CHAPTER VII: PHILIPPINE LEGISLATION
IN THE second half of President Taft’s administration, the Democratic Party secured control of the House of Representatives and Mr. William Atkinson Jones of Virginia was made chairman of the House Committee on Insular Affairs. In view of the policy which the Democratic Party had adopted upon the acquisition of the Philippines by the United States — namely in favor of the granting of Philippine Independence — I had made it my business to become acquainted with Mr. Jones from the first days of my service in Washington. He was then the senior minority member of the Committee on Insular Affairs and, according to the prevailing practice in the House of Representatives, would be the chairman of the committee if and when the Democrats secured a majority in the House. The more I knew Mr. Jones, the more I felt attached to him. He treated me with extreme kindness which, due to the difference in our ages, developed into a sort of fatherly love. He believed strongly that continued possession of the Philippines by the United States would inject the virus of imperialism into the American body politic, as did almost all the Democrats both in the Senate and House, so, also, did the progressive Republicans, whose influence in Congress was then beginning to be felt. As a matter of fact, few Republicans of any kind supported the Republican administration policy except upon the theory that the Philippine venture was of a temporary character as publicly announced by Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft. All these Presidents asserted in more or less the same words that the Filipino people would be given the right to decide whether they would prefer Philippine autonomy under the American flag or complete independence, such question to be submitted to them for decision when they should have learned enough to make a wise one. Senator Beveridge of Indiana was perhaps one of the very few who bluntly advocated American imperialism as the road to glory power, and wealth.
When the Democrats captured the House in 1911 after long successive years of defeat, I induced Mr. Jones to introduce in the House a bill which had formerly been presented by Mr. John Sharp Williams of Mississippi when he had been the senior minority member of the Committee on Insular Affairs. This bill was approved in the last session of the Sixty-Second Congress, but silently buried in the Senate, which was Republican.
After President Wilson’s inauguration, when both Houses of Congress had become Democratic, I renewed my efforts to induce Mr. Jones, who remained as the chairman of the Committee on Insular Affairs, to reintroduce his bill which had been unceremoniously killed in the preceding session by the Senate. But this time Mr. Jones would not move without first securing the approval of President Wilson. I began to see the difference in political procedures when one party was in full control of both the executive and legislative branches of the government, and when it only had a majority in one of the two Houses. Not that the Democratic platform on which President Wilson was elected was no longer committed to Philippine independence. Indeed it was and, as a matter of fact, I had something to do with the writing of the plank of the platform regarding Philippine independence, since I personally appeared in Baltimore before the Platform Committee presided over by Mr. Bryan. But the vocal opinion in the United States at that time was decidedly against Philippine independence. The three former Presidents — McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft — had created the belief that the Filipinos would not be ready for a long time to be entrusted with the government of their own country, and with the exception of some of the newspapers in the southern states, the immense majority of publications here, whether dailies or magazines, ridiculed the idea of allowing the Filipinos to govern themselves. President Wilson himself was reluctant to recommend Congressional legislation, despite his speech at Staunton and the efforts of
Mr. Bryan, then Secretary of State. It was President Wilson’s plan to send a man in his confidence to the Philippines with instructions to replace, as rapidly as possible, the Americans in the service there with Filipinos and thus to determine, by trial and error, the Filipinos’ capacity to administer the affairs of their country.
This plan of President Wilson placed me in a somewhat embarrassing position. The Governor-General of the Philippines at the time was the Honorable W. Cameron Forbes from Boston, who had given me clear evidences of friendship while I was Provincial Governor and member of the Philippine Assembly. Governor Forbes happened to be in the United States at the time that President Wilson was elected, and although he was a Republican, he returned to his post before the President-elect had assumed office. President Wilson one day summoned me to the White House and asked my opinion as to whether a new Governor-General should be appointed or whether Governor-General Forbes should be left in his post. To a Filipino, with Oriental ancestry, a little Spanish blood ad mostly Spanish education — which was practically all that I then had — the question was very trying indeed. Friendship to me has a real meaning and personal favors are never forgotten. On the other hand, I had come to Washington to perform a sacred duty.
I measured my words and gave President Wilson the following answer: “Mr. President, if it is your intention to disregard the Democratic platform and merely carry on the policies of the Republican Administration, then you can find no better man for the job than Governor- General Forbes. If, on the contrary, you intend to take immediate steps, as in my opinion you should take, to make good the now historic commitment of your party to grant independence to the Philippines as soon as possible, then Governor Forbes can neither be the spokesman for nor the executor of your policies in the Philippines.”
