Address of Colonel A. Nagahama, Chief of the Japanese Military Police, before thirty-three members of guerrilla units released from Fort Santiago, Manila, on November 13, 1943.

MY FRIENDS:

A few weeks ago you were brought to Fort Santiago on the charge of engaging in guerrilla activities. You did not give yourselves up in response to repeated urging and appeals made public by the Military Police through different agencies of information whereby the lives of all guerrillas who lay down their arms and present themselves to the authorities would have their lives spared. Instead, you were arrested on the evidence gathered in due course of investigation.

Under these circumstances and in the light of the nature of the charges brought against you, the Military Police are under no obligation to be lenient. I recall very well that, even in my message to the guerrillas in hiding, while I offered them life and freedom if they heeded my word to give themselves up voluntarily, I likewise stressed that should they fail to follow the advice, but were instead captured, I would not then be in a position to guarantee their lives and personal safety.

Yet, today I am happy to say that even in the case of these “captured guerrillas,” the Imperial Japanese Army has again demonstrated its great generosity and magnanimity because out of its genuine concern and love for the Filipino people it has exceeded the limits of its offer by releasing you men so that you may return to your homes and families and above all to your people who are waiting for you with open arms to join them in the transcendental task of making your Philippines progressive, happy and worthy of its new place in the concert of free states and as a member of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

It has been said that the basis of all love is understanding. The love of the Japanese for the Filipino people has, I believe, been amply demonstrated time and again in the course of their relations with each other since the occupation of these Islands by the Imperial Japanese Army last year. Your release today is a further proof of this love borne out of understanding that you were impelled to engage in guerrilla activities because you had failed to fully understand the motives of the Japanese due to subtle and misleading American propaganda, or because of outright coercion and intimidation.

Whatever the motives were, they are now to be forgotten and buried with the past. You are being released after having undergone reorientation and rejuvenation, ready to take your place among 18 million Filipinos who are in full comprehension of the ideals and who are now striving for the good of the Philippines and the good of their one billion neighbors in East Asia. Live up to the expectations reposed on you.

Your release today should not be significant only to you, but also to others who are still in hiding and who are in doubt about the sanctity with which the Japanese keep their word. What more proof do they need than your case in which we have not only kept our pledge, but have carried it farther than its scope? To those still in hiding, I again make an appeal: “Grasp your opportunity to be free men again. It is not only an opportunity, but also your sacred duty and obligation to your country and to the causes for which you claimed you fled to mountain fastnesses.”

To the families of these men who with their own eyes have learned and seen how former guerrillas have been restored to their homes and are now busily engaged in helping build their new republic, I also make an appeal to persuade, convince and urge their friends, husbands, brothers and sons still in hiding to come out and do their share, too.

Those of you to be released today were taken into custody before the establishment of the Republic last October 14th. You are being released today with the independent Philippine Republic already one month old. When you go out of the gates of Fort Santiago, you will find out that your dream, the dream of hallowed Filipino heroes and the dream of generations before you has come true.

See things for yourselves, judge them for yourselves, then decide whether the cause of the new Philippine Republic is worth working for, living for, and even dying for.

To the families of these men to be released today, my felicitations for their joyous reunion. I ask them to take back their men into their bosoms and to all of them my sincerest wishes for their happiness and growth as vital units of the country. As each and every Filipino family grows stronger so will the nation become stronger.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library