Quezon tells me that when he went to Corregidor on December 24 last, part of the “doubts” about the policy he should adopt were based upon the possibility of a declaration by the Japanese of Philippine independence. This thought was, for him, a “nightmare.” We would have been left in an impossible situation, for if he accepted, the United States would have turned against him, and if he refused, his own people might have repudiated him. He thought that if, after the Burma campaign, the Japanese had proclaimed the independence of India, it would have started a revolution there.
It was not until he got to the Visayas after February 20th and had talked to people down there, and especially with those who at the risk of their lives, had escaped from Luzon, that he was able to gauge the real sentiments of his people. Among these was Tomas Confesor, who had escaped from Bauang in a boat provided by the “Quisling” Mayor of the town, who had been selected by the Japanese to replace the constitutionally appointed mayor, since the latter had been killing all the Japs he could get at. “Incidentally,” said Quezon, “these Filipino ‘Quislings’ were like those Filipino officials appointed by the American Army during the Philippine insurrection–they would do everything in their power to aid their own fellow countrymen.”
At my request, Quezon told me of his conversation in Malacañan with Litvinoff, the Russian diplomat, just before the war. The Russian warned him very seriously: “Be on your guard”–the same advice he then gave to General MacArthur and to Admiral Hart. Quezon thought highly of Litvinoff and says he believes the Russians knew more about Japan than the Japanese knew of Russia.
To turn back to a description of public sentiment in the Philippines, Quezon said he had known of course that he could get the Filipinos to raise an army, and he did. He also had been positive that he could bring the Filipinos into the war against Japan if their country were invaded–and he did so. But further than that, he could not tell, without full consultation with them, whether they would take any part in the “rising tide of color,” which is a movement sponsored by Japan as “Asia for the Asiatics.” But when he got out of Corregidor he learned how profound and widespread among the people was the spirit of resistance to the Japanese, and how deep was the hatred of the Filipinos for then. They had even threatened to kill Vargas, though they well knew that he, Quezon, had asked Vargas to stay there and care for Filipino interests as acting Mayor of Greater Manila. That if the Japanese now withdrew most of their forces from the Philippines for use elsewhere, leaving only a small garrison in the Islands, the Filipinos would kill every one of them. “For the first time I realized that we are really foreigners in the Orient.” He attributes this largely to their Christian religion. He stressed how deep was now the devotion to the United States of the Filipinos altho they were very angry at the “Old Timers.”
He still thinks that if the independence of the Philippines had been declared by Japan; that would have caused a revolution in India.
Quezon is seriously considering a plan for declaration of independence of the Philippines now. (N.B. that is what Quezon and MacArthur advised President Roosevelt to do in their Christmas cablegrams from Corregidor).
Quezon repeated his talk with Roosevelt at the signing of the United Nations pact in the White House yesterday by Quezon and by Mexico. This, he thinks is conclusive recognition of the Philippines as a “separate nation.” He thereupon asked Roosevelt if he was going to be admitted as a member of the Pacific War Council. Roosevelt replied that “Halifax wants India to have a seat there.” Quezon instantly answered that there would be a meeting of the Pacific War Council on Wednesday. (Quezon remarked to me that an appointment by the British Government of an Indian to sit on this council would be that of a sort of Quisling.)
So on Tuesday morning Quezon went to see Sumner Welles who spent an hour and ten minutes telling him in perfect Spanish how the Philippines deserved a seat on the Pacific War Council. He said he would find out what Roosevelt had meant, and would let Quezon know by telephone; which he did.
The Philippine President then turned, as he often did, to reflections on the very close co-operation he had enjoyed with General Douglas MacArthur during critical days in the Philippines. He recalled that in all circumstances, and at all times, the general had the most perfect manners and offered him every proper official deference; even later, when they were in Australia, he would never ride on the right of the seat in the motor car. In Melbourne, “where I was nothing, MacArthur would always come to my house to see me. If I visited his office, he would come down the ten stories from his office and stand until I was seated in the motor. He would never give promotions nor send orders to any of my people without first referring the matter to me. This was different from the methods of General Wainwright, who had succeeded to the command on Corregidor when MacArthur was ordered to Australia; he had promoted Manuel Roxas from the rank of Colonel to that of Brigadier General after I left Corregidor. I had deputized Roxas to act for me, but was not consulted as to his promotion, and I objected. The promotion was then not effected. I was the only authority who could fix the ranks in the Philippine Army. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to explain this to Roxas since I then lost all communication with him while he was in the mountains of Mindanao.
“Among my closest advisers during the invasion all, Santos, Osmeña, Yulo, Roxas, etc. played a man’s part. Roxas and Osmeña were the strongest among them for our sticking to the United States.
“As for General Lim, I found that a meeting during that time of strain was necessary with MacArthur, Lim and General Valdes, to curb Lim’s proposals, and to show them that they must not take their important orders from MacArthur while he was only my adviser without consulting me. During that brief period before MacArthur was given full command of the armies, I kept the sole authority to decide important questions.”