December 13, 1937

We had considerable excitement recently due to forced landings by three of our airplanes while they were returning from a southern island trip. On eastern shore of Luzon they ran into the edge of a typhoon area, and, practically out of gas, each had to seek a spot to get down. One plane reported in by wire within an hour of landing; the occupants of another reached a telegraph station two days later; while the third, perched on a tiny islet that was completely isolated by weather, was unreported from Monday noon until Friday morning. Unfortunately this plane, piloted by Lt. Lee,  had Gen. Santos as one of the passengers (Segundo was the other). As a result headlines and all types of newspaper publicity centered around Santos and, this apparently irritated the President no end, who doesn’t like to see someone else’s name in the public prints.

He has written a letter to Santos demanding a full report on the trip with “whys”, “whats”, “whos”, and etc., etc. The letter was drafted by [ . . . ] who in his usual bootlicking, made its language as bitter, sarcastic and nearly intolerable [ . . . ] The Pres. even stooped to calling in a newspaper owner, Romulo, and inspiring an editorial of criticism against Santos. The whole incident is apparently to be used to relieve Santos, if possible, so they are working up an artificial sentiment of resentment toward him.

Actually the facts and reasons are simple.

The President wrote Santos a letter two months ago directing the destruction of all Moro cottas. Santos got the original order considerably modified in favor of reason and moderation, but it was still sufficiently severe to arouse Moro antagonism and sporadic revolt. A few of them gathered in a cotta at Lanao and trouble started which constantly grew more serious. Calls for help came from the local constabulary and finally Santos conferred at length with MacA. It was agreed to send down additional land forces, to get three planes ready for tactical operation in case of necessity, and to have Santos go down by plane to make an extensive survey of the situation.

Gen. MacA. fully agreed that Santos should go. The reasons were several:

  1. Santos is intimately acquainted with the country and the people.
  2. It was necessary to get first-hand information concerning the seriousness of the situation.
  3. It was obviously necessary to coordinate the plans and efforts of the army with those of the Governor-Commissioner of Mindanao, etc.

Gen. MacA. was the one who insisted that the planes, if they went, should be equipped for action. Jim and I have advised Santos to sit quietly, saying nothing except to answer the letter plainly, truthfully and without apology. He used his judgment and did the best he could. I cannot believe anyone will try to carry the thing too far. But I notice the Gen. says the only error made in the whole incident was the “decision to return to Manila”. This decision was, of course, Santos’ own so if that was the only error, he alone bears the responsibility!!!

October 11, 1937

These notes were originally started more as an “aide memoire” –and as a matter of possible future interest have obviously become necessary as a protection against changes in orders and directives. Changes in plans are of course always necessary when the period for their execution extends over a decade, and their details include all the activities, agencies and requirements of a national army. Changes are not bad in themselves, but when there is met a flat denial that the original plan ever existed it is best to keep in written form, some record of the principal features of the orders and directives a subordinate is following in his daily work. It is a terrible way in which to work –and feeling that it is necessary to observe such a practice carries an implication that “Someone is crazy.” Maybe the keeping of notes will reveal whether or not it is I.

October 8, 1937

At 12:15 today the General had a conference (called a conference by courtesy. It was nothing but a monologue –since even when given “2 minutes” to present our views, we’d lose the floor and have to subside) in his office. Present, Ord, T.J., Fellers and myself. Fellers was unquestionably present to act as “reporter” of the conference, especially to be the messenger to Malacañan. There was no other excuse since he has not been associated with the work of executing the defense plan; which was the subject of the conference.

The occasion for the conference was a conversation the General had with the Pres. last evening. The Pres. showed him an estimate (prepared by Ord for the Pres. at the specific request of the latter) as to the total cost, up to 1946, of the military program that the General has laid down as our objective. This plan, as dictated to us by the General time and time again involves:

Annual training of 40,000 conscripts for 5 1/2 mos. (3,000 to be trained for 11 mos.)

