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Sayre arrives, October 28, 1939

October 28, 1939

Sayre arrives

THE third, and possibly the last, United States High Commissioner to the Philippines, red-haired, polite, precise Francis Bowes Sayre, arrived in the Philippines end of last week. He emerged out of the slight fog that covered Manila bay and also his attitude toward many Philippine questions, affable and smiling, while a 19-gun salute was fired, sirens shrieked, a crowd of 20,000 cheered and the highest government officials of the Commonwealth clapped heartily.

“I am very happy to meet you again,” said High Commissioner Sayre and President Manuel Quezon to each other, with a warm embrace.

“How was the trip, Mr. Commissioner?” asked Mr. Quezon.

“Fine,” grinned Mr. Sayre.

Acting High Commissioner J. Weldon Jones and Secretary Jorge Vargas, representing the President, had gone out on the U.S. Navy launch Yacal to meet the President Cleveland outside the breakwater.

Escorted to the elegant new President’s Landing in front of the Manila Hotel, as swank an introduction to Manila as any tourist-trade-booster could wish for, Mr. Sayre went up the gangplank accompanied by Mr. Vargas; Mrs. Sayre, by Mr. Jones. There they were greeted by the President.

The High Commissioner wore a light-brown woolen suit and white shoes; the President, a white shark-skin double-breasted coat, striped brown trousers, tango shoes. Pretty Mrs. Sayre was in rose, stately Mrs. Quezon in mestiza dress.

“Hello and goodbye”

The distinguished newcomer was speedily presented to the government bigwigs gathered to receive him. He put an affectionate arm around Speaker Jose Yulo. When he came to Secretary Manuel Roxas, the President said with unexpected formality: “You know this gentleman, I presume?” Mr. Sayre knew him.

Stepping out of the neat little pagoda, the High Commissioner had his first real glimpse of the Filipino people. About half of the crowd belonged to Benigno Ramos’ Ganap party and they quickly stole the show. Defying police orders, they waved little blue flags demanding independence, displayed trenchant placards reading:

“The Filipino people demand true independence right away!”

“We object against Quezon-McNutt combination. It is slavery!”

“Greetings to Sayre: We hope you will be the last High Commissioner and not be like McNutt and Murphy who just watched while the leaders spent money!”

A suave diplomat, Mr. Sayre ignored the display. But he must have had his misgivings when President Quezon, consciously or unconsciously, echoed the “hello and goodbye” sentiments of the Ganap.

Introducing the High Commissioner to the crowd, he expressed a fervent hope: “May he be the man to turn over to the first President of the Philippine Republic, the authority and sovereignty of the United States over these islands.”

Previously he had outlined Mr. Sayre’s work on behalf of the Philippines, especially with regard to its economic welfare. “He finds a people who know him as well as he knows hem,” concluded the President. “We know of his record as adviser to the government of Siam, of his ability to treat people of a different race. We know of his deep interest in our welfare. We know that he is our friend.

Making his first speech in the Philippines, the High Commissioner startled his hearers by practically denying the Filipinos were “a different race” at all. “Until their independence is consummated,” he declared, “the Filipino people are an integral part of the American nation. We are fellow-Americans. As High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands, I shall not lose sight of this central fact.”

Eloquently, but none the less firmly, he made it clear that he would not stand in the way of the consummation of independence.

“I want to say to the Filipino people how happy and how proud I am that I have been given the chance to throw in my lot with you in helping to work out the problems which lie before us. In many ways the fundamental problem which we face is unique. Seldom if ever has a great nation in the height of its power because of its profound faith in liberty and democracy helped to create out of its own territory a new nation seeking to work out its independent destiny based upon the same principles.

Having thus painted the glories of democratic liberty, Mr. Sayre drove to the Luneta to lay a wreath at the base of the monument to a martyr to liberty, Jose Rizal. Having put this pointed period to his inaugural address, he was driven past the palace abuilding for him along Dewey Boulevard, to his temporary residence in Pasay.

He left behind a puzzled army of Benigno Ramos’ followers. Numbering 10,000 they had come from Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal, from provinces as distant as Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, and Tayabas, each one paying his own fare and bringing his own food, an impressive tribute to the rabble-rousing powers of the former Sakdal chieftain who is now campaigning for the presidency of the Commonwealth. Not even Manuel Quezon perhaps, Ramos’ old boss and probable model, could have called such a legion of faithful believers in Manila.

