The Commanding General of United States Army Forces in the Far East (MacArthur) to the Chief of Staff (Marshall)34
2265. The following message has just been received by me from President Quezon for President Roosevelt.
“The situation of my country has become so desperate that I feel that positive action is demanded. Militarily it is evident that no help will reach us from the United States in time either to rescue the beleaguered garrison now fighting so gallantly or to prevent the complete overrunning of the entire Philippine Archipelago.
My people entered the war with the confidence that the United States would bring such assistance to us as would make it possible to sustain the conflict with some chance of success. All our soldiers in the field were animated by the belief that help would be forthcoming. This help has not and evidently will not be realized. Our people have suffered death, misery, devastation. After 2 months of war not the slightest assistance has been forthcoming from the United States. Aid and succour have been dispatched to other warring nations such as England, Ireland [sic], Australia, the N. E. I.35 and perhaps others, but not only has nothing come here, but apparently no effort has been made to bring anything here. The American Fleet and the British Fleet, the two most powerful navies in the world, have apparently adopted an attitude which precludes any effort to reach these islands with assistance.
As a result, while enjoying security itself, the United States has in effect condemned the sixteen millions of Filipinos to practical destruction in order to effect a certain delay. You have promised redemption, but what we need is immediate assistance and protection. We are concerned with what is to transpire during the next few months and years as well as with our ultimate destiny. There is not the slightest doubt in our minds that victory will rest with the United States, but the question before us now is: Shall we further sacrifice our country and our people in a hopeless fight? I voice the unanimous opinion of my War Cabinet and I am sure the unanimous opinion of all Filipinos that under the circumstances we should take steps to preserve the Philippines and the Filipinos from further destruction.
Thanks to wise generalship two-thirds of my country is as yet untouched. We do not propose to do this by a betrayal of the United States. It appears to us that our mission is only to fight as a sacrifice force here as long as possible in order to help the defense of the Dutch and British in this area of the World. But you do not need to sacrifice the people of the Philippines to win this war. Members of your Government here repeatedly said that the action against Hitler would determine the outcome of the entire war.
I feel at this moment that our military resistance here can no longer hold the enemy when he sees fit to launch a serious attack. I feel that [Page 895] the elements of the situation here can be composed into a solution that will not reduce the delaying effect of our resistance here but which will save my country from further devastation as the battleground of two great powers.
I deem it my duty to propose my solution. The Government of the United States under the McDuffie–Tydings law36 is committed to grant independence to the Philippines in 1946, and the same law authorized the President to open negotiations for the neutralization of the Philippines. On the other hand, the Japanese Government has publicly announced its willingness to grant the Philippines her independence. In view of the foregoing I propose the following:
That the United States immediately grant the Philippines complete and absolute independence;
That the Philippines be at once neutralized;
That all occupying troops, both American and Japanese, be withdrawn by mutual agreement with the Philippine Government within a reasonable length of time;
That neither country maintain bases in the Philippines;
That the Philippine Army be immediately disbanded, the only armed forces being maintained here to be a constabulary of modest size;
That immediately upon granting independence the trade relations of the Philippines with foreign countries be a matter to be determined entirely by the Philippines and the foreign countries concerned;
That American and Japanese civilians who so desire be withdrawn with their respective troops under mutual and proper safeguards. It is my proposal to make this suggestion publicly to you and to the Japanese authorities without delay and upon acceptance in general principle by those two countries that an immediate armistice be entered into here pending the withdrawal of their respective garrisons.
(signed) Manuel L. Quezon.”
I took the liberty of presenting this message to High Commissioner Sayre for a general expression of his views. States as follows:
“If the premise of President Quezon is correct, that American help cannot or will not arrive here in time to be availing, I believe his proposal for immediate independence and neutralization of Philippines is the sound course to follow.”
My estimate of the military situation here is as follows:
The troops have sustained practically 50% percent casualties from their original strength. Divisions are reduced to the size of regiments, regiments to battalions, battalions to companies. Some units have entirely disappeared. The men have been in constant action and are badly battleworn. They are desperately in need of rest and refitting. Their spirit is good but they are capable now of nothing but fighting in place on a fixed position. All our supplies are scant and the command has been on half rations for the past month.[Page 896]
It is possible for the time being that the present enemy force might temporarily be held, but any addition to his present strength will insure the destruction of our Gonzale force. We have pulled through a number of menacing situations but there is no denying the fact that we are near done. Corregidor itself is extremely vulnerable. This type of fortress, built prior to the days of air power, when isolated is impossible of prolonged defense. Any heavy air bombardment or the location of siege guns on Bataan or even on the Cavite side, would definitely limit the life of the fortress. My water supply is extremely vulnerable and may go at any time. Every other vital installation can be readily taken out.
Since I have no air or sea protection you must be prepared at any time to figure on the complete destruction of this command. You must determine whether the (mission?) Misegon [sic] of delay would be better furthered by the temporizing plan of Quezon or by my continued battle effort. The temper of the Filipinos is one of almost violent resentment against the United States. Everyone of them expected help and when it has not been forthcoming they believe they have been betrayed in favor of others. It must be remembered they are hostile to Great Britain on account of the latter’s colonial policy. In spite of my great prestige with them, I have had the utmost difficulty during the last few days in keeping them in line. If help does not arrive shortly nothing, in my opinion, can prevent their utter collapse and their complete absorption by the enemy. The Japanese made a powerful impression upon Philippine public imagination in promising independence.
So far as the military angle is concerned, the problem presents itself as to whether the plan of President Quezon might offer the best possible solution of what is about to be a disastrous debacle. It would not affect the ultimate situation in the Philippines for that would be determined by the results in other theatres. If the Japanese Government rejects President Quezon’s proposition it would psychologically strengthen our hold because of their Prime Minister’s37 public statement offering independence. If it accepts it, we lose no military advantage because we would still secure at least equal delay. Please instruct me.