Summary of events here during my two weeks of absence:
The letter Quezon was drafting when I left, in which he asked the President’s support for a joint resolution of Congress declaring the Philippines “are and of right ought to be free and independent” was never sent. Instead he saw the President just back from his trip to the Casablanca Conference. Result was that the State Department sent him a memorandum that the appointment of Quezon to the Pacific War Council and his being asked to sign the United Nations Declaration was the equivalent of recognition by the American President of the Philippines as an independent nation. Obviously, they decided that the proposed Congressional joint resolution would be ridiculed by the Japanese when they were in occupation of the Islands. Legally the President has no power to free the Islands while they are still–nominally, at least,–a possession of the United States. But Quezon seems to be satisfied with the decision. (At least, it is a suspension of the constitution of the Commonwealth, and as such, leaves Quezon in command as head of that State until further constitutional action is taken, and thus averts the succession of Osmena to the Presidency of the Commonwealth on November 15th next. This, I believe, the President of the United States has a legal right to do).
Quezon’s radio address given out by the Office of War Information on February 20th, dealing with the announcement of this decision, was really excellent.
In part he said:
“Assuming that tomorrow Japan was to declare the Philippines an independent nation, what would that mean? It would merely mean that the Philippines would be another ‘Manchukuo’–a government without rights, without powers, without authority. A government charged only with the duty to obey the dictates of the Japanese rulers. After the tragic end of Korea’s independence, in utter disregard of a solemn pledge to respect it, it would be worse than folly to rely on any promise by the Japanese Government. . . . President Roosevelt has, in effect, already given the Philippines recognition as an independent nation. On my arrival in Washington, he rendered me honours due only to the heads of independent governments. . . . He has recognized our right to take part in the Pacific War Council, with Great Britain, China, the Netherlands and the self-governing Dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The President of the United States himself presides over the Council table. . . . In the name of the Philippines, I am a signatory to the Atlantic Charter. We are one of the United Nations. Our independence is already a reality. . . .”
This was broadcast using short wave facilities of the Office of War Information for the Philippines and other parts of the world.
Quezon asked me to read over the papers in the proposed contract to film his book, which Warner Bros’ offer–Morgan Shuster advises him to get a “radio lawyer” to protect his interests, and points out that the form of contract only guarantees that the “basic story” shall be under his control; that it would thus be possible for the movie company to present Quezon’s personality and his life story in a manner derogatory to his dignity. Probably Shuster’s anxiety is well founded; no doubt he welcomes a prospect of getting Quezon to finish his book, but his first concern is to protect him.
Quezon’s comment to me was: “How could I sign the contract when I haven’t finished my book?” I told him Shuster could finish the small remaining part for him. He said: “No–I’ll do it myself.”
Quezon had accepted an invitation to speak on March 19th before the National Republican Club of New York. Now he proposes to go away to “California” for the purpose of “protecting his health”–he would thus break the engagement. I try to persuade him at all costs to keep this date–in view of the growing power of the Republican party, he could not afford for the sake of his country and of himself to break it. He should go there and try to capture the good will of those important men as he did that of the Maryland Bar Association. He seems firmly of the opinion that he can go away on a vacation–is this a result of, or possibly influenced by, his recent conversation with President Roosevelt?
Quezon showed me a letter he was drafting to MacArthur about the management of the guerrilla campaign in the Philippines which is charge of Lt. Col. Peralta. Quezon resented the General’s trying to appoint civilian, as well as military officials–such as Confesor as Governor of Iloilo. Tells MacArthur that the young flying hero Villamor is on his way out there, and should be entrusted with such affairs. That we must be careful not to treat those Filipinos who are co-operating with the Japanese as if they were traitors–that attitude might really make them so. Says that some of those who had entered the enemy’s service helped these two young American officers to get through the Japanese lines and escape in August. The guerrilla depredations on Filipinos living in the towns in the north must be stopped. Many of those who have accepted military service with the Japanese will later use the rifles given them now against the Japanese when we return. Laments the fate of Manuel Roxas in falling into the hands of the Japanese. If they have murdered him for refusal to accept free the Presidency (he refused three times) he adds “I do not know how many generations it will take for our race to produce another Manuel Roxas.” Recommends that Roxas be made a Major General by MacArthur. Says that “Chick” Parsons is the best man to keep the Filipinos in line–he is now on his way back there.
At luncheon Quezon told us he had just received a call from M. Willoquet, French Consul to Manila, who left there last June. He said the Japanese were trying to marry George Vargas’ daughter to one of their army officers.
More about Manuel Roxas. Quezon forbids Bernstein to make public the fact that Roxas is in the hands of the Japanese. If still alive he is being pressed by the Japanese to accept the presidency. To stir up news about him might only result in his death. If he had accepted their invitation to become President of an “independent” Philippines (under the Japanese) this might even now be an accomplished fact. If he persists in his refusal, “he has only done what I wanted him to do–show the Japanese we would have none of them.” Roxas was taken out in an airplane from Mindanao in November; nobody knows where he is now–probably in Fort Santiago. The Japanese have been rounding up schoolteachers who were not conforme and putting them in Fort Santiago, just as the Spanish did–they probably shoot them there.
Quezon announced that Isauro Gabaldon has just died, 74 years of age, and “ten years older than he ever let Sergio and me know–we never understood how his wife (a Tinio) could be so much older than he was.” Upon the death of Tinio, Gabaldon became the “boss” of Nueva Ecija–he ruled by popularity, but Tinio had governed by fear. “He (Gabaldon) split with me on making further terms with the Americans, short of independence, which he thought was guaranteed by the Jones Bill. I had to defeat him first for the Senate and then for the Assembly, but I never attacked him personally, and when I became President of the Commonwealth I went to him and made friends again. The Japanese broadcast his obituary as “one of the most distinguished of the Filipinos.”
Consul Willoquet, who was French Consul at Manila, and was put in prison by the Japanese for being a Gaulliste, was released on threats by de Gaulle of reprisals on the 4,000 Japanese, who are prisoners in North Africa. He says that whereas Vargas could get no favours from the Japanese such as release of a prisoner, it is evident that Aguinaldo is really “sold” to them.
Vargas’ recent speech of February, advising all guerrillas to surrender and come into camp, since they were only delaying the granting of independence, reminds Quezon and Osmeña of similar appeals made by Pardo de Tavera to the insurrectos in 1900, “when I was one of them.”
Willoquet, who saw de Gaulle in London, says the Free French are planning independence for Indo-China.
Office of War Information reports a Japanese broadcast from Manila calling a convention there of all provincial and municipal officials to be addressed first by Vargas and next by the Japanese spokesman. A three point programme: (1) Independence at earliest possible moment. (2) Economic rehabilitation. (3) “Cultural Questions”–such as cutting off completely from the previous regime.
Long discussion on India with Quezon, (Osmeña and Bernstein present). Quezon is considered an authority on this subject. P.M. says he is the man to send there to settle it all. Quezon thinks the Cripps Mission brought about some sort of an agreement with the Indian nationalists, but the Viceroy (Linlithgow) and General Wavell took no part in the discussions. “If Gandhi dies, we may expect a wide-scale revolt.” Quezon thinks the loss of India would finish off for good the whites in the Far East and destroy hope of restitution of the Philippines. That China will then be forces to submit to Japan, since she will be shut off for good. The question is: will the Indian army stand by the English?
It is understood that Roosevelt reads only the New York Times in the morning and P.M. in the afternoon.