Testimony of Jose M. Katigbak on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 Part II - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Jose M. Katigbak on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 Part II - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Jose M. Katigbak on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Lipa, Batangas in 1945 Part II




This page contains the testimony of Jose M. Katigbak on Japanese atrocities committed in the town of Lipa, Batangas 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.

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

[p. 1605]

Q I see. Do you know what the population of Lipa is now?
A According to our survey, the population of Lipa, including all of those evacuees from other towns, is around 46,000.
Q That is, the population of Lipa now is 1,000 more than it was during the war?
A Including those evacuees that are still in Lipa from other towns.
Q You stated that the headquarters of the Hunters ROTC guerrillas was located in Lipa?
A Yes, sir.
Q How do you know that?
A My younger brother is the Chief of the Intelligence Division of the ROTC guerrilla unit.
Q And did you know other people who were associated with the Hunters ROTC guerrillas?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were you yourself associated with them?
A Not exactly actively, but I am a supporter of it.
Q Will you describe to us exactly what your support consisted of?
A First support, I gave the lower part of my house as their headquarters and whenever they went to barrios, I either gave them money or gave them letters so that they might receive food and support from my friends in the barrios.

[p. 1606]

Q I see. As a man familiar with public affairs in Lipa, could you tell us what activities the Hunters ROTC guerrillas carried on?
A They were carrying an Intelligence Division, that is, working about the movements of the Japanese soldiers, the movements of their mechanized units, investigating the places where they were hiding their ammunition dumps, airplanes, parts of airplanes and other mechanical devices.
Q And as a man familiar with public affairs in Lipa, would you say that their espionage activities were effective?
A I think so, sir.
Q Were the Hunters ROTC guerrillas armed?
A No, sir. Some of them were bearing only small arms like revolvers for self-protection when they went to the different towns.
Q Were any of them armed with bolo knives?
A Pardon me?
Q Bolo knives.
A “Bolo?”
Q Bolo knives.
A Some of them, to disguise themselves as workers, used these bolo knives.
Q Did the Hunters ROTC guerrillas wear a uniform or distinctive marking?
A No, sir.
Q Would you describe their activities generally as “clandestine” and “secret?”
A As secret.

[p. 1607]

Q Would you describe their activities as being of the type in which they operated against the Japanese from secret hiding places and at night?
A Not secret hiding places because the place, you may not call “secret” because it was right in the town; but their actions were all secret.
Q Would you describe the Hunters ROTC guerrillas as a military organization engaged in the war against the Japanese?
A These ROTC guerrillas, the one that was located in Lipa, Batangas, as I have said, was only for [the] Intelligence Division. They were to detect all movements done by the Japanese, the soldier movement; they were to detect where the big guns were being placed and also the concentrations of their soldiers, ammunition dumps, and whatever was important that was asked by the headquarters.
Q As a man thoroughly familiar with public affairs in Lipa, will you tell us what the strength of the Hunters ROTC was in February and March of 1945?
MAJOR KERR: If the Commission please, may I inquire as to the purpose of this cross-examination?

GENERAL REYNOLDS: It seems to be pertinent. We did caution the Defense yesterday that they would be permitted to develop the guerrilla activities during their presentation of the case. This is an unusual witness and the Defense may continue.

A The Intelligence Division that was located in Lipa, Batangas had more than a hundred members.
Q (By Captain Sandberg) I see. Was there also

[p. 1608]

operating at this time in Lipa the makapili?
A The makapilis during that time were rather inactive. They had not been in the field very much.
Q Well, do you remember an instance in which the makapili, as has been testified here this morning, made up lists of persons to be killed?
A Yes, sir.
Q And would you describe that as “inactivity?”
A Well, that’s the only contribution that we had got. They didn’t venture out in the field, because this list was being compiled within the town limits or within their barrios.
Q So, would you say that their sole activity was limited to informing the Japanese on the activities of the guerrillas?
A That was during February, but in March, when they found out that the people were already going away, they increased their activity because most of the guerrillas were not there — very few guerrillas were there already in town.
Q Were the makapili armed?
A Pardon me?
Q Were the makapili armed? A Some of them were armed and some of them were not.
Q Returning to the Hunters ROTC, do you remember as a man familiar with activities in Lipa of a time when American airplanes dropped guns, machine guns and other supplies, military equipment for use by the guerrillas around Lipa?
A In Lipa, there was none of that.

