2nd President of the Philippines

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Manuel Luis Quezon (August 19, 1878 -- August 1, 1944)

Early life and career:

Quezón, was born in Baler, Tayabas (now Aurora). His Spanish mestizo parents were Lucio Quezón and María Dolores Molina. His father was a primary grade school teacher from Paco, Manila, and also a retired Sergeant in the Spanish colonial army, while his mother was a primary grade school teacher in their hometown. During the Philippine-American War he was an ayuda-de-campo to Emilio Aguinaldo.[1] He rose to the rank of Major and fought in the Bataan sector during the retreat and surrender in 1901.

He received his primary education from his mother and school teacher in their home town and tutors, and later boarded at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he completed secondary school. In 1898, his father Lucio and brother Pedro were ambushed and killed by armed men while on their way home to Baler from Nueva Ecija, because of their loyalty to the Spanish government. He cut short his law studies at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila in 1899 to participate in the struggle for independence against the United States, led by Emilio Aguinaldo. After Aguinaldo surrendered in 1901, however, Quezón returned to the university and passed the bar examinations in 1903, placing fourth. He worked for a time as a clerk and surveyor, entering government service as an appointed fiscal for Mindoro and later Tayabas. He became a councilor and was elected governor of Tayabas in 1906 as an independent.

House of Representatives:

In 1907, he was elected to the first Philippine Assembly - later became the House of Representatives - where he served as majority floor leader and chairman of the committee on appropriations. From 1909–1916, he served as one of the Philippines' two resident commissioners to the U.S. House of Representatives, lobbying for the passage of the Philippine Autonomy Act or Jones Law.

Senate:

Quezón returned to Manila in 1916 to be elected into the Philippine Senate and later became Senate President, serving continuously until 1935 (19 years). He headed the first Independent Mission to the U.S. Congress in 1919 and securing passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Independence Law in 1934. In 1922, Quezón became leader the of Nacionalista Party.

War Cabinet (1941–1944)

The outbreak of World War II and the Japanese invasion resulted in periodic and drastic changes to the government structure. Executive Order 390, December 22, 1941 abolished the Department of the Interior and established a new line of succession. Executive Order 396, December 24, 1941 further reorganized and grouped the cabinet, with the functions of Secretary of Justice assigned to the Chief Justice of the Philippines.

Supreme Court appointments:

President Quezón was given the power under the reorganization act, to appoint the first all-Filipino Supreme Court of the Philippines in 1935. From 1901 to 1935, although a Filipino was always appointed chief justice, the majority of the members of the Supreme Court were Americans. Complete Filipinization was achieved only with the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935. Claro M. Recto and José P. Laurel were among Quezón's first appointees to replace the American justices. The membership in the Supreme Court increased to 11: a chief justice and ten associate justices, who sat en banc or in two divisions of five members each.

First Term (1935-1941)


In 1935 Quezón won the Philippine's first national presidential election under the banner of the Nacionalista Party. He obtained nearly 68% of the vote against his two main rivals, Emilio Aguinaldo and Gregorio Aglipay. Quezón was inaugurated in November 1935. He is recognized as the second President of the Philippines. However, in January 2008, House Representative Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro filed a bill seeking instead to declare General Miguel Malvar as the second Philippine President, having directly succeeded Aguinaldo in 1901.

Government Reorganization:

To meet the demands of the newly established government set-up and in compliance with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie law, as well as the requirements of the Constitution, President Quezon, true to his pledge of "More Government and less politics", initiated a reorganization of the government bodies. To this effect, he established the Government Survey Board to study the existing institutions and in the light of the changed circumstances, make the necessary recommendations.

Early results were seen with the revamping of the Executive Department. Offices and bureaus were either merged with one another or outrightly abolished. Some new ones, however, were created. President Quezon ordered the transfer of the Philippines Constabulary for the Department of Interior, were placed under the Department of Finance. Among the innovations in the Executive Departments by the way of modification in functions ore new creations, were those of the National Defense, Agriculture and Commerce, Public Works and Communications, and Health and Public Welfare.

In Keeping with other exigencies posed by the Constitution, new offices and boards were created either by Executive Order or by appropriate legislative action.Among these were the Council of National Defense, the Board of National Relief, the Mindanao and SuluCivil Service Board of Appeals.


Social justice program:

Pledged to improve the lot of the Philippine working class and seeking the inspiration from the social doctrines of Leo XIII and Pius XI, aside from the authoritative treatises of the world's leading sociologists, President Quezon started a vigorous program of social justice, which he traduced into reality through appropriate executive measures and legislation obtained from the National Assembly.

