Doing some research ion preparation for an interview on The Correspondents, I came across a transcript of a press conference held by my grandfather on July 10, 1936, eight months into his first term. The issue is apparently a jueteng scandal in Laguna province. What’s interesting is the approach to the issue: a distinction between being morally convinced of someone’s guilt, and proving that guilt legally, and the political considerations involved. I only have one volume of the confidential transcript (the portion below, for example, was “off the record”), so I do not know if the governor involved was suspended or not. Personally, I think the method outlined below for handling a case of jueteng-related accusations could be usefully followed even today.
Here’s the relevant portion from the July 10, 1936 press conference transcript:
THE PRESS: Are you informed of the jueteng situation in Laguna?
THE PRESIDENT: We are taking a hand in that. The Secretary of the Interior has a man there who is investigating that situation. I am prepared to give you some information about it, but this is not for publication. I am morally convinced that the wife of Governor Cailles has been running that Jueteng and I am also convinced that the poor governor did not want her to do it. But while Cailles is one of the greatest heroes during the revolutionary period, brave as he is, he is afraid of his wife. The only question we are trying to determine is whether it is true that Mrs. Cailles has stopped her Jueteng since I sent word to the Governor that unless that wife of his stopped that Jueteng, I was going to remove him from office. I am a very good friend of Cailles. I admire him. He is one of the best governors the Philippines ever had. That is proven by the fact that Cailles is the only man in the Philippine Islands that has been re-elected four or five times as governor. He had a strong opposition, but when he ran for governor, he was elected and elected by the common people because the rich and the political leaders in Laguna have always been against Cailles. My party has always had a very strong influence in Laguna. They never succeeded in electing a man for representative who did not have the support of my party. We always elected our man. Whenever Cailles was a candidate, he came out with the support of the poor people. And thinking so highly of him, I sent word to him that I was going after his Jueteng. I gave him about one month. After a month elapsed I sent one of his most intimate friends to tell him that unless he could stop his wife, I would remove him without much investigation. The report that I have received is that his wife has really stopped, and the fellow who told me that is convinced and that he is willing to spend money to get a lawyer for Cailles. Weinzheimer is a pretty honest gentleman. He believes in autocracy and he likes Cailles because he seems to be autocratic, but at the same time he does not like this Jueteng. I sent him to tell Cailles, to stop his wife and he did. He said: “Mr. President, I am convinced that the wife of Cailles has stopped, and therefore I am going to defend him. Do not mix up in this case. I am going to find that out.” I sent for the Constabulary officer in Laguna -he is one of the best officers that we have. He told me he is convinced that the wife of Cailles has stopped. Of course, my political associates in Laguna who were against Cailles, told me that the Constabulary officer is a false witness because his wife is the friend of the wife of the governor. But I do not believe that because I am really inclined to believe that the Governor’s wife stopped at the time I sent word. But still I am having the investigation conducted, and I should like to have the chance to suspend Cailles because if I suspend Cailles, this is going to put the fear of God into the heart of every provincial governor of the Philippines. The minute I suspend Cailles every provincial governor of the Philippine Islands will see that the laws of this country are enforced. But I cannot suspend him until I have more prima facie evidence that his wife is running Jueteng.
Weinzheimer told me that he is afraid of the wife of Cailles. She is really the most aggressive wife. It is pitiful to see that a brave soldier, who is never afraid of anybody, is afraid of his wife, (Laughter) and I am having that properly investigated. We shall never be able to stop Jueteng until the people are convinced that the wife of Cailles has stopped.
This is an extract from another press conference, July 24, 1936, regarding a controversial appointee:
THE PRESS. [with reference to charges against the appointee, who had previously been suspended for incompetence by an American governor-general] The Supreme Court any connection with that?
THE PRESIDENT. I do not remember that. There was something.
I want to say this and I want to say it publicly. I would not accept a dictum of the Supreme Court as sufficient reason for removing a man from office. The man has not been heard and he was not a party, in the sense that he was not accused of what the Supreme Court said he was guilty of. In the first place, the Supreme Court has no business passing judgment upon administrative officials. That is going too far, unless they are considering a case where the public official is made responsible for some acts of dishonesty or something like that where the court has decided whether then man is guilty or not.
Particularly my friend, Justice Malcolm; that was his specialty, to set up in the court as the last tribunal on public morality, etc.
I want to say that if there is any charge against Cruz, I should like to have that in my hands. Here is another statement I desire to make. When a charge is presented against a public official, it is not necessary that the evidence presented should be sufficient for conviction if the case was a criminal case. In a criminal proceeding the duty of the judge, in case of doubt as to the guilt of the accused, is to absolve him. In administrative cases, in case of doubt, the man should be separated from the service and the reason is that you do not need anybody in the government service in whom you have lost your confidence, and there is nobody who has acquired a title to the position he holds in the government service. The public has the right to have absolute confidence in the man in the government service. There minute there is reasonable ground for doubt as to the honesty of the man in the government service, he should be out of the service because one must have absolute confidence in the man in the government service, absolute confidence in his integrity, and if there is doubt as to his honesty, to ask for his resignation. I do not wish to remove him but to ask for his resignation.