The Japanese military attaché in the Philippines has expressed “deep remorse” over the acts of violence his country had committed in Palawan in World War Two.
Colonel Kazunobu Akutsu, who was sent for the first time by the Japan Embassy to attend the commemoration of the 73rd Palawan Liberation Anniversary, bowed his head in front of the families and relatives of three US and 20 Filipino veterans who were posthumously honoured by the Palawan Liberation Task Force (PLTF).
“I’m deeply honoured to speak before you today, and I value this honour to attend this event for the first time. I wish to convey our eternal and heartfelt condolences, deep and sincere remorse to all the families and relatives of the veterans who are here. Please, allow me to bow my head with profound grief and sincere prayers for the repose of lives lost here,” he said.
Akutsu stated that last year, Japan Prime Minister Shinzō Abe emphasized in a memorial ceremony for the war dead that the country will no longer repeat what happened in the war.
“Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently and assiduously walked the path of peace with other countries. We have also devoted ourselves to peace works… and we are determined never to deviate from this steadfast course, no matter what the era may bring,” he added.
The posthumous awarding ceremony on Saturday (April 21), held at a hotel in Puerto Princesa, recognised and honoured the heroism of Filipino and American veterans, who fought together against the tyranny of the Japanese from 1939 to 1945.
Awarded were 2Lt. Daniel Clark, 2Lt. Timoteo Favila, TSgt. Francisco Almonte, TSgt. Jorge Macolor, Sgt. Agustin Paduga, Sgt. Ramon Sandoval, Cpl. Domingo Contreras, Cpl. Jose San Juan, Pfc. Eusebio Raban, Pfc. Pantaleon Rollan, Pvt. Exequiel Arzaga, Pvt. Alejandro Batul, Pvt. Domingo Dongalus, Pvt. Turiano Lagan, Pvt. Teodoro Lagrada, Pvt. Patricio Macolor, Pvt. David Magora, Pvt. Lucrecio Nacasi, Pvt. Alfredo Palarca, and Pvt. Eugenio Pa-ala.
The US war veterans honoured were TSgt. Benjamin Sparks, MM1C Earl Vance Wilson, and Pfc. Seldon White.
The posthumous awards for the veterans who fought under the Palawan Special Battalion were received by their representatives, relatives and families.
Councillor Matthew Mendoza, a member of the PLTF representing the city government, said the event was the province’s way of recognising the gallantry of Palaweño veterans, who sacrificed their lives in fighting for freedom during the war.
“This momentous event reminisces too, the Filipino virtues of courage, camaraderie and hospitality as they share a helping hand in sheltering and helping some American prisoners of war,” he said.
US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vicki Randall said the greatest thing a country can do for the families of fallen veterans was to acknowledge and honour their services that contributed to the liberation of Palawan and the rest of the country.
“We should remember these fallen heroes, not just today, but every day, knowing that without their sacrifices, we would not stand here today,” she said.
Meanwhile, retired general Raul Caballes of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office expressed gratitude to the PLTF for honouring the veterans.
He said the commemoration and awarding ceremony was nothing compared to the sacrifices of the veterans, but it was a sincere activity done to honour those who loved the province enough to die for its liberation.
“Theirs were stories of sacrifices, bloodshed, and death, but more importantly, it was a story of war and redemption. It was a story of bravery, it was also a story of an alliance that nurtured peace,” he said.
The PLTF is composed of the Provincial Government of Palawan, City Government of Puerto Princesa, Puerto Princesa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Palawan Tourism Council, Filipino and American Memorial Endowment, Palawan Special Battalion World War II Memorial Museum, and Rajah Travel Corporation.