Thus, a court of Industrial Relations was established by law to take cognizance disputes, under certain conditions, minimizing in this wise the inconveniences of the strikes and lockouts. A minimum wage law was enacted, as well as a law providing for a maximum of eight hours daily work and a Tenancy law for the Filipino

Commonwealth Act No. 20 authorize President Quezon to institute expropriation proceedings and/or acquire large landed estates to re-sell them at nominal cost and under easy terms to tenants thereon, thus enabling them to possess a lot and a home of their own. It was by virtue of this law that the Buenavista estate was acquired by the Commonwealth Government. President Quezon also launched a cooperative system of agriculture among the owners of the subdivided estates in order to alleviate their situation and provide them grater earnings.

In all these, President Quezon showed an earnest desire to follow the constitutional mandate on the promotion of social justice.

Economy:

Upon the advent of the Commonwealth fortunately the economic condition of the country was stable and promising. With foreign trade reaching a peak of four hundred million pesos, the upward trend in business was accentuated and assumed the aspect of a boom. Exports crops were generally good and, with the exemption of tobacco, they were all in excellent demand in foreign trade markets. Indeed the value of the Philippine exports reached an all high of 320,896,000 pesos, the highest since 1929.

On the other hand, government revenues amounted to 76,675,000 pesos in 1936, as compared with the 1935 revenue of 65,000,000 pesos. Even the government companies, with the exemption of the Manila Railroad, managed to earn profits. Gold production increased about 37% and iron nearly 100%, while cement production augmented some 14%.

Notwithstanding this prosperous situation, the government had to meet certain economic problems besetting the country and which, if attended to, might jeopardize the very prosperity then being enjoyed. For this Purpose the National Economic Council was created by law. This body advised the government in economic and financial questions, including promotion of industries, diversification of crops and enterprises, tariffs, taxation, and formulation of an economic program in the contemplation of the future independent Republic of the Philippines.

Again, a law reorganized the National Development Company, the National Rice and Corn Company (NARIC) was created by law. It was given an initial capital of four million pesos. Its function was to work out the stabilization of the price of these two cereals. In connection with this, the government, upon the suggestion of the first NARIC head, Manuel Roxas, started importing rice free of duty.

Upon the recommendation of the National Economic Council, agricultural colonies were established in the country, especially in Korondal, Malig, and other appropriate sites in Mindanao. The government, moreover, offered facilities of every sort to encourage migration and settlement in those places. The Agricultural and Industrial Bank was established to aid small farmers with the convenient loans on easy terms. Attention was also devoted to soil survey, as well as to the proper disposition of lands of t the public domain. These steps and measures held much promise for our economic welfare.

Agrarian reform:

When the Commonwealth Government was established, President Quezon implemented the Rice Share Tenancy Act of 1933. The purpose of this act was to regulate the share-tenancy contracts by establishing minimum standards. Primarily, the Act provided for better tenant-landlord relationship, a 50-50 sharing of the crop, regulation of interest to 10% per agricultural year, and a safeguard against arbitrary dismissal by the landlord. But the Act could only be implemented by petition of majority of the municipal councils was overwhelming, no petition for the Rice Share Tenancy Act was ever presented.

The major flaw of this law was that it could be used only when the majority of municipal councils in a province petitioned for it. Since landowners usually controlled such councils, no province ever asked that the law be applied. Therefore, Quezon ordered that the act be mandatory in all Central Luzon provinces. However, contracts were good only for one year. By simply refusing the renew their contract, landlords were able to ejects tenants. As a result, peasant organizations agitated in vain for a law that would make the contract automatically renewable for as long as the tenants fulfilled their obligations.

In 1936, this Act was amended to get rid of its loophole, but the landlords made its application relative and not absolute. Consequently, it was never carried out in spite of its good intentions. In fact, by 1939, thousands of peasants in Central Luzon were being threatened with wholesale eviction.

The desire of Quezon to placate both landlords and tenants pleased either. By early 1940s, thousands of tenants in Central Luzon were ejected from their farmlands and the rural conflict was more acute than ever.

Indeed, during the Commonwealth period, agrarian problems persisted. This motivated the government to incorporate a cardinal principle on social justice in the 1935 Constitution. Dictated by the social justice program of the government, expropriation of landed estates and other landholdings commenced. Likewise, the National Land Settlement Administration (NSLA) began an orderly settlement of public agricultural lands. At the outbreak of the Second World War, major settlement areas containing more that 65,000 hectares were already established.

