ACCESSION NUMBER:364659 FILE ID:TXT402 DATE:10/20/94 TITLE:MARKING PHILIPPINES LIBERATION (10/20/94) TEXT:*94102002.TXT MARKING PHILIPPINES LIBERATION (VOA Editorial) (360) (Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America October 20, reflecting the views of the U.S. government.) March 17, 1944. General Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of allied forces in the southwest Pacific, addresses the people of Australia and reaffirms a solemn promise: "two years ago...when I landed on your soil, I said to the people of the Philippines, whence I came, 'I shall return.' Tonight I repeat those words. 'I shall return.'" Fifty years ago today, General MacArthur kept that promise. On the morning of October 20, 1944, an allied fleet of more than 700 ships opened fire on Imperial Japanese forces occupying Leyte island. Over 200,000 U.S. troops headed for the beaches. The liberation of the Philippines had begun. For the Filipino people, a nightmare was ending. Imperial Japanese troops invaded the islands in December 1941. After five months of desperate fighting, American and Filipino troops were forced to surrender. Their commander, General MacArthur, was ordered to Australia. There he took command of the allied armies that would drive the Japanese from the Philippines and other conquered territories. 1 Thousands of Filipinos were murdered, raped, tortured and imprisoned by Japanese troops and the dreaded Kempeitai (ken-pay-tie), or secret police. Filipino men were taken for slave labor. Filipino women were forced to serve the Japanese army as prostitutes. Despite savage reprisals by Japanese occupation forces, the people of the Philippines fought back. They attacked Japanese troops, sabotaged war materiel, cut enemy communications and collected intelligence for allied forces. Their courage brought the reward of freedom. To ensure the success of the invasion, the United States fought two of the greatest naval battles in history in June and October of 1944: the battle of the Philippines Sea and the battle of Leyte Gulf. By July 1945, the liberation of the Philippines was complete -- at a cost of over 60,000 American casualties. At ceremonies formally re-establishing the Philippines government, General MacArthur told President Sergio Osmena that his country was "again at liberty to pursue its destiny...in the family of free nations." NNNN .