Friday, July 12, 2013
MA PUNO' SI PÅLE' DUEÑAS
Father Jesus Baza Dueñas did not like the Japanese. Not even the Japanese Catholic priests sent to Guam by order of the Japanese Government. One of the two Japanese priests stayed for a short while; the other till the American return.
Dueñas was not liked by the Japanese either. They considered him a problem. He put up resistance to Japanese rules as much as he could before he crossed the line. He tested those lines often.
He wasn't afraid to show his displeasure at Chamorros, too, who cooperated with or who were friendly with the Japanese.
Dueñas had some information on Tweed, the American radio man who was in hiding, but Dueñas did not know as much as the Japanese thought he knew. But that was what the Japanese could pin on him, and that they did.
On July 8, 1944, as the Americans were raining down bombs on Guam and the Japanese had a sense that all was lost; knowing that their bastion up north, Saipan, had already fallen into American hands; in their desperation and anger, the Japanese military police, the Kempeitai, arrested Dueñas in Inalåhan.
In a private residence in Inalåhan used by the Japanese, they beat and tortured the priest. Witnesses told me they saw him hanging by his hands, tied with rope, from the ceiling.
Then, he was taken to Tutuhan (Agaña Heights) to the Butler ranch used by the Kempeitai and beaten some more.
In the dark, early morning hours of July12, he was taken to Tå'i where the Japanese agricultural section of the government, the Kaikontai, had a station. There he was beheaded, along with three others, including his nephew Edward Dueñas, the Island Attorney.
Prior to being taken to Tå'i, while he was in Tutuhan, he could have escaped with some other Chamorro detainees, when the guard had nodded off. But Dueñas refused, saying, "God will save me."
Father Dueñas' grave marker in the floor of the sanctuary of Inalåhan's Church of Saint Joseph. After the war, with the aid of a Saipanese interpreter who was present at the beheading of Father Dueñas, Monsignor Calvo and others had his body dug up, identified and then buried once again in his parish church.