‘…Republic Act No. 11216 (approved February 14, 2019 by Rodrigo Roa Duterte) declared September 3 of every year a special working public holiday throughout the country in commemoration of the surrender of the Japanese military forces at the American High Commissioner’s Residence in Camp John Hay, Baguio City in 1945.’
IT was September 3, 1945 (the same date when Tomoyuki Yamashita, Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines, accepted defeat and faced his betters in Ifugao) and J.V. Stalin, Marshal of the Soviet Union, could confidently say in Order of the Day No. 373: “The war which the Soviet people together with our allies made against the last aggressor — Japanese imperialism — has ended victoriously. Japan is defeated and has surrendered… In appreciation of the victory over Japan, the whole of the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, will today, September 3, the day of the victory over Japan, salute at 21.00 hours, in the name of our country, the glorious troops of the Red Army, the ships and formations of the Navy, which have achieved this victory, with 24 artillery salvoes from 324 canons.”
It turns out that we in the Philippines have a similar Victory Day with the Soviets. In fact, Republic Act No. 11216 (approved February 14, 2019 by Rodrigo Roa Duterte) declared September 3 of every year a special working public holiday throughout the country in commemoration of the surrender of the Japanese military forces at the American High Commissioner’s Residence in Camp John Hay, Baguio City in 1945.
To mark the milestone, the United States Embassy in the Philippines held a virtual commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Japanese Surrender (with Secretaries Lorenzana and Locsin of Defense and Foreign Affairs, respectively, in attendance) where American Ambassador Sung Kim enjoined: “To that end, the shared sacrifice of Americans and Filipinos in World War II led directly to our formal alliance, established in 1948, which has grown into a lasting partnership that goes well beyond mutual defense.”
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has been conducting a webinar National Conference on the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II in the Philippines (with the theme of “Keeping Alive the Valor of Heroes of World War II”), featuring last September 10, 2020 Jose Mathew Luga of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, Rhonie C. Dela Cruz of the Bamban Historical Society and Prof. Bernard Karganilla of the University of the Philippines Manila.
Prof. Luga revealed the “Duel between the Philippines and Japan in the Field of Espionage and Counter-Espionage in Northern Luzon, 1942-1994,” Rhonie C. Dela Cruz superbly presented the story of WW2 guerrillas in Tarlac (“‘Until Their Dying Hours’: A Grassroot Endeavor to Preserve the Legacy of the Local WWII Veterans,” and Prof. Karganilla undertook a policy analysis of “WW2 and Historical Education,” with Bryan Paraiso of the NHCP moderating.
In his policy analysis, Prof. Karganilla shared the following: The 1987 Philippine Constitution commands all educational institutions to “inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, (and) appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country.” [Article XIV. Section 3(2)]
(1) The roots of Japanese imperialist ambitions go all the way back to the 16th century. “A Long Account…Of Intrigues And Plots Among The Japanese To Subdue The Philippines, As They Have Done With Corea.” [Blair and Robertson. The Philippine Islands, 1493–1898.Volume IX, 1593–1597.The second embassy to Japan. Reply to the Japanese emperor’s letter]
(2) The Republic of China’s status as one of the allies and a victor in the Pacific War was darkened by the re-ignition of the KMT-CPC Civil War. “That the fruits of victory of the War of Resistance should go to the people is one thing, but who will eventually get them and whether it will be the people is another. Don’t be too sure that all the fruits of victory will fall into the hands of the people. Chiang Kai-shek will grab a lot of big peaches, such as Shanghai, Nanking, Hangchow and other big cities.” [The Situation And Our Policy After The Victory In The War Of Resistance Against Japan, Speech delivered by Mao Tse-tung at a meeting of cadres in Yenan, August 13, 1945]
(3) Punish the traitors. “Those who resisted Japanese tyranny were called bandits, in the name of national solidarity. These same collaborators issued to us threats of death by enemy guns and bombs in the name of national solidarity. Many of these collaborators played the role of spies to destroy the resistance movement against the Japanese regime, in the name of solidarity. Now they are using the same battle cry of national solidarity that they may continue to hold public positions, that they may once more have in their hands the power and authority of government, and that they may continue to live in comfort, in luxury, and in ease.” [Speech Of Secretary Tomas Confesor In A Popular Meeting Held Under The Auspices Of The Manila Civilian Anti-Japanese Association, April 1, 1945]
(4) Go after the war criminals. “Whereas, it is both necessary and proper that the perpetrators and persons responsible for such offenses committed in the territories of the Commonwealth of the Philippines be brought to justice and punished and that a true record of the atrocities, horrors, and wanton destruction so inflicted upon our people be preserved,” thus, we “do hereby establish a National War Crimes Office charged with the responsibility jointly with the United States National War Crimes Office of accomplishing the speedy and just punishment of Japanese war criminals guilty of atrocities, cruelties and acts of oppression against the people and armed forces of the Philippines, the citizens and armed forces of the United States of America in the Philippines and the citizens of other of the United Nations.” [Sergio Osmeña, President of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 64, 16 August 1945]
(5) Reward the loyal. “The epic resistance of the guerrillas in the Philippines, assisted by loyal citizens, is known throughout the world and has elicited the admiration of the United Nations.” [Sergio Osmeña, President of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 69, Creating The Resistance Movement Medal And Resistance Movement Diploma In Recognition Of The Services Rendered By The Guerrilla Forces And Patriotic Citizens In Resisting The Enemy, September 26, 1945]
(6) Take care of the victims, particularly the girls exploited by Japan’s wartime military sexual slavery system. “Of course, we greatly sympathize with the cause of petitioners, and we cannot begin to comprehend the unimaginable horror they underwent at the hands of the Japanese soldiers. We are also deeply concerned that, in apparent contravention of fundamental principles of law, the petitioners appear to be without a remedy to challenge those that have offended them before appropriate fora. Needless to say, our government should take the lead in protecting its citizens against violation of their fundamental human rights. Regrettably, it is not within our power to order the Executive Department to take up the petitioners cause. Ours is only the power to urge and exhort the Executive Department to take up petitioners cause.” [G.R. NO. 162230, April 28, 2010]
Rehabilitation was a tough follow-through. Settle the accounts with finality in our 21st century.