August 17, 1936

The August 15 edition of La Union reports an intelligent speech by Diputada Dolores Ibarruri in the Cortes in Spain, which makes clear the Civil War in Spain is largely based upon landlord and tenant disputes.

Visited the Survey Board; interesting conference with Don Miguel Unson, who was in one of his more confidential moods. We agreed in sympathizing with Quezon’s rather futile effort to escape from a life-long habit as a partisan politician. He is caught on flypaper, also, with his almost hopeless task of coping with the bureaucracy and with inter-departmental jealousies. His one big mistake was in taking over the Cabinet of his predecessor. If he had chosen as his Cabinet fresh men, infused with the new spirit of the Commonwealth, he might have been able to carry out his plans. “The people think he is strong!” said Unson. He then began on the subject of MacArthur and referred to Quezon’s unshakable confidence in the Marshal: “MacArthur has great prestige to maintain, and he would not do anything to lower it, but people are already laughing at his defense plans–what could we do to prevent Japan from taking Mindanao? A country is not supposed to be conquered until its capital is taken; but the Japanese could say “we don’t want Manila, we only want Mindanao”–as indeed they have done in Manchuria. What we really need here, thinks Unson, is a strong National Police force which could protect the rights of foreigners and avoid international incidents.” (N.B. It does appear that MacArthur’s defense plans refer principally to Luzon.) Unson then told the story of General Alejandrino’s resignation as adviser to the President. He had been studying defense plans since 1914, and was a member of the Council of National Defense when he became an adviser in January last. He prepared a plan for the National Police and had reached a certain point which needed a decision by the President, but his request for an interview was ignored. Se he resigned. Now Quezon has asked him to become once more a member of the Council of National Defense, and he told Unson he was reluctant to accept “because he wished to preserve his independence of thought.”

About the creation of a National Police force, Unson says my suggestion of a Guardia Civil is impracticable (I suppose because of opposition from the Army–plus the matter of cost). Quezon cannot consent to disentangle the Constabulary from the Army but expects to be able to retain direct control of the Constabulary branch of the army himself. His idea is now to put the Municipal police directly under the Constabulary with power to move them from one town to the other etc. This, Unson confesses is a direct invasion of municipal autonomy–“just when we are talking of giving greater autonomy to the municipalities”!–I told him that this, after all, is the English method of government–like “Alice through the Looking Glass”–he laughed and replied “well, we are doing some of it here already.” We then discussed the apparent impossibility of a solution of the problem of the government of the City of Manila. He says an elective Mayor would make it only worse. We agreed upon the hopelessness of the street and traffic problems–he cited what the Chinese have done in Canton and Amoy.

Unson then mentioned Guevara’s opinion that the United States had wanted the creation of an army here. He himself had referred this question to Governor General Murphy, who said “no,” then bit his lips and changed the subject.

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