Organization of 30 reserve and 1 regular division.

Organization of an Air Force of approx. 50 fighting planes

Organization of an Off-Shore Patrol –to be as strong as possible with-in a 10 year cost of 10,000,000 pesos.

School, supply, control and administrative elements necessitated by above.

The cost of this plan, taking into account our best information on prices to be charged us by the U.S. for various classes of equipment, for the years 1938-45 inclusive is estimated by Jimmy and me to be 178 million pesos, or roughly 50,000,000 more than the 16 million annual average would provide. This was the information furnished by Jimmy to the Pres. (including 32 million for 1936-37).

The General states that this information, if true, makes him out to be either a fool or a knave, since his earliest promise to Mr. Q. was “that for 160,000,000 pesos, distributed over a 10 year period, he would make the P.I. so secure from attack, that no nation would deliberately undertake the enterprise”. He further says –now– that this 160 million program represents the only plan he has ever entertained for a moment. He says, now, that he has not deviated from that determination, and has not projected any plan that would contravene such a determination, for a single instant in the 2-year interval.

On June 15, 1936, I presented to the General what was intended to be a protest against the 30 Division program, a memorandum in which the certain minimum costs were estimated. A copy of this estimate is in the office files. It showed a certain deficit of 45,000,000 pesos and showed also that the estimates in it were generally far below what it was considered necessary to provide under the 30 Division plan. The General refused flatly to modify or restrict the objectives of his organizational plan as outlined at the beginning of today’s entry in this book. He made some prophecies that additional money would be forthcoming, either in the form of gifts in kind from the U.S., or lump sums from various Commonwealth Credits in the U.S. But finally he said that failing such windfalls, he was prepared to raise the yearly “ante” and demand more money by the appropriation route. When I inquired –which I did– as tohow he would make such action jibe with his 160 million peso promise, he replied that figure was just an approximation, and that it was understood by all that some changes would be necessary. He said also that we had plenty of reasons to advance for hiking the budget –World Conditions, possible early independence, etc., etc. (And this was long before the possibility of early independence was publicly mentioned by Pres. Q.)

So we proceeded on the 30th Division plan at the specific and unequivocal order of the Field Marshal. The occasion for bringing the estimate to his attention at that time was an effort on the part of Jim and myself to secure modification of the Marshal’s order to call 20,000 conscripts for training on Jan. 1, 1937. The original plan, (finally pared down by arbitrary action to the 160 million basis) called for training only 3000 men on January 1, 1937. The new order called for extraordinary and unforeseen expenditures as explained in a prior note in this book.

The General was adamant. He gave Jim and me a long lecture on “adequacy of security” as represented by numbers of “divisions” trained and ready. We urged a budgetary basis for all planning, and he grew furious, accusing us of “arguing technicalities” to defeat the conceptions of the high command!

Now –suddenly– when confronted definitely with the loss of the Pres.’s confidence because of the increased costs, he not only abandons this expanded plan, he deliberately states he never approved it, formulated it, or even suggested it except as an expression of of his hopes and ambitions. He told the Pres. (he says) that all portions of the plan that exceeded the 160 million limit are nothing but the products of Jimmy and myself –produced without approval from him.

Every scrap of auxiliary evidence, letters, partial plans presented to the Gen., requisitions, and the direct testimony of Jimmy, General Santos and myself furnish ample proof that he is again executing one of his amazing “about faces”.

We (J. and I) thoroughly approve of modifying the plan. We’ve fought for and urged such downward revision as is necessary to get within reasonable range of the 110,000,000 for 2 years. But it is amazing, mystifying and completely irritating to see him take the position that he had never directed anything else. In the “conference” I challenged him to show that I’d done anything not calculated to further his plans. Also, I informed him that never had he asked me whether or not I considered his plans a good one in its possibilities for defense of these islands. It’s not important what I think of his plan, but from any subordinate’s standpoint it is important when a senior charges “substitution of policy” –and virtual sabotage. He repeated over and over again his “personal” confidence in us, and, in words, accepted much of the blame for the misunderstanding. He simply “shouted down” any real explanation of my attitude.

