7 p.m. in Malacañan with the President who was in good health and spirits. I complemented him on his message on economic planning –he enquired whether it has been well received in the foreign community. I gave him Colin Hoskins’ plan on organization for the economic council &c. Then I asked him what was the matter with the Manila RR. bond purchase? He said it has been held up to enquire of the United States Government as to whether they considered that the Philippine Government was resposible for the principal of these bonds; they had replied thru the High Commissioner in the affirmative –so Quezon said the bill would go through because this meant that the United States would act on the maturity of the bonds and seize the Customs House. He said that if the American Government had decided this Government was not responsible for the principal, he was going to say to the English that he had been in favour of purchase but the Legislature demands better terms. I told him that this Government was not responsible for principal of these bonds –that just as we had bought the railroad we could sell it. Then he said Confesor (Assemblyman) had told him of F. Theo Roger’s (of Free Press) story that I had come out here to get what I could for the English! He said that he had authorized Confesor to state the true facts in the Legislature –that this impugned his honor as well as my own– that he would put Rogers in prison if he printed such a gross libel. He asked me to bring him the memorandum on these bonds which I had prepared for him on December 6, which I did. We then talked a lot about England and the English –I told him to consult me if he had any questions up with the English, since I understood them better than most Americans who were misled by their bland manner and assumed innocence. That what they understood and respected was force and power. Quezon admires the English character. He asked me if I thought the Empire was essential to the continued existence of England as a great power and I said yes!
We then discussed colonization and land problems in the Philippines. He advocates spending money on roads to open up new sections of Mindanao, so that settlers will move in of their own accord. He does not advise spending money on settling people in a wild country; said he would provide transportation for volunteer settlers.
The President also said that instead of continuing the former cusrom of purchase of the Friar Lands in the provinces around Manila, he wanted to get fair treatment for the tenants; that previous purchases of these lands had not helped because outside speculators had intervened, and had secured the lands; he asked me to acquire a copy of Gladstone’s “F.F.F.” law for Ireland of about sixty years ago, when he settled the Irish agrarian problem. (Fixed Tenure, Fixed Rent and Freedom of Transfer). Told him I would go to ask Blunt, the English Consul General. He also asked me to get Blunt’s reaction to the interview he had given the London Times representative who came with Blunt a few days ago –not for publication– he told the Times man he would have to deny the interview if published.
We also talked over plans for the reorganization of the government. We agreed that this time time it must be a real reorganization and radical. He said he had only been in charge for a month and was already sure the present government was most inefficiently organized. He announced that he wanted me to sit with his three commissioners. He asked me which of two alternatives he should choose — (1) to have investigation & report by his three commissioners or (2) to just call in Department Secretaries and tell them they could only have so much appropriation, and must reorganize their Departments. I told him (1) was more scientific, and advised him to proceed with (1) and afterwards apply (2). I asked him how radical the reorganization was to be? –did he, for example, approve of the plan of reducing the number of provinces to 28? He said “no” –that the saving of a couple of millions would not compensate for the dimunition of energy and progress which would result. I then asked him whether he would approve of abolishing the elective city council of Manila and substituting a Board of appointed managers with the Alcalde as its chairman –latter to be elected? He said “yes.”
As I was leaving, he asked me if I would keep notes and write up an account of these months afterwards. I replied that I was already doing so. I also told that if at any time my presence became embarrassing to him on account of the attacks on me by the old imperialists, just to send me on a mission abroad and I would not come back. He replied that he and I would continue to work here together until we had accomplished something substantial.
I then went to home of A.P. Blunt, British Consul General –he did not get there until 8 o’clock, having been at work in his office, getting off in the mail all his reports on governmental development here. Promised to write the Foreign Office for “F.F.F.” on Irish lands. When asked what his reactions were to the President’s interview with the London Times, Blunt said Quezon was very broad minded, and amazingly frank. I denied that I knew what Quezon had said in the interview –Blunt said he had been embarrassed by the President’s raising the question of Roy Howard’s statement that if the United States abandoned the Philippines, the Filipinos would get under England’s wing. He said Quezon had stated he could run a better government here than anybody else had done –I agreed. As I left, Blunt asked me in a casual voice what had happened about the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds –I said there had been “a hitch.” He eagerly enquired “what hitch?” I said it had been caused by Vicente Villamin’s speech –“ah!” he said “they fear the wily English bankers, whereas our fellows would rather get this agreement now than perhaps lose everything later.” I replied that there was much to be said on each side, but I really thought the deal would go through –(it passed the Legislature just about that time).
While I was at Malacañan, Quezon talked at length about his letting out the American Justices of the Philippine Supreme Court –under the Constitution he had the power not to accept their resignations until July 1st next, and he was considering assenting to Chief Justice Avanceña’s request to retain them that long, when the Bulletin published an editorial attacking him for thinking of letting the Justices out. Thereupon he sent to Avanceña to enquire whether the six month’s retention of those Justices was essential to the Court –Chief Justice Avanceña replied he could not really say so– thus the resignations are to be accepted as of January 1st. He wrote a letter for the press explaining that he is thus conforming to the spirit of the Constitution. He says Malcolm is behind the drive –he dislikes him as unreliable. Quezon then spoke of the unparalleled generosity of the retirement gratuities given by the Filipinos to those Justices –Malcolm was to receive 60,000 pesos!
Wrote an address for the banquet tonight of the Political Science Club of the University of the Philippines. Got home to find Doria greatly upset over a scurrilous attack on me in a letter pretended to be from a Filipino to the Bulletin. I hope this campaign does not discourage both Doria & Quezon! I have never answered (nor read, if possible to avoid) any newspaper attacks!
Reception this p.m. at James Ross’. Dinner of Political Science Club of U.P. at the Cosmos Club –sat between Bocobo, President of the University and ex-Judge de Joya –speech.