Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Jones Law of 1916 and Tydings-McDuffie Law of 1934

The Jones Law of 1916 and Tydings-McDuffie Law of 1934
By: Agoncillo and Guerrero

The Jones Law of 1916

As early as March 1912, Congressman William Atkinson Jones introduced a bill providing for a “qualified” Philippine independence in 1913 and for complete independence in 1921. The bill was reported favorably by the House Committee of Insular Affairs but it failed to the floor of the Lower House. The United States Congress, concerned and harassed by mounting domestic troubles, was hardly in a position to deliberate on Philippine problem. Jones realized that even his Democratic colleagues, who constituted the majority, were not prepared to set a definite date for Philippine independence.

In 1914 encouraged by Wilson’s commitment to a policy of greater Philippine autonomy, Jones introduced the second Jones Bill. This modified bill did not set a definite date for the grant of independence but simply contained a statement, in the form of a preamble, that independence would be granted as soon as a stable government could be established in the Philippines. The Senate, however, rejected the bill because of vigorous objection by many Republicans to the preamble of the bill and the lack of time to consider its provision seriously.

In 1915, Jones again introduced his bill, which was reported favorably in the Senate. In 1916, Senator James P. Clarke introduced an amendment to the bill, which would grant independence in not less than two but not more than four years, with a further provision that the President of the United States was empowered to extend the date to one year more and might again submit the problem of Congress. The Philippine Assembly approved a resolution more and might again submit the problem to Congress. The Philippine Assembly approved a resolution recommending its adoption by the Congress and the President of the United States. The Clarke Amendment was approved by a close vote of 42 to 41. The Jones Bill, as amended, was also approved. The Clarke amendment, however, met stiff opposition in the lower house. Although in a caucus, the Democrats voted in favor of the amended bill, some of them refused to be bound by party action and, in view of a small Democratic majority, thereby ensured the defeat of the amendment.

Quezon, in a cable to Osmena dated April 20, 1916, requested that the latter secure the endorsement of the bill by Archbishop Harty and other officials of the Catholic Church. He wryly commented that “almost ll those who rebelled were Catholics.” Twenty-eight Democrats from the party ranks to vote against the Clarke amendment. It was reported that their decision was the “result of the intervention by the Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, acting, it was supposed, at the instigation of the ecclesiastical authorities in the Philippines.

The House of the Representatives struck out of Clarke amendment from the third Jones Bill by a vote of 213 to 165. The bill was then approved without the record vote. The Senate, after consultation with the lower house, also passed the bill without the Clarke amendment. On August 29, 1916 President Wilson signed it into law.

To the Filipinos,   the Jones Law was the first American formal and official commitment to grant independence to the Philippines, previous utterances made by the American Presidents being more executive opinions not necessarily binding on the American people. Now, the Jones Law in its preamble proposed “to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein.” To achieve this purpose, the preamble declared it “desirable to place in the hands of the people of the Philippines as large a control of their domestic affairs as can be given (so that) they may be better prepared to fully assume the responsibilities and enjoy the privileges of complete independence.” Thus, the Jones Law became the virtual constitutional compact between the Americans and the Filipinos. The Filipinos accepted the autonomous, though temporary government under American sovereignty by the people of the United States” would not be impaired.

            Some Filipino critics regarded the Law as defective, Maximo M. Kalaw pointed out that it was “too elastic: the governor-general could be powerful or as liberal as he wanted so that he and the Filipino leaders were hound to clash if they differed in the interpretation of the Jones Law.” The Law according to him, did not provide for an “undisputed and recognized official position in the government for the political leaders of the people” and therefore was conducive to conflict between the Filipino leaders. Moreover, some skeptics noted the Law failed to provide the criteria for the vague and ambiguous phrase “stable government”. Whatever its imperfections, it was admitted that the Jones Law was the best legislation obtainable from the United States Congress at the time.