The President made a move to indicate that the conference was over. President Wilson did not have that forceful handshake of President Roosevelt or that spontaneous and contagious laugh of President Taft. Whether Mr. Wilson had ever laughed when conversing with other people, I do not know, but this time I saw on his face the suggestion of a smile. We never talked except on official matters. But I shall always remember with gratitude that, despite my youth, he always gave to my opinions the most serious consideration. Let me say, too, that I am a great admirer of President Wilson. I sincerely believe that had he been able to prevent the conclusion of an unjust treaty of peace at Versailles and had he secured the approval by the Senate of the United States of the League of Nations, there would not have arisen this Second World War.
President Wilson appointed as Governor-General of the Philippines the Honorable Francis Burton Harrison, then the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives. In this appointment I had something to say. President Wilson gave Governor Harrison a message addressed to the Filipino people in which the President outlined his Philippine policy looking definitely toward independence. As the first step in the execution of this policy, the Filipinos were given a majority in the appointed Upper Chamber, thus turning over to them practical control of the legislative department of their government. Governor-General Harrison took to heart the trust placed in his hands by his chief, and from the time of his arrival in Manila, he proceeded to rapidly “Filipinize” the government.
Needless to say, the so-called American “old timers” raised shouts to heaven and systematically opposed every move of the new administration. Harrison was not spared. Attacks of all kinds were made against him. It took a man with the strong will and determination of Governor-General Harrison to carry out the policy which it was his duty to do and of which he personally approved. The antagonism of his own countrymen in the Philippines found support in the newspapers in the United States. Of course, the Filipinos stood by Governor Harrison.
I believe that when cooler heads are called upon to pass impartial judgment on the history of Harrison’s administration, some American historian will give him credit for the important contribution he made to the policy which won for the United States the loyally of the Filipino people.
My work in Congress to secure legislation that would either grant the Philippines independence, or at least formally commit the United States to the policy of granting to the Philippines self-government, continued unabated. Three men in the House of Representatives were my formidable allies — Speaker Champ Clark, Mr. Jones, the chairman of the Committee on Insular Affairs, and Mr. Garrett, the senior member of that committee. There were also many others ready to help at any time. In the Senate, there were Vice-President Marshall, the President pro tem, Senator James P. Clarke of Arkansas, Senator LaFolette of Wisconsin, Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi, Senator Ashurst of Arizona, and, most active of all, Senator John Shafroth of Colorado, who took care of our Philippine Bill in the Senate Committee of which he was a member. Senator Hitchcock of Nebraska, the chairman of the committee, although not actively interested in Philippine independence, was nevertheless sympathetic to the cause.
At long last Mr. Jones presented a bill, but not the same one that he had introduced in the previous Congress, which had become known among the Filipinos as Jones Bill No. 1. The Democratic leadership (I think,with the previous approval of President Wilson) only agreed to a bill which in the preamble would state that it was the purpose of the United States to grant Philippine independence as soon as a stable government could be established in the Islands. The body of the bill, or rather its legislative provisions, would create at once an elective Philippine Senate which, with the right to confirm all appointments made by the Governor-General, implied, as a matter of course, the exclusion of Americans from holding offices as Secretaries of Departments. There was one exception to this, however: the Secretary of Public Instruction would continue to be the Vice-Governor and an appointee of the President of the United States.
This bill, conservative as it was, passed only the House of Representatives in the first wholly Democratic Congress under the first Wilson administration. Long hearings in the Senate prevented its passage before the end of that Congress.
When the next Congress convened, Senator Hitchcock got busy and reported to the Senate early in the session the same bill which the House had passed in the preceeding one. During the discussion of this bill, however, Senator Clarke of Arkansas introduced an amendment which gave an entirely different aspect to the bill. The amendment provided that independence would be granted to the Philippines not earlier than one year nor later than two years after the enactment of the law. On the personal intervention of President Wilson, Senator Clarke agreed to rewrite his amendment so as to provide that within not less than two years nor more than four after the enactment of the law, the Philippine Republic would be proclaimed and recognized by the Government of the United States. It was also contemplated that the
Philippine Islands should be recognized as neutral territory, but the neutralization of the Philippines was not made a condition sine qua non for the establishment of the Philippine Republic. Senator Clarke’s amendment passed the Senate by the deciding vote of Vice-President Marshall, many Democratic Senators joining with the Republicans in voting against it.
When the bill as thus amended was reported to the House of Representatives by Mr. Jones, a large group of Democratic members, headed by Congressman Fitzgerald of New York, voted with the solid Republican membership against the Clarke Amendment, which was thereby defeated. After this amendment had been stricken out of the bill, this measure was passed without a record vote either in the Senate or in the House. With the signature of President Wilson, it became a law and was popularly known in the Philippines as the Jones Act.