They had one doctrine, immediate independence, and they had one prophet, Benigno Ramos. He had told them that the Americano was going to give them freedom.

Cheers for Ramos

When Ramos walked along Katigbak drive to the landing early that morning, the Ganap ranks gave him cheer after lusty cheer. But when President Quezon drove by in his limousine, preceded by three motorcycle policemen and three Philippine army artillery units, the Ganap men fell into a sullen silence. It was an amazing, and significant, contrast.

After the High Commissioner’s speech, an old man carrying a Ganap flag asked a Manila Daily Bulletin reporter: “Are we free now?”

“Aren’t you?” countered the reporter.

“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t understand what the Americano said. I can’t understand English. The leaders of our party said we will get our freedom now. The Americano is bringing it.”

In his Pasay garden, the Americano was perhaps discussing the same subject with Mr. Quezon, under a beautiful banyan tree. Later the High Commissioner received other official calls.

He returned the President’s call that afternoon, Mr. Quezon showed his guest the palace library; Mrs. Quezon chatted amiably with Mrs. Sayre, pointed across the Pasig to her favorite Malacañang building, the luxurious Nipa Hut where a state reception for the Sayres may be held soon.

Next day, the High Commissioner held his first press conference. He had a statement ready on reexamination of independence. “It is the duty of American and Philippine officials faithfully to carry out” the provisions of the independence act, he said.

“To my mind the passage by the American Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie act and the acceptance by the Philippine people of a Constitution based upon its provisions constitute a moral obligation not to withdraw the independence program or to alter its fundamental provisions except by the wish of both peoples.

“If ever the day should come when the Filipino people should decide to change their minds and alter the policy to which they have unyieldingly adhered for over 40 years and should bring such a request before Congress, it would be for Congress, and for Congress alone, to decide what course of action the United States should pursue. Such a decision, I need hardly add, would have to be made in the light of such conditions as may then exist in the world and in the Philippines: and what these will be no one can foretell.”

“Off the record”

Suave, smiling Mr. Sayre made the assembled reporters and corespondents forget that he had made them wait for a full day for his first interview. The one American who had been able to outsmart Manuel Quezon—he had wangled the President’s signature to a statement expressing willingness to abandon preferential trade relations with the United States—the High Commissioner did not let his questioners outsmart him.

He took a lot of chaffing on his “fellow Americans” speech. Then, knowing him to be an expert on trade relations, a correspondent asked; “Do you consider the present trade relations between the United States and the Philippines mutually beneficial?”

“I do,” answered Mr. Sayre.

“Then why should they be terminated?”

The High Commissioner said that for the present he must explain “off the record.”

“Do you use such expressions here?” he asked innocently.

The reporters guffawed. His predecessors had been singularly addicted to keeping things “off the record.” Paul V. McNutt had killed many a good story by telling it before it could be told to him or anybody else, and then asking the boys to keep it “off the record.” Frank Murphy had talked even less for publication.

“Why,” cried Dick Wilson of the United Press, “the phrase originated here!”

A deeply religious man, Mr. Sayre went to church after his press conference, Mrs. Sayre motored up to Baguio the next day to enrol her children by her first marriage in Brent School.


Independence in the Balance, January 28, 1933

January 28, 1933

Independence in the Balance
Babel of Voices Rising on All Sides—Question Buried Under Volumes of Oratory Leaders’ Future Moves Uncertain

CONFUSION worse confounded marked the week’s developments in the unfolding of the drama of Philippine independence. From Bongao to Aparri raged the question of the hour: Should the Philippines approve the independence bill enacted by the United States congress? Of almost equal interest was the subsidiary question: Should the Philippine legislature act on the bill, or should a convention of specially elected delegates decide this momentous matter?

All eyes were focused upon the impetuous figure of Senate President Quezon, who effective ended discussion of the bill during the special session of the legislature by threatening to take an immediate vote on the question unless sponsors of the bill stopped their sniping tactics.

