Campaign for Philippine Independence

October 21, 2017 Law

The Philippine Legislature created the Commission of Independence in November 1918 “for the purpose of studying all matters related to the negotiation and organization of Philippine Independence. ” This Commission was composed of eleven senators, and forty congressmen, majority coming from the Nacionalista Party. One of the most important undertaking of the Commission was the dispatch of the Independence Missions to the United States and alongside this, conducted a publicity campaign through the Philippine Press Bureau. Creation of these Independence Missions was just a first step.

These Independence Missions was sent to the United States to appeal to the U. S Congressmen for a law enacted to give the Philippines its independence. Then, they would bring the law to the Philippines for its ratification by the Philippine Congress. THE IDEPENDENCE MISSIONS The Independence Missions were sent largely through the initiative of the Nacionalista leaders with occasional Democrata participation to give a sense of national unity. Those who were prominently involved were: Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmena, Manue A. Roxas, Jose Abad Santos, Benigno Aquino Sr. , Camilo Osias, Elpidio Quirino, All Nacionalistas, and Claro M.

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Recto, Emilio Tria Tirona, Juan Sumulong, Pedro Gil, Ruperto Montinola and all Democratas. The first Independence Mission was sent to the United States in 1919, which was the only one during the Democratic Administration of Woodrow Wilson. This was led by Senate President Quezon and Senator Rafel Palma and consisted of some forty Filipinos representing both the Nacionalista and Democrata parties. But the Mission came at a bad time. For the United States are suffering the time of the Great Depression after the first World War therefore, the mission’s petition for independence was the farthest from their mind.

They were received by Secretary Newton D. Baker, Secretary of war and assured them that President Wilson was in support of their petition. But they did not promise a final decision as to Philippine Policy. Congressional Committees concerned with Philippine affairs heard their petition but some of the Republican leaders in Congress thought that the Philippines is still not ready for Independence. The President’s last step was a recommendation to Congress in favor of Philippine Independence. But when the Republicans came to power with Warren G.

Harding as president, the Filipinos didn’t expect that the Republicans would propose to reverse the degree of self- government they received from Harrison. Plans of sending a second mission came about. But instead, Manuel L. Quezon came to Washington to know the President’s policy. There, President Harding assured Quezon that nothing would be altered and changed. The Second Mission was sent in April 1922 led by Quezon and Osmena. The mission was hoping to justify the political autonomy they received from Governor Harrison and they wanted to know whether or not their aspirations might be fulfilled.

Again, President Harding assured that “no backward step is contemplated” but he also said that independence was out of the question. This response disappointed the Mission but they had already expected it. Besides, in a private talk with General Frank Mclyntre, Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department, Quezon and Osmena said that people of the Philippines who had been fed up with Independence talks would set aside the discussion of Independence for sometime if they would get ‘independence’ at least in name.

With this, Mclyntre mad a draft of such legislation. But then they returned in August 1922 with no more than vague assurances that there would be no dimunition of Filipino control of their government, yet, still no promise of Independence. Successive missions after the Second mission were sent to Washington in 1923, 1924 and 1925. In November 1923, Speaker of the house Manuel A. Roxas led a special Mission who presented a memorial listing of Filipino grievances against the “militaristic rues” of the Governor.

But the President’s reply in a letter dated February 21, 1924, shattered the hopes of the Filipinos for he said that he thinks that the Filipinos were not prepared for Independence, financially and in other ways. Thus, the Mission was rebuffed in its independence plea and with their complaint against Governor Wood. THE SUPREME NATIONAL COUNCIL While Osmena was in Washington, Quezon launched the Supreme National Council, uniting all political parties and all segments of Filipino society for a more effective and vigorous fight for Philippine Independence.

But some members felt that Quezon established this council to gain full control. The Council had three main objectives: (1) the attraction of substantial Filipinos not heretofore prominent in the independence campaign, with the seeming subordination of the politico element which thus far had dominated it; (2) the decentralization of the campaign so that the provinces might take an active part, played only by Manila; and (3) an attempt at the gradual and peaceful use of the political authority vested in the American Governor General and the Philippine Legislature.