I felt then that my public career had ended. There was no longer any doubt in my mind as to the future fate of the Philippines. The Congress of the United States had at last supplemented and strengthened the previous executive pronouncements — which in the language employed by Presidents McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft, were rather ambiguous — by an unequivocal declaration that “it was, as it has always been, the intention of the people of the United States to grant the Philippines their independence as soon as a stable government could be established therein.”
So I resigned my post as Resident Commissioner after duly notifying the leader of my party Speaker Osmeña of the Philippine National Assembly, of my proposed action. I further advised Speaker Osmeña to become a candidate for the Philippine Senate, as the presidency of this body which would have more powers than the Lower House, would be the proper place from which to exercise the continued leadership of our party. Contrary to my advice, Speaker Osmeña decided to keep the speakership of the House and in that position also to remain as head of the party. In his cablegram, Osmeña notified me that, willy-nilly, my candidacy to the Senate would be presented by the party with view to having me elected as the President of this newly created body.
On the eve of my departure from Washington, my friends in the House of Representatives, at a farewell banquet held at the New Willard Hotel, presented me with a gold watch with this inscription: “To Manuel L. Quezon, in recognition of his patriotic services in the House of Representatives, from his friends and admirers.”
I am proud to remember the tremendous greeting which was given me on my arrival in Manila. Not even on the day of my inauguration as the first President of the Commonwealth were the people in the streets so wild in their demonstration. A typhoon was blowing in the bay my ship was detained and in a pouring rain the old and the young alike, including children, stood for hours, waiting to cheer me when I landed. It was nightfall before I could reach the Quezon Gate — a gate which, by order of the City Board of Manila, was opened in the wall facing the College of San Juan de Letran, my alma mater. The Filipino poet laureate, Fernando Maria Guerrero, wrote a sonnet which was inscribed on a silver hatchet symbolic of the hammers which destroyed the wall to open the gate. After the public meeting, held despite the raging storm, I was escorted to Malacañan Palace where, for a few days, I was the guest of Governor-General Harrison. Other public meetings and several banquets were held in my honor and, without making a campaign, I was elected Senator by unanimous vote from my district. Upon the inauguration of the new legislature composed of two elective houses, again by unanimous vote I was elected the first President of the Senate. President Wilson sent an appropriate message which was read at the ceremonies of the inauguration by Governor-General Harrison.
By this time even the most intransigent Filipinos, with the exception of General Ricarte, who had exiled himself from the country, had become sincere friends and loyal supporters of the United States.
Not long thereafter, the United States entered the First World War by the side of the Allied nations. The war message to Congress of President Wilson giving the reasons and stating the aims of the United States in declaring war against the Central Powers found a responsive chord in the hearts of the Filipino people. The whole country was aroused, and from the cities and countryside messages were sent to me to be transmitted to the President of the United States expressing the desire of the Filipino people to fight with America on the battlefields of Europe for the attainment of those aims.
“Self-determination” expressed in one word the cause for which the Filipinos had given their lives and their all in two successive and unequal wars, — first against Spain and later against the United States. Self-determination expressed, too, the national ideals and aspirations of every subjugated race. It was then for our own cause and for our own national aspirations that America was unsheathing the sword and for the first time in her history taking active part in the bloody quarrels of old imperialist Europe. America’s policy in the Philippines — its solemn pledge to grant the Filipino people their independence contained in the preamble of the Jones Act — had borne its fruit, in the hour of national peril,contrary to what they had done when they were the subjects of the Spanish monarchy, the Filipinos asked to be allowed to shed their blood mingled with American blood.
I decided to go to Washington in person and convey to the President of the United States the universal sentiment of my people. President Wilson received my message with unconcealed enthusiasm and in his characteristic well-chosen words, expressed his deep appreciation. This act of loyalty on the part of the Filipino people would conclusively prove to the statesmen of Europe the wisdom of his announced policy. The War Department was given instructions to help in every way in the organization of a Filipino Army, and meanwhile all the American forces were withdrawn from the Islands to be used elsewhere as demanded by the requirements of the war. Thus, for the first time since American occupation, the American flag was in the keeping of none but Filipinos troops — the Scouts and the Constabulary. It was reported that an America Negro in the service of an American General said to his master: “Boss, we are the only Americans now in the Philippines.”
On my return to Manila, the Philippine Legislature enacted a law authorizing the creation of the National Guard, the body which was to be trained by American officers and then mustered into the Federal Army. The Philippine Legislature also authorized Governor Harrison to offer to the United States one destroyer and one submarine.
