Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Philippine Affairs (Lockhart)

Mr. Hall2 and Col. Boekel3 came to see me today for the purpose of making inquiry regarding possible plans which the Department may have evolved, or which may have been evolved elsewhere, looking to the establishment of a civil government in the Philippines following the reoccupation of the Islands by American military forces.

I told Col. Boekel that so far as my knowledge goes the Department of State does not have in mind, at least at the present time, any plans for the establishment of a civil government or temporary civil administration in the Philippines when our forces return there; that in my judgment there already existed a government—that government being the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines—which could function, and would be expected to do so, as the civil administration in the Philippines as soon as the Japanese are driven from the Islands and the military authorities had given their consent for such un administration to function; that the Commonwealth Government is still recognized as the government of the Philippine Islands and that it is a government which was created as the result of legislative action on the part of the Congress of the United States4 and as a result of the choice of the people of the Philippine Islands; that it is a constitutional government in every respect, well organized and functioning, and that I felt sure no one in the Department would be disposed to set aside this legal government for some newly-created civil administration which might be proposed on the reoccupation of the Islands; that in my judgment the Commonwealth Government now [Page 1300] in exile in Washington, with Mr. Quezon as president, would return to the Islands almost as soon as the reoccupation occurred and that it would be ready to resume its functions as the regularly constituted government of the Philippine Islands. I said that the officials are experienced in Philippine affairs and that they were selected by popular vote of the Filipino people and that they had a burning desire to return to their duties in the Philippines as quickly as possible and that legislation had recently been enacted5 providing for the succession to the Presidency as soon as the Commonwealth Government returns to the Philippines.

It was pointed out that there is a strong personal and official relationship between the President of the Commonwealth Government, Mr. Quezon, and General MacArthur6 and that the latter had repeatedly announced his determination to return to the Philippines with his troops and that my own personal view was that he would see that Mr. Quezon and the Commonwealth Government would return almost simultaneously with him. The actual time of renewing Government functions in the Philippines would in my judgment have to be determined by agreement between General MacArthur and President Quezon, with perhaps the sanction of the President and the Secretary of War; that the question of when and how the Commonwealth Government would enter the scene seemed to be one to be determined largely on the basis of military exigencies then existing.

I discouraged any idea on the part of Col. Boekel that General Stilwell’s command should make any definite plans for setting up a special new civil government in the Philippines following reoccupation of the Islands, the reasons being substantially those set forth above. I said that the situation in the Philippines, on this point, was distinctly different from areas which our forces have occupied in Northern Africa, Sicily and Italy in that an adequate and legally constituted government of our own creation is already in existence and that it would be a mistake to repudiate it and set up, or attempt to set up, a new administration. While Col. Boekel did not so declare himself, I received the impression at the close of the interview that he was satisfied with the situation as unfolded to him and that he would do nothing to disturb the present arrangement which apparently could take over civil functions in the Philippines at the proper time and administer them in an entirely satisfactory manner.

Frank P. Lockhart
  1. Monroe B. Hall, Secretary of Commission at New Delhi, on consultation in the Department.
  2. Lt. Col. W. A. Boekel, Civil Affairs Officer attached to Headquarters of Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces in China, Burma and India.
  3. The Tydings–McDuffie Act, approved March 24, 1934; 48 Stat. 456.
  4. Public Law 186, approved November 12, 1943; 57 Stat. 590.
  5. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East.