As staunchly opposed to the bill as ever, Senate President Quezon was unquestionably supported by a majority in both houses of the legislature. Should he have put the question to a vote, there was no doubt but that his wishes would have been followed. In spite of claims that the legislature could not act on the matter until an official copy of the bill had been received from Washington, the senate president insisted that all that was necessary for a vote was for the governor general to submit the radioed copy of the bill to the legislature.

Mission Summoned

“I have an agreement with the members of the mission not to act on the bill until they return and make their report, in order that they may defend their actions,” said Senate President Quezon, “but if sympathizers of the bill continue making speeches and waging a campaign to form public opinion in favor of the bill, the members of the legislature, in spite of my wishes, may force a vote on the measure.

Having  thus effectively spiked discussion of the bill at the special session of the legislature, Senate President Quezon called a caucus of the majority party, and secured authorization to send a cable ordering the mission to return to the Philippines.

If the mission were to return, it seemed probable that Senate President Quezon had abandoned his plans to sail to the United States to work for the better bill which he felt he could secure from the forthcoming congress. Yet the next thing the mercurial leader did indicated the possibility of his departure. He had the senate elect Sen. Jose Clarin as president pro tempore, and Sen. Elpidio Quirino a majority floor leader. “As everybody knows, the question of my going to the United States has not been decided, but if I should leave there must be a president pro tempore,” explained Senate President Quezon.

The mission, in the meantime, were sitting tightly in Washington awaiting orders from Manila. Even Sen. Benigno Aquino, envoy extraordinary who joined the mission at the last moment and who had planned to start his return trip late this month, announced he had canceled his passage and would stay in Washington.

But while the senate president was charting his course in regard to the independence bill, a great barrage of opinion, pro and con, was laid down in Manila and throughout the provinces.

Among the many entities which expressed their opinions on the independence bill were: the municipal council of Manila, which opposed it after hearing a councilor make the sensational statement that the mission should be shot for treachery and the students of the Columbian institute of Manila, who “sincerely and wholeheartedly” endorsed the independence bill.

For and Against

Rafael Palma, president of the University of the Philippines, and once a member of the Big Three of Philippine politics, issued a statement deploring “the absence of perfect understanding among our leaders”. He favors the approval of the bill.

On the other side of the fence is Don Vicente Lopez, president of the International Chamber of Commerce of Iloilo, the Filipino businessman who declared before Secretary of War Hurley that independence would be ruinous without free trade for 20 years. He said:

“One need not be a prophet to predict now what will happen should the Philippine legislature accept the Hawes-Cutting Bill.

“1. Foreign capital, which constitutes more than 50% of our total, will be withdrawn as soon as possible, in two years at the most.

“2. Filipino capital, which is much more conservative than foreign capital will also be withdrawn and all the cash will be deposited with foreign banks.

“3. As a result of this withdrawal of all foreign and Filipino capital, the government of the Philippine commonwealth will be so poor after the lapse of five years that it will ask the United States to restore the Jones Bill.

“4. The Jones law may be restored but without such privileges or have gains as free trade.

“5. That, to cap it all—and in this I hope I am mistaken—we shall not say goodbye to the country, but we shall say goodbye to the home, because economic slavery will then prevail.”

Many observers chose the “middle path,” feeling that although the independence bill is far from an ideal one, it is better than nothing at all. For instance, Dr. Bernabe Africa, professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, holds that “We must meet the selfish American interests halfway. Immediate independence is impracticable. If we cannot have a whole loaf, we are wise if we take half a loaf. Under the next administration a worse bill, from the economic standpoint, might be passed.

The most interesting debate now being conducted in the daily press by Maximo Kalaw and Jorge Bocobo, the two politically minded deans of the University of the Philippines. Dean Kalaw, a member of the mission who returned early, is defending the bill, while Dean Bocobo is opposing it.

De Joya for Bill

A public clash between those favoring and those opposing the independence bill occurred Tuesday afternoon at that forum for the creation of public opinion, a convocation of students of the University of the Philippines.

For Judge Mariano H. de Joya, the principal speaker delivered a lengthy speech in favor of the bill declaring “We must accept the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill because it contains a definite and solemn promise of Independence, at the expiration of the ten year period of transition, thus eliminating the element of uncertainty.