Despite the sympathetic support of the War Department, for reasons unknown to us the military authorities in the Philippines were very slow in providing the civil government with the necessary help for the training and equipment of the National Guard. The result was that the division which we organized was mustered into the service of the Federal Army only a short time before the Armistice was signed. Thus we did not have the privilege of taking part, under General Pershing, in the First World War.
However, even then some Filipino blood had been shed on the soil of France. The first Filipino who lost his life in that war was immortalized in our history by giving his name, Claudio, to the training camp of the National Guard — Camp Claudio.
Because of the defeat that we recently suffered in the defense of the Philippines against Japanese invasion, due mainly to lack of air power, it is of special interest to note now that even after the National Guard had been demobilized, Governor-General Harrison, in full agreement with the Legislature, tried hard to keep up and give more impetus to Filipino aviation, but after Governor Harrison left, our common efforts in this respect went to naught. It was only after I had become President of the Commonwealth that the Filipino aviation service was again revived — too late, as it proved to be.
After the signing of the Armistice, and while President Wilson was hopelessly matching his talent against the European foxes, I again came to Washington at the head of a delegation, this time to plead for immediate independence for the Philippines.
On this trip came with me, not as a member of the delegation but as my life partner, the woman who, for twelve long years, had been engaged to me. The opposition to our marriage of her beloved mother and my dear aunt had been removed by the will of God. Aunt Zeneida had joined our ancestors the year before. Contrary to Filipino custom which celebrates marriages at great expense and with pompous ceremonies, my bride and I were married in Hong Kong in our street clothes and with the attendance of only the members of my staff. Twenty-four years of married life with the same wife have proved that matrimonial happiness does not depend upon the noise of the wedding. Nor for that matter upon closing one’s eyes to the sight of other beauties and running away from their company during the period of one’s engagement.
In Washington my delegation was received by Secretary of War Baker, representing the absent President Wilson. No more eloquent impromptu address have I ever listened to than that delivered by Secretary Baker on that memorable occasion. He gave us the assurance, in behalf of President Wilson, that at the first opportunity the President of the United States would recommend to Congress the enactment of a law that would grant the Philippines immediate and complete independence. After his return to Washington, and before the expiration of his term, President Wilson submitted to Congress a message recommending the granting of Philippine independence — a perpetual testimony to his abiding faith in self-determination. A hostile Congress turned a deaf ear to, and promptly shelved, the message of that great apostle of human freedom. This recommendation of the President, together with his League of Nations, went into the archives of Washington to form a part, I hope, of historical American documents.
During the succeeding administrations of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, no progressive step was taken toward either greater self-government or independence for the Philippines. Nor that the Filipino people, through their Legislature, had ceased to demand independence. On the contrary, year after year, the Legislature approved resolutions asserting that a stable government had been established in the Islands and that it was time, in accordance with the declared policy of Congress, that independence be granted to the Philippines. I had been to Washington several times during those years in an effort to secure Congressional action in accordance with the Philippine Legislature’s petitions, but to no avail. Of course, I had occasion to meet both President Harding and President Coolidge and, later on, President Hoover. I had known President Harding as chairman of the Senate Committee on the Philippines. To me he was a most lovable man, so human in his acts. One day, as I was sitting in his office conversing with him, Attorney-General Daugherty entered the room and President Harding said: “I want the boss of Ohio to shake hands with the boss of the Philippines.”
President Coolidge left no impression on me one way or another. He would let me talk and then he would say something in such a low voice that I never understood what he said. So when I left the White House I knew no more of the presidential mind than before I entered.
I met Mr. Hoover while he was Secretary of Commerce and after it was publicly known that he would be a candidate for the presidency. My purpose, of course, was to make the acquaintance of the man before he was too busy as President of the United States, since it looked certain that the Republican candidate would be elected. I had read of his splendid relief work in Belgium and being naturally sensible of the sufferings of the people I had looked at Mr. Hoover as a man overflowing with kindness and love for his fellow-men. I was, therefore, disappointed when at our first meeting I was face to face with what seemed to me a marble statue. After talking to him, I received the impression that his mind dealt with facts and figures and that his heart took no part in his business.
To succeed Governor- General Harrison, President Harding appointed as Governor-General of the Philippines the strongest Republican candidate in the primaries — General Leonard Wood. General Wood was of the opinion that Governor-General Harrison had “Filipinized” the service too rapidly and there were evidences that he would have turned the clock back, if it had been in his power to do so. He also disapproved of the part taken by the Philippine Government in acquiring or founding public utilities during Governor Harrison’s administration. Here, too, he would have undone what had been done, if he could. I opposed him at every turn although our personal relations never ceased to be pleasant.
