PHILIPPINES: Someone Else
Having, by a process of adroit political shadow boxing, set himself up as President of the Philippine Commonwealth with virtually the powers of a dictator, sly little Manuel Quezon naturally has great faith in his ability to duck the punches which he is constantly aiming at his own head to convince skeptics that he is really not a dictator at all. Last winter, Manuel Quezon’s shadow boxing took the form of a visit to the U. S. to promote the idea of advancing the date of Philippine independence from 1946 to 1938 or 1939. Advantage of this move from the point of view of President Quezon was that it would bring independence before the end of his six-year term. Disadvantage was that, by disrupting island economy even more thoroughly than it will probably be disrupted by independence in 1946, it might react greatly to the discredit of its sponsor. President Roosevelt appointed a committee to investigate the islands, determine how the transition to economic self-control should be effected. This gave Shadow Boxer Quezon a chance for some more spirited footwork in which he did his best to make a favorable impression on the committee by permitting his unicameral legislature to legalize a scheme for woman suffrage which he had previously attempted to forestall (TIME, Sept. 20).
Last week, their work done, the U. S. members of the Joint Investigating Committee were en route back to Washington where their Philippine colleagues will join them presently to prepare a report which President Roosevelt should receive by next January. Meanwhile, in Manila last week, a few days before a typhoon caused an estimated $4,000,000 worth of damage on nearby islands, Shadow Boxer Quezon stepped through two characteristically fast rounds against his own plan for advancing the date of independence.
At a review of 13,000 Philippine infantry troops parading to celebrate the Commonwealth’s second anniversary, President Quezon said grandly to U. S. High Commissioner Paul Vories McNutt: “This army that has paraded before us, sir, is not only the Philippine Army, it is your Army because under the Independence Act the President of the United States, whom you represent, has power to call it out in defense of the American flag and also because the Filipino people would gladly do so in recognition of what you have done for us.”
This remark was in quite different tenor from those which Filipinos were making when High Commissioner McNutt demoted President Quezon in the Philippine toast list last spring, but it was nothing to the shocker which President Quezon delivered two days later. To a press conference, besides confirming reports that the U. S. and Philippine members of the Joint Committee had differed sharply before the departure of the former, he announced that he would welcome proposals for dominion status for the Philippines but that such proposals “must come from someone else.” Said Shadow Boxer Quezon: “If anybody wants a dominion status let him bring it out. If there is any reason why we should not be independent in 1946, we had better start talking about some-thing else.”