“Furthermore, we must accept the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill, to be consistent with ourselves; and so that we may not become the laughing-stock of the World. To reject the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill would be impolitic, and treason to the rights and the welfare of future generations.

“Besides, if we should now reject the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill, the American Congress will charge us with ingratitude and with attempting to impose upon them, and they will treat our next petitions with scorn. We have no right to gamble away the gains already obtained, and thus be recreant to our duty to 13,000,000 souls.”

Judge De Joya then took up the controversial points of the bill one at a time, arguing that the retention of American naval bases in the Philippines would be a stabilizing influence in the Far East, that the trade relations provided in the bill are not unjust to the Philippines, that the limitation of immigration into the United States was a blessing in disguise and that the fears concerning the American high commissioner are unjustified.

The high spot of the convocation resulted from Judge De Joya’s statement that “What could President Quezon do, a sick man and alone, that the others, all strong and sound, could not do together?”

Securing permission to be heard, Dean Jorge Bocobo leaped to his feet and belabored Judge De Joya for “rejoicing over the failing health of our president, Manuel L. Quezon.” With anger surging through every word of his speech, he passionately declared, “If President Quezon’s health is failing, if he is a sick man, it is because he has spent all his life, has sacrificed it all for the welfare of the people.”

Judge De Joya protested that he had been maliciously misunderstood declaring, “I did not say I was rejoicing because President Quezon is a sick man. I was merely stating a simple fact as a lawyer ordinarily would.”

Opening shot of the Kalaw-Bocobo debate was fired Thursday morning when Dean Kalaw released to the press his first article, which he described as an account “of a once famous battle-cry whose echo has been lost in the recondite nooks and corners of Capitol hill.” The battle-cry was “immediate, complete and absolute independence,” which Dean Kalaw said “has served tremendously in arousing the people”. Therefore supporters of immediate independence, he argued, were barking up the wrong tree, were seeking something impossible to attain.

Probably one of the most vital pronouncements on the measure will be made by Senate President Quezon at one o’clock next Sunday morning, when he will address the people of the United States over a nationwide radio hook-up which will carry his voice into millions of American homes.
What the Filipino leader says then will undoubtedly have a very real and definite bearing on the final outcome of the problem.

And Now. . .

THE fevered excitement incidental to the unimagined passing of the Hawes-Cutting bill over President Hoover’s veto is subsiding, and we are moving into the more sober secondary stage.

While there is still interested discussion as to the merits and probable consequences of the measure, which debates in the press and on the platform will tend to keep alive, the general tendency seems to be toward suspended judgment.

The poll conducted by the daily press, mostly among businessmen, reveals complacence on the part of some and resignation, in lieu of the hope of anything better, on the part of others. A few, however, openly voice their dissatisfaction and apprehension and seem disposed to risk everything in an effort to avert the “slow strangulation,” the “creeping paralysis,” which they see as the inevitable outcome of the bill’s operation.

Meanwhile, in diametrical opposition, in apparently uncompromising antagonism dominating the welter of discussion and dissidence, are the well known views of the members of the mission in the United States, with Osmeña and Roxas in the forefront, and, here, Manuel Quezon. On neither side has there been the slightest sign of wavering, of change, of yielding.

For those who believe with Quezon, that there is hope of something better, the argument appears to run about as follows:

That the executive heads of the United States government, reference being had to President Hoover and four members of his cabinet, definitely opposed the bill; that in its essence it is unqualifiedly one-sided and arbitrary; that it was promoted by selfish and sordid interests; that the press of the United States generally condemns it; that it works a great moral and material wrong upon the Filipino people, gives the lie to the past lofty professions of the United States about being animated solely by motives of altruism in its dealings with the Filipino people and generally reflects dishonor upon the good name of America; and further, that it is inconceivable, if the worst came to the worst, that, with a whole people protesting against the injustice of the bill, the congress of the United States would be so cruel and inhuman as to force upon that people a bill still more drastic and merciless in its provisions.

On the other hand, apart from those who welcome the bill because of its more or less definite promise of independence, fear exists lest congress might be ruthless enough to enact a still more stringent measure. These advocates of acceptance say there is no telling what congress might do. Some Americans even go so far as to voice the belief that, should Quezon declare the Filipino people would prefer immediate and outright independence to the present bill, congress might—to use their words—“call his bluff” and pass such a bill. Better, they say, to take half a loaf than risk getting none.