For a time and at the beginning of his administration, General Wood had with him a very able assistant General Frank R. McCoy. Perhaps the complete rupture between General Wood and his own Filipino Cabinet, as well as with the Philippine Legislature, might have been avoided had not General McCoy left for the United States.
It was partly due to my conviction that the Nationalist Party was bound to withdraw its support from the Wood administration, and partly to other causes which it is not necessary to mention here, that I forced a break with the leader of the party, Speaker Osmeña, and after carrying the fight to the electorate I became the head of the party.
I might also add that long ere this I had been trying to return to the practice of my profession for which I had always longed, but it was Speaker Osmeña himself who had most decidedly opposed that step.
On the death of Governor-General Wood in 1927, I made a trip to Washington to see President Coolidge and to secure, if at all possible, the appointment of a successor to Governor-General Wood who would not perpetuate the break between the Philippine Legislature and the Governor-General.
I came to the United States with Mr. Osmeña who was then the President pro tempore and majority floor leader of the Senate. I had made up my mind that the best man for the position of Governor-General was Colonel Stimson whom, as I have mentioned before, I met when he was Secretary of War. Colonel Stimson had been the guest of Governor-General Wood in Manila about the time my fight with the Governor was at its height. During the visit of Secretary Stimson, I had a conference with him and told him how our official relations with Governor Wood could be improved. Without wholly committing himself, Colonel Stimson left with me the impression that some of my suggestions might be heeded. However, after leaving Manila he wrote an article which was published in the United States in support of the administration of General Wood and in criticism of the Filipinos who were fighting the Governor. I answered the article in very measured language, and I got a letter from Colonel Stimson in appreciation of the courteous and considerate manner in which I had replied to his criticisms.
Moreover, I had not changed the high opinion that I had formed of Colonel Stimson as a truly great man when he was Secretary of War, and I had not forgotten how he used to tell me, when I called at his office, that he considered the promotion of the welfare of the Filipino people one of the grave national responsibilities of the United States. He never pretended to be in favor of Philippine independence because he was anxious about the fate of the Filipino people once they were without the protection of the United States. He believed with Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Taft that through the natural process of evolution — intellectual, political, and material — the Filipino people would arrive at the dignified state of nationhood and self-government in the manner, for example, in which the people of the self-governing commonwealths of Great Britain have become in later years masters of their own destinies, without, however, breaking completely with the mother country.
I might digress right here and now to give my personal views upon this question. Many Americans have accused me of being insincere in my advocacy of complete independence for the Philippines because on some occasions I have expressed myself as not unwilling to consider continued political relationship between the United States and the Philippines, including of course, free trade relations.
It will be recalled that when the question of free trade relations between the United States and the Philippines was first submitted to the Philippine Assembly, I fought strongly against the proposition. But my opposition having been disregarded by the Congress of the United States and free trade relations having been established, the natural consequences of this trade relationship had become evident in the course of years: the Philippines became prosperous, but at the same time largely dependent upon the profitable market of the United States. Our standard of living was raised above that of other peoples of the Far East. If I could have both prosperity and freedom without completely breaking our political ties with America, I would have been a fool had I been opposed to them.
The word “independence” never meant much to me except as a young revolutionary fighting in the hills of Pampanga and Bataan. I had learned something since those hard days. I had learned that there were countries nominally independent but which in effect were under foreign rule, and still others which had in theory as well as in fact national independence, but whose people knew no freedom except the freedom to starve, the freedom to be silent, the freedom to be jailed, or the freedom to be shot. None of those situations was I willing to see become the fate of my people. I had devoted my whole life to securing for them not the name or the form, but the substance and the essence of liberty. And the reason why I chose to follow and adopt the policy of the Nationalist Party for immediate, absolute, and complete independence was because I had always thought — and so think to this day — that it was easier to get freedom and liberty for the Filipino people through the road to independence which the average American understands than through the policy of Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, agreed to by Colonel Stimson, which, although known and practised by the English in their relations with their white subjects, was entirely alien to the American mind.
And now back to my story. Upon reaching Washington, I called on President Coolidge in the company of Señor Osmefia and told the President how important it was, from the point of view of both the United States and the Philippines, to resume the policy of cooperation which had characterized the relationship between the United States and the Philippines and which had been temporarily suspended during the administration of Governor-General Wood. I mentioned the name of Colonel Henry L. Stimson as the right man for Governor-General. President Coolidge murmured a few words which I did not get and the visit was ended.
