Yesterday, the members of the Assembly were elected to create the impression that the old representative system is being restored. There is, however, nothing farther from the truth. There was no election, nor had the members of the Assembly been selected. The central government through the Kalibapi—or vice-versa—sent to each electoral district the name of the candidate who was to be vested with a particle of popular sovereignty. The officials of each province and municipality then met, going through the motion of electing their representatives, each one voting for the pre-selected candidate with complete agreement and surprising discipline. There could not have been a more peaceful election ever held in the Philippines—no meetings, no campaigns, no waste of money. Only fifty-four representatives were elected. The other fifty-four were representatives by virtue of their office as governors and mayors.
Saranac Lake, N.Y.
This is the first entry in this diary for more than three months. Early in June, Quezon was attacked by bronchitis and soon developed a serious attack of tuberculosis. Dr. Trepp was frankly alarmed–he told me that Quezon was a worn-out man, and expressed himself as uncertain whether he could pull Quezon through this time. I suggested Saranac Lake, of which Trepp had never heard, but he understood at once when I mentioned the name of the famous Dr. Trudeau. So, after a couple of weeks in Washington and an equal period at Doctors’ Hospital in New York, Quezon was taken to Saranac.
Before leaving Washington, Quezon was not allowed to speak above a whisper, and the Cabinet met in his bedroom, where the President designated Osmeña to act for him, and in case the latter was incapacitated (as he then was!), Elizalde was to act as and for the President. This selection, inevitable as it was, created vast confusion among high officials–Quezon’s secretary, Dr. Rotor, and Bernstein, head of the Office of Special Services, were frankly uncertain whether they could (or would) get on with Elizalde!
Meanwhile, Osmeña, who, as already noted, has been suddenly operated on for appendicitis, came through safely, and then developed an infection and a high temperature. The first two occasions when I visited him in his bed in Doctors’ Hospital in Washington, he could not speak–only moved his eyelids. I then thought he might die in my presence. My third visit, a fortnight later found him sitting up in a wheel chair and conversing agreeably; I told him he would soon be dancing again, and to clinch the matter he stood up and did a couple of fox-trot steps. He has been more or less acting as President ever since, somewhat to the surprise of Elizalde, who had expected Osmeña to be out of business for a year.
Quezon’s 65th birthday was at Saranac on August 19, 1943; shortly after that I heard that he was going to send for me; a telegram on September 4, from Rotor asked me to go up to Saranac for a week.
On arrival, I found all the customary “court circle” at MacMartin camp–Mrs. Quezon, the three children and all their usual suite. Osmeña and Bernstein were there, and Valdes and young Madrigal soon arrived. They were all gayer and in better spirits than I have seen them since their arrival in the United States in May, 1942. Quezon was said to have gained five pounds, and was contemplating an early return to Washington to escape the cold weather at Saranac. Trepp seemed resigned to the move, although he was enjoying himself in surroundings which reminded him of his native Switzerland. Quezon had the steam heat on in the house all summer, and part of his “outdoor” porch enclosed!
I found Quezon still on his back in bed, he was obliged to talk in an unaccustomed low voice, and easily became tired. Osmeña, Bernstein and I were at once employed on several alternative forms for a joint resolution of Congress declaring that the Philippines were and of right ought to be free and independent, that independence was to be granted as soon as the invader was driven out of the Islands and was to be secured, and the United States was to make good the ravages of war.
Quezon had received at Saranac a visit from Secretary of War Stimson on the latter’s journey to the Quebec conference. Stinson had been deeply disturbed by the Japanese political maneuvers in the Philippines (as, indeed I have been myself). They feared that the Japanese grant of independence might rally a certain number of Filipinos to aid the Japanese army to resist the coming American attack on them in the Philippines. Stimson told Quezon that if this occurred, he (S.) would feel like committing suicide. Millard Tydings, the Senator from Maryland, Chairman of the Committee on Tertitories etc., had been staying nearby with his father-in-law, ex-Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, and the two of them had come over to visit Quezon. Tydings then told Quezon that he would “father” “any damn thing” to which the President would agree in order to meet this situation.
So, together with Osmeña and Bernstein, I worked for the first day on the various forms offered for the proposed joint resolution. We could see Quezon for only an hour in the morning and the same length of time in the afternoon. That night Osmeña and Bernstein returned south.