Thus is the issue presented to the Filipino people, to the people of the Philippines. They stand at the crossroads of destiny, at a crisis in their history. Through their legislature or through a popular convention, they are to be called upon to play the part of the Lords of High Decision. Fate hangs in the balance.

Committee Thrashing Out Details of Independence, December 24, 1932

December 24, 1932

Committee Thrashing Out Details of Independence
Hawes-Cutting Bill Approved by Senate—Goes to Conference with Hare Bill—Manila Rises Against Senate Measure

IN ONE of the commodious committee rooms in the capital building in Washington, D.C., at 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning, a group of five senators and three representatives sat down around a large conference table.

Before each member of the joint committee lay printed copies of two bills: one entitled S. 3377; the other, H. R. 7233. Popularly known as the Hawes-Cutting and the Hare bills, they were the measures which the United States senate and the United States house of representatives, respectively, had passed as Philippine independence bills.

Basically following the same broad outlines, these two bills varied in certain essential details. To compromise those differences and report out a single measure which would be acceptable to both houses was the task before the joint committee, as it settled down to work Wednesday morning. Briefly, those differences were:

Hawes Hare

How soon the joint committee can finish its task of ironing out those discrepancies was much in doubt as the eight congressmen buckled down to the task at hand. Senator Hawes, chief independence proponent in the upper house, was anxious to get a measure approved before December 25, as a Christmas present for the Filipino people. But with the traditional recess of congress over the holidays only a day or two off, it looked as though there were little hope of final action before January.

But if congress must adjourn, there was no reason why the committee could not continue its deliberations during the holidays.

Members of the committee, for the most part, are well-known in the Philippines.

Representing the upper house are Senators Hawes and Cutting, co-authors of the bill, Sen. Hiram Bingham, long-time opponent of independence, Sen. Hiram Johnson, who wants to exclude Filipinos from the United States, and Sen. Key Pittman, generally regarded as a friend of the Philippines.

From the lower house are Representative Hare, author of the independence bill bearing his name, Rep. Guinn Williams, from Texas, an unknown quantity in Philippine matters but certainly in favor of early independence, and Rep. Harold Knutson, whose Minnesota constituents are clamoring for independence in order to shut out Philippine coconut oil, which competes with their dairy products.

The question of Philippine independence was thrown into committee when the senate, last Saturday, passed the amended Hawes-Cutting bill without a record vote, after having reconsidered and disapproved the Broussard amendment which provided for independence in eight years with increasing tariffs beginning the first year. The bill as passed by the senate provides for independence in approximately 12 years, with restricted imports during the first seven years and gradually increasing tariff duties during the final five year.

As a matter of form, the house of representatives then disapproved the senate amendments to the bill, thus throwing both the senate bill and the house bill, which was passed last spring, into committee. That the compromise measure which emerges from that committee will be approved by both houses and sent to President Hoover seems probable. But what President Hoover will do with the bill is anybody’s guess.

Plebiscite Provision

Most controversial matter during the final discussion of the Hawes-Cutting bill was the question of a plebiscite. It is generally felt that President Hoover wants no independence bill without a plebiscite, which will allow the Philippine voters to decide, after a period of transition, whether or not they wish to be cut loose from the United States.

But Sen. Huey P. Long, self-styled Kingfish of Louisiana, who had forced through lower limitations on sugar and coconut oil, rose in his majesty and said he would filibuster until March 4 to prevent the plebiscite proviso. As a final compromise it was provided that the constitution of the Philippine commonwealth should be submitted to the people for a vote, thus allowing them to express their opinion before the period of transition.

From Manila, after the approval of the Hawes-Cutting bill, came an almost unanimous storm of protest. Said Senate President Quezon:

“While they insist upon keeping us under the American flag for a number of years our people are branded as undesirable to the American people. They want to restrict our free trade with America to a ruinous extent, and yet American free trade with the Philippines will be unlimited. Our industries will not be protected in the United States markets but American industries will be protected in the Philippines.

