Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Japanese Invasion

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army landed in the Philippines. Davao and Sulu were occupied immediately and in April 1942, Cotabato and Lanao were garrisoned. The Moros, approximately 700,000 in population, saw the newcomers as another group of invaders and therefore had to be fought. Numbering by tens of thousands, the Moros enlisted in the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) in fighting off the Japanese invasion; Those who were not accommodated in the regular USAFFE units joined the guerrilla battalions just to become involved in the war endeavors. Among those who figured prominently in the war were Lt. Salipada Pendatun, Datu Udtog Matalam, Gumbay Piang and Manalao Mindalano. The guerrillas inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese troops through hit-and-run tactics. At one time, the guerrillas under Manalao Mindalano inflicted 129 casualties on the Japanese soldiers during an ambush in Tamparan along Lake Lanao. The Japanese retaliated by subjecting the guerrillas with intense bombings that lasted for almost a month.
However, if there were many Moro leaders who fought in the side of the Americans, those who cooperated alongside the Japanese were equally many. They thought it would be better to take part in the Japanese war efforts. Others tried to exonerate this cooperation by saying that it was making the best out of a bad situation.` Still others cited the cooperation as serving the best interests of the people. Those who went the way of cooperation were Sultan Alauya Alonto of Lanao, Datu Sinsuat Balabaran, Datu Minandang Piang of Cotabato, and Datu Ombra Amilbangsa, Datu Gulamu Rasul and Datu Salih Ututalum of Sulu. Some of these leaders accepted positions in the Japanese Puppet Government, and actually benefited from this cooperation, especially in terms of material and educational rewards. Right after the war, some pro-Japanese leaders were charged with treason before the People's Court for collaboration. One of the biggest and most celebrated cases of collaboration was that filed against Datu Sinsuat Balabaran, Datu Odin Sinsuat and Datu Blah Sinsuat. The investigation lasted up to 1948.
In these cases, the men who were charged with collaboration with the Japanese were called "traitors" and those who sided with the Americans were hailed as "heroes." Seen from the reverse side, the question would bring out the same answer in reverse. Those who were identified with Japan would have been "heroes" and those with America would have been "traitors." Thus, whichever side they chose, they would always be the villain to the opposite side, which only reveals the ugly facet of nationalism when viewed in the prism of other countries, especially of the colonialists or invaders.
Both the Americans and the Japanese came to the Philippines in quest of more lands, glory and gold at the expense of the Filipinos and Moros in this country. Therefore, whichever side one chose or fought for during the war the fact remained that one fought for the wrong cause and had done the immoral thing. Author Onofre D. Corpuz made this observation:
A lively issue for some time was that of collaboration with the Japanese occupation regime. In the verdicts of the tribunals that tried the collaboration cases, the men who were declared to have collaborated with the Japanese were called traitors, as if those who were loyal to the United States, and fought the guerrilla war so that the Americans would return, were any less betrayers of the nation's integrity. The meaning of the nation had been lost; the Filipinos could only view themselves in terms of other countries."
The truth of this otherwise comical scenario was rendered more
revealing after the war. Both the so-called heroes and traitors were equally catapulted into high-ranked positions, elected or appointed, to serve the government after the war. Although there were some who were found guilty of collaboration by the People's Court, this was shortlived. When Pres. Manuel Roxas assumed the presidency in 1946, he solved the collaboration issue by proclaiming amnesty to all the political prisoners. He himself was a "collaborator," for he served well in the Philippine Puppet Government under Pres. Jose P. Laurel. The Americans themselves, through the maneuvers of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, chose Manuel Roxas, the "collaborator," over Sergio Osmena, a hardliner on the collaboration issue, to become the protege of the Americans in the election of 1946. 25
During the war there were times that animosities between the. Moros and Christians degenerated into open hostility. This was particularly true with opposing guerrilla units, one group fighting on the side of the Americans and the other with the Japanese. The guerrillas were the former, while the Japanese-backed Bureau of Constabulary were the latter. The Bureau was renamed the Philippine Constabulary when the so-called Philippine independence was granted by Japan on October 15, 1944. On the guerrilla side were Salipada Pendatun, Datu Udtog M talam, Datu Mantil Dilangalen and Gumbay Piang and, on the side of the Japanese, were no less than Gen. Paulino Santos, Froilan Matas and Sebastian javelosa. Actually, Pendatun was not involved in the conflict, but being the most prominent guerrilla leader, he was inevitably dragged into it. On July 1, 1944, a patrol of Japanese-BC Patrol led by Capt. Sebastian Javelosa attacked a guerrilla base in Buluan and captured two prominent Moro leaders, Datu Butu Mangudadatu and Datu Daongtan. The guerrillas retaliated by laying a siege on the BC garrison at Tacurong, which resulted in the slaying of Lt. Gregorio Jayme and the capture of 40 BC soldiers. The Japanese conducted a reprisal by sending 37 planes to bomb the guerrilla positions. Twenty two persons, including two guerrillas were killed.
On August 1, 1944, Pres. Manuel Quezon died in Saranak Lake, New York. Sergio Osmena, then the Vice President of the Commonwealth Government, was sworn in immediately as President. He pledged to continue the fight until the Philippines was finally liberated . On September 2, 1945, Japan signed the terms of surrender on board the battleship Missouri at Tokyo Bay. This ended the war. Immediately, Pres. Sergio Osmena appointed Moros to the government. Salipada Pendatun was appointed Governor of Cotabato and Datu Manalao Mindalano to the Executive Committee of the Philippine Veterans Legion in Manila. In the 1946 election, three Moro leaders were elected. Salipada Pendatun won a Senate seat, Datu Ombra Amilbangsa of Sulu and Manalao Mindalano of Lanao were elected congressmen.

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