[p. 1609]

Q Do you know of a guerrilla unit around Marauoy that amounted in strength to a full armed division?
A Marauoy, that is the P.Q.O.G.; President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas. P.Q.O.G. guerrillas.
Q And that was an active military organization, was it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q Fully armed to the strength of one division?
A Not fully armed but well armed.
Q And do you remember a guerrilla unit around Lake Taal that had a strength of about 10,000?
A 5,000?
Q 10,000.
A There was no guerrilla unit that had 10,000 near Lake Taal. There was a guerrilla unit on the Islands of Lake Taal.
Q And what was the strength of that?
A Only about 250 to 300.
Q Do you know a guerrilla unit that was headed by Vicente Umali?
A That was the P.Q.O.G.
Q Was there opposition between the makapili and the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas?
A Plenty. They had everything against each other.
Q Do you remember the Hukbalahap? Did they operate down there?
A There was none in our locality.
Q Were there any operations by them in Batangas?
A There was none so far.

[p. 1610]

Q Do you remember when the Mayor of Lipa was kidnapped in November of 1944?
A Mayor of Lipa kidnapped?
Q Yes.
A The Mayor of Lipa that was supposed to have been kidnapped was ex-mayor, not the mayor himself.
Q That is, he was the former —
A Mayor.
Q Mayor. And he was kidnapped by the guerrilla organizations?
A Not exactly kidnapped, but he ran away and said that he was kidnapped in order to protect his family from the Japanese.
Q I see. As a man familiar with public affairs in Lipa, will you tell us about the Japanese troops there? How many were in the town?
A During that time, the Japanese troops in Lipa, the exact number is not available because they moved from one point to another. Sometimes, groups would come to Lipa numbering about 600 to 700. The same groups would disappear the night after.
Q Well now, if I tell you that there were about 40 or 50 air force men, members of the Japanese air force there, would that refresh your recollection?
A You mean air force?
Q Japanese air force, that is, the ground force of the Japanese air force.
A The ground force of the Japanese airstrip in Lipa was not only 50. There were about 200 of them.

[p. 1611]

Q Do you remember that after the Americans landed in Tagaytay that the Japanese caused the City of Lipa to be evacuated of its civilian population?
A At first, they told the people to evacuate. Then, after when all the people had gone away, they asked the people to return again and get passes so that they might go to town without any molestation from the Japanese.
Q Isn’t it a fact that the purpose of the evacuation was to protect the civilian population from the ravages of war and the internecine fighting between the various contending guerrilla factions?
A That was what they said, but that was not the fact because after the people had gone to the barrios, they began their raids in the barrios.
Q Lipa is on the main highway from Batangas to Manila, is it not?
A Yes, sir.
Q And was there a considerable amount of Japanese military traffic on that highway?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you recall that incident in which that traffic was harassed by guerrillas?
A Not in the vicinity of Lipa.
Q But nearby?
A Maybe in other towns, but not in Lipa.
Q Do you know Eusevio [Eusebio] Linatoc?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you know him as a member of a guerrilla organization?

[p. 1612]

A He is not a member of a guerrilla organization.
Q Do you now Cipriano Rodelas?
A Cipriano Rodelas?
Q Yes.
A He is not a member of the organization.
Q And Felix Javier?
A Felix Javier is also not a member of the organization.
Q And you knew who the members of the organization were?
A Some of them; not all.
Q You have a pretty good idea who did belong, but you weren’t a member yourself?
A I am a supporter.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission is quite well informed on the activities of guerrillas in Lipa. Is there anything to be gained by pursuing this discussion further?