Wants Independence

“It is a most unfair arrangement reminding one of the treatment accorded to the American colonies by Great Britain in the days of George the Third.

“America should grant independence to the Philippines at once, or if Americans insist upon a period of transition then let it be the shortest possible time. If in the meanwhile, America does not want our people in the United States nor our products, let there be no intermigration of the two peoples nor free trade at all. Let Congress prohibit Filipinos from entering the United States and impose customs duties on Philippine products. But let the Filipinos have the right to do the same thing in reference to the United States.

“We did not ask Congress to establish this free trade, and we are willing to have it terminated now. We only ask independence.”

William H. Anderson fairly represented the opinion of America businessmen in Manila when he said, “Better have independence tomorrow than 10 years of slow torture by economic strangulation.”

Mass Meeting

A more conservative note came from the University of the Philippines, where President Rafael Palma pointed out that the Philippines could not expect an ideal independence bill and Dean Francisco Benitez declared that “beggars cannot be choosers.” Dean Maximo Kalaw caustically remarked that the “unfair commercial provisions” had “not surprised” him as he had “always contended that the history of our tariff relations with the United States showed that America has not been actuated by liberal motives.”

The climax of the protest was scheduled for Thursday evening, when a public mass meeting was held at the Manila Opera House. Organized under the chairmanship of Dean Jorge Bocobo, the meeting was first to have been addressed by Senate President Quezon, but later the Filipino leader withdrew, stating his stand on the matter was clear and declaring he was anxious the people themselves should be given an opportunity to express their views.

A resolution of protest was prepared for the meeting, and the program included speeches by Sen. Jose Generoso, Gonzalo Puyat, Lope K. Santos and Isauro Gabaldon.

Sumulong To Run For Senator, August 4, 1925

Sumulong To Run For Senator

Election Postponed to October Two, Registration September Thirteen, Mission To Leave for America Shortly

HIS home stormed by an enthusiastic throng of Democratas, Judge Juan Sumulong was carried aloft on their shoulders through the streets Thursday evening, and in a stirring address at Plaza Moriones, Tondo, told the crowd of over 3,000 supporters that he would be a candidate for senator in the fourth district.

His acceptance came after a week of pleading on the part of Democrata leaders, but he steadfastly refused until the popular demonstration of Thursday evening. The election will be held October 2, the date having been changed from August 23 at the request of the governors of all the provinces concerned  and the mayor of Manila. All those who did not vote in the last election must register on September 13.

Since Judge Sumulong has accepted the nomination, the negotiations between the leaders of the two parties to nominate General Emilio Aguinaldo as the joint candidate of the two parties have fallen through.

Coalition Bitterly Arraigned

At Thursday’s Democrata meeting the principal speakers were Governors Cailles and Montinola, Senator Tirona, Representative Mendoza, and Judge Sumulong. They bitterly arraigned the coalition leaders on their conduct of the government, especially of the independence campaign, saying that independence funds had been used for junkets to the United States.

Judge Sumulong, in accepting  the nomination, delivered a long address defending his acts while Philippine commissioner and stating that the coalition were opposed to his ever becoming an elective officer because he could expose their misdeeds. “I wish to state frankly here,” the candidate said, “That I decided to quit politics and retire to public life, not because I shun the public service but because I wanted to escape the insults of those of the other party.”

“Waterloo is Coming”

“The Waterloo of the party in power is coming. Its death is sure, it is inevitable.” He called the Wood-Quezon clash a trap to get votes, and said that “the people are wise now. Even though Quezon and Osmeña put on masks the people can see through them.”

The coalition have also been busy during the week, their leaders having campaigned in Laguna province and in Bataan, in addition to their Monday night meeting in Manila. According to them the candidacy of Mr. Fernandez was everywhere received with acclaim.

Orators Going to U.S.

It is now stated that neither Quezon nor Osmeña will head the mission to present the Filipino side of the present crisis before the American people. Speaker Roxas is expected to go, however, and he will be aided by a corps of eight well-known orators and publicity men, including Dean Jorge Bocobo, Camilo Osias, Eulogio Benitez, Jose P. Melencio, Carlos P. Romulo, Dr. Gaudencio Garcia and Victoriano Yamzon.