THE PHILIPPINES: President No. 1
A typhoon which howled over Luzon two days before was still making bad weather. But the chief reason that comparatively few Filipinos went to the polls last week to elect the first President of their Commonwealth was that the result seemed already in the bag. For Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, leader-founder of the Independent Catholic Church of the Philippines, and for General Emilio Aguinaldo, who has always felt the U. S. double-crossed him after he helped wrest the islands from Spain in 1898. a combination of Communists. Sakdalistas and miscellaneous advocates of immediate independence cast less than 250.000 votes. Twice that many went to small, dressy Manuel Quezon, “Father of Philippine Independence,” who for the past 20 years has been running the islands’ politics pretty much as he and Senator Sergio Osmena chose. Osmena will be inaugurated Vice President when Quezon takes office Nov. 15.
That the election was featured by the loss of only two lives, no more than the typhoon took, was partly owing to red-headed Governor General Frank Murphy of Detroit. The way he and the constabulary kept peace at the polls came in for high commendation from white residents, who were additionally encouraged by Senor Quezon’s pledge to “follow the precedents set by the American Governors General during more than three decades.” Peppery President-reject Aguinaldo declared the election returns “incredible,” swore that he was “not through yet. . . . I have no doubt that electoral manipulations, shielded by official protection, did not permit the people to freely express their will.”
When U. S. Vice President Garner, Secretary of War Dern, Speaker of the House Byrns and a large delegation of Congressmen and Senators assemble in Manila for the Commonwealth’s inaugural, they will be ushering into old, Spanish-built Malacañan Palace the first Filipino to occupy that seat of government. For brown men it will be a great triumph to see the Governor General moved out of the palace, demoted to Resident High Commissioner. Further loss to white face in the Orient was the fact that until July 4, 1946, when the Philippines become absolutely autonomous, the natives will do all the governing and the U. S. will have all the responsibility, largely because of shrewd Senor Quezon’s legislative bargain-hunting in Washington during the past few years. One important phase of his bargaining was not made public until after his election last week. Since it is to the interest of the Commonwealth’s first President, as well as to the U. S. and all other white powers in the Orient, that the Philippines shall not become a sort of Asiatic Balkans after 1946, when the U. S. flag comes down for the last time, the Islands are patently in need of a secure military defense system. To build it, Manuel Quezon on his last trip to Washington secured the services of the biggest military man in the U. S. — General Douglas MacArthur. Last week, after the longest leadership of the U. S. Army in history, General MacArthur announced his resignation as Chief of Staff, packed his elegant duffel to sail for Manila as the Commonwealth’s Military Adviser.
Following the footsteps of his father, who was Governor General of the Islands in 1899-1901, “Doug” MacArthur commanded the Philippine Department (1928-30), where his taste for gracious living and long, jeweled cigaret holders excited admiring native comment. It will be his job to evolve a defense system for the 7,083 Philippine islands which will, as the Press put it last week, make it not an Asiatic Balkans but a “Switzerland of the Pacific.”