Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Philippine Affairs ( Lockhart ) to the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs ( Grew ) and the Deputy Director of that Office ( Ballantine )

The most important recent development in Philippine affairs is the departure about a week ago of President Osmeña,16 accompanied by Colonel Romulo, Philippine Resident Commissioner to the United States,17 and other Filipinos of cabinet rank, for the Philippines via [Page 1306] New Guinea. It has been learned from Commonwealth authorities now in Washington that President Osmeña and his party arrived in Hollandia the day before yesterday. The Commonwealth authorities in Washington do not wish this information to be made public, in as much as it was the understanding with Mr. Osmeña that any publicity regarding his future plans or movements would be issued on his direct authority wherever he might be.

For background information it may be appropriate to recount, briefly, some of the events that led up to President Osmeña’s departure. General MacArthur, some weeks ago, telegraphed directly to the then President of the Commonwealth, Mr. Manuel Quezon, and requested him to formulate and submit to General MacArthur plans for civil government and relief on the return of the Commonwealth Government to the Philippines. It was desired that these plans be correlated with military requirements. Mr. Quezon was also further requested to send a member of his cabinet to Australia at once to discuss the matter with General MacArthur. Due to President Quezon’s illness, no action was taken on this message and subsequent to his death a similar telegram was sent to President Osmeña.

President Osmeña at first declined on the grounds that he was badly needed in Washington and would be more valuable here. Subsequently, General MacArthur exerted extreme pressure on President Osmeña to induce him to come to Australia immediately. General MacArthur sent a member of his staff, General Marshall,18 to Washington to exert pressure to that end and also sent General Valdes19 with letters from guerrilla leaders to the effect that they expected Osmeña to arrive in the Philippines with the first troops. It will be recalled that President Quezon had broadcast his intention to return to the Philippines with General MacArthur and this was used as a means of bringing pressure on President Osmeña, it being inferred that unless he returned to the Philippines with the American forces his prestige would suffer. President Osmeña entertained serious doubts concerning the propriety of his proceeding on the sole request of General MacArthur. He felt that the Commonwealth Government had been ordered to Washington by the President of the United States and that it should return only under orders from the President. He also entertained fears concerning his status if he complied with General MacArthur’s request, since he felt that he might find himself under the direct control of General MacArthur without any clear understanding of his (President Osmeña’s) powers and responsibilities. Accordingly, President Osmeña arranged for an interview [Page 1307] with the Secretary of the Interior,20 who in turn arranged for President Osmeña and himself to call on the President. This took place at noon October 2. The result of the interview is not known but since President Osmeña left that afternoon it is presumed the President told him that he should leave at once for the Philippines.

Other activities of General MacArthur which are believed to be highly significant include (1) the insistence by General MacArthur on a civil affairs directive which would place him in supreme control and authority not only during military operations but also during the period of civilian military administration, with the right to delegate powers to the Commonwealth Government as he saw fit. (2) General MacArthur is understood to have requested the War Department to provide a total of $75,000,000 worth of civilian relief supplies for use in the Philippines. It was stated that this enormous quantity of relief supplies would be distributed by the Army, which fact may, or may not, have political implications. It is known that the Commonwealth Government feels that it must have an important part in any and all relief plans. (3) General MacArthur has distributed by plane, submarine or other methods substantial quantities of propaganda materials consisting of matches, cigarettes, soap, et cetera, much of which bore the legend, “I will return. Douglas MacArthur”. It is stated that in some cases General MacArthur’s picture was also on the packages. It is understood that these packages contained no reference either to the United States or Commonwealth Governments. (4) General MacArthur maintains a staff said to number about 45 individuals engaged solely in publicity and propaganda work. This appears to be a highly effective organization, judging from the flood of publicity articles now appearing in newspapers and magazines.

From all of the foregoing it is obvious that General MacArthur wishes to have President Osmeña and responsible members of the Commonwealth Government close at hand prepared to accompany him into the Philippines when American forces are returned there. There have been indications in connection with the preparation in War Department conferences of the civil affairs directives for the use of General MacArthur in the Philippines that the General’s plans contemplate making extensive use of the Commonwealth Government in the administration of Philippine affairs following the return of our troops to the Islands. Although the fact is not definitely established, there are reasons to believe that General MacArthur would prefer to have Philippine civil affairs administered without the aid and assistance of an American High Commissioner. A revised directive, however, gives General MacArthur certain discretionary powers [Page 1308] in utilizing the services of officials of the United States Government in the administration of civilian affairs in the Philippines.21

Definite plans for the reopening of the American Consulate in Manila are being made by the Department and the matter has been formally brought to the attention of the Secretary of War22 with a view to obtaining his cooperation and the cooperation of General MacArthur in completing the arrangements for the reopening.

In the course of the last few weeks information from a reliable source indicated that General MacArthur wished to employ at least two divisions of Australian troops in the Philippine operations. Later information indicates that this proposal has been abandoned.

The above plans indicate that the recovery of the Philippine Islands is closer at hand than we had hoped some months ago would be the case. The activities of the puppet government authorities in the Philippines, as broadcast by the Japanese radio, leave a distinct impression that the Japanese and their puppets are now convinced that the attack may come soon. Among such signs is the fact that “President” Laurel of the puppet government, following the first bombing attack on the Philippines, issued a proclamation declaring war on the United States and Great Britain.23 This declaration of war was not submitted to the Philippine Assembly before the proclamation was issued, but it is now claimed that it later received the sanction of the Assembly. The puppet government is taking strenuous measures to persuade the people of Manila to go to the interior to avoid bombings and other direct consequences of war. It may be significant that Laurel has announced that there will be no conscription of a Philippine Army. Commonwealth authorities in Washington have expressed the view that this failure to form a Philippine Army was at the instance of the Japanese, who fear that such an army would turn against them when the fighting is renewed in the Islands. To support this view it is known that there are many instances in which members of the constabulary have been armed, after which they proceeded to the interior to join up with the guerrillas.

Mr. Jaime Hernandez, Secretary of Finance, has been placed in charge of Commonwealth affairs in Washington. This has been done by Executive Order No. 20–W,24 signed by President Osmeña on September 27, 1944.

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There is a very hopeful atmosphere in Commonwealth circles in Washington.

Frank P. Lockhart
  1. Sergio Osmeña became President following the death of President Quezon on August 1 at Lake Saranac. In a letter to Mr. Osmeña on August 2, Acting Secretary of State Stettinius stated that officers of the Department stood ready to render him “all appropriate assistance” and gave assurances “that it is, the purpose of this Government for its part to see that the happy and mutually helpful relations which have so long subsisted between the peoples of the United States and the Philippines will continue during the present period of transition and under the independent government which the Congress has authorized.” (811B.001 Osmeña, Sergio/8–244) For text of the Acting Secretary’s statement on the death of President Quezon, released on August 1, see Department of State Bulletin, August 6, 1944, p. 134.
  2. Col. Carlos P. Romulo became Resident Commissioner on August 10.
  3. Maj. Gen. Richard J. Marshall, Deputy Chief of Staff to Gen. MacArthur.
  4. Maj. Gen. Basilio J. Valdes, Secretary of National Defense in President Osmeña’s cabinet.
  5. Harold L. Ickes.
  6. For an account of plans, during 1944, for the administration of civilian affairs in the Philippines, see M. Hamlin Cannon, Leyte: The Return to the Philippines, in the official Army history United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1954), pp. 198–200.
  7. Henry L. Stimson.
  8. The Domei News Agency reported that Laurel’s declaration was made on September 23.
  9. Official Gazette, vol. 41, No. 1, p. 40.