Having failed yesterday through lack of organization of his staff to get an interview with Quezon, he asked me to lunch today. Advised him to have a written list of visitors who have been granted interviews, and if possible, limit them to 10 minutes each, when an a.d.c. should be hovering in the door.
He was talking with Colonel Santos about the removal of Bilibid –he had just seen the municipal board and in a few minutes persuaded them to sell to the government a 1200 acre tract near Alabang, and Santos was instructed to begin to move the prisoners immediately. This is a speed record! Quezon told me that it was a remark of mine a few days ago which started this quick action, for I had commented “Oh! moving Bilibid –we have been talking about that for 25 years!” Quezon also said he preferred Executive to Legislative work because you could “get things done.” He and Santos and Vargas were then talking of the appointment of Generals in the new Philippine Army, and several additional names were mentioned –Quezon said impatiently “Oh! no –we will have more Generals than soldiers!” He and I then had lunch alone on the veranda, where I struggled with the ankle mosquitoes. Quezon said he was inviting the Supreme Court Justices in relays to luncheon to investigate their views on human as against property rights, without their knowledge of his purpose; that if they were already fixed on the bench he would not feel authorized to enquire into their views, but that it was his duty to appoint (or reappoint) within a year the whole lot of them, and he did not intend to do so unless they satisfied his views on “liberalism.” He said that, so far, he had no cause for dissatisfaction.
We then opened up the discussion of the Friar Lands etc., which was the main purpose of the meeting. I said Colin Hoskins would want 1000 pesos a month for half-time work and he replied that was all right. I told him we were ready to start our secret investigation of the estates at once, and that the recent Herald article stating that I was studying the road system (the exact opposite of what I had told the reporter) was a good “smoke screen.” I asked him if he really intended to buy all the estates, and he said he did not know. I suggested that he get the “three F’s” act passed first and authorize a Board of Land Commissioners to handle the whole subject –to buy or not, as seemed best, to but to fix rentals and tenure wherever they could– not to try to abolish all tenancy. Some of these tenants were not fit to be freeholders, and that was probably why in the disposal of the former Friar Lands in Cavite the real occupiers of the farms had in many cases been ousted or suspended by outsiders. He agreed that we should not try to upset too violently the whole system. So he said if I would prepare the subject, he would call the Assembly in special session in February for 3 days to pass the law –adding with a smile that the Assemblymen would enjoy the Carnival.
The President said he was going to throw open his “bridge or poker club” underneath Malacañan three afternoons a week to the Assemblymen so that they could drink and play there, and keep out of the gambling houses. That this would also give them a feeling of part ownership of the Palace. He asked me how to raise the money for the proposed Board of Land Commissioners to operate and I suggested that he buy silver at present low price and issue silver certificates, which he could buy the law do on a much higher capital figure. This would be a moderate inflation, but I was in favour of a little inflation if we could get the money in circulation and not let it accumulate in the banks. I told him of Dorfman’s remark that there had been no real prosperity whatever among the bulk of the country people in the Philippines, and he thoroughly agreed. I said if really hard times come here it would be principally among the present small class of rich people –that the country people were able to live as they do, almost from hand to mouth. He asked me to see Roxas.
He mentioned Secretary of Labor Torres, and said he bored him –was too theoretical– always reading what they were doing in Germany and wishing to apply it here without knowing whether it is applicable or not. Wanted to get rid of him: “he reads too much.”
I told him his (Quezon’s) personality was stimulating –that he had his staff scared but that was a good thing– nevertheless his agents carried out his wishes. He said he knew that was how he got things done. Told him his strongest characteristic was the “will to create,” which explains his love of buildings –that when a building was finished he lost interest in it.
Quezon then asked me why I had requested him to see Jaronilla which he had agreed to do. I replied “to save his face; he is a candidate for the Court of Appeals, but I know you will not appoint him.” He then said he would explain the situation to me, that he did not wish to be unjust, and I would agree with him. Jaronilla was Attorney General under Governor General Wood, and when the Board of Control case came up, Wood cabled Washington for the opinion of the Judge Advocate General of the Army, which when secured [he handed to Jaronilla to use as his opinion; Jaronilla, instead of balking because his opinion had not been asked as the law requires, accepted that handed him.] This was in the middle of the fight which as Quezon says “landed General Wood in the cemetery and me in a sanitorium.” I had to agree that Quezon’s decision was right. “Besides,” he added, “he is a rotten Judge –he can’t write a good opinion either in English or Spanish– his wife has to help him. If I had a post to offer as snipe-shooter for the Government I would give it to him.” (N.B. Jim Ross also told me that Jaronilla was not a good judge). Quezon then said the Wood-Forbes Report was full of lies, and insulted the Filipinos, who were at least equally responsible with me for my government. He also said there had been Filipinos who had given up everything to oppose Wood, and cited Laurel and Santos. He said that when Jaronilla’s name had been sent to the United States Senate for the Philippine Supreme Court, he (Quezon) had blocked it. He said he did not hate a single Filipino who had opposed him in all innumerable fights, but did hate three Americans: Gibbs, Cotterman and W.H. Anderson.