Monday, May 16, 2011

Marcos Fake Medals Redux (Part IV)

Alleged Heroic Exploits of Marcos in Kiangan, Mt. Province (Period Covering January to April, 1945)

MacArthur had made a promise to the Filipino people when he said “I Shall Return”. On October 20, 1944, he kept his promise. He landed in Leyte and the liberation of the Philippines began. Over a month after MacArthur’s landing and despite his claim that he was leading an 8300 guerrilla unit, raising carabaos and cattle as well as running a trading business, Marcos  decided to join the 14th Infantry division of the USAFIP - NL (United States Forces in the Philippines, Northern Luzon).

This was very strange because as the Commandant of the 14th Infantry Colonel Romulo Manriquez said, “The entire USAFIP, NL did not even have 8300 men” indicating that the Maharlika claim was indeed a fabrication.

Many of the alleged medals of Marcos were earned during his stint at the 14th Infantry under the Command of Colonel Romulo Manriquez and Adjutant Captain Vicente Rivera.

John Sharkey of the Washington Post and Colonel Boni Gillego of the Movement for a Free Philippines examined these alleged Marcos medals by scouring the war archives and followed up by interviewing the Commandant and the Adjutant of the 14th Infantry under whom Marcos served.

The findings of John Sharkey were published by the Washington Post on December 18, 1983 under the title, “The Marcos Mystery: Did the Philippine Leader Really Win U.S. Medals for Valor?”.  The sub-heading was, “He exploits honors he may not have earned.”

Colonel Boni Gillego wrote an 11-page report which was published by the We Forum on November, 1982 under the title, “The other version of FM’s war exploits” with the sub-heading “Marcos: Hero of Kiangan Who Never Was”. Philippine News also published an article based on the same report on September 15-21, 1982 and a telephone interview under the title, “Marcos is a fake hero, says his ex-commander.”  Every page of Boni Gillego’s report was signed and concurred by both Colonel Romulo Manriquez and Captain Vicente Rivera. Witnesses to the signing were genuine hero NINOY AQUINO and this author. They also signed all the pages.
Signatories: Captain Rivera and Colonel Manriquez; Witnesses: Author and Ninoy Aquino
Marcos drumbeaters had claimed among others the following alleged exploits in Mt. Province:

1.                   “On March 17, 1945, although ill at the RCP (Regimental Command Post) infirmary, Marcos left his sick bed and singlehandedly held at bay and later pursued an enemy patrol that attacked the RCP. He ordered a counterattack that failed and so with one enlisted man, Marcos himself penetrated the lines of the enemy estimated at a battalion strength withdrew with “two loads of dead and wounded”. Allegedly such daring account enabled the RCP to evacuate to safety some 200 women and children and 20 patients.

2.                   “On March 25, 1945, the Japanese decided to take Hapid airstrip in order to cut the flow of supplies to the guerrillas. The 2nd Battalion defended the airstrip tenaciously and to its succor came Marcos in command of combat and engineering companies of the 14th Infantry. After several days of see-saw battles, characterized by occasionally hand-to-hand combat, the Japanese captured the airfield but did not pursue the guerrillas. “ Marcos’ action allegedly saved the RCP from being routed.

3.                   “On April 1945, Marcos with one enlisted man volunteered to reconnoiter the area adjacent to the RCP following a report that Japanese forces had become aware of its existence. Marcos sighted enemy presence a kilometer away in well-camouflaged truck. In fact, a large body of hostile troops had already debarked and was on its way to the RCP. Marcos sent back his enlisted man to headquarters to report on the disposition of enemy troops while he posted himself at a vantage point along the rout of approach. When the leading elements of the enemy column were within fifteen yards from his position, Marcos opened fire with his Thompson submachine gun and inflicted heavy casualties, forcing the enemy to withdraw after thirty minutes of engagement.”

4.                   “When report was received that a Japanese suicide force would attack the USAFIP-NL supply depot at Butac, Marcos headed a Ranger Team which intercepted the enemy at Tirad Pass and engaged them in “furious hand-to-hand fighting, causing heavy casualties on both sides.” This encounter places Marcos men on the left flank of the Yamashita Line, weakening considerably the enemy’s position at Besang Pass.”

For the above-described alleged exploits, Marcos received medals that are now in question.

Gillego described Colonel Manriquez as a 1936 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy and  a long-time official of the U.S. Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. He  finished law in George Washington University. Gifted with a prodigious memory, he remembers all important dates in world as well as Philippine history, the decisive battles of the world, all the presidents of the U.S.A., the capital of all the states of the U.S.A., all the Latin maxims in law, etc.