Educational reforms:

Turning his attention to the matter of education in the country, President Quezon by virtue of Executive Order No. 19, dated February 19, 1936, created the National Council of Education, with Rafael Palma, former President of the University of the Philippines, as its first chairman.Funds retained from the early approved Residence Certificate Law were devoted to the maintenance of the public schools all over the nation and the opening of many more to meet the needs of the young people. Indeed, by this time there were already 6,511 primary schools; 1039 intermediate schools; 133 secondary and special schools; and five junior colleges. The total number of pupils enrolled was 1,262,353, who were placed under charge of 28,485 schools teachers This year's appropriation for public education amounted to 14,566,850 pesos. The private institutions of learning, for their part, accommodated more than ninety seven thousand students, thus considerably aiding the government in solving the annual school crisis. To implement the pertinent constitutional provision, the Office of Adult Education was likewise created.

Women's suffrage:

President Quezón initiated Women's Suffrage in the Philippines during the Commonwealth Era.  As a result of the prolonged debate between the proponents of women's suffrage and their opponents, the Constitution finally provided that the issue be resolved by the women themselves in a plebiscite. If no less than 300,000 of them were to affirmatively vote in favour of the grant within two years would be deemed granted the country's women. Complying with this mandate, the government ordered a plebiscite to be held for the purpose on April 3, 1937.

Following a rather vigorous campaign, on the day of the plebiscite, the turn out of women was impressive. The affirmative votes numbered 447,725, as against 44,307 who opposed the grant.


National language:

Another constitutional provision to be implemented by President Quezón's administration dealt with the question of The Philippines' national language. Following a year's study, the Institute of the National Language - established on 1936 - recommended that Tagalog be adopted as the basis for the national language. The proposal was well received, considering that the Director - the first to be appointed - at the time Jaime C. de Veyra, was an ethnic Visayan.

On December 1937, Quezón issued a proclamation approving the constitution made by the Institute and declaring that the adoption of the national language would take place two years hence. With the presidential approval, the Institute of National Language started to work on a grammar and dictionary of the language.


Council of State:

In 1938, President Quezon enlarged the composition of the Council of State through Executive Order No. 44. This highest of advisory bodies to President was henceforth to be composed of the President, Vice-President, Senate President, House Speaker, Senate President pro tempore, House Speaker pro tempore, Majority Floor leader of both chambers of Congress, former Presidents of the Philippines, and some three to five prominent citizens.

1938 midterm election:

Main article: Philippine legislative election, 1938

The Elections for the Second National Assemblywere held on November 8, 1938, under a new law that allowed block voting which favored the governing Nacionalista Party. As expected all the 98 seats of the National Assembly went to the Nacionalistas. Jose Yulo who was Quezon's Secretary of Justice from 1934 to 1938, was elected Speaker.

The Second National Assembly embarked on passing legislations strengthening the economy, unfortunately the cloud of the Second World War loomed over the horizon. Certain laws passed by the First National Assembly were modified or repealed to meet existing realities. A controversial immigration law that set an annual limit of 50 immigrants per country which affected mostly Chinese and Japanese nationals escaping the Sino-Japanese War was passed in 1940. Since the law bordered on foreign relations it required the approval of the U.S. President which was nevertheless obtained. When the result of the 1939 census was published, the National Assembly updated the apportionment of legislative districts, which became the basis for the 1941 elections.


1939 plebiscite:

On August 7, 1939, the United States Congress enacted a law embodying the recommendations submitted by the Joint Preparatory Commission on Philippine Affairs. Because the new law required an amendment of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution, a plebiscite was held on August 24, 1939. The amendment was carried by 1,339,453 votes against 49,633.


Third official language:

On April 1, 1940, President Quezon officially authorized the printing and publication of the grammar and dictionary prepared by the Institute of the National Language. Likewise, the Chief Executive decreed that the national language was to be compulsorily taught in all the schools during the forthcoming academic term. For its part, the National Assembly enacted Law No. 570 raising the national language elaborated by the institute to the status of official language of the Philippines, at par with English and Spanish, effective July 4, 1946, upon the establishment of the Philippine Republic.

1940 plebiscite:

Main article: Philippine constitutional plebiscite, 1940

Coincident with the local elections for the 1940, another plebiscite was held this time to ratify the proposed amendments to the Constitution regarding the restoration of the bicameral legislature, the presidential term, which was to be fixed at four years with one re-election; and the establishment of an independent Commission on Elections. With the Nacionalista Party, which had proposed said amendment in their convention, working hard under the leadership of its President, Speaker Jose Yulo, the amendments were overwhelmingly ratified by the electorate. Speaker Yulo and Assemblyman Dominador Tan traveled to the United States to obtain President Franklin D. Roosevelt's approval, which was given on December 2, 1940. Two days later President Quezon proclaimed the amendments.

