The information that can be gleaned from the Supreme Court records of Philippines’ citizens tried for treason during the Japanese occupation demonstrate that combating guerrilla activities were one area of concern in which the Japanese actively worked with Philippines’ collaborators. Intelligence gathering, often through very coercive methods, was critical to this activity and one in which Philippines’ collaborators seem to have played a major role. Two examples from the court records illustrate this.
Antonio Racaza (G.R. No. L-365) was accused of acting as a spy and guide for forces composed of Japanese and Philippine supporters in and around the Province of Cebu. In May 1944 he, along with other Philippine collaborators, apprehended and questions a one Custodio Abella as they sought information about the location of guerrilla forces that continued to resist the Japanese, torturing Abella and finally handing him over to the Kempei. He was accused of several similar acts: in August 1944 he questioned and tortured a Florencio Perez to gain information about guerrilla forces’ locations. On December 2, 1944, he led the Japanese to the home of Pablo Seno and his daughter Anunsacion Seno, both of whom were tortured and turned over to the Kempei Tai. The court documents noted that the fate of these two is unknown. On the same day, they preceded to the home of Rufino Seno, who likewise was, after torture, handed to the Kempei Tai, and his fate is likewise unknown. This pattern was repeated with variations. On August 19, 1944, he also attempted to rape the sister of the man being interrogated. On August 24, 1944, after leading Kempei Tai officials, along with Philippine collaborators, to seize Patricio Suico, Leonardo Ouano and Eduardo Ouano, individuals thought to have guerrilla connections. They were brought to Leonardo’s house at Banilad where Patricio Suico was hanged and burned to death while the Ouanos were able to escape. In all, fourteen different cases of leading Japanese with Philippine collaborators to individuals thought to have connections with or knowledge of guerrilla activities occurred, with at least 17 of those interrogated being murdered, and the whereabouts of more being unknown after having been handed off to the Kempei Tai.
The case of Eleuterio Caña (G.R. No. L-1678) illustrates that many Japanese collaborates acted quite openly, but what counted as “aiding and comforting the enemy” as not always clear. Eleuterio Caña was accused of giving ” aid and comfort to the enemy, willfully , feloniously and treasonably” as he served as “puppet Mayor” of the Abuyog, Leyte. Among his crimes were providing local labor to dig “trenches, foxholes and air raids shelters around the Japanese garrison” (corvée, it appears, but is not clear), ejecting locals from their homes in order to house Japanese soldiers, forcing locals to harvest palay and then provide it to the Japanese, and disparaging the American and Philippines’ forces. He was also involved in helping the Japanese locate and combat guerrilla activities, accompanying them on patrols and even participating in the razing of homes in “Himara, Mahapalag, Union, Ogis, Mahayahay, Polahongon all in the Layog District, and in the barrios of Bayabas, Dingle, Combos, Laray, Taleque, Habadyang, sitio Malasiga, sitio Maitum, parts of the Barrio Anglad, of the all of Hogasaan District.” He also directed the Japanese to people of interest such as Basilio Pacatan who was said to be the father-in-law of a guerrilla lieutenant named Nicolas Camintoy. Some of these accusations, such as forcing individuals to harvest palay and handing it over to the Japanese, seem to be false. It appears that the lands had been abandoned, and rather than let the palay rot, Caña organized its harvest. Half the harvest went to the harvesters, and a quarter was used “according to uncontradicted evidence” as food relief for the poor at a time where there were no rice imports. The finally quarter was paid “as protection money” to the Japanese garrison that provided security from guerrilla forces while the harvest was underway. Therefore, this charge was dropped, but it illustrates that often people were caught between two forces, both feared and perceived as hostile–the Japanese occupying forces, and the Philippine guerrilla resistance forces.
“G.R. No. L-365; THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. ANTONIO RACAZA, Defendant-Appellant.” 2015. Accessed September 24. http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1949/jan1949/gr_l-365_1949.html.
“G.R. No. L-1678; THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff -Appellee, vs. ELEUTERIO CAÑA, Defendant-Appellant.” 2015. Accessed September 25. http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1950/nov1950/gr_l-1678_1950.html.