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Details of Cabinet Crash, July 21, 1923

July 21, 1923

Details of Cabinet Crash

Chronological Summary of Past Week’s Events Culminating in Resignation En Masse of Philippine Cabinet and Council of State

THE growing feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of Filipino leaders in the government with the attitude of Governor General Wood, particularly with regard to the executive branches of the government, culminated last Tuesday evening in the resignations of the five Filipino secretaries of department and of Senate President Quezon and Speaker Roxas as members of the council of state. The resignation were accepted by the governor general.

The differences of opinion over closing the branches of the national bank, and over suspension of penalties for late payment of the land tax had already resulted in notes of protest being sent to the governor general by Senator Quezon, but the immediate cause of the wholesale resignations was the crisis brought about by the case of Ray Conley, suspended secret service detective accused of bribery and other charges. The special investigating board appointed by the governor general recommended on July 12 that Ray Conley be reinstated. In accordance with a previous agreement between Governor General Wood and Secretary Laurel, Conley was reinstated, but immediately after favorably indorsing the order of reinstatement the secretary resigned, stating that he could not have under his department a man whom he considered dishonest, and in view of a subsequent report of the special committee, stating that the continuance in the service of Conley was inadvisable. Mayor Fernandez resigned on the same day, last Saturday.

Gov. General’s Statement on Conley Resignation

On Monday Ray Conley handed in his resignation, which was accepted directly by the governor general, who made the following general statement:

“I recognize the right of Secretary Laurel and Mayor Fernandez to take action on the Conley case and advise me on this matter, but I do not believe their action or their advice should be final insofar as my own criterion of the merits of the case is concerned.

“True to the agreement I had with the secretary of the interior, I ordered the reinstatement of Conley in view of the first report of the investigating committee which stated that I may reinstate him.

“In explanation of the apparently conflicting stand taken by the investigating committee in its last report, the members pointed to the advisability of the separation of Conley from the service in view of the circumstances surrounding the affair and of the general hostility provoked by the case.

“Conley has submitted his resignation, and it has been accepted. Only two charges against him were proven and neither affects his efficiency as a police officer. The two charges are that he is keeping a woman and that he made certain false statements.”

Cabinet Conferences

By this time, however, affairs had reached such a stage that the resignation produced little effect in calming the agitation. The same day members of the cabinet, together with Senators Quezon and Osmeña, Speaker Roxas and several members of the legislature conferred in Senator Quezon’s home and a tentative agreement was made to submit their resignations. Several conferences were held during Monday and Tuesday between the principal parties concerned.

The Final Crash

On Tuesday morning the cabinet finally came to an agreement to resign after considerable discussion, particularly between Secretaries Laurel and Santos. The latter made numerous attempts to reach some agreement between the governor general and the Filipino group, but his efforts as intermediary proved useless, and about four in the afternoon, Senator Quezon, accompanied by Senator Osmeña, Speaker Roxas, and Secretary Abad Santos, went to a conference with the governor general that lasted over two hours, but without favorable result, and at 10:30 in the evening the cabinet members (excepting Secretary of Public Instruction Gilmore) accompanied by Senator Quezon and Speaker Roxas went to the Malacañang and submitted their resignations, which were accepted immediately by Governor General Wood. The resignation of Mayor Fernandez had been accepted earlier in the afternoon.

Appeal to Harding

In addition to the letter of resignation, Senator Quezon issued a statement announcing his intention of appealing to President Harding, and a cable was sent, giving the causes which led to the cabinet resigning en masse, and stating that a delegation would be sent to the United States to expose personally to the President the alleged disregard of important rights and prerogatives heretofore granted to Filipinos. A meeting of the Independence commission has been called for next Monday to make more definite plans for such a delegation.

Vacancies Filled Temporarily

The executive department of the government is not, however, at a standstill, for the undersecretaries automatically took over the duties of the superiors, and at a meeting decided that for the present at least, they would not resign. Acting Secretary of Justice Luis Torres was on Wednesday appointed also to the position of acting secretary of the interior, as Governor Julian Ocampo has not yet accepted the post of undersecretary offered him last week.

City Engineer Artiaga has been appointed acting mayor, and the municipal board at a meeting Wednesday evening promised their cooperation.

Attitude of Democratas

Leading members of the Democrata party have held several meetings during which was discussed the attitude they intend to take regarding the situation. After a gathering held in the home of Judge Sumulong on Wednesday evening it was announced that a formal meeting would be called for this evening, at which the following viewpoints of leaders would be discussed:

By Judge Sumulong: That this question should not be considered national, its origin being too insignificant, as it concerns a simple detective. It has been taken advantage of to provoke this question, as a result of which no one but the secretary of the interior should have resigned.

By Representative Ponce Enrile of Cagayan: That the coalition party be asked if in reality it is a national issue, because in case it is, an effective form will be asked, namely, the resignation of all undersecretaries and bureau chiefs—in other words, bring about a complete paralyzation of the government.

By Representative Padilla of Bulacan: That the Democrata party should clearly define that this is not a national question, and that the Democrata party should be entitled to two of the positions vacated, that of the secretary of the interior and that of the mayor of Manila on the ground that the majority of the provincial governors elected are Democratas and the municipal board of the city is wholly composed of Democratas. However, these positions should not be accepted now unless the Democratas are invited to occupy them as a result of abandonment by the Coalition group of their posts.

By ex-Representative Montenegro of Manila: That the Democratas accept whatever positions may be offered to them. What is happening here is exactly the same as in other countries: a cabinet resigns and another of different political affiliation is formed.

It was reported by Democratas present at Wednesday’s meeting that some members of the Manila police force, who were stationed around Judge Sumulong’s house, tried to enter the building, but after a conference with the chief of police Thursday morning

Officials here believe that Wood’s differences with the Filipino officials are due to the determination of the radical Philippine independence party to divest him of most of his powers over internal administration.

His decision against immediate separation of the islands from American control did much to strengthen antagonism despite his efforts to protect Filipinos from a reckless waste of their resources and their exploitation by self-seeking interests.

When Wood assumed control two years ago he found the islands in a state fast approaching bankruptcy as a result of extravagant appropriations of a wasteful administration.