The Tydings-McDuffie Law

            Arriving in the United States in early December 1933. Quezon found that the chances for a better independence law were practically nil. In a view of too-all-engrossing implementation of the New Deal program to solve the depression problem. Congress and President Roosevelt were ill disposed to revive the Philippine question. Quezon, like a good poker player, proposed different independence plans to diverse group in Congress; at one point he declared confidentially that he wanted Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act to expire quietly because he preferred a dominion status in the Philippines in the future. None of these proposals were considered seriously. Instead, he was flatly told by Senator Millard Tydings, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs, the Congress was unwilling to improve the economic provisions or eliminate the other objectionable features of the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act. Congress, however, was amenable to giving the Filipinos another chance to accept the law by extending its life for nine more months.

            The turn of events placed Quezon in a most embarrassing predicament. Having been responsible for the rejection of America’s first definite offer of independence, he could not afford, to return empty handed. Consequently, he entered into an agreement, against his wishes, to be sure, with Senator Tydings and Representative John McDuffie, chairman of the House Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs to secure an extension of the life of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. The agreement dated February 2, 1934, allowed only one amendment to the law, i.e., the elimination of the provision for military bases and other reservations and the inclusion of the provision permitting the final settlement on naval bases and fueling stations on terms mutually satisfactory to both the United States and the Philippines at the time of the latter’s independence.

            On March 2, President Roosevelt transmitted to Congress a message requesting the passage to a new independence law based on the agreement. The President expressed his hopes that the other provisions on the original law need not be changed at this time. Where imperfections and inequalities exist, I am confident that they can be corrected after proper healing and in fairness to both peoples.

            Senator Tydings introduced an almost four word-for-word restatement of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. The much-criticized law was altered to extend his life up to December 17, 1934 thus giving the Philippine legislature another chance to accept the proffer of independence, a new provision for the retention of “military and other reservations.” The new measure also authorized the President of the United States to negotiate with the Philippine government for the adjustment and settlement of all questions concerning naval bases, not later than two years after the grant of independence. Representative McDuffie filed a similar bill in the lower house. After some debates, both chambers approved the bill and on March 24, 1934, President Roosevelt signed it into law. On May 1, the Philippines legislature unanimously approved a resolution accepting the Tydings-McDuffie Law. The resolution made much of Roosevelt’s promised to correct the imperfections and adjust inequalities in the law at some future time.

            Why Quezon rejected the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act only top secure its reenactment in 1934, in the form of Tydings-McDuffie Law, fully aware even before than that no better law was available can only be understood within the context of Philippine politics and Quezon’s “temper and ambition.”

            Quezon knew very well that the acceptance of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act was tantamount to handing to Osmeña on a silver platter the Presidency of the Commonwealth Government that was to be established in 1935. His very success in bringing home the Jones Law  in 1916, the enactment on which the people thought he had brought about single handedly, had “laid something of a curse” on the independence missions sent to the United States. Henceforth, the head of every missions secretly nursed the hope that he might “bring home the bacon,’ fully aware that would earn him power and popularity, if not the prime position in the government that would be established in accordance with the independence law. Familiar with this prevailing political psychology of the Filipinos, Quezon was not disposed to surrender his position to Osmeña. To do so, after enjoying undisputed control of the party machinery and the government since 1921 would be to revert to the role of “second fiddle,” a role that Quezon obviously did not relish.
            With the passage of Tydings-McDuffie law and its subsequent ratification by the Philippine legislature, Quezon won a total victory over his opponents and retained supreme leadership over the Nacionalista Party and the government. The overwhelming victory of the Partido Nacionalista Consolidado, the party headed by Quezon, in the elections of June 4, 1935, confirmed beyond question Quezon’s leadership. Osmeña and Roxas and he Partido Nacionalista Pro-Consiladado, which they founded, sufferd a severe trouncing in the elections. Of the eleven seats in the Senate, which were contested, they won only three, and of the ninety-nine elective members in the lower house, they won only nineteen. Only four out of forty-eight provincial governors elected were Osmenistas or Pro candidates.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very thankful that Congressman Jones have thought to file a bill of legalizing Philippine independence. I hope he's still alive and could visit NDV law office.


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