But it was not a misunderstanding!

It is a deliberate scuttling of one plan (and blaming Jimmy and me as the sole originators, advocates and apostles of that plan, which we actually opposed bitterly) while he adopts another one, which in its concrete expression, at least, I’ve never even heard of before.

He invited us to apply for relief if we wouldn’t go along with the new plan.

I’m not so concerned in that part of it since it’s his responsibility to decide upon the main features of our defense system. But I’ve got to decide soon whether I can go much further with a person who, either consciously or unconsciously, deceives his boss, his subordinates and himself (probably) so incessantly as he does. I wonder whether he believes there is one atom of truth in his statements of this morning. I wonder whether egotism, exclusive devotion to one’s own interests, (in this case a 66,000 peso salary, plus penthouse and expenses) can finally completely eliminate a person’s perception of honesty, straightforwardness, and responsibility to the people for whom he’s working.

When irritated at the Pres. I’ve heard him curse that worthy as a “conceited little monkey,” and I’ve heard him, in turn, use even worse language with respect to every prominent officer in the U.S. Army, and officials in Washington. But sometimes I think that, in his mind, there is nothing ridiculous, absurd or even unusual in his attitude. He was raised in the conception of Douglas MacArthur superiority. Actually he has become only pathetic. The barest mention of his name in the gossip column of the poorest of our universally poor daily periodicals sends him into hysterical delight or deepest despair, depending upon its note of praise or condemnation. He gets frantic in the face of difficulty, even if the difficulty is only an imaginary one and displays an exaggeration of glee when he believes things are shaping up to glorify his name, or increase his income.

I shall never forget the time in Washington when receipt of instructions to report to the President, led him to conclude, in the greatest seriousness, that he was to be invited to be the President’s running mate in the succeeding election. It is this trait that seems to have destroyed his judgment and led him to surround himself with people [. . . ] who simply bow down and worship.

For some months, I’ve remained on this job, not because of the Gen. –but in spite of him. I’ve got interested in this riddle of whether or not we can develop a W.D. and an army capable of running itself, and I prefer to dig away at it to being on a “mark time” basis somewhere else. But now I’m at a cross road. If the Marshal is to persist in his arbitrary methods, and is going to make things as unpleasant, if not impossible, as his today’s homily indicated, then I’m for home. We should be able to get a better line on the situation with a few days! Right now I’m disgusted and in something of a temper, a bad state of mind in which to make any decisions.

There was some justification for his anger over the presentation of the 50,000,000 “deficit” estimate to Mr. Q. But in our defense it is to be said that we’ve literally begged him to arrange a weekly conference between the Pres. and himself. But in the past he’s been to high ranking to do so. Now he thinks his job (and emoluments) are at stake –and maybe he’ll do it. Thank God I scarcely know the little devil (Q.) so neither now nor in the future do I have to discuss anything with him.

In the meantime, “Quien soba”.

