April 22, 1933
Quezon and Osmeña
Discussions between leaders presage bitter fight over freedom bill
by James Wingo
AFTER meeting amicably in Paris last Saturday and sailing for New York Monday aboard the s.s. Ile de France, Senate President Quezon and Senator Osmeña broke sharply over the question of accepting or rejecting the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill when they settled down to a formal discussion of the matter on board the ship.
The following report of the rupture was cabled by Carlos P. Romulo, managing editor of the T-V-T publications, to his newspapers in Manila:
“Mr. Osmeña was presenting a point when Mr. Quezon, rising and facing his colleague, broke out passionately:
“‘Sergio, you and I are growing old. We shall soon pass away. Do you realize the tremendous responsibility you and I are shouldering in accepting a bill, the effects of which will tie the hands of posterity? It is mortgaging the future of our children! We are deciding their fate, knowing that when we are gone, we shall be unable to help them!’
“‘Do you realize,’ replied Senator Osmeña, maintaining his usual calm, ‘the tremendous responsibility we will be assuming in rejecting the bill, as a result of which America may stay in the Philippines forever?’
“‘I realize that,’ the senate president replied warmly, ‘but don’t forget that if America is in the Philippines today it is by force, and against our will. With her sovereignty she has assumed responsibilities, both legal and moral, to the Filipino people. But if we accept the bill she will remain in the Islands with our consent—exercise authority without any responsibility; and I for one am unwilling to give any sanction to it.’
“The first counterproposal offered by Mr. Quezon, and made public by him last night, is to accept the bill with reservations, enumerating in the resolution accepting the measure the amendments desired, and specifying that the bill is not acceptable until the amendments are enacted.
“Further discussion elicited the information that the original bill contained a clause providing only for naval reservations, but no military stations. It was Senator Hiram Bingham who, in the conferences on the bill between the Senate and the House, inserted a provision for military reservations.
“To this time of writing there seems to be no prospect of agreement between the two leaders. The discussions are continuing.’”
The meeting of Quezon and Osmeña in the Gare de Lyons in Paris was an historical one. As the express train from Nice pulled into the station, Senator Osmeña was waiting to welcome his chieftain, against whose leadership he bids fair to revolt.
“¿Cómo está, chico?” was the welcome of the man on the platform to the man in the train.
“Muy bien, Sergio,” came the enthusiastic reply. “Veo que estás bien.”
Not since a group of statesmen representing Spain and the United States sat down at a peace table to draw up the Treaty of Paris had the French capital been the scene of a meeting so vital to the future of the Philippine islands.
Long have the team of Quezon and Osmeña ruled the internal political destinies of the Philippines. On occasion opposing each other, but generally pulling together like a team of thoroughbreds, they have stayed in power for a longer period than any national leader in any other country in which the people have the vote.
But as they met in that Paris railroad station last week, they stood diametrically opposed on the most important question the Filipino people have ever been called upon to answer.
There was no vote of disagreement in their friendly meeting. With all care, Senator Osmeña helped the Quezon family out of the station and into a taxicab. He followed shortly after in another cab, and the members of the party stayed at the same hotel.
That evening the gallant senator from Cebu entertained Mrs. Quezon at dinner, the senate president feeling indisposed to attend. For hours the two leaders conferred on the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill, and as far as newspaper correspondents could gather their sessions were amiable. However, no formal statement was made, excepting on that “we cannot indicate what direction the conversation took”.
On Monday the entire party boarded the Ile de France for New York, and correspondents reported the possibility of some sort of a compromise being reached. The only direct word received in the Philippines was a message from Senate President Quezon to Sen. Elpidio Quirino, majority floor leader, who refused to divulge the full contents of the message.
Tantalizingly, he quoted the following statement from the Quezon cabal: “It does not mean that I have changed my attitude.” Manila newspapers interpreted the statement as they wanted to, some saying it meant that Quezon would continue his opposition, others declaring it meant that although his attitude was unchanged he had been forced to yield to the inexorable pressure of circumstances.
Senate President Quezon’s stay in Washington will be a brief one, the general belief being that he will begin his return trip to the Philippines, via the Pacific, in the latter part of May. With him, undoubtedly, will come Senator Osmeña, Speaker Roxas and the other weary missioners, all of whom are now feeling the pinch of reduced per diems and restricted expense money. In fact, the money appropriated by the last session of the legislature will be exhausted about June 1, although an overdraft such as was used last year will probably be resorted to in order to bring every body home.