Talk with Colonel Manuel Nieto, Quezon’s loyal friend and chief a.d.c. He told me that they had recently seen a colonel (American) who had escaped from the Philippines in July last. He reported that the Filipinos still have 10,000 troops in Mindanao; that there the Japanese held only Davao, Zamboanga, Misamis and the country up as far as Lake Lanao. The Filipinos can operate elsewhere in Mindanao as they wish. Tomas Confesor has a sort of government in existence in parts of Panay and adjoining islands; Samar and Leyte are for the most part unoccupied by the Japanese. Parts of Cebu are still in the hands of Filipino commandos; Luzon is pretty thoroughly occupied by the enemy.
In conversation at lunch I condoled with Mrs. Marcos Roces over the death of her brother-in-law, my good friend Don Alejandro Roces. It seems that the news had been kept from her–I don’t know why! In talking over this with Quezon later he remarked “Roces was better dead than left alive to explain later his attitude in his newspapers (La Vanguardia, Taliba, etc.) which had been pro-Japanese from the moment the enemy occupied Manila.” Quezon added that he would not himself hang any of the pro-Japanese Filipinos upon his return, though he added that “some of them may be killed before we can take control.” The general impression is that the Filipino people can distinguish accurately between those who are really pro-Japanese and those who are merely co-operating formally to preserve what they can of their country. Quezon quoted again the cable he sent to Roosevelt before leaving for Corregidor, that “if a government cannot afford protection to its citizens it cannot claim their allegiance.” It seems that thereupon Roosevelt cabled MacArthur to release the Filipino Army if Quezon demanded it, but also cabled Quezon his famous message “promising to redeem and protect the Philippines and give them their independence.” Quezon added that he had changed the word “redeemed” when he issued to the Filipino people the proclamation publishing Roosevelt’s message, on the basis of which the Filipinos fought the battle of Bataan. Roosevelt did not know that MacArthur had showed Quezon the message allowing him to disband the Philippine Army if Quezon insisted. Quezon praised Roosevelt’s attitude very highly.
He told me that Stimson’s recent visit to London was to insist that a more vigorous war be waged at once. Hence the pronouncements to that effect at the subsequent Quebec Conference.
About the so-called “independence” offered by the Japanese to the Filipinos, Quezon said: “As soon as I heard that the voting was to be done only by members of the Kalibapi, all my anxieties were ended. If it had been a vote of the Filipino people I would never have gone against it–I would have resigned.” (As a matter of opinion, the Filipinos are said to have “adopted” the new constitution by the vote of 181 hand-picked members of the Kalibapi!) This attitude of Quezon toward his retention of the presidency is uncertain in my mind. When Osmeña and Bernstein left after handing him the various forms proposed for a joint resolution of Congress, Quezon in bidding good-bye to Osmeña said “If this resolution passes Congress before November 15th, I shall resign because I am ill.” Mrs. Quezon also told me that when they go back to Manila, it would not be to reside in Malacañan Palace, but in their own house! On the other hand, Trepp says that he knows Quezon is going to retain the presidency, since he has overheard the negotiations on that subject!
After Osmeña and Bernstein had left, I worked for two more days with Quezon on the joint resolution and the various alternative forms were whittled down to one, declaring the Philippines independent, etc., as soon as invader was ejected and reciting Roosevelt’s famous message of promises to “redeem, secure, etc., and to repair.”
Just as I was leaving to return home, well satisfied with the draft of the joint resolution and Quezon’s proposed letter to President Roosevelt, a telephone conversation between Mrs. Quezon and ex-Governor General Frank Murphy in Michigan introduced another uncertainty into Quezon’s mind! Murphy was then quoted as having said that “he did not want the Philippines to be treated like India, and the resolution must grant immediate independence and he was going to Washington to get it!”
Canceran, the President’s private secretary, who had been busy all day for three days typing and retyping forms of the resolution as Quezon thought of new improvements, sadly said to me: “That is the trouble with the President, he always changes his mind at the last moment, upon new advice.”
Well, we shall see, what we shall see.
Roosevelt and Stimson are already committed to the earlier proposition–i.e., independence as soon as the Japanese invader is thrown out. (The other form might look as if the United States were evading their obligations).
It seems that Quezon has had Dr. Cherin, an assistant of Bernstein, working on the re-writing of Quezon’s book this summer, though Quezon told me nothing of that. The real hitch in publication is that Quezon cannot yet tell the full story of the all-important interchange of cablegrams between himself and Roosevelt before the battle of Bataan.
The Constitution was ratified yesterday by some kind of a Constitutional Assembly composed of 117 delegates chosen by the Kalibapi from among the old delegates and government officials. They also wanted to make it appear that the Constitution was ratified by popular plebiscite. The plan was that, after the delegates had approved the Constitution, they would place themselves at the balcony of the Legislative building to be present, who would shout “Mabuhay” three times in popular approval of the Constitution.