August 25, 1937

The last week has been one of the most trying ones I’ve had on the P.I. There has been an unusually large number of difficult administrative problems to handle with the Army staff, (and incidentally I heard that the Pres. was astounded and furious at the size of our Budget). But the cause for special perturbation was the receipt by the Gen. of a letter from the Chief of Staff informing him that he would be relieved and ordered home on the October transport! The chief assistant to the Genl. in the ensuing conferences, proposals, speculations, arguments, etc., etc. [. . . ] has become (or maybe always has been) a master bootlicker. From the start T.J. and I counselled moderation –and at least initial dependence on Mr. Quezon’s efforts to have the order revoked. He agreed to send any radio proposed by the Gen. to accomplish such revocation, and we got up one worded as strongly as it possibly could be. We are informed that the Pres. secured the H.C.’s favorable endorsement to that radio. But we had no sooner submitted the draft of that radio to the Pres. when a hundred other schemes were proposed here and there to “help out”. We wrote drafts (under instructions) of radios requesting retirement, of others protesting the “unjust and arbitrary procedure” of the W.D. while listening for hours on end to hypotheses and so called deductions as to what had occasioned the order. Gradually it percolated into the Gen’s head that the theory lending the greatest hopes for a successful outcome (from his standpoint) was one that held the C. of S. solely and exclusively responsible for the action. The motivation was, under this theory, jealousy; fear of the growing stature of Gen. MacA as a world figure; egotism; revenge by the “Chaumont crowd”, and hopes of pleasing the “pacifistic, subversive element that surrounds the President”. The defense T.J. and I put up was simply that we should give as much credit to the C of S for being an honorable person as we should to people like Murphy, McIntyre, Coy, etc., etc. We emphasized that we’d done what we could, when we prepared the telegram for Mr. Quezon’s signature. We insisted on waiting for an answer before making another move, since his wire was addressed to the President of the U.S. Finally the old habit of accusing every assistant who did not concur without reservation to hysterical theories and arguments with being a blockhead, an ingrate, a stupid dolt and so on manifested itself, so T.J. and I perforce stopped arguing. Finally the General shot off a “protest” wire to the C. of S. –and was answered promptly. The nature of the reply was that the President had decided, in view of world conditions, that a soldier of the General’s reputation and abilities (and youth) should be in the U.S. His date of departure is put off until February.

I hope the subject will now cease to be a topic of conversation. I’m worn out!!

Every time one of these “tempests in a teapot” sweeps the office I find myself, sooner or later, bearing the brunt of the General’s displeasure, which always manifests itself against anyone who fails to agree en tote with his theories and hypotheses, no matter how astounding they may be. These comic opera wars never center about any problem incident to the “job” we are on. They invariably involve something personal to the Gen.; I could be the fair-haired boy if I’d only yes, yes, yes!! That would be so easy, too!!

July 31, 1937

Have begun a campaign to instill in Philippine Army, particularly in officers, a higher regard for regulations, orders, and care of government property. Recently two or three instances have come to my attention of officers using government property for unauthorized projects. Have recommended in each case that the guilty officer refund the amount to government. Have further recommended that an officer who used a truck for ten days improperly be fined and reprimanded. Have urged Chief of Staff to stop approving requisitions for property unless accompanying documents show a real need for same. Directed a thorough investigation of typewriter situation, including a physical inventory of machines charged to offices in Manila, and personal payment for any that is missing.

Heard a bunch of gossip today (via TJ) that this mission is bitterly resented by H.C. That office is supposed to be particularly peeved at salary of Chief and his penthouse. The H.C. is also supposed to have written letters home to the President and Secretary of War demanding relief of mission. O.K. by me!! I’m ready to go. No one seems to realize how much energy and slavery Jim and I put into this d— job.

The General got quite disturbed upon learning of Army Headquarters plan to make a Mr. Melchor (head of Math Dept. at P.M.A.) a major in Aug. He talked on subject for 1/2 hours –I’m trying to get legislation creating a new corps of professors.

Radios from Jim (in Washington) indicate he is getting along pretty well in arranging extensive loans of ordnance from U.S. Army. He’s doing lots of good work, though why it was not done when General was in States is beyond me. Jim expects to sail Sept. 8, don’t see how he can predict his date of departure when Emily’s condition will not be known for some weeks. The sooner he comes the better for me, I’m tired. Over a year and a half at this slavery in this climate and no leave!

The mobilization for this fall, particularly the Manila concentration, is to be a much smaller affair than originally ordered. The General has finally become convinced that his idea of doing the job for next to nothing is out of the question. So after doing weeks of work on a 20,000 concentration (instead of the 25,000 the Gen. ordered) we are directed to come down to the 15,000 Luzon concentration, that I originally urged. We are told to keep additional expenses within the 100,000 pesos limit, as the maximum.