As commanding officer of the 14th Infantry operating in Mt. Province area during WW II under whom Marcos served, he had this to say when interviewed by Philippine News;

“We told the Washington Post today, and I am telling you now for publication, that I consider Marcos to be the greatest impostor that World War II has ever produced. He is a master of hoaxes.”

“All those medals of Marcos – all 32 of them, are fake,” Manriquez continued. “He is trying to project himself as the Audie Murphy – the most decorated American soldier in Europe during World War II or the Alexander the Great of the Philippines……..”

“As his commanding officer in Mt. Province when he served under the 14th Infantry, I can certify that he was never engaged in any combat during the time he was in my unit. But he claimed medals for his tour of duty……I never recommended him for any medals,” Manriquez further elaborated.

Manriquez recalled that Marcos reported to him in December 1944 a couple of months after the American Landing in Leyte. He said the reason why Marcos joined the 14th Infantry in Mt. Province instead of the 121st under Major Burnett in Ilocos was because there were men there who were after Marcos to avenge the killing of Nalundasan. In consideration for Marcos’ legal background, Manriquez assigned him as S-5 in charge of Civil Affairs. From the time Marcos joined the 14th Infantry to the time he asked for transfer to the headquarters of the USAFIP-NL in Luna, La Union, Marcos was never involved in any patrol or combat operations.

He also told Gillego, “How could he, in conscience recommend a person for an award who had not even fired a single shot at an enemy he had never even seen while in Kiangan.”

Captain Vicente Rivera who was a pre-war scholar, a lawyer, a holder of a Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and a former Dean of a college in the Philippines, confirmed and corroborated the statements of Colonel Manriquez.

Rivera, recipient of American and Philippine awards truly deserved, had in fact written his memoirs regarding his stint at 14th Infantry. When asked about the alleged Marcos exploits he related the following:

1.                   On the first event occurring on March 17, 1945: “He was the Commanding Officer of the Headquarters and Headquarters Co., hence he was in charge of the security of the regimental headquarters. There was no attack against the RCP on that day. What happened on that day as recorded in his memoirs was this: ‘Marcos was designated as Officer of the Day. Before he left for duty around the perimeter of the RCP, he asked for food. Sgt. Sofronio La Rosa killed a small chicken and gave half to Marcos.”

2.                   On the second event occurring on March 25, 1945 re Battle of Hapid: “Marcos never participated in this battle nor in any battle in Kiangan. In the first place, the 14th Infantry did not have an engineering company which Marcos allegedly commanded…..He should know because at that time he was already the Executive Officer of the 2nd Battalion. To his recollection, the Battle of Hapid lasted eleven days from March 25 to April 4, 1945. …..Marcos was nowhere in the vicinity of Hapid all the days that he was supposed to have engaged the Japanese in hand-to-hand combat.”

3.                   On the third event occurring on April 1945 when Marcos allegedly sighted Japanese troops in well-camouflaged trucks a kilometer away from the RCP and engaged them in a firefight that forced them to withdraw: Rivera said that geography is the best evidence against this preposterous claim of Marcos. Panupdupan is very far from the road. It takes a half a day by foot to reach it.

4.                   On the Battle of Besang Pass: “Neither was Marcos in or near the vicinity of Besang Pass as the battle there was fought from May 22 to June 15, 1945. At that time Marcos was already in the relative safety of USAFIP – NL HEADQUARTERS IN Camp Spencer, Luna, La Union. The companies of the 14th Infantry that participated in the Battle of Besang Pass with other units of the USAFIP – NL were Company E under Lt. Benito Miranda, Company I under Lt. Panfilo P. Fernandez and Company M under Lt. Teofilo Allas. He remembered some of their casualties such as Ismael Reyes, Felix Solon and a certain Francisco.”

When Marcos was still alive he tried to revise history and nearly succeeded. Now in death, his family with some historically-ignorant, callous, and pragmatic politicians, are again trying to revise it.

Using the words of the late Colonel Bonifacio Gillego,  a genuine hero who became Governor and Congressman of Sorsogon: “Beyond tampering and alteration, beyond falsification and extrapolation are relevant records in the custody of the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., the National Records Center (of the Archives of the United States of America) in Suitland, Maryland, the MacArthur Archives in Norfolk, Virginia, and the Library of Congress…One has to wade through them ---as I did – for the faintest glimmer of Spence’s, nay Marcos’, spurious and ignoble claims about his guerrilla exploits and his pseudo-guerrilla organization, Ang Mga Maharlika.”

(Next article: Selected Reactions and Comments from Readers)

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