At office, Hartendorp, who has been appointed Adviser to the President on press matters, came in to see me–he has the next room. He suggested that Roxas had tried to drive a sharp bargain with Quezon and had been repulsed.
He told also the story of Quezon’s visit of a few days ago to the Lian Friar estate. The President asked an old man there why the tenants had burned the residence of the manager for the Friars. The old man replied that this had not been done by the tenants, but by the estate managers in order to get up a case against the tenants. Quezon replied “I am not an American Governor General–don’t tell me such nonsense. As a matter of fact, I am a Filipino, and not from Manila–I was born and brought up in a small place just like this.”
Hartendorp also told me of last Friday’s Press Conference: how somebody asked whether Judge Paredes’ petition for a rehearing of his sentence of dismissal would be entertained by the President, and Quezon had replied that since he had read a whole column editorial in the Bulletin commending his act of dismissal, this being the first time in his life he (Quezon) had not been attacked by the Bulletin, he would not forfeit this new found favor by rehearing the sentence. Then Hartendorp later advised Quezon that Robert Aura Smith had been very much flattered, and the other newspapers were jealous. Would it not be well for Quezon to compliment the other editors? (Quezon told me later he had replied: “You ass! I was sarcastically running the knife into Robt. Aura Smith–not flattering him!!!)
Quezon came back and asked me to go for a ride with him–the usual ceremonies took place which he has established for leaving Malacañan–motorcycle cops etc. Quezon went to see the High Commissioner, who was very cordial to me. Do not know the purport of their half hour talk. I chatted with Franks, Ely, Teahan, the a.d.c.’s and others of the High Commissioner’s office until Quezon and I started back to Malacañan for lunch-alone together, and about as pleasant a time as I have ever had with him; we had at least twenty hearty laughs.
He explained the whole Roxas business: he had arranged with Don Manuel to accept the post of Secretary of Finance and on February 8 wrote him a former offer of this plus power to vote Quezon’s powers of control in the Manila Railroad and the National Development Co. To his intense surprise, on his return from taking his children out for a drive at 5 p.m. (which drive he didn’t want to take) he received an answer from Roxas, which he read to me, in which Roxas thanked him but stated that in as much as he had been elected, in accordance with his own wish, a member of the Assembly from Capiz, he could not leave his constituency unless called on to do so by “unavoidable duty of the Government.” This was a shock and surprise to Quezon who at once sent him a letter saying that he (Quezon) had believed that Roxas could be more useful as Secretary of Finance than as a member of the National Assembly; that Roxas was entitled to his own opinion on the matter, and since he (Roxas) had decided against it, Quezon would accept his decision not to be a member of the Cabinet, but with regret. Thereupon Roxas hurried around and tried to chip in–said he would withdraw his letter and would serve as Secretary of Finance, but Quezon replied it was “too late” as he had already appointed de las Alas. Then Osmeña came to see Quezon and Quezon says that if he (Osmeña) had then offered to resign as Secretary of Public Instruction, he (Quezon) would have interrupted the opening of his first sentence with “I accept”; but Osmeña had no idea of resigning. Quezon says Osmeña is an “old snake, but a non-poisonous snake.” He said “I licked those fellows only a year and a half ago, but they won’t stay licked.” I told him he had enough loyal men around him to run any government, and it was unwise to count upon loyalty from his opponents. He said that the night after he got rid of Roxas he was so happy he could not sleep–he wanted to call up an old friend (me) to come and talk to him; that after staying awake until 3 a.m. he got up and worked at his desk until 6.
Next I asked him about his acceptance of “Mike” Elizalde’s resignation of the presidency of the National Development Co. He replied that “Mike” had been the largest contributor to Quezon’s campaign fund in the election for the Presidency; that “like the Republicans in the United States, he had expected in return to run my administration, and so I dropped him.”
Next Quezon described his recent interview with Hausserman, Marsman and Andres Soriano, the three leaders in gold mining here. He told them he was in favour of developing the natural resources of the Islands; that he was also in favour of a fair return to investors. That all three of them had contributed to his campaign fund but if they believed that gave them a right to do as they pleased under his administration they were in for a rude awakening. That if they found existing laws unfair or unworkable, they should come to him and they would find a “sympathetic” listener when they were proposing amendments, but that if they or their clever lawyers tried to evade the law, they would go to jail. He said from the aftereffects of this conversation, they seemed to be very well pleased with the outlook.
Next, I took up with him the question of his attitude to the newspapers–a point on which he and I seem to be entirely congenial. He said he had agreed to the Friday interviews, and enjoyed them. That when he had been questioned and had answered, and another question was put he had “refused to be cross-examined” which produced a sympathetic laugh. I urged him to bend a little to avoid the nibbling of squirrels which might impair the confidence he was gradually inspiring in his own people. But he continues to scorn the press. I said I was just like him and had never crooked the knee to the newspapers.
Then we reverted to Hartendorp, and Quezon said he had received news from him a day or two ago that Scandal was going to publish an article about him and Miss. “That sweet girl” Quezon added. He told Hartendorp to let it be published, and I recalled the Duke of Wellington’s answer: “Publish and be damned.” Quezon replied that he never objected to this sort of scandal “because they always get the wrong woman or the wrong place.”
Then Quezon told me that the law permitting him to reorganize the Government had been drafted by Roxas who was to have undertaken the job. That he regretted he had allowed this to happen, because Singson told him it had taken six months of the hardest work of his life to reorganize only the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources–and even then his doorstep was always crowded with weeping wives and children. So, Quezon asks me to draft a “superficial reorganization,” so as to have something to show to the Assembly when it convenes in June; he will give me the appropriation and personnel. “We” he added, “will really reorganize the government two or three years hence.”
His mind is set on our vacation trip in April to Moroland when he “will be through establishing his Government firmly and can relax.”
Golf at McKinley later with Doria and call on Felicia Howell.