Corrections to commentary on Death March
It was good of the Inquirer to give ample space to the battle of Bataan on Bataan Day, April 9, 2016.
In particular the eyewitness account by Lt. Col. Federico Peralta (“POW No. 24 tells of cruelty, hunger, sickness in Death March,” Front Page) exuded authenticity.
I cannot say the same about the commentary of Prof. Reynaldo Silvestre (“Bataan has fallen,” Opinion, 4/9/16). For example, he says that Japanese Gen. Masaharu Homma expected to take Bataan in six months but did it in three.
My own research shows Homma was given 50 days to take the Philippines, which is why he disregarded the advice of his first chief of staff, Gen. Toshinari Maeda, to just starve the isolated Bataan garrison. But Homma persisted in going on the offensive, and suffered two local defeats at the hands of the US Army Forces in the Far East (Usaffe) in February 1942—the Battle of the Capes (when Japanese landing parties attempting to take some western Capes were wiped out in the hundreds), and the Battle of the Pockets (when over 60 percent of a Japanese infiltrating force was eliminated).
To finish off Bataan, Homma had to be reinforced with veteran troops from Malaya and China, which struck along a very narrow sector when they had local numerical superiority.
Both articles have a rather common error: the “A” in Usaffe stands for “Army” not “Armed.”
—BENITO LEGARDA JR., [email protected]
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