To this end, government employees, students, members of the neighborhood associations and factory workers were mobilized. They were posted there since eight in the morning, but as the delegates did not show up till noon, most of the people dispersed without showing the least interest in the Constitution or the plebiscite.
Needless to say, the delegates approved the Constitution unanimously. No one proposed any amendment, any modification, nor any comments. Those who had been assigned to speak their piece spoke in favor of the Constitution, and everbody responded, “Amen.”
The new Constitution is neither democratic nor dictatorial. It is a kind of constitutional dictatorship. Officially, the Philippines is a Republic, but in reality it is neither democratic nor representative. The President possesses great powers which no other elective chief of state has. He is to be a dictator without checks. Aside from being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (when there would be one) and from occupying the position of Prime Minister, he has also the power to appoint all high government officials, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, judges, bureau chiefs, ambassadors, governors and mayors without the need of obtaining the approval of the Assembly, since the legislative body is also the President’s creation. Half of the membership of the legislature is to be composed of provincial governors and mayors appointed by the President, and the other half would be composed of delegates—one from each province or city—elected by the Kalibapi which is also controlled by the President.
As it is written, the President thus enjoys unlimited powers. The Constitution is Republican in form, but dictatorial in substance.
Dr. Laurel, who is the principal author of the Constitution and who is generally felt to be the logical choice as first President of the Republic, had for a long time been an advocate of an authoritative and quasi-dictatorial national leadership. In my conversations with him before the war, he had signified his preferences for strong and energetic executives who alone could curtail the abuses of policies and who alone could effect reforms beneficial to the country.
The members of the Constitutional Commission publicly and privately declared that the military authorities did not interfere in the drafting of the Constitution, and that they discussed and approved the same without instructions or suggestions from any Japanese advisers. They commended the tact and prudence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Chief of the Military Administration who gave the Commission complete freedom of action. Both these gentlemen and the government of Tokyo approved the Constitution in toto, although some military officials in the Japanese capital were opposed to some of its provisions.
A trustworthy person hinted to me that Dr. Laurel was approached twice by a high Japanese official with the proposal that in the interest of the Philippine Republic, Laurel should declare war against the Allies as soon as independence is granted. But because of the vigorous objection of Dr. Laurel who is now the principal figure in the Philippine government, the official did not press the matter further… for the time being.
Rumors have it that Premier Tojo, in his speech at the opening of the Diet, would promise Independence to the Philippines within 1943, and that the Filipino mission would be present in the Assembly.
Up to now, the granting of the Independence is still subject to the condition “when the Filipinos give proof of sincere collaboration with Japan.” The required collaboration has not become clearer now than it was six months ago when this condition was given. Nobody knew what was happening and what was going to happen, but prognostications are a little alarming. It is impossible to guess what plans the Japanese were hatching up.
A person close to one of the Commissioners confided to me that when Premier Tojo visited the Philippines, he met with the Philippine Cabinet. He presented to them a proposal for Vargas to offer, in a public speech, a million Filipinos to fight for Japan, and that he (Tojo) would reply that, in recognition of such a generous offer, he would promise Independence within this year 1943. The commissioners were terrified, but nobody dared to comment on the proposal, until Benigno Aquino, Chief of the Kalibapi, courteously but bravely replied that the formation of such an Army would pose a danger to the Philippines and to Japan, as the loyalty of the recruits is doubtful. He advanced other reasons supported by José Laurel whom the Army respected for his brilliance and courage. The Prime Minister dropped the subject and said that he would not talk about it further for the present.
A mission of nineteen Filipinos headed by the Mayor of Manila was sent to Japan. We were informed about its departure and its arrival in Japan, but the purpose was not divulged since it is a war secret. The members are mostly directors and assistants directors of government offices who are not very enthusiastic about their assignment, particularly the trip by sea. They had to be reassured by Fort Santiago in order to remove their fears about enemy submarines which have reportedly been surfacing in Philippine waters spitting out deadly torpedoes. An officer of the Banahaw once told us that his coastguard ship was torpedoed and sunk near Iloilo a few days ago and he had to swim to safety. The rumors about submarines are certainly not a myth.
Vargas, in his capacity as Chairman of Festivities, yesterday announced the formation of an official and exclusive political party replacing all existing parties which are ipso facto abolished and outlawed. Actually, these parties had been existing only in name during the past year.
The new party is called “Kalibapi” which, in Tagalog, means “Association for the Service of the Filipino Nation.” Benigno Aquino, who had given up his post as Commissioner of the Interior, was named director general. To date, the political program of this new party has not yet been launched. Only its objective of seeking a more effective cooperation with the military administration was announced.