In the maelstrom of China, Duterte and the US, Dr. Jose P. Laurel was never too late the hero

4

MAURO GIA SAMONTE

(This is a two-part conclusion of “No Eulogies for the Greatest Hero the Philippines Ever Had,” which began two weekends ago. It is given a distinct identity for emphasis of the actual theme of the series of articles which has run for four issues.)

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IF only the Filipino people had not forgotten who Dr. Jose P. Laurel was and the many sacrifices he did for the country, they would realize that on the three major concerns currently confronting the Philippines, his presence continues to be strongly felt, more than half a century after his death in 1959.

When, for instance, President Rodrigo Duterte chooses a non-confrontational approach in handling Philippine-China relations over the issue of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), it is quite reminiscent of how Dr. Laurel conducted his presidency during the Japanese occupation. He pursued a policy of “national survival” for “tiding the Filipino people over to better times,” recognizing, as he states repeatedly in his War Memoirs, “that a small country is a small country and a weak people is a weak people.” Completely abandoned by America to the Japanese invasion, the Filipino nation must find its correct bearing under the situation, and Dr. Laurel found exactly that bearing by collaborating with the Japanese invaders.

It’s high time this issue of collaboration was treated frontally. Until today, uninformed sectors of Philippine society, evidently influenced by what they have read about the subject matter as pro-moted by American propagandists, entertain no restraint whatsoever in condemning Dr. Laurel for collaborating with the Japanese. These people never realize that collaboration under the circumstances of the Japanese occupation was not vice but virtue. In fact, collaboration, under principles of international law, is a recognized legal recourse by occupied peoples in relation to their occupiers. In this respect, Dr. Laurel makes a thorough dissertation in Chapter 65 of his War Memoirs:

“Military occupation gives rise to a temporary allegiance of the inhabitants of the occupied territory to the conquering power in return for temporary protection. It does not seem necessary to make any dissertation regarding the origin, reasons and historical development of this rule… the universally accepted principle indicated above which imposes upon the inhabitants of a conquered territory the obligation of ‘temporary allegiance for temporary protection’ of the conquered. Another reason for this rule is founded on practical consideration.

“The non-combatant elements of a conquered territory are not expected to resist or continue ac-tual resistance after its organized armed forces have succumbed to the might of the invading supe-rior forces of the conqueror for the reason that such an attempt is not only futile but unnecessarily destructive of lives and properties.

“Now, applying this legal principle to our case, what was the situation of the Philippines and her inhabitants generally at the time of the Japanese occupation of this country? Americans and Filipinos fought side by side, and heroically, but they were overpowered. Military occupation was as real as it was a fact. The top officials left Manila for Corregidor, and later for Australia and the Unit-ed States – Quezon, Osmeña, MacArthur and others, leaving behind then Secretary Vargas and Associate Justice Laurel at the head of the vast number of officials of the Commonwealth government in Manila to ‘welcome’ the Japanese invading forces. What were the people thus left behind expected to do – the officials and people who could not have had the facilities to go to Corregidor, Australia and the United States? The rule of international law formulated above gives the answer: ‘You must owe temporary allegiance to the mightier power in return for temporary protection.’

“ ‘Allegiance’ here means obedience to the existing dominant physical power that had supplanted the other, subject to the reconquest and the consequent ‘jus postliminii’; and obedience to the dominant physical power is compliance with the decrees, orders, directives and proclamations of the army of occupation. This is collaboration, in the ultimate analysis, whose limitation is not easy to determine because, while in certain instances it is classified by a rule of law or convention or declaration, it is however dependent in practice upon almost unlimited exercise of discretion in the vast field of military operations and military necessity… collaboration there had to be ex necessi-tate re and this collaboration is not punishable and much less treasonable in the light of the ac-cepted legal principle formulated above…

“It is easy to speak of loyalty, courage and determination by radio, removed from the zone of dan-ger, but when you find yourself at the point of the bayonet from all directions in an occupied terri-tory where disobedience or any gesture of hostile character meant not only sure death for you but perhaps desolation and wholesale massacre of people around you on any pretext it would seem to be a different story.

“As a general statement of fact, all acts directed to be done by the army of occupation are acts ‘under pressure’ because they had to be done regardless of whether or not those in the receiving line liked it or not. This was the case of all those who yielded to the organization of the Philippine Executive Commission, apart from the advantages we shall elsewhere refer to resulting from the establishment of such body. What is true in the illustration given is likewise true in principle as to other so-called acts of collaboration. In fact, the inclination should be towards that moral consideration unless the supposed collaborators have had anything to do with the effectuation of the military occupation that had given rise to ‘temporary allegiance’ and resultant forced collaboration. The conclusion on this point is that collaboration which is the necessary and inevitable result of temporary allegiance imposed upon the inhabitants of a conquered territory in pursuance of a universally accepted principle of International Law is not punishable, much less treasonable…”

(To be continued tomorrow)

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4 Comments

  1. The surprising question of President DU30 needs a surprising answer. DU30 is asking why Ex-President B. Hussein Obama did allow the building up of the conflicting islands or islets in the West Philippine sea? Can the USA answer his deepening question? Now can President Donald J. Trump remove this SOB F.CKING China from the West Philippine sea? This is how to test America if she is really a trusted ally of the Philippines. If America did not do something on this, DU30 is right. He will accept China as long as China will help develop the Philippines economically and otherwise. The only power who can drive away China is the USA. Time is of the essence. If America will act it must be ASAP!

  2. Jun jun Talupad on

    World War 2 is different from today. We have not yet been invaded and occupied by China, at least not yet the island of Luzon, not yet the island of Palawan, but outlying islands and islets of Luzon and Palawan. To collaborate with China now is treason. There is no gun pointed yet at the head of Duterte. The U.S. is not yet defeated. Japan has not yet been defeated. In fact, Indonesia routinely sinks Chinese ships and boats found illegally inside Indonesian waters but China and Indonesia are not at war and, in fact, enjoy very close economic and political ties.

    This only means that China is just testing the resolve of Indonesia, Philippines and other countries. China has not gone to war with Indonesia despite of Indonesia’s harsh reactions to “Chinese violation of Indonesian sovereignty.” This means that if the Philippines exhausts all legal and peaceful means to defend Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, China will not go to war with us and will continue to have close economic ties with us just like it has close economic and political ties with Indonesia up to now. Standing up to a bully does not always mean that your nose will be bloodied. Sometimes the bully is only measuring your resolve to defend what is rightfully yours. If the bully senses that you will not take it sitting down, the bully will back-off and befriend you instead. But of course, we do not advocate any use of force – only legal and peaceful means to resolve disputes. Win-win solutions are not impossible. It will only be impossible if our “leaders” will not even lift a finger to defend what is rightfully ours. These “leaders” therefore are suspected of becoming like Judas – accepting bribes of different kinds (and amounts) – in exchange for the riches and wealth that do not belong to them but to the entire Filipino people.

  3. Amnata Pundit on

    It is a fact and is on record that the Kastila paid Macarthur with a big amount of government money to bring him and his family to the U.S. Kung kamag-anak ako ni Quezon, mahihiya ako.

  4. thank you Mr. Samonte for giving light to the issue of Justice Laurel’s ‘collaboration’ issue with the Japanese invader.
    the irony of it all is that the Leader who turned his back and abandoned his people in the most trying times is considered a hero while the one left behind to lead and defend them is considered a traitor and suffered the ignominy of being tried in the People’s Court.