I asked for an appointment to see Chief Justice Taft who graciously received Senator Osmeña and me in his library at his home. He was genuinely glad to see us. He spoke of his early days in the Philippines and inquired about certain persons, calling their names. It was evident that he had been happy during his service in the Islands. Then I told him of my errand. He said that he was no longer interested in politics and did not, as a rule, talk to the President about appointments, but in this particular case, he would be willing to see the President and recommend the appointment of his former Secretary of War, Colonel Stimson, if I could convince the Colonel that he should accept office.
I wrote a letter to Colonel Stimson who was then in New York requesting him to set a time for a visit with him. He answered by inviting Senator Osmeña and me to an informal family dinner with only Mrs. Stimson and himself at his hotel in New York. We accepted and after dinner I put before Colonel Stimson the purpose of my trip. He would not consider it for a moment. I insisted, and after reminding him of his own words that the government of the Philippines was a grave responsibility resting on the United States, and after giving him assurances of my loyal support and cooperation, bade him good-night. He had given no answer to my presentation of the case, but I felt that I had made a dent both in his mind and in his heart, and so I went back to Mr. Justice Taft and told him that I thought Colonel Stimson would not refuse the post if it were offered to him by the President of the United States.
Fifteen days later, I read in the newspaper that the Honorable Henry L. Stimson had been appointed Governor-General of the Philippines. Unfortunately, I had to go to a sanatorium in Monrovia, California, sick with tuberculosis, and Governor-General Stimson went to the Philippines without my being there to lend him my personal and official support. But Senator Osmeña had returned to the Philippines and temporarily acted as President of the Senate and leader of the party, and he conveyed to our colleagues my wishes that the new Governor- General be given their sincere cooperation and assistance.
When I went back to Manila, after recovering from my illness, I found both the Governor-General and Mrs. Stimson extremely happy with their surroundings. Governor Stimson revived the Council of State, composed of the leaders of the Legislature and members of the Cabinet of the Governor-General, which Governor-General Wood had abolished. He initiated a policy which he expected would finally end in a political status whereby the Filipino people would be essentially free and feel satisfied to remain under the American flag. Hardly did he begin to try out this policy when the sugar interests in the United States started an agitation to secure legislation from Congress which would put a limit to the free exportation of sugar from the Philippines into the United States. I went to see the Governor in his office and told him that this was the beginning of the end of what he was trying to do. I said most emphatically to him that if the United States retained the Philippines under the American flag and taxed our products entering the United States while keeping open the Philippine market for the free entrance of American goods, I would start a revolution against the United States.
The Governor smiled and said: “I would not blame you.” Then taking a very solemn attitude, he exclaimed: “That will never be tolerated by the American people and I will fight it to the end.” He did so and the Timberlake Bill went by the board.
Upon the election of President Hoover, Governor-General Stimson was appointed Secretary of State and thus ended his short-lived administration of the Islands. I regretted his departure and I have a slight suspicion that he carried with him imperishable memories of his stay in the Philippines. Of course we had our disagreements, but we discussed our differences of opinion with perfect sincerity and frankness, and after the discussions were over there was never a bad taste in our mouths. It had been my wont after the departure of Governor-General Stimson to tell every one of his American successors, whether Governor- General or United States High Commissioner (after the establishment of the Commonwealth), that no representative of the United States in the Philippines had won my respect and even my personal affection more than did Governor-General Stimson. This, I added, was due to the fact that he never left me in doubt as to what he had in mind whenever he expressed his ideas on any subject. There was never any mental reservation whenever he talked to me, and he therefore made me feel that he gave me his entire confidence exactly as he would have done it if I had been an American sitting at his council table as the senior member of his official family. He and Mrs. Stimson treated Mrs. Quezon and me as close friends, and my wife used to refer to the Governor in our intimate family chats, as “mi viejo” (This Spanish expression literally translated means “my old man”, but is also used to designate affectionately
one’s father.) My purpose in referring to Governor-General Stimson in the way I did when talking to his successors was not only to state the fact, but also in the hope that his successors would adopt the same policy in dealing with me and with other Filipino officials.
After Governor-General Stimson, the next Governor-General was Dwight F. Davis. He remained but a short time in the Philippines and during most of that time I was forced to be away from the Islands because of ill health. All I can say of Governor Davis is that he was the gentleman personified and was well liked by Filipinos.
I was in Washington when the appointment of the successor of Governor Davis was being considered by President Hoover. The Secretary of War, Mr. Patrick Hurley arranged a meeting between General Douglas MacArthur, then United States Chief of Staff, and Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., at my house in Washington. Soon thereafter the latter was appointed Governor-General of the Philippines. No American Governor-General had used the word “Mabuhay” — an expression of effusive greeting — did Governor-General Roosevelt. He, too, made friends with the Filipinos, but his term of office was cut short by a telegram which he received soon after the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepting his resignation as Governor-General of the Philippines.