THE PLEBISCITE CONTROVERSY One major disagreement between Governor Wood and the Filipino Leaders was about an Independence Plebiscite Bill. In early November 1925, Philippine Legislature initially passed the bill providing for a Plebiscite on immediate Independence. Its purpose was to counteract the anti – independence campaigns in the United States. The Plebiscite was intended to show the opponents of Philippine Independence in the United States that the fight for Independence was supported by the mass of the Filipino people. But in December 1925, the Governor vetoed the bill.

It was reintroduced an approved by the Philippine Legislature in July 1926. Again, Wood vetoed the bill. It then went to President Coolidge for final decision. In April 1927, the President sustained the Governor’s veto of the Plebiscite bill in a long message where he also stressed that greater economic and political progress is needed to be able to attend the holding of a plebiscite bill. He also mentioned the advantages of the Philippines and the U. S as one and the possible problems that can be encountered by an independent Philippine government.

Therefore, with this issue, the Philippines had failed again. AMERICAN INTEREST GROUPS “FRIENDS” OF PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE From 1929 onwards, different economic issues would revive the Independence Movement. With the Philippines and the United States as one, the Filipinos could freely go back and forth to the United States. One main reason is to look for jobs. They would go to the U. S to find jobs. Because of this, Filipino laborers came in line with the American laborers. But American employers were employing mostly Filipinos. This was during the time of the Great depression.

Because of job competition, American laborers proposed that the exclusion law applied to other Asian countries be applied also to the Philippines. Another problem encountered by the U. S was that of free trade where in Philippine Agricultural products could enter freely in the United States. Though this may seem favorable to the Filipinos, American Agricultural Interests found this undesirable for they think that this would be a menace to their own products. This resulted to an aggressive agitation for tariff revision in favor of American farmers.

They demand that Congress alleviate their desperate situation by relieving them of the burden of Philippine competition. If it cannot be solved on a tariff basis, the farmers wanted Philippine Independence. THE OsRox MISSION (1931- 1933) In December 1931, Osmena and Roxas left for the United States to secure whatever would be best out of any situation that might arise in Congress concerning the Philippine issue. After thirty years of agitation, the OsRox mission (which lasted from 1931- 1933) succeeded in securing the passage of an Independence Bill (the controversial HARE- HAWES- CUTTING ACT; page 346).

This act became law on January 17, 1933. The passage of an Independence Bill, its veto by President Hoover, and its subsequent re passage, should have been the most dramatic event in the history of Filipino campaign for Independence, for the OsRox Mission came back with a definite program that would positively pave the way for Independence. But October 1933 was even more dramatic – for the Filipinos rejected the Hare – Hawes – Cutting Act, and Quezon parted ways with Osmena and Roxas.

THE QUEZON MISSION Osmena and Roxas considered tha Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, but Quezon disagreed. He was dubious about some of the terms of independence offered by the bill and he was hoping that the incoming democratic administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt would bring about a more favorable bill. Realizing that this bill was all that could be secured, Quezon shifted his strategy to Manila, where he caused the Philippine legislature to reject the bill and disregard the leadership of Osmena and Roxas.

In rejecting the bill, the Legislature presented the following reasons: (1) the provisions affecting trade relations between the United States and the Philippines would seriously imperil the economic, social and political institutions of the country and might defeat the avowed purpose to secure independence for the Philippines at the end of the transition period; (2) the immigration clause was objectionable and offensive to the Filipino people; (3) the powers of the High Commissioner were too indefinite; and (4) the military, naval and other reservations provided for in the act were inconsistent with true independence, violated dignity and were subject to misunderstanding.

In November 1933, Quezon, as head of a joint legislative committee, left for United States for the purpose of securing a better independence bill for the Philippines. But he was unable to do so. All that he secured was a re-run of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting act under a different name – The “Tydings McDuffie Act. But what was important was that Quezon brought the bill home and was acclaimed hero of his people. In the end, what was more significant was not which of the bills was enacted, but who secured independence for the Filipino people. On May 1, 1934, the Philippine legislature unanimously accepted the Tydings-McDuffie Act, wherein provisions for military reservations were eliminated and substituted by a provision for “ultimate settlement” as to naval bases and fueling stations.


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