Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

December 1, 1942

Quezon thinks Admiral Leahy arranged for the occupation of North Africa, but when he was “recalled” from Vichy he was really getting out before the Nazis could seize him and treat him as a spy.

I was invited to attend the Cabinet meeting yesterday to hear Bernstein explain his plan and program for the new office of “Special Service” (propaganda) which he is organizing for Quezon. It was a one man show. Quezon made a long and rather astute statement to let Bernstein understand that he had changed his mind as to the scope of the undertaking. Bernstein was told to read his plan of organization and was stopped after the opening paragraphs. It was a scheme for a Malay Federation to include the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Siam and French Indo-China. Quezon explained that if such a scheme were ever proposed, it would have to come from the Javanese, or others of the countries concerned –otherwise it would look as if the Filipinos were reaching out after an empire. Quezon said he would not mind if Java were the seat of government, of such a federated state –but that it was no time to mix in such questions now! Such a move would only provoke ill feelings among allies. Elizalde says that Quezon watches the faces and studies the expressions of everybody in a group which he is addressing and added that Quezon must have noted the strained and worried countenances around him during this very interesting and, perhaps, momentous conversation.

Luncheon with the two United States Army captains, who escaped with extreme hardship from the Philippines in August and made their way to Australia. Splendid chaps: they are longing to get back to fight the Japanese and don’t wish to be sent anywhere else, even to North Africa! One had been in Batangas and one in Mindoro, and tho every Filipino in each of those provinces knew where they were, nobody gave them away to the Japanese. Instead, they sheltered and fed them and gave them the small boat in which they finally got away together. They reported that there are believed to be only 20,000 Japanese in the Philippines now. They stick to their garrisons, or to the big cities, or to the camino real. The Filipino protector of the captain who was in Batangas came and went to Manila whenever he wished. He repeated a conversation with a Japanese colonel who spoke Spanish well: this colonel confessed that the Japanese knew from the beginning that they could not win this war. The two officers agreed that there were many Americans –soldiers and civilians, at large and in hiding in the Philippines.  They said the Filipinos had remained perfectly loyal, but one of them added that he was not sure they would all continue so if the situation were prolonged indefinitely without relief.

Quezon was much gratified to have them say that the Filipinos were perfectly loyal to him, and had not blamed him for his escape from the islands –that they understood the necessity for this. He stated again that when MacArthur pressed him to go to Corregidor, he had resisted and then finally been persuaded. He had sent for General Francisco, who told him that with 1,500 of the Constabulary soldiers he could keep Quezon perfectly safe indefinitely in the mountains of Rizal; he knew every foot of those wild mountains; that if they gave him enough machine guns he could continue to harry the Japanese and inflict great damage on them. MacArthur vetoed this suggestion. Quezon said no Filipino would ever have given his hiding place away. I remarked that they did do so in the case of Aguinaldo and he replied that Aguinaldo had been guilty of great crimes and misdemeanors.

He also remarked that like Governor General Murphy, he had never allowed the death sentence to be inflicted –he hated the idea of putting a man to death in “cold blood”!

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