1941 presidential election:

Main article: Philippine presidential election, 1941

Quezón had originally been barred by the Philippine constitution from seeking re-election. However, in 1940, constitutional amendments were ratified allowing him to seek re-election for a fresh term ending in 1943. In the 1941 presidential elections, Quezón was re-elected over former Senator Juan Sumulong with nearly 82% of the vote.

Jewish refugees:


In a notable humanitarian act, Quezón, in cooperation with United States High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, facilitated the entry into the Philippines of JewishfascistMindanao.


Government-in-exile:

After the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II he evacuated to Corregidor, then the Visayas and Mindanao, and upon the invitation of the US government, was further evacuated to Australia and then to the United States, where he established the Commonwealth government in exile with headquarters in Washington, D.C.. There, he served as a member of the Pacific War Council, signed the declaration of the United Nations against the Axis Powers, and wrote his autobiography (The Good Fight, 1946).

To carry on the government duties in exile, President Quezon hired the entire floor of one of the wing of the Shoreham Hotel to accommodate his family and his office. On the other hand, the offices of the government were established at the quarters of the Philippine Resident Commissioner, Joaquin Elizalde. The latter was made a member of President's wartime Cabinet. Others likewise appointed were Brigadier-General Carlos P. Romulo, as Secretary of the Department of Information and Public Relations, and Jaime Hernandez as Auditor General.

On June 2, 1942, President Quezon addressed the United States House of Representatives, impressing upon them the vital necessity of relieving the Philippine front. Before the Senate, later, the Philippine President reiterated the same message and urged the senators to adopt the slogan "Remember Bataan". Despite his precarious state of health, President Quezon roamed the States to deliver timely and rousing speeches calculated to keep the Philippine war uppermost in the minds of the American nation.

Talks of Post-war Philippines:

On the occasion of his first birthday celebration in the United States, President Quezon broadcast as radio message to the Philippine residents in Hawaii, who contributed to the celebration by purchasing four million pesos worth of war bonds.[5] Further showing the Philippine government's cooperation with the war effort, President Quezon officially offered the U.S Army a Philippine infantry regiment, which was authorized by the U.S. Department of War to train in California. He also had the Philippine government acquire Elizalde's yacht, which, renamed "Bataan" and totally manned by the Philippine officers and crew, was donated to the United States for use in the war.

Early in November 1942, President Quezon held conferences with President Roosevelt to work out a plan for the creation of a joint commission to study the economic conditions of post-war Philippines. Eighteen months later, the United States Congress would pass an Act creating the Philippine Rehabilitation Commission as an outcome of such talks between the two Presidents.

Quezon-Osmeña Impasse:

By 1943, the Philippine Government-in-exile was faced with a serious crisis. According to the 1935 Constitution, the official term of President Quezon was to expire on the 30th December, 1943 and Vice-President Sergio Osmeña would automatically succeed him in the Presidency. This eventuality was brought to the attention of President Quezon by Osmeña himself, who wrote the former to this effect. Aside from replying to this letter informing Vice-President Osmeña that it would not be wise and prudent to effect any such change under the circumstances, President Quezon issued a press release along the same line. Osmeña then requested the opinion of U.S. Attorney GeneralHomer Cummings, who upheld Osmeña's view as more in keeping the law. Quezon, however, remained adamant. He accordingly sought President Roosevelt's decision. The latter choose to remain aloof from the controversy, suggesting instead that the Philippine officials themselves solve the impasse.

A cabinet meeting was then convened by President Quezon. Aside from Quezon and Osmeña, others present in this momentous meeting were Resident Commissioner Joaquin Elizalde, Brig.Gen.Carlos P. Romulo, and Cabinet Secretaries Andres Soriano and Jaime Hernandez. Following a spirited discussion, the Cabinet adopted Elizalde's opinion favorable the decision and announced his plan to retire in California.

After the meeting, however, Vice-President Osmeña approached the President and broached his plan to ask the American Congress to suspend the constitutional provisions for presidential succession until after the Philippines should have been liberated. This legal way out was agreeable to President Quezon and the members of his Cabinet. Proper steps were taken to carry out the proposal. Sponsored by Senator Tydings and Congressman Bell, the pertinent Resolution was unanimously approved by the Senate on a voice vote and passed the House of Representatives by the a vote of 181 to 107 on November 10, 1943.

Death:

Quezón suffered from tuberculosis and spent his last years in a "cure cottage" in Saranac Lake, New York, where he died on August 1, 1944. He was initially buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His body was later carried by the USS Princeton and re-interred in Manila at the Manila North Cemetery before being moved to Quezon City within the monument at the Quezon Memorial Circle. (Reference www.google.com/Wikipedia)