House passes McDuffie Bill; Tydings measure before senate
By James Wingo
Free Press Washington correspondent
March 24, 1934–HISTORY repeated itself in the congress of the United States this week when, under suspension of rules, the house of representatives passed a Philippine independence bill with debate limited to 40 minutes.
Almost two years ago, on April 4, 1932, to be exact, the house passed the Hare bill. On March 19, 1934, it passed the McDuffie bill, in most respects a duplicate of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill which was finally substituted for the original Hare bill.
On both occasions that grizzled veteran of many a congressional battle, Resident Commissioner Pedro Guevara, rose to praise the measure being enacted. On both occasions one or two opponents of the bill spoke against it, although well recognizing the futility of doing so. Two years ago a vote was taken, and 306 members votes yea while only 42 answered nay. This week, so certain was the outcome, no vote was recorded; the bill was simply passed by acclamation.
Guevara praises bill
Rising to the opportunity presented him, Commissioner Guevara delivered a brilliant oration, until he was cut short by the presiding officer when his time was up.
Of the Filipinos in Washington only Isauro Gabaldon rose to oppose the measure. “This is the worst possible bill that could be passed for the Philippines,” he shouted, and refused to avail himself of his privilege, as a former member of congress, of sitting on the floor of the house when the bill was passed.
Real liberty measure
Senate President Quezon, also a former resident commissioner, did appear on the floor of the house and issued a formal statement declaring “This is a real independence measure.” He also had the pleasure of hearing his work praised by Rep. John McDuffie.
Congressmen who opposed the measure were scarcely heard in the rush to pass the McDuffie bill. But Rep. Robert L. Bacon, who once wanted to sever Mindanao from the rest of the Philippines, did cry out that “This bill was backed by the sugar and coconut oil lobbyists.” And Rep. Charles J. Colden, a newcomer in Philippine discussions, declared, “I am of the opinion that this whole so-called independence movement is financed by the sugar trust.”
Congressmen favoring the measure, sure of its passage, did not waste their time in supporting it. They were content with the house committee’s recommendation, which declared the bill would be accepted by the Filipino people, and added that changes deemed advisable would be made in the future.
When Representative McDuffie declared, in the course of the brief debate on the floor of the house, that the United States had agreed to give up its military bases in the Philippines, Republican members wanted to know what would happen to the naval bases. “They will be retained by the United States,” declared the author of the independence bill, “pending a conference between the president and the representatives of the independent Philippines.”
While the house thus rushed the McDuffie bill through in a hurry, the senate, ever jealous of its deliberative prerogatives, preferred to act somewhat more leisurely. So when the Tydings bill was called up, no gag rule was adopted, and everyone who wanted to speak was allowed to do so.
That perennial advocate of immediate independence, Sen. William King of beet-growing Utah, cried, “It’s an immoral outrage that we haven’t freed the Philippines long ago.”
Addressing the senate Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan insisted, “Let us make no mistake; this is the same bill that the Filipinos rejected. It is the same old bill that had been vetoed by President Hoover, pilloried by the American press and attacked by American agriculture.”
Senator Vandenberg recommended the King bill for senators who felt no responsibility toward the Philippines; his own bill, of immediate independence with 10 years of reciprocal trade relations, for those who felt a responsibility toward the Philippines.
But passage on the Tydings bill, described by the senate committee as “sound, feasible and orderly process granting independence under conditions which will be just and fair to American and Filipino interests,” was a foregone conclusion.
Gearing for elections
So sure of this were members of the Quezon mission that they began to pack up preparatory to leaving Washington. A mission spokesman said they would depart the end of the month, returning to Manila via Europe.
In the Philippines, with the enactment of the new legislation a certainty, interest was focused largely on the coming elections. In Cebu Sen. Sergio Osmeña was laying the groundwork for what he hoped would be a sweeping victory for his ticket.
In Bacon, Sorsogon, occurred the first serious fight of the current campaign, when Juan Diaz, pro member of the provincial board, pulled a revolver and seriously wounded Justo Dilloza, former municipal president. The shooting was preceded by a heated discussion about the H-H-C Act.