Quezon y Molina, Manuel L.

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1926 TLS as Philippine Senate President to a US journalist complaining of being misquoted by the press; Philippine Commonwealth President 1935-44



Type:  Letter
Description:  (1878-1944) Filipino statesman, soldier and politician, President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines 1935-44. The 1st Filipino to head a government of the entire Philippines, considered to be the 2nd President of the Philippines (after Emilio Aguinaldo, 1899-1901).

During his presidency, Quezon tackled the problem of landless peasants in the countryside, reorganized the islands’ military defense, approved recommendation for government reorganization, promotion of settlement and development in Mindanao, dealt with foreign stranglehold on Philippine trade and commerce, proposed land reform, and opposed government graft and corruption. He established a government-in-exile in the US with the outbreak of WW II and the threat of Japanese invasion. He died of tuberculosis during his exile in the US, buried in Arlington National Cemetery until the end of the war when his remains were moved to Manila, in the Quezon Memorial Circle.

In 1899, Quezon  joined the independence movement. During the Philippine-American War he was an ADC to Emilio Aguinaldo, rising to major in the Bataan sector. After surrendering in 1900 he passed the bar examinations in 1903, elected governor of Tayabas in 1906. In 1907, he was elected to the 1st Philippine Assembly, later the House of Representatives, and was majority floor leader and chairman of 2 major committees. One of 2 Philippines resident commissioners to the Congress 1909-16, lobbied to pass the Philippine Autonomy Act (Jones Law).

Quezon returned to Manila 1916 and elected senator, later elected Senate President serving to 1935. He led the 1st independent Mission to the US Congress in 1919, secured passage of the 1934 Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1935, Quezon won the Philippines’ 1st presidential election, inaugurated November 1935.

President Quezon was given power under the Reorganization Act to appoint the 1st all-Filipino cabinet in 1935 and to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court to replace American justices. He ordered transfer of the Philippine Constabulary to the Department of Finance and other Executive Department changes. President Quezon began a vigorous program of social justice through executive measures and the National Assembly. Commonwealth Act No. 20 authorized him to institute expropriation proceedings and/or acquire large landed estates to re-sell them at nominal cost to tenants, enabling them to have their own homes. He also began a cooperative system of agriculture to provide them greater earnings. His hope to placate landlords and tenants pleased no one; by the early 40s, thousands of Central Luzon tenants were forced from their farms, the rural conflict more acute than ever.

The National Economic Council was created to advise the government in economic and financial questions, including promotion of industries, diversification of crops and enterprises, tariffs, taxation, and formulation of an economic program in preparation for future independence. President Quezon created the National Council of Education, initiated women’s suffrage in the Commonwealth Era and saw enacted a constitutional provision adopting Tagalog as The Philippines’ national language, changed in 1946 to include English and Spanish also as official languages. In 1938, he enlarged the Council of State to be composed of the President, the Vice President, Senate President, House Speaker, Senate President pro tempore, House Speaker pro tempore, Majority Floor leader of both chambers of Congress, former Presidents of the Philippines, and 3-5 prominent citizens. A controversial 1940 immigration law set an annual limit of 50 immigrants per country, affecting mostly Chinese and Japanese escaping the Sino-Japanese War. 

Originally barred by the Constitution from seeking re-election in 1940, amendments were ratified allowing him to seek re-election for a new term ending in 1943; he was handily re-elected in 1941.  The outbreak of WW II and the Japanese invasion resulted in periodic and drastic changes to the government structure. In a notable humanitarian act, Quezon, with US High Commissioner Paul McNutt, eased entry of Jewish refugees fleeing fascist regimes in Europe into the Philippines. Quezon gave, as a 10-year loan to Manila’s Jewish Refugee Committee, land beside his family home in Marikina. In 2015, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Board approved a posthumous bestowal of the Wallenberg Medal upon Quezon and the people of the Philippines for having reached out to Holocaust victims in 1937-41.

After the Japanese invasion he evacuated to Corregidor, was formally inaugurated for his 2nd term, evacuated to Australia then to the US, establishing a government in exile in Washington. There, he was a member of the Pacific War Council and signed the Declaration of the United Nations against the Axis Powers and wrote his autobiography, “The Good Fight.” On 2 June 1942, he addressed the US House on the necessity of relieving the Philippine front. Before the Senate, later, he urged senators to adopt the slogan “Remember Bataan”. Quezon officially offered the US Army a Philippine infantry regiment which trained in California.

By 1943, the government-in-exile faced a serious crisis. Under the 1935 Constitution, Quezon’s term was to expire 30 December 1943 and VP  Osmeña would automatically succeed him. Quezon told him it would not be wise and prudent to effect any change under the circumstances. Osmeña asked the US Congress to suspend constitutional provisions for presidential succession until after the Philippines was liberated and the pertinent resolution was unanimously approved by Congress.

Quezon City, a province, a Manila bridge, a university, numerous towns and streets are named for him and he appears on the 20 peso bill. The “Open Doors”, a Holocaust memorial in Israel designed by a Filipino artist, was erected in honor of President Quezon and the Filipinos who saved over 1,200 Jews from the Nazis.

10 ½ x 8 TLS, perhaps self-typed, on official letterhead as Senate President, Manila, August 12 1926, to journalist James L. E. Jappe, Manila Hotel. Quezon complains that “…some of the american [sic] correspondents…attribute statements to me which I do not make” and asks Jappe if he can “…distribute the enclosed statements [not present] among your correspondents asking them to use same in full either quoting me or over my signature”.

Condition: Very good, mail folds, trivial staining at top left

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