Liberation and Post-War Period
So the war and the Japanese occupation ended. Within days General MacArthur restored the Commonwealth government with Sergio Osmena as President with full powers and responsibilities according to the pre-war constitution.
But for Arturo Tolentino and several others, there were still more battles to be fought ….and won. As he explains:
- “My trip with the inspection party to Japan proved to be a disaster for him after liberation because the Americans accused him of being a collaborator. In addition to this was my acceptance of the post of special prosecutor in the Laurel Republic.
- I was taken in by the U.S. army’s civilian investigation corps (C.I.C.) initially for questioning but on the second day they decided to detain me. So I became a detainee of the American forces along with many others officials.
- After being detained in the Bilibid compound in Manila we were taken in army trucks to Muntinlupa, to stay there in a section of this national penitentiary. People’s court were set up and we were all charged with treason for collaborating with the Japanese.
- We were not yet independent of the Americans so, naturally they were quite within their judicial rights to do as they did. But before they had finished hearing these cases, the Philippines acquired its independence and one of the first acts of the new President was to grant an amnesty to all those people charged with collaboration or treason.
- Having been detained and tortured by the Japanese at Fort Santiago, I resented now being branded as a traitor to my own country. I knew I was innocent. To accept the amnesty would mean initial acknowledgement of my guilt.
- I preferred to have my own case continue. It was assigned for investigation and prosecution to Prosecutor Querrio Solidium who was later to become a judge. Prosecutor Solidium and I became fellow Professors at the Philippine Law School and were often together in the faculty room between classes. But I never mentioned my case or pleaded with him during these occasions I was an accused under investigation by him as far as the case was concerned, and it was only in the course of the investigation that we talked about it.
- After all the evidence were heard the case was dismissed. My name had been cleared.”
- At last my father’s ordeal was over. During the occupation he had had to face a dilemma shared by many other Filipino officials. Playing the double game of working with the Japanese authorities yet at the same time helping, to the best of his ability, the guerillas who often approached him for information or assistance, he had put his life in jeopardy.
Daddy did not say this in front of the Canadian writer but it was common knowledge then because his case was in the newspapers during his trial. A number of people my father did not even know personally came from all parts of the Philippines to volunteer as witnesses that “they could have been killed during the occupation and not be alive to be there as witnesses if not for Tolentino”.
Post War Election
After the war when the Young Philippines had become a political party, Amang’s Nationalista party was also in the opposition. He called the leaders of all the different small parties and said that our only chance to go against the party in power was for us to unite all the small opposition groups into one. Realizing that Amang was right, my father agreed and the Y.P. joined forces with the Nationalista party.
My father said:
- That is also how he became a candidate for the 1949 National Election. I made a promise that later I had to keep. I was still working as a member of the Code Commission in the government which was nearer to my line as a law professor and quite frankly, I would have preferred to remain in that commission.
- But when the election drew near, Amang Rodriguez called me and asked me to run as candidate for Congressman in Sampaloc, the third district of Manila. I said I was not interested but he was most insistent, so I made a promise. I said that if there is no candidate available in the third district then I will agree to run. I made that promise because I knew of several individuals interested in running for the third district. One was Arsenio Lacson, another is Antonio Barredo, and still another was Teofilo Mendoza.
- Unfortunately, I was so new to politics that I didn’t realize how these older politician could manipulate and manage things. I understand that Amang called Lacson. Lacson was a promising young man at that time. He was a well known journalist and a strong oppositionist. Amang told him he would be running in the second district of Manila. Then he called Antonio Barredo and told him that Barredo will be running in the fourth district of Manila. Then he called Teofilo Mendoza, told him that if does not run for congress and if their Presidential candidate gets in, Amang said he will make sure that he gets appointed as a judge.
- Once again Amang called me in and said “there is no candidate for the third district”. I had lost the toss again and had to keep my word. But I was lucky this time and won my election very easily.