CAPTAIN SANDBERG: Well, sir, I am just about finished with that phase of the cross-examination.

Q (By Captain Sandberg) In connection with the destruction of Lipa, where were you personally at that time?
A I was in the barrio.
Q How far from the city?
A Not very far. I could see the city from the barrio. It is about 11 kilometers.
Q You were about 11 kilometers from the scene of destruction?
A Yes.
Q So that you didn’t actually see what caused the destruction, did you?

[p. 1613]

A What I mean is that I was outside of the town, is that my family and myself were living outside of the town, being a supporter of the guerrillas, we were always venturing to get into the town, near the town. So that during that night when they set fire, most of our members were very near and some of them actually were within the town limits.
Q But so far as you yourself were concerned as a witness in this case, you didn’t actually see what caused the destruction of the houses in Lipa?
A I saw those which were on the outskirts of the town. That is near the town limit.
Q And did you actually see how those houses were destroyed?
A Yes, sir.
Q What exactly did you see?
A They threw bottles of gasoline, bottles containing gasoline, with wicks that were lighted. Some of them in small houses, they just splashed gasoline on the walls and then they lit it with [a] match.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission has already heard that same question and the same answer, and unless Counsel has some particular reason for re-asking the question which is already in the record, we prefer not to take that time.

[p. 1614]

CAPTAIN SANDBERG: Well, if you please, sir, cross examination has already elicited from the witness that so far as the destruction of Lipa proper was concerned, it was not within the witness’ own knowledge, even though on direct examination, the inference was that it was. We regard that as extremely important, and the purpose of this cross examination is to elicit from the witness exactly how much he knew or knows, and how much is mere rumor or second-hand information.



Q (By Captain Sandberg) Now, you say that ROTC guerrillas marked certain houses for destruction. How do you know that?
A Because the members of the guerrilla division were separated into different sections of the town.
Q Yes. And how did the information come to you?
A When the chief compiled these different reports of the agents, so that they could get the statement at one time.
Q So that you knew the basis upon which the houses were marked for destruction?
A Pardon me?
Q So that you knew the basis upon which these houses were marked for destruction?
A I knew then by that report, and also after some of the houses were being burned.
Q Now, isn’t it a fact that the houses which were marked for destruction were the houses which belonged to Japanese collaborators?

[p. 1615]

A Exactly not — those houses which were being occupied by materials; for example, airplane parts and gasoline owned by the Japanese.
Q I see. Now, with reference to the fighting in Lipa, you were not there at the time, were you?
A I was in the barrio. There was nobody inside the town when there was fighting.
Q So that you don’t know of your own knowledge what the extent of the fighting was?
A What we saw only on account of the cannons and the airplanes that were making a dive into the town.
Q Now, you don’t also know of your own knowledge to what extent American artillery fire destroyed property in Lipa, do you?
A Not the American artillery fire; it practically didn’t destroy anything of importance in the town of Lipa.
Q Well, you don’t know, do you? That is your conclusion, but you don’t actually know; you weren’t there?
A We were near, and we saw that the firing was not in the town, but outside the town; the shells were dropping outside the town.
Q Do you recall instances in which American airplanes dived over the town on strafing operations?
A Yes, sir.
Q You do. Did that do any destruction?
A There were about 7 or 8 houses that were bombed.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission will recess for approximately ten minutes.

[p. 1616]

(Short recess.)

GENERAL REYNOLDS: The Commission is in session. The Prosecution may proceed.

The Defense have announced they have no further questions of this witness.


Q (By Captain Pace) You have testified on cross examination as to the existence of the Makapili in your municipality, is that right, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Were they part of the Japanese army?
A They were part of the Japanese army.
Q You have also testified that the population of Lipa in 1939 was 45,000, and at present it is about 46,000?
A Yes, sir, including those evacuees from other towns.
Q How many evacuees in Lipa from other towns?
A There are about 10,000 of them.
Q How many people, approximately, have evacuated from Lipa to other municipalities?
A This list contains mostly the people of Lipa that are in Lipa, and that is that their residences or houses are still in Lipa, although some of them may be merchants in other towns.
Q Now, you testified that about 10,000 people had evacuated to Lipa?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many people have left Lipa during that period, evacuated away from there?

