Testimony of Victor Manguiat on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Victor Manguiat on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Victor Manguiat on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945

This page contains the testimony of Victor Manguiat of Lipa, 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.

[p. 1506]


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


Q (By Captain Pace) Will you give your name, please.
A Victor Manguiat.
Q Where do you live?
A Barrio of Pusil.
Q In the morning of February 15, 1945, were you in Barrio Pusil?
A Yes, sir; at Pusil.
Q What happened on that morning?
A The Japanese came. We were gathered and tied and taken to one end of the Barrio Pusil.
Q What happened after you got there?
A We were tied in groups of fours and fives.
Q What happened then?
A After we were tied, one Japanese soldier took us group by group, and I don’t know where they were taken.
Q Do you know Pamfilo Umali who just testified here?
A I know him.
Q Was he in one of those groups you now describe as being taken away?
A I did not see him at that time.
Q What happened to your group?
A Before the Japanese used to take group by group. After he had taken about — After 300 had been taken

[p. 1507]

the rest were taken at the same time.
Q Were you with the rest?
A I was with the rest.
Q How many were in your group?
A More or less, we were also about 300.
Q Where were these 300 people taken?
A We were taken outside the Barrio Pusil.
Q Where to?

INTERPRETER LAVENGCO: I beg your pardon?


A To the northern part of the town of Pusil.
Q (By Captain Pace) What was located there?
A There were Japanese there.
Q Was there a well there?
A There was also a well.
Q Where was this well in relation to that one that Pamfilo Umali was thrown into?
A It was the second well.
Q Where was this in relation to the first well?
A In the northern part of the first well.
Q How far north of the first well?
A More or less, it was one kilometer away from the first well.
Q What happened after the 300 of you got to the second well?
A We were stationed there at that point about 50 meters from the well.
Q What happened?
A From that point, we were taken by groups, fives by

[p. 1508]

fives. I don’t know where the first groups were taken. I only discovered when I was taken to that place.
Q What place?
A At the well.
Q What happened when you were taken to the well?
A While I was being taken to the well, I endeavored to untie myself and, finding I would be killed, I dashed for safety.
Q How many men were taken to the well before you were?
A Preceding me going to the well were about 250 men.
Q 250 out of this second group of 300 men?
A Yes, sir.
Q When you ran after you got to the edge of the well, what did the Japanese do?
A I didn’t know because I hid right away.
Q What were you hit with?

INTERPRETER LAVENGCO: I didn’t get you, sir.

CAPTAIN PACE: Did you say that he was “hit?”



Q (By Captain Pace) You escaped from the Japanese; is that right?
A Yes, sir. I escaped.
Q Did they do anything while you were trying to escape?
A I was shot.

CAPTAIN PACE: Mark this for identification, please.

(Photograph of Witness Manguiat
was marked Prosecution Exhibit
No. 247 for identification.)

Q (By Captain Pace) How many times did they shoot you?

[p. 1509]

A About seven shots were fired at me. Only two hit me.
Q Will you look at Exhibit 247 for identification and tell what it is.
A This is my picture.
Q Does that show your two wounds?
A Yes, sir.

CAPTAIN PACE: I offer it in evidence.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Let me see the one you have.

There being no objection, it is accepted in evidence.

(Prosecution Exhibit No. 247
for identification was re-
ceived in evidence.)

CAPTAIN PACE: Mark this, please.

(Picture of well was marked
Prosecution Exhibit No. 248
for identification.)

Q (By Captain Pace) Will you look at Exhibit 248 for identification and state what it is?
A This is the well.
Q You mean the second well to which your group of 300 men was taken?
A Yes sir; that very well.

CAPTAIN PACE: If offer this Exhibit 248 in evidence.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: There being no objection, it is accepted in evidence.

Prosecution Exhibit No. 248
for identification was re-
ceived in evidence.)

Q (By Captain Pace) Since the day that your second group of 300 men were taken to the second well in Pusil, have you ever seen any one of those men alive?
A No more.

[p. 1510]

Q Did you have occasion to return to that well four days later?
A After four days, I returned to my family before going to the well.
Q Did you go to the well?
A Yes, sir. I went to the well.
Q What did you find there?
A Dead bodies.
Q Were there men or were there women and children?
A There were also women.
Q When you went back to the Barrio Pusil, were some of the women from the Barrio missing?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many?
A I cannot tell exactly how many, but there were many women and children missing.
Q Have you ever seen them alive since that day?
A No more. I didn’t see any.
Q In the group of Japanese which took you to the well that morning, were there any officers?
A I cannot tell exactly, but there were officers.
Q Where were the bodies you saw when you returned to the well four days later? In the well or around the well?
A Inside the well.

