Brig. Gen. Tagumpay A. Nanadiego (Ret.)
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning:
I am a retired general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, now 88 years old and a USAFFE-Guerilla Veteran of WWII. I was a 22-year old enlisted man, a private in the Reserve Force of the Philippine Commonwealth Army when I reported for active duty at Camp Wilhelm, Lucena, Tayabas, Philippines on December 16, 1941, exactly eight days after the bombing by Japanese planes of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) pursuant to the Military Order of President Franklin Dealano Roosevelt of July 26, 1941.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the committee, may I state at this juncture that this is the 3rd time that I have been invited to the hearings on this important subject and I related out sad stories, the experience and torture that we endured in the infamous 65-mile Death March and the hell that was Camp O'Donnell. I related these in detail in my article which I wrote for the Stars and Stripes of April 1996. After the liberation of the Philippines, I returned to military control and I became a member the Board of Review for the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army on War Crimes, and let me tell you that Colonel Ito, the Camp Commander at Camp O'Donnell, and General Homma, who ordered the infamous Death March, paid for their lives by their death by hanging by order of the Military Commissions under the doctrine of command responsibility.
In my previous testimonies before like committee, I invited and called attention to the injustice done to the Filipino Veterans of World War II by the Rescission Acts of 1946. On December 8, 1941, the enemy bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States military and naval installations in the Philippines, thus bringing the war to the Philippine shores. Americans and Filipinos were then thrown into battle against numerically superior enemy forces and "for 98 historic days with valor unsurpassed in world history they stood their ground against vastly superior forces". Bataan finally fell on April 9, 1942, and together, Americans and Filipinos went through the agony of defeat. They walked together in the "65-miles Bataan March of Death" under the cruel April sun suffering from thirst and hunger as they walked from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga.
The war was won, the Philippines was liberated and the Americans enjoyed the thrill and glory of victory. The Filipino Veterans, on the other hand, have continued to suffer. The 79th Congress of the United States enacted the Rescission Act of 1946 which declared that the services of the Filipino soldiers who fought side by side with the Americans and suffered the 65-mile Bataan March of Death, "shall not be deemed to have been active military, naval or air service for purposes of any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits", except those who were killed, died or maimed or separated for service-connected ailments. What the Rescission Act declared in effect was that Filipino Veterans who are alive today and in fairly good health at age 74 and above were not with the Americans in the Bataan campaign, did not walk with the Americans from starvation and disease-and are not, therefore, entitled to the privileges and benefits which the Americans and other nationals of foreign countries who fought under the American flag have been enjoying.
Today, I appeal to you and hearken to the words of President William J. Clinton in his proclamation of October 1996, honoring the Filipino veterans of World War II, portions of which reads:
"During the dark days of World War II, nearly 100,000 soldiers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army provided a ray of hope in the Pacific as they fought alongside United States and Allied forces for four long years to defend and reclaim the Philippine Islands for Japanese aggression. Thousands more Filipinos joined U.S. Armed Forces immediately after the war and served in occupational duty throughout the Pacific Theater. For their extraordinary sacrifices in defense of democracy and liberty, we owe them our undying gratitude.
Valiant Filipino soldiers fought, died, and suffered in some of the bloodiest battles of World War II, defending beleaguered Bataan and Corregidor, and thousands of Filipino prisoners of war endured the infamous Bataan Death March and years of captivity. Their many guerrilla actions slowed the Japanese takeover of the Western Pacific region and allowed U.S. forces the time to build and prepare for the allied counterattack on Japan. Filipino troops fought side-by-side with U.S. forces to secure their island nation as the strategic base from which the final effort to defeat was launched."
[The attached article by Tagumpay A. Nanadiego, "Camp O'Donnell: A Four-Month Nightmare in the Philippines." The Stars and Stripes 14 April 1996: 10, is being retained in the Committee files.]