Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

May 15, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Dr. Trepp tells me that Quezon is in very much better condition; that his blood pressure is down to 160–about right for his age; that the past week has been largely given up to interviews with Supreme Court Justices Murphy and Frankfurter, and when I saw Quezon he told me the “legal” position as to the Philippine Government-in-Exile (probably worked out by the two justices) viz.: that only authority since the Japanese occupied the Islands is President Roosevelt, and he will decide about any change in the person to head the Philippine Government-in-Exile. This assures Quezon of continuance in office until the Islands are re-occupied by the United States and a new election is held. This, however, is not the sole cause of Quezon’s good spirits and improved health; the allied victory in Tunisia has sent the barometer up again.

Quezon says he has decided to give up his pressure of work as much as possible; no more evening work, and no more bridge. He is alone with his family in the evenings now; during the day he sees only those visitors absolutely necessary. Stays in bed as late as he can in the morning; has indefinitely postponed work on his book.

Called Bernstein and me into conference about the future of the “Office of Special Services” at 1617 Massachusetts Avenue. Will not ask for deferment of draft of the Americans now in that office, since he says he does not feel that he has the right to do so. Bernstein, himself, is not asking for deferment (tells me of the example of what happened to several of the new-style “planners” in the Federal Government); he has evidently been made nervous by the strength of feeling in Congress. Bernstein will be drafted July 1st, and his assistant, Dr. Cherin, will probably get a commission this Summer.

Bernstein had submitted to Quezon a memorandum on the future of the “Office of Special Services”–proposing that the head of it hereafter be given cabinet rank, proposing Dr. Rotor, the President’s Secretary, as head of this office. Quezon refused to consider this, said he could not give up any of Rotor’s time and duties as fixed at present. Quezon complimented Bernstein on his work and said that since he was leaving, he (Q.) had considered abolishing the rest of the office. But now he wished to put me in there to supervise this office–I spending half my time in Washington.

It looks to me if Elizalde had been right in the very beginning (when Q. first made this suggestion to me early in December last) that I was to be a banana peel for Bernstein! Since then Bernstein has made very good, and it looks as if the transfer of Bernstein and of his second in command to the army would leave me as the banana peel for the rest of the office!

Some talk in the antechamber of my going on Monday to the Hot Springs Conference with the Philippine delegation, but shortly afterwards they managed to get in touch with General Basilio Valdes, so he came East at once by plane to join the delegation–thus making it all-Filipino, as it ought to be.

Later: Valdes appeared, having come by plane from Fort Leavenworth, where he was studying at the Army Staff College. He was loth to give up his studies, but off he goes tomorrow with Elizalde, Rotor and Zafra to Hot Springs. The American press much vexed because it is not allowed to attend the sessions of the “Food Congress.” Newspapers are indulging in all sorts of bitterness and “smear stuff.”

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