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Japanese Occupation of the Philippines

During Word War II


A typical Japanese soldier during Word War II On December 8, 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines. Clark Air Base in Pampanga was first attacked and also Nichols Field outside Manila was attacked, then on December 22, The Japanese forces landed at the Lingayen Gulf and continued on to Manila. General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an open city on the advice of commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon to avoid its destruction. Manila was occupied by the Japanese on January 2, 1942. MacArthur retreated with his troops to Bataan while the commonwealth government withdrew to Corregidor island before proceeding to the United States. The joint American and Filipino soldiers in Bataan finally surrendered on April 9, 1942. MacArthur escaped to Corregidor then proceeded to Australia. The 76,000 captured soldiers were forced to embark on the infamous "Death March" to a prison camp more than 100 kilometers north. An estimated 10,000 prisoners died due to thirst, hunger and exhaustion.


The Huks

In the midst of fear and chaos, some farmers of Pampanga banded together and created local brigades for their protection. Luis Taruc, Juan Feleo, Castro Alejandrino, and other leaders of organized farmers held a meeting in February 1942 in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. In that meeting, they agreed to fight the Japanese as a unified guerrilla army. Another meeting was held the following month, where in representatives from Tarlac, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija threshed out various details regarding their organization, which they agreed to call "Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon" or HUKBALAHAP. Taruc was chosen to be the Leader of the group, with Alejandrino as his right hand man. The members were simply known as Huks!


The Philippine Executive Commission


Jose P. Laurel, president during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines

In accordance the instructions of President Manuel Quezon to Jorge Vargas, the Filipino officials in Manila were told to enter into agreements and compromises with the Japanese to mitigate the sufferings of the people under the iron-clad rule of the Japanese. On January 23, 1942 the Philippine Executive Commission was established, with Vargas as chairman. the following was appointed as department heads: Benigno Aquino, Sr., interior; Antonio de las Alas, finance; Jose P. Laurel, justice; Claro M. Recto, education, health, and public welfare; and Quintin Paredes, public works and communication; Jose Yulo was named Chief Justice of the Supreme court.


The following month, an election was held for members of The Preparatory Commission for Philippine Independence (PCPI). The purpose of PCPI is to draw up a constitution for a free Philippines. Jose Laurel became its head. Against the will of the PCPI delegates the new Constitution was finalized on July 10, 1943. Two months later it was ratified by the KALIBAPI, which was the only political party allowed to exist at that time. KALIBAPI is the acronym for "Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas".

The new constitution, which noticeably lacked a bill of rights contained 12 articles lifted from the 1935 constitution that fitted the wishes of the Japanese. It was meant to be in effect only temporarily, while the Philippines still in chaos. After the war, a new constitution would again be drafted for the new Philippine Republic.

The Second Republic


On September 20 1943, the KALIBAPI- under the leadership of its director general, Benigno Aquino Sr. held a party convention to elect 54 members of the National Assembly. The Assembly was actually made up of 108 members; but half of this number was composed of incumbent governors and city mayors. Jose P. Laurel was elected as president of the second republic (the first republic was Aguinldo's Malolos Republic) and both Benigno Aquino Sr. & Ramon Avancena as a vice-presidents. The new republic was inaugurated on October 14 1943 on the front steps of the legislative building in Manila. The Philippine flag was hoisted as the national anthem was played. Meanwhile, the Japanese started using propaganda to gain the trust and confidence of Filipinos who refused to cooperate with them. They hung giant posters and distribute their materials that contains such slogans as "the Philippines belong to the Filipinos." they also used newspapers, movies, and others to publicize the same idea. Promoting Japanese propaganda was one of the main objectives of the KALIBAPI, but still Japanese failed to gain the trust of the Filipinos.


Gen. Douglas MacArthur Returns


From Australia, Allied forces slowly advanced toward the Philippines, bombing several Japanese strongholds until they regained control of areas previously occupied by the enemy. The bombings began on September 21 1944, and barely a month later, on October 20, 1944, the Americans landed triumphantly in Leyte. Once a shore, General Douglas MacArthur said; "I have Returned."


Sergio Osmena, President during the commonwealth period

Sergio Osmeña was Part of MacArthur’s group. He had taken over Manuel L. Quezon as president after the latter past way at Saranac Lake, New York on August 1944. From October 23 to October 26, 1944 the Americans engaged Japanese forces in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Consider as the biggest naval battle in World History, this historic encounter almost destroyed the entire Japanese fleet and rendered in incapable of further attack. The US victory in the battle of Leyte Gulf is said to have signaled the beginning of Philippine liberation from the Japanese.


By mid-December, the American soldiers had reached Mindoro. The Japanese, meanwhile, secured other area where their thought other American units would land. Nevertheless, US liberation forces successfully docked at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945. The news alarmed the Japanese. Lt. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, supreme commander of the Japanese troops in Manila, mobilize his kamikazes (Japanese suicide pilots); but they failed to stop Americans. The Japanese also deployed MAKAPILI units to defend Manila but neither succeeds.


On December 8, 1944, President Laurel and his cabinet moved to Baguio upon orders of Yamashita, who is also known as the tiger of Malaya. The Japanese forces retreated to Yamashita line a jungle battlefront stretching along the Sierra Madre Mountains from Antipolo, Rizal to Appari Cagayan.


The Japanese in Manila would not give up easily. In fact, it took 3 weeks of intense fighting before they finally surrendered on February 23. Gen. MacArthur continued to liberate other parts of the country. And finally proclaim general freedom from the Japanese on July 4, 1945. Continue to Philippine Independence from the Americans.


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