A The house. The house.
Q Who were inside the house when the door was shut?
A All of us; women and children. The men were downstairs.

[p. 1815]

Q You mean to say that there were no men inside the house?
A Yes.
Q But only women and children when the door of the house was shut?
A Was shut.
Q How about the windows of the house?
A They were open. The door only was shut.
Q Please proceed.
A Then, we were investigated by the Japanese and touching our bodies —
Q You mean to say that you were searched?
A Yes, searched.
Q By the Japanese soldier?
A By the Japanese soldier.
Q Who were searched by the Japanese?
A The women and the children.
Q How about the men? Were they searched, too?
A Before that; before they were tied.
Q What did the Japanese do during the search?
A During the search, whenever they found Japanese money, they were tearing it, and when they saw the Filipino money, it was taken and put in their pockets.
Q How about valuable things?
A The valuable things that were taken from me were all my money. Our family money was placed in the girdle. There was taken more than two thousand paper money and

[p. 1816]

all our jewelry was taken by the Japanese soldiers.
Q Please proceed.
A Then, after searching, the sergeant said, “Alright. Come down. You will go home.”
Q He said that to you, to the crowd?
A To the crowd.
Q That you would go home?
A That we would go home; right. Therefore, we were happy, and we thought we would be brought again to our place where they took us. Then, when we went down, we were again divided. All the women were sent back to the house and we were brought to some nearby bushes.
Q How many were you when you were taken to the nearby bushes?
A Around 20.
Q 20?
A Yes. Then —
Q You were taken out the nearby bushes?
A To the nearby bushes.
Q What happened while you were there?
A Lastly, we were placed in the cemetery — in the cemetery.
Q You mean you were taken to the nearby bushes and then, after a while, you were transferred to another place?
A Transferred to another place, and lastly to the cemetery.
Q The cemetery?
A The cemetery. In the cemetery, after a while, it was

[p. 1817]

about half an hour —
Q Just a minute, please. Did you find any dead bodies?
A Dead bodies, none.
Q Alright. Please proceed.
A Then, when we were in the cemetery, the Japanese soldiers separated again the three men — Leoncio Tolentino, Joseph Tolentino with us, and the other men — I don’t know the name because it was only no with us. Then, afterwards, we were guarded by the two Japanese inside the cemetery.
Q Were they armed?
A Yes, armed, and said, “Do not run! Do not escape! If you happen to escape, you will be shot!”
Then, we sat down, and just as we were talking with this other and telling my companion just to pray and give our last prayers, because all of us would be killed, then — (pause)
Q Proceed. How about these three men you have mentioned? Where they taken, do you know?
A I don’t know where they were taken, but we heard the last word of my cousin shout and say, “Mother!” And then, we heard a shot, and I suppose that he was killed during that time.
Q After that, what happened?
A Then, afterwards, the Japanese returned — the two Japanese returned to us with [a] very heavily-sweating gun and bayonets.
Q Just a minute. Clarify that. Heavily-sweating gun?

[p. 1818]

A Heavily-sweating gun and bayonet.
Q What happened?
A And the bayonet was flowing with blood. Then again —
Q You mean to say that the bayonets of the two Japanese were stained with blood?
A Were stained with blood. Then, we were brought again to another place and they bayoneted again the small child, Orlando Malacaman.
Q Do you know the name of the small child?
A Yes.
Q Do you know it?
A Orlando Malacaman.
Q How about Anicia Tolentino? Do you know that girl?
A Yes, she was with us. We left from the cemetery three: Anicia Tolentino; Orlando Malacaman, the small child. When we were in the nearby bushes, the the cemetery, the Japanese sergeant shouted, just only by motion. We didn’t know the meaning. We didn’t know. We didn’t understand what they were saying because it was in Japanese. Nobody knew that Japanese language. Then, as we understood, we fell in one line. I was in front. The Japanese soldiers said a little Tagalog, “Me patay!” It means, “All of you will die, are going to be killed.” Then, he stabbed me with the bayonets and struck me here at my side. And I said to him that, “As we have not done anything,” I said, “why will you kills us? Why will you kill us?” And he said another Japanese word, again I couldn’t understand. Then the Japanese soldiers, as I

[p 1819]

looked at him, sat down and struck me with his bayonet.
Q Where?
A Here in my knee. He happened when he struck me in my upper knee — It happened that two Japanese came again and called the Japanese soldier and said, “Mate! Mate!” It means — I don’t know the meaning of that “Mate! Mate!” “Stay here! Don’t go away!” The Japanese were saying those words — were not saying the words, “Do not go away,” but we understood the motion.
Alright. As the soldiers went away, I heard the voice of Anicia Tolentino of “Do not do something against our purity. If you like, I will give you money, but do not do that.”
Q Was she in the cemetery?
A In the cemetery, only 50 meters away from us.
Q Was she among those left when you were transferred to the nearby bushes?
A Yes.
Q How far was Anicia away from you?
A About 50 meters away.
Q About 50 meters away. Yes. And you could hear distinctly her voice?
A Yes. Distinctly, I could hear. And after a while, I turned to my companion, “Let us escape for the Japanese are not there already.”
Alright. Then, each of us ran to save our lives.
Q How many of you ran away? How many of you ran away?
A We were about 20 in number, children and women. 20.

[p. 1820]

Q And what happened after a while?
A Afterwards, then we went to the near barrios to hide from the Japanese soldiers.
Q How many wounds in all did you sustain that morning?
A About 20, including children.
Q Did you see any Japanese officer there?
A Yes, as I know that a Japanese officer has leggings, and also a saber, and the other two soldiers have two stars here on their breasts — two stars. And I understood that they were soldiers.

MAJOR OPINION: That’s all. You may cross examine.


(Witness excused.)
Notes & References:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Soledad Lacson 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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