During the latter part of the administration of President Hoover, the movement in the United States to close the American market to Philippine products took another turn. A bill granting independence to the Philippines was introduced in Congress. It included a provision for terminating the free trade relations between the United States and the Philippines. The Philippine Legislature sent a mission to the United States with Messrs. Osmeña and Roxas at its head to appear before Congress in support of independence, but also with the idea of making the bill’s provisions agreeable to the Filipino people.
The bill as it passed both Houses in its final form was vetoed by President Hoover, but Congress overrode the President’s veto, and the bill became known as the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. In order to take effect the Act had to be accepted by the Philippine Legislature.
Before the law could be submitted to the Legislature, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected and assumed the presidency. One of his first acts affecting the Philippines was the appointment of the present Justice Frank Murphy of the Supreme Court of the United States as Governor-General of the Philippines.
When Governor Murphy entered Malacañan Palace, a bitter political fight was going on over the acceptance of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. Messrs. Osmeña and Roxas were for the acceptance of the law while I was leading the opposition on several grounds. My main objection, however, was to the provision of the law that called for the retention of military and naval establishments by the United States after the Philippine Republic should have been proclaimed. I did not object to the provision regarding the retention of naval stations so long as this was made dependent upon the consent of the Philippine Republic, but I did strenuously and definitely oppose the retention of military establishments otherwise, for it destroyed the very essence of independent existence for the Philippines.
Governor Murphy won the respect of the Filipino people by keeping aloof from this fight and maintaining the strictest neutrality. He went about his business as Governor-General as though there was no political storm raging around him. His main concern while he remained as Governor-General was social service, and he tried to save as much from the public funds as he thought could be done without stopping the wheels of government. Considering the short time that Governor Murphy stayed as Governor-General of the Philippines, it will be correct to say that during his administration he held more social parties of an informal character, where Filipinos were made to feel at home in Malacañan Palace, than any of his predecessors. When my political fight with Osmeña and Roxas over the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act was over, Mrs. Quezon and I were frequent guests of Governor Murphy and his sister.
When the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act was submitted to the Philippine Legislature, it was rejected by an overwhelming majority. Whereupon, the Philippine Legislature sent me to the United States to explain to the President and the Congress our reasons for rejecting the law and to work for a new one more acceptable, or at least less objectionable, to us.
In Washington, President Roosevelt received me with his well-known cordiality. He was kind enough to refer to the fact that he had met me when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration. This thoughtful gesture on the part of the President gave me every encouragement to lay before him frankly and in detail the purpose of my errand. After paying close attention to my statement, he suggested that I present a memorandum in writing to him. I did so, but with a heavy heart. I thought that the President had imposed upon me the burden of writing the memorandum to be read by some one else and then would give me a perfunctory answer. After waiting for over fifteen days, I received word from the White House that the President would see me at a certain hour. I was ushered into his office where I found him as before, with his winning smile and gracious manner. To my agreeable surprise, my memorandum was on his desk and he proceeded to discuss every angle of the question submitted in the memorandum with such comprehension and understanding of the problems that it really astonished me. He was a new President and yet none of his predecessors knew more about the Far East and the Philippine situation than he did — at least as far as his predecessors had ever discussed those questions with me.
President Roosevelt readily agreed that the maintenance of military reservations in the Philippines after the proclamation of the Philippine Republic would, in itself, make the granting of independence a farce. “After all,” President Roosevelt added, “the American military force in the Islands is too small to protect the Philippines against foreign invasion, and after we have been in the Islands all these many years, it will be impossible to induce Congress to appropriate the necessary funds for the military defense of the Islands and the maintenance of an army of sufficient size to keep any enemy at bay.” He also agreed that as far as naval stations were concerned, the Philippine Republic should have something to say. As to the trade relations between the United States and the Philippines during the ten-year period that the American flag would still remain in the Islands (to which I had also objected), the President promised to have further investigation made of the matter and recommend to Congress the correction of such inequalities and injustices as might be found in the law. In accordance with my understanding with the President, a new Independence Bill was introduced in Congress by Senator Tydings in the Senate and Congressman McDuffie in the House of Representatives. After I became certain that the new bill would become a law, I sought a conference with General Douglas MacArthur, still Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
General MacArthur had been in the Philippines as a young officer and in later years had commanded successively a division and the Philippine Department. I had known General MacArthur for many years and a close friendship had already grown between us. He called me by my first name. I was fully informed of his comprehensive knowledge of the Philippines and knew of his close association with the Filipinos and his absolute faith in their capacity for self-government. He had told me also that the Filipino soldier was the match of any other soldier in the world. His worldwide reputation as a brave and brilliant general had been duly recognized by his own Government in placing him at the head of the United States Army at an early age and for a longer time than any other previous Chief of Staff. I needed the advice of a competent man on whose judgment I could depend as to the feasibility of adequately preparing the Philippines for national defense against the day when they should become independent. No man knew the answer to this question as well as General MacArthur, if he only would give it to me.