CAPTAIN PACE: You may inquire.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission will recess until 1:30 of this afternoon.

Whereupon a recess was taken until 1330 o’clock, 29 October 1945.)

[p. 1511]


(The trial was resumed, pursuant to recess, at 1330 hours.)

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The first order of business this afternoon will be the consideration of the affidavit of Shiyoku Koh who was for a time in charge of the internees and prisoners of war.


GENERAL REYNOLDS: Or did we say tomorrow morning?


GENERAL REYNOLDS: Then we will defer this until tomorrow morning.

MAJOR KERR: Sirs, all the members of the Commission are present, the Accused and his Defense Counsel are present, and the Prosecution will proceed.


the witness on the stand at the time of recess, having been previously duly sworn, was further examined and testified as follows through Interpreter Rodas:

MAJOR KERR: You will remind the witness that he is still under oath.

(Interpreter so cautions the witness.)


Q (By Captain Reel) I show you this map, Exhibit 243, and ask you to point out the town of Lipa.
A (Witness indicating town of Lipa on Exhibit 243).
Q It is true, is it not, that through Lipa passes the only road that leads from Batangas to the north?
A I do not know.

[p. 1512]

Q Well, showing you Exhibit 243, is this Batangas down here?
A Yes, it is Batangas.
Q And the only road that leads north at all from Batangas goes through Lipa, does it not?
A I do not know.
Q You do know, however, that there is a road leading up through Lipa from the south through to the north?
A What I know is that there is a road from Batangas going to Manila which passes Lipa.
Q Yes. And the road during this period in January and February, 1945, was used considerably by the Japanese forces, was it not?
A I do not know.
Q Didn’t you see Japanese military vehicles passing through Lipa on that road?
A Yes. I saw trucks, military trucks of the Japanese going to Manila.
Q And you saw many trucks with Japanese soldiers, also?
A Yes, I saw.
Q And is it not true that in the vicinity of Lipa, there were frequent night attacks by guerrillas on the Japanese forces going up that road?
A I do not know about that.

CAPTAIN REEL: Sir, at this time, the Defense wishes to ask a number of questions on guerrilla activities including one which was ruled out this morning. In other words, sir, we are asking the Commission to reverse its ruling. Our reason is simply this:

[p. 1513]

We feel that this matter is material to the issues, to the charges of the Batangas activities. The charge in this case charges the Accused with having failed to discharge his duty to control his troops.

Insofar as this Accused is concerned, going to the gravamen of that charge, we feel it is important to throw light and to explain some of these occurrences. It is a well-known psychological phenomenon that when a soldier or group of soldiers finds that that their companions and fellow soldiers have been killed and, in many cases, mutilated, their reaction is difficult if not impossible to control. And it goes to the very basic element, sir, of this charge.

Therefore, I ask at this time to be permitted to examine this witness and to have the Defense examine future witnesses on this subject of guerrilla activities.

MAJOR KERR: If the Commission, please, the Prosecution takes the position that all consideration of guerrilla activities is irrelevant; that no matter what the guerrilla activities might have been in a particular area, they could not possibly justify or explain or serve as a defense against the charges concerning the gross atrocities, the massacre of men, women and children.

Now, sir, if we are to be required to go into the entire subject of guerrilla activities in the Philippine Islands, we shall have embarked upon a most extensive enterprise, and I submit that it would unduly and unnecessarily and unjustifiably extend the period of the trial.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission will withdraw for deliberation.

[p. 1514]

(Whereupon members of the Commission retired for executive session.)

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission is in session.

During the presentation of the case by the Defense, the Commission is willing to entertain and consider a limited amount of testimony regarding guerrilla activities for the sole reason of determining more clearly the situation behind the Japanese lines. However, the Commission cannot accept such activities as justification of acts of cruelty. Since counsel will have a sufficient opportunity to develop this phase of the Defense by his own witnesses and since this witness is not the best source of the information, the objection of the Prosecution is sustained.

Q (By Captain Reel) When you were taken to this well that you have described, was that during the daytime or was it at night?
A Daytime.
Q Can you tell us the diameter of this well that you have described?
A Yes, I can tell.
Q And what was it?
A More than a meter in diameter.
Q Do you mean that it was just a little bit more than a meter or that it was two, three, or four meters?
A I cannot say. I cannot tell.
Q Was it as wide as one and one-half meters?
A I cannot tell right now.
Q You have told us that you knew it was more than a meter. Try to describe just a little more precisely what

[p. 1515]

you mean by “more than a meter.”
A I cannot tell right now.
Q Will you show us with your hands?
A No, I cannot.

CAPTAIN REEL: That’s all.

(Witness excused.)

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

Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Victor Manguiat 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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