[p. 1617]

A The people of Lipa? The residents of Lipa?
Q Yes.
A Very few.
Q How is the death rate in Lipa compared with the birth rate, over that period?
A The death rate in Lipa, compared to the birth rate, from 1939, you mean, to the present time?
Q Yes.
A Nearly equal. Sometimes, there were months that the death rate was more than the birth rate.
Q Now, of the 100 ROTC guerrillas that you testified were in Lipa, how many of those were executed by the Japanese?
A I know of three.
Q Three?
A Three.
CAPTAIN PACE: That is all I have, sir.

GENERAL DONOVAN: I have a question. When you say “the population of Lipa,” do you mean Lipa proper, or Antipolo or Anilao?

THE WITNESS: That is the whole municipality.

GENERAL DONOVAN: The whole business?



Q (By Captain Sandberg) Now, when you testified that the Makapili is a part of the Japanese Army, am I correct in assuming that the statement is based on a pretty thorough knowledge by you of the organization of the Makapili?

[p. 1618]

A The Makapili used the same uniforms as the Japanese Army.
Q Would you answer my question, please?
A Yes, sir.
CAPTAIN REEL: Will you read the question?

(The question referred to was read by the reporter as follows:)

“Q Now, when you testified that the Makapili was a part of the Japanese Army, am I correct in assuming that the statement is based on a pretty thorough knowledge by you of the organization of the Makapili?”

A Not a very thorough knowledge. I base my conclusion on the fact that they used the same uniform as the Japanese Army.
Q (By Captain Sandberg) I see. And they continued to operate up until the very approach of the American forces in March of 1945?
A They had operated with the Japanese in their fight against the American forces.
Q Now, based on your knowledge of the Makapili, isn’t it a fact and within your knowledge that General Ricarte was one of the heads of the Makapili?
A Not exactly one of the heads, but one of the organizers.
Q And do you know a man named Lapus, who was a member of this Makapili organization?
CAPTAIN PACE: I object to that, sir. The evidence before this Commission is that Lapus was not a member

[p. 1619]

of that Makapili.
GENERAL REYNOLDS: The objection is sustained.
Q (By Captain Sandberg) Do you know a man by the name of Narciso Lapus?
A In the newsprint; not personally.
Q Now, would it be a correct statement that the Makapili are as much a part of the Japanese Army as the Hunters guerrillas were members of the American Army?
A The guerrillas were quite an independent unit, although cooperating with the Americans.
Q Well, this intelligence and espionage that they furnished, they furnished to the Americans, didn’t they?
A Pardon?
Q I say the intelligence and espionage work they did, they did it for the benefit of the United States Army, didn’t they?
A Yes, sir.
Q In connection with the evacuees, based on your knowledge of public affairs, is there a considerable floating population in Batangas?
A Not Batangas, but in Lipa, because some of the evacuees are not from other towns of Batangas, but from the Provinces of Tayabas and Laguna.
Q And people have been uprooted from their homes and moved to other locations in considerable numbers?
A In Lipa?
Q That is right.
A Three have been returned back to the town, and they built small shacks right in their own properties.

[p. 1620]

Q Well, how many evacuees are there in Lipa from other localities?
A There are around 10,000.
Q And are they from other places in Batangas?
A Some of them from other towns, like Rosario.
Q So that there is a pretty sizable floating population in Batangas?
A In Lipa.
Q That is, people who are uprooted from their customary homes and come to strange and unfamiliar places where they are not known?
A Not exactly not known, because most of them are people that have married — that is, from Lipa have married to other girls from other provinces, so they are also practically known to us.

CAPTAIN PACE: Thank you, Doctor.

(Witness excused.)


Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Jose M. Katigbak 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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