At the appointed time, I saw General MacArthur in his office in the War Department. I said: “General, I have come to see you on a matter which concerns the very life of my country. If you can give a frank and complete answer to the question I shall propound, please give it. On the other hand I want no answer from you if you would have to give it with mental reservations, because it affects military matters.”
“What is the question?” he said.
“Do you think that the Philippines can be defended after they shall have become independent ten years hence?”
He answered: “I don’t think so. I know that the Islands can be protected, provided, of course, that you have the money which will be required.”
I asked again: “How much would be needed?”
And he answered: “With what you now spend for the maintenance of the Philippine Constabulary, which I understand is about six million pesos a year [$3,000,000], it will be necessary to spend ten million pesos more [$5,000,000] for the next ten years. “Moreover,” he added, “the defense of the Philippines cannot rest upon the creation of a big regular army, for that would be too expensive for you. You would have to create a citizen army on the basis of universal compulsory service. If you have a small regular force as a nucleus to be expanded by employing the citizen army in time of peril, no nation will care to attack you, for the cost of the conquest will be more than the expected profits.”
I said, “General, one more question: Would you be willing to come to the Philippines and be the man to put into execution the ideas you have just expressed?”
“Manuel,” he said, “I have done all that I can as a soldier in service of my country. Unless there is another war, I do not see any prospect of further constructive work that I can do for the Government and people of the United States. The Philippines is my second country and there is nothing I would like more than to undertake the task that you are proposing. America has great responsibility for the future safety of the Filipino people. We cannot just turn around and leave you alone. All these many years we have helped you in education, sanitation, road building, and even in the practice of self-government. But we have done nothing in the way of preparing you to defend yourselves against a foreign foe. We have trained a few officers and a few thousand soldiers in the Philippine Scouts and you have created your own Constabulary, but this force is more of a national police than an army. This is the time — if it is not too late — to help you organize your own defense. If you can secure the consent of the Secretary of War and the President of the United States to my assignment as Military Adviser of the Philippine Commonwealth, I shall consider the assignment as a fitting end to my military career.”
I replied: “General, I shall proceed at once to secure the consent of the Secretary of War and the President of the United States, with the understanding of course that this plan will be carried out if I am elected President of the Philippine Commonwealth.”
The office of the Chief of Staff is connected with the office of the Secretary of War by a side door. General MacArthur peeped into the office of Secretary Dern and upon finding the Secretary alone, he motioned me to go in. I told the Secretary what I had in mind and he told me to see the President about it. President Roosevelt approved of the plan, using his influence to have an amendment made to a then existing law which permitted the Government of the United States to send military commissions to the South American republics upon their request. The amendment included the Philippines within the scope of the law.
Presently the new Independence Act was approved by Congress and after its approval I went back to the Philippines to secure its acceptance by the Philippine Legislature. This was done by the unanimous vote of both Houses, whereupon the Independence Act became a solemn pact entered into between the Government and people of the United States on the one hand and the Government and people of the Philippines on the other, whereby it was agreed that on the 4th of July, 1946, the Philippines should become an independent republic. In the meantime, there was to be established the Government of the Commonwealth, with a contribution of its own, framed and adopted by a constitutional convention elected by the voters of the Philippines. The Constitution, once approved by the President of the United States, was to be submitted to a plebiscite of the people for their approval or rejection.
In accordance with the Independence Act, popularly known in the Philippines as the Tydings-McDuffie Law, a constitutional convention was elected which sat in the city of Manila and did, in my opinion, most creditable work. Although in its main features, the Philippine Constitution was practically a copy of the Constitution of the United States, it contained new provisions to meet the social problems of our day which did not exist when the fathers of the American Republic drew up their own constitution. It also contained the clause in the famous Kellogg Pact that the Philippines renounced war.
Upon the approval of the Philippine Constitution by the constitutional convention, Governor-General Murphy, with a strong favorable recommendation, sent it to Washington for submission to the President of the United States as directed by the Independence Act. President Roosevelt gave his assent to the Constitution and thereafter it was submitted to a plebiscite of the Filipino people who, by practically unanimous vote, made the Constitution the fundamental law of the land.