Tuesday, March 13, 2012

l. 6851 -- “The Ins are generally conservative, the Outs are always radical – until they get in”

Karnow argues that the US effort to build an Asian Mini-Me in the Philippines failed in large part because the US failed to understand the culture. In 1901, Taft wrote that the US owed its sound government to the central place of the New England-style town as the essential building block of democracy (l. 6046), and that this should be transferred to the Philippines. More important for Filipinos is the clan, Karnow says. Political parties are politically identical vehicles for the interests of one clan's interests versus the others, i.e., for prestige and enrichment at the public trough (l. 6049). In many cases, parts of the Philippines are controlled by the same clan today as 100 years ago. For example, as of 1988, the Abelada clan has controlled island of Mindoro for well over a century. An official remarked: “Feudalism, that's what we have here. We have feudal families, feudal landlords and feudal politicians” (l. 6088).

Taft also felt that most Filipinos were unfit for the right to vote except for a handful of landowners and taxpayers. No more than three percent of Filipinos were eligible to vote in any election in the first decade of the 20th century (l. 6108). Taft later lamented that Filipino officials failed to understand that “office is not solely for private emolument” (l. 6122). Upon his departure in 1913, he wrote that a swift American departure from the Philippines would bring “a chaos of ever-recurring revolt and insurrection” (l. 6127).

However, by 1905, a ban on agitation for independence had been lifted. The thin layer of politically-active Filipinos became increasingly nationalistic (l. 6141). Two leaders emerged, both of whom eventually became President of the Philippines: Sergio Osmena and Manual Luis Quezon y Molina. In Karnow's sight, Osmena was more heroic and admirable but sober, but it is Quezon, flamboyant and charismatic, who is honored more frequently to this day, including having a major thoroughfare in Manila and a city adjacent to Manila named after him, and having his home province renamed in his honor (l. 6150).

Quezon led a very colorful life from the start. He trained as a lawyer. As a 20-year-old, he witnessed Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet and the sham battle for Manila three months later (l. 6226). He fought against US forces until, sent by his insurgent commander, he travelled under US military escort to confirm the capture of rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo with his own eyes (l. 6237) while Aguinaldo was imprisoned in US military commander Arthur MacArthur's palace in central Manila. Quezon was imprisoned for six months for murdering American prisoners, but then released for lack of evidence (l. 6241). Before age 30, he became the first Filipino to defeat an American in court (l. 6287). In 1905, with American support, he was elected governor of the province that now bears his name (l. 6291).

In August 1907, Filipinos who were eligible voted for the first freely-elected parliament in Asia. A party of bickering factions, lead by Osmena and Quezon, captured 58 of 80 seats (l. 6309), in defiance of a more conservative party favored by the American administration. Then-Governor James Smith (Taft left in 1904), however, “in an analysis valid then as today, shrewdly perceived 'the only genuine political parties' in the Philippines to be the 'Outs' and the 'Ins'. As he wrote to Taft: 'The Ins are generally conservative, the Outs are always radical – until they get in' “ (l. 6332).

The new legislature's first act was to unanimously pass an American-drafted resolution pledging the body to obey US law, implicitly recognizing American supremacy (l. 6348).

In its original law regulating US, Congress authorized two non-voting members of the House of Representatives for the Philippines. One was chosen by the US governor, the other by the Philippine assembly (l. 6390). Quezon became the assembly's appointee in 1909, and remained in Washington until 1916 (l. 6395). He became a well-known character and an effective advocate. He acquired the nickname “Casey” after a visit to New York, where a Tammany Hall pol claimed Quezon to be descended from an Irish exile of that name (l. 6401). His maiden speech in the House contained a mild plea for independence: “Ask the bird, sir, who is enclosed in a golden cage if he would prefer his cage... to the freedom of the skies and the allure of the forest” (l. 6408).

The control of the US House of Representatives passed to the Democrats in the 1910 mid-term elections. The committee in charge of the Philippines was now headed by William Atkinson Jones of Virginia. As of the time of the book's writing, nearly every town in the Philippines has a street or park bearing his name (l. 6415). He was anti-imperialist and pro-independence, sponsoring a bill (which Quezon drafted) to give the Philippines independence in eight years. Hopes were raised even further by the election of Woodrow Wilson to the Presidency in 1912. But his cabinet was split on the question and Wilson was unsure how to proceed (l. 6453).

Wilson decided to appoint a new governor, in part to indicate a change in policy. The new governor was a New York congressman named Francis Burton Harrison (l. 6480). He was very popular and, 15 years after his tenure as governor, was the first American to be made an honorary Philippine citizen. He was buried in Manila following his death in New Jersey in 1957 (l. 6492). His popularity came in part from a program of replacing American bureaucrats with Filipinos. During his eight years, the number of Americans employed in the Philippines government shrank from 3,000 to 600. Of course, not all the new indigenous civil servants were angels, and the local expatriate community was not at all pleased (l. 6519).

Meanwhile, Jones championed a new Quezon-drafted bill which gave the right to vote to all literate adult males, established a senate, and increased the responsibility of the legislature. The bill was deliberate vague on a timetable for independence. It passed the House in 1914, but languished in Senate committee for 16 months (l. 6551). The Senate eventually approved and Wilson signed it into law in August 1916 (l. 6572). At that time, no other Western power had conceded autonomy to a colony, or promised it independence. However, momentum towards independence slowed considerably when the newly-appointed Filipino head of the central bank nearly drove the country's economy into the ground in an orgy of corruption, for which he was eventually jailed (l. 6615).

Meanwhile, Quezon returned to Manila to a hero's welcome in mid-typhoon and elected to lead the new Philippine Senate (l. 6588). Osmena remained leader of the lower chamber until 1923, at which time Quezon maneuvered to replace him with a protégé, Manuel Roxas y Acuna, who eventually became the first President of the independent post-WWII Philippines (l. 6647).

After that, Quezon polished his nationalist bona fides by quarrelling with the various US governors who came after Harrison. But there was no movement towards independence in the 1920s.

Finally, in January 1933, Congress passed, over the veto of lame-duck Herbert Hoover, a bill which accorded the Philippines independence in 10 years, during which time they would be a self-governing commonwealth (l. 6760). Quezon had sent Osmena and Roxas to negotiate the bill and now saw that he would be eclipsed as a nationalist hero. So, Quezon got the Philippine Senate to reject the bill, and then went to Washington himself and got Congress to pass a nearly identical bill a year later (l. 6786). Quezon's bill was approved unanimously by the Senate and he defeated ancient nationalist hero Emilio Aguinaldo in September 1935 to become commonwealth president (l. 6789). A new constitution was also approved, which differed from the US model in giving the executive wide power, including the power to declare martial law, which Marcos invoked 35 years later. Quezon stressed the difference between the two concepts of government: “The good of the state, not the good of the individual, must prevail” (l. 6797).

The commonwealth was officially inaugurated on 15 November 1935. Guests of honor included Vice President John Nance Garner, Secretary of War George Dern, and a newly-arrived General Douglas MacArthur (l. 6809).

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