Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State8

President Quezon’s letter9 under reference proposes an amendment to S. J. Resolution 93, now pending in the House of Representatives, which would add an additional section expressly stating that nothing in the joint resolution should be construed to authorize the postponement of Philippine independence beyond July 4, 1946.

There would appear to be some question whether the joint resolution which was approved by the President on November 12, 1943 [Public Law 186, 78th Congress]10 has any effect upon those provisions of the Tydings–McDuffie Act of March 24, 1934, as amended, which provide for the granting of independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946. [Page 1302] If the Act of November 12, 1943 does not affect the independence provisions of the Act of March 24, 1934, it would seem that a somewhat embarrassing question might well arise in the event that the conditions envisaged in the Act of November 12, 1943 (which would appear clearly to include expulsion of the Japanese from the Philippine Islands) should not have developed prior to July 4, 1946. Should the Japanese still be in occupation of the Philippines at that time, it would appear that we might be faced with formal independence of the Philippines (and consequent dissolution of the Commonwealth Government) while at the same time pursuant to legislative enactment by the Government of the United States the present President and Vice President of the Commonwealth would be continued in their respective offices. If, on the other hand, it should be determined that the Act of November 12, 1943 does modify the date of independence as specified by the Act of March 24, 1934, then the proposed amendment to S. J. Resolution 93 might not accomplish its purpose unless it specifically reaffirmed the date fixed in the Act of March 24, 1934 regardless of all other existing legislation.

A further question of interpretation would appear to be raised by the present form of S. J. Resolution 93. Section 1 declares it to be the policy of the Congress that the United States should establish the complete independence of the Philippines after having driven the Japanese from the Islands. Section 3, however, expressly authorized the President to advance the date of the independence in order to effectuate the policy declared in Section 1. With or without the amendment proposed in its present form by President Quezon there would seem to be serious question whether S. J. Resolution 93 would, if enacted, authorize postponement after July 4, 1946, in the event that the Islands have not been reoccupied by American forces prior to that date. If it does not, an amendment of the kind proposed by President Quezon would appear to be unnecessary, except perhaps in connection with the questions raised in the preceding paragraph.

It would seem that apart from questions of interpretation referred to above there are serious questions of policy. It is not believed that American public opinion would support any policy which would place the United States Government in the position of formally granting independence to the Philippines while they remained under Japanese occupation. Such a situation would be adverse to our broad national interests in the Far East as well as in the Philippines themselves and would contribute in no way to the benefit and welfare of the Filipino people. Furthermore, our action would probably be widely interpreted as abandoning the Philippines in their hour of peril. It would, as indicated above, raise serious questions as to the legal status of any group outside the Islands which might [Page 1303] claim to be the lawful Government of the Philippines and it would at the same time strengthen the hold of any group of puppet officials who might, at the time independence is granted, be functioning in the Philippines under Japanese sponsorship.
It is suggested that for the present it would be advisable not to complicate the Philippine question further by adopting the amendment requested by President Quezon. It is impossible at this time to predict with certainty whether or not our forces will have reoccupied the Philippines by July 4, 1946 and it seems doubtful whether public discussion at this time of that question would be in the national interests. Expressly to reaffirm the provisions of the Tydings–McDuffie Act might, for reasons indicated above, result in unfortunate consequences to correct which would require further legislation before July 4, 1946. The possibility that such further action might have to be taken would seem to militate against the desirability of reaffirming the July 4, 1946 date at this time.11
  1. Sent on March 9, 1944, to Chairman C. Jasper Bell of the House Committee on Insular Affairs.
  2. Dated January 12 to Congressman Bell, not printed; copy sent to the Secretary of State by Mr. Bell with his letter of March 1 (not printed).
  3. Brackets appear in the original.
  4. Legislation authorizing the President of the United States to advance the date of Philippine independence was enacted as Public Law 380, approved June 29, 1944; 58 Stat. 625.