Forty minutes with Quezon in his office in the Executive Building. I think he is bothered by the air-conditioning in the Palace. Had not seen him for 18 days, during part of which he had the flu–he looks rather worn and tired, and seemed under somewhat of a nervous strain. Showed me the eight enlarged photographs which he has hung on the walls of this office–Taft, Murphy and I are the three Americans. I then approached the subject of appointive governors; told him the Survey Board was anxious to recommend this to him, but did not wish to embarrass him;–that I thought there would be considerable support for it in the Assembly. Also, I advanced Miguel Unson’s project for a Provincial Council (of the administrative officials) and an elected provincial board of four. I asked whether it would not be better to combine both into one body? He replied that the whole Cabinet (except Osmeña) was in favour of appointive Governors; when the Americans wished to appear to be bringing self-government to the Filipinos, they gave them elective governors, but gave the latter no power, retaining all authority in the hands of the Governor General and that this move had been a sham. He said he would transmit the Survey Board’s recommendation to the Assembly with the frank comment that he did not need the power of appointment, since he has complete control now, and if the Assembly wanted to introduce more self-government they should take part of it away from him and give it to the governors. However, he stated that only the United States and Mexico and a few other countries had elected Governors (n.b. there are special historical reasons for this in the United States); that all the other countries had appointive governors–that it was much better administration, and would be no real infringement on democracy.
Quezon next said that when Weldon Jones had lunch with him recently, the latter suggested that the High Commissioner would be pleased to know that the President had recommended the abolition of the Belo fund–that Murphy had wanted this done. Quezon appears to have flared up at this and asked: “Why did Murphy use the Belo fund for two and one-half years as Governor General and then want it taken away from his successor?” Quezon then added: “Murphy is an Irishman.” He explained that the Belo fund had been first given to Governor General Stimson, who took over when Wood had completely disorganized this government with his “Cavalry Cabinet.” The Governor General’s office was then out of touch with the natural channels of administration. But the Belo fund had served its purpose long ago, and Quezon wished to regularize appropriation laws by abolishing the fund after he had completely organized his government structure. Weldon Jones answered that Murphy had told him he had taken up this matter with Quezon en route to Hong Kong, but the President replied that Murphy had never mentioned it. It appears that Murphy had suggested it to Secretary Yulo, but Yulo says nobody would dare to take it up with Quezon!
The President then told me that if Murphy does not come back he will advise the appointment of Jones as High Commissioner. He thinks Jones has plenty of brains and good judgment. (n.b. it appears from this involved story that Quezon is intensely resentful of anything being carried on behind his back which affects his powers or privileges).
As I was leaving, I asked the President whether he had struck a snag in the Landlord and Tenant act? He said: “yes, I had been intending to talk to you about that–it is a bad law.” I supposed I looked very blank for he went on to say there are no teeth in the law “and what we need in this country is teeth.” I asked him whether he had read my original bill which, upon his instructions, I took to Diokno for advice as counsel to the government corporations. He said “No”! I told him it was attached to Diokno’s version of the bill when I handed it to him, and that it contained all the teeth of Gladstone’s Irish Land Laws, and that Diokno had modified it by including some of the provisions of the existing Civil Code–which, instead, might well have been amended this was intended to meet the objections of both Diokno and Yulo that we could not “impair the obligation of contracts.” “That,” said the President, “is what spoiled the bill.” He then left me and, carrying the bill, went into the adjoining room, where the Cabinet was in session behind closed doors. After some ten minutes he came back, closing the door again, and stood before me with his shoulders thrown back in the characteristic stance of an Ilongot warrior (a nation in the Luzon mountains from which his own mother had sprung). Waving the bill again he said: “Governor, this is a bad bill.” I replied, “No! Mr. President, that is a good bill, but it has one all-important defect in the eyes of those to whom you may just now have shown it–there are too many representatives of the Caciques among them–nearly all those who have been called on to pass upon it, except you and myself, are members of, or representatives of the great landowning caste.” Quezon seemed somewhat impatient and high-strung, so I excused myself and left him.
So ended a chapter, so far as I was concerned, and the pity of it is that our ardent wish to cut out of the life of this country the cancer which is eating at the provinces has gone glimmering! There was not even a suggestion from the President of having the bill amended again, or reframed, as so many of the bills are before passage into law. I see that my hopes of evolving a yeoman stock of small landowners in place of the existing feudal system in the country districts is dished. When I reflect that Quezon himself, a few short months ago, had first suggested to me the Irish Land Laws as a model for the Philippines, and how ardently he himself had wished for that reform, I wish I knew what influences had meanwhile so powerfully turned him to the “right about”! Later that day, A. D. Williams, the American he constantly on all of his manifold building and construction enterprises, and who is probably more frequently at his side than any other of my fellow countrymen, told me that “a prominent Nueva Ecija landowner,” whom we all know well, probably killed the bill. If that is correct, Quezon’s attitude before me this morning was a simply superb display of his histrionic talents!
At all events, I now feel that my usefulness to him has been impaired, and I shall await a suitable opportunity to resign my post.