At sea–caucus between Quezon and members of the Legislature. Most convincing evidence of good will and cooperation of the executive and legislature upon a high level of intelligence. The President’s method of address to the Assembly was perfect:–extreme seriousness in presenting his plans, and terminating many a subject with a pretty wit which brought roars from his audience. I believe he will get his whole program through, and very progressive it is: increased income tax and inheritance tax; increased taxes upon the mining industry (where not still in the exploration stage); change of cedula into “school tax”; progressive land tax on large estates to solve agrarian problems without the necessity of government purchase of all the Church haciendas (my contribution); regulation of transport by omnibus so as not to lose government investment in the railroad; trebling of sales tax, but to be imposed only once–and at the source. He said that without these taxes there would be only one million pesos surplus in the budget–which left nothing extra for the “pork barrel,” i.e., public works. If passed, he would see that the Assembly had at least three millions more to spend on public works. He also recommended Boards of Arbitration for fixing minimum wages, etc.–said they had been going slow heretofore in labour legislation being recommendations from the Department of Labour are “too theoretical” and might possibly cause damage greater than their good. Time, he thinks, has now come to make a beginning “for we have done nothing as yet for the labourer and small farmer.” (To my surprise, when Quezon broached his “somewhat radical” plan for a progressive land tax, Roxas who sat next me turned and said “splendid”).
Quezon told the Assembly that he would recommend nothing bearing on the tariff laws, until after a trade conference with the United States; and nothing changing the currency laws as at present.
Then Osmeña spoke, gracefully and eloquently. It was a very passionate and convincing address. The first part was about the development of Mindanao, in which he made references to work in the past of Quezon, Carpenter and me. Then turned to leprosy problem (Culion)–Quezon is anxious to abandon Culion and have separate leprosia in different provinces, so as not to separate and isolate the lepers so horribly. Osmeña (and Dr. Cañizares) believe leprosy is contagious and especially so in childhood. Roxas says the annual increase of lepers in the Philippines is one thousand; all they can do is to take care of them. He adds that the Philippine Government has, so far, spent twenty million pesos on Culion–chiefly in subsistence and transportation.
Quezon finished by saying that hereafter, bills for legislation would not be transmitted to the Legislature by the Executive but even if prepared in the Executive branch would be handed to Chairmen of Committees. He concluded by saying that there is no reason for calling this a junketing trip, due to the serious and productive conferences aboard. At the same time, he did not deny that there had been recreation on the journey, adding: “For my own part, when I became a candidate for the Presidency, I did not become a candidate as Obispo.”
Visit to the Culion Leper Colony: Quezon was very emotionne and quoted Dante’s inscription over Inferno--Osmeña once more did the honours, and made the speech. Cured lepers, who are discharged, are not wanted any longer at home especially if they bear traces of their former disease, and after 6 months or so they usually write asking permission to come back here and settle in the “Negative Barrio.” Private capital is doing good business in this town of 7000, with a cinema, electric light plant and Chinese tiendas. After a drive around by motor, in which many facts were discussed in relation to the disease, back to the Negros–and off on our last leg towards Manila.
At lunch there was an interesting discussion between Quezon, Roxas and Sabido over labour. Roxas says there are no labour problems in the Philippines except in two or three large towns. They all condemned the attitude of the Bureau of Labour (now a Department) in trying to stir up trouble. Murphy’s creations of Parole Courts and Public Defenders were attacked;–evidently Secretary Torres is going to have a rough ride in this National Assembly.
Quezon said “someone” (F.B.H.) had told him how agents of the Department of Labour went around asking labourers if “there were any complaints” and he had given Torres a severe dressing down. He added that the right man for Secretary of Labour is Varona, whose attitude is always reasonable–he has common sense and a great hold over labour audiences. Quezon also remarked that the labour leaders in the Philippines are generally “crooks.”
An interesting constitutional question arose between Quezon and Roxas as to impeachment–Quezon is opposed to the unicameral system; he says esprit de corps will cause the Assembly to impeach the Executive and so long as the Commonwealth endures, ultimate safety lies in the President of the United States having the last say. After complete independence the situation would be dangerous–he says a vigorous Executive would send General Santos with soldiers to close the Assembly! This may be prophetic.
At dinner with Quezon and Roxas alone, I commented on how little things change in the Philippines–here were the two of us together again twenty-three years later! Quezon answered: “Isn’t it beautiful.”
Long talk later with Floor Leader Romero of Dumaguete.