2nd of 3 parts
The first post-war elections were to be held on April 23, 1946. To be elected at large were the President, the Vice-President, and 16 Senators. Ninety-eight (98) representatives were also to be chosen by congressional district, 96 from the 50 provinces and two from Manila. Zambales was a lone district, meaning only one congressman.
Adding to the high stakes was the unique privilege of the successful candidates to become the last elected national officials of the Commonwealth under the United States and the first of the sovereign Republic of the Philippines to be inaugurated on July 4th of the same year.
Hoping to appeal personally to the voters at the rallies, Magsaysay wanted to appear as a man wo could be trusted to take care of their needs and problems, even as he had served them well as guerrilla leader and military governor even for a short time.
The sight of Magsaysay and his men campaignng in their military uniforms prompted Don Pepito Corpuz to protest to Alfredo Montelibano, the Secretary of National Defense under President Sergio Osmeña. Unlucky for Corpuz, he had protested too late to cause Magsaysay to be disciplined for electioneering. Magsaysay had already been honorably discharged from the Army. Worst, Don Pepito’s futile report went through the military red tape while Ramon and the guerrillas campaigned undisturbed until election day.
Aware of his shortcomings in traditional speechmaking, Ramon Magsaysay adopted the conventional style. His speech was shorter than the average and full of recollection of his experiences as a mischievous boy and a restless young man who loved to play and work with the poor and humble folks. After two rallies, he learned quickly to dramatize his points by employing common place symbols.
He promised devoted service to the people as he believed politicians should sacrifice for their constituents. In some places, he promised to construct roads, bridges and schools. In particular, he vowed to fulfill all the unfulfilled promises of pre-war politicians, and to harness the Santo Tomas River for irrigating the ricefields from San Felipe to Castillejos. He also felt it was unnecessary to talk about what he intended to do for the guerrrillas and so, he rarely did. Local guerrillas and leaders also gave the audience an idea of what Magsaysay was like and what they could expect of him when elected.
Magsaysay proved to be like no other canddidates. Before and after the rallies, he would mingle with the crowd, shake hands with everyone, talk with them and wave to those he could not reach. Being taller than most people, he loved to swing a friendly arm around a voter’s shoulder. He also ate with bare hands in front of a crowd. His wide, brisk pace and slight swagger contrasted with his nervousness on the platform.
Meanwhile, Luz remained at home with his family, attending to the daily stream of “liders” and plain hangers-on. She attended only a few rallies in Castillejos and San Marcelino where she proudly watched the people swayed into laughter, or tears, as her husband spoke to them. Teresita, Milagros and Jun also enjoyed watching their father spoke before a crowd at rallies. They also relished their long vacation from school.
Old pro Alejo Labrador stumped in most of the barrios of his former bailiwick in the south. Ramon’s cousin, Manila newspaperman Vicente del Fierro actually made good of his promise to make the rounds in Zambales for his cousin.
Magsaysay covered the 13 towns and 114 barrios in Zambales during the campaign period. At times, he had to backtrack in some areas to neutralize the impact of his opponents’ campaign. He was absolutely an indefatigable campaigner; he was accustomed to walking over mountain trails and to driving the jeep in the dead of the night. He had the so-called “veteran” politician’s knack of being able to catnap even in a moving jeep. Above all, he had more active campaigners, mostly guerrillas, than any of his rivals.
He too was anxious about his position to take any chances. He went out of his way to visit and eat with acquiantances whom he knew were already committed to the other candidates. To him, the loud greeting in familiar terms, and to peek into the kitchen were natural techniques in campaigning. People were really surprised at his friendliness with known followers of his opponents. He had hoped his visits and disarming friendliness would make some “doubtful” families split their votes to his advantage. Most of all, he talked about his lack of college diploma to his advantage. His technique was to identify himself with the common people.
About a week before election day, Magsaysay put on his show of strength which turned out to be the biggest motorcade in Zambales’ political history. His supporters massed more than 50 trucks, cars and jeeps and rode off from Olongapo City in the south to Santa Cruz in the north. It was a whole-day affair for the demonstrators who made of it a grand occasion, complete with brass bands, food and propaganda stuff. The psychological impact on the people might have been as Magsaysay had intended.
To some campaign contributors like Captain Francisco Ramos of San Narciso who gave a total of 10,000 bottles of softdrinks and several jars of calamansi (a local lemon) punch, the show certainly cost him a tidy sum.
A national election in the Philippines was held on April 23, 1946. The Comelec records showed that a total of 2,218,847 voters went to the polls to elect their President and Vice President of the Commonwealth’s last and the Republic’s first, 16 senators and one congressman for each congressional district.
On the whole, the 1946 polls were honest and peaceful as declared by the Comelec, Still, there were some places where passions ran high, especially in the province of Pampanga which was clearly under the terroristic clutches and control of the Hukbalahaps.
So terrorized were the people of Arayat town that some 200 persons abandoned their homes, their work, their food, and all their belongings in a mass evacuation to the poblacion due to fear and terror.
Voting day was given to the usual excited speculations, rounding up of voters, visits to the voting precincts, and picnic-style meals at the candidates’ headquarters.
During the canvassing of votes, people gathered around the neighborhood precincts to watch the tedious counting while active partisans waited for the final tally.
By noon of April 24, the election results were already certain. In the congressional level, it was a clear victory for Ramon Magsaysay. The final tally gave him 8,577 votes or 38.16 percent of the votes cast. His closest rival was Cesar Miraflor who got 5,509 votes (24.52%).
All the other candidates scored much lower: Valentin Afable garnered 2,979 votes (13.25%); Don Pepito Corpuz received 2,205 votes (9,81%); Agustin Medina, 1,948 (8.67%); and Gregorio Dolojan, 1,257 (5.60%).
Magsaysay obtained 78 percent of the Castillejos votes; 52.15% of the Ilocano-Tagalos south; and 19.19% of the Zambal north. He won in six southern towns and wangled a respectable lead of the northern votes.
In the national level, Manuel Roxas beat Sergio Osmeña by 203,396 votes, while Elpidio Quirino defeated Eulogio Rodriguez by 110,482 votes. Zambales gave Roxas 15,809 votes while Osmeña garnered a low 6,823 votes.
In nearby province of Bataan, the congressional winner was Attorney Bonifacio Camacho of Abucay town, a candidate of President Sergio Osmeña, a second cousin of the appointed and incumbent Bataan provincial governor Teodoro Camacho Sr.
Atty. Camacho defeated two rivals, both candidates of Senator Manuel Roxas: Lawyer-Judge Vicente Estanislao of Dinalupihan and Medina Lacson-de Leon, a World War II veteran and a female lawyer from Balanga. It was too late for Atty. Lacson to realize that the Bataan voters were not ready yet to elect a lady congressman. Manuel Roxas also won in Bataan despite the all-out support of Governor Teodoro Camacho Sr. for President Sergio Osmeña.
Two days after the polls, or on April 25, the Liberal Party achieved an overall majority in the House of Representatives polls, with 57out of 96 seats won. The Nacionalistas and the Democratic Alliance were only victorious in 33, and six congressional districts, respectively.
At this point in time, the results of the election for President, Vice President and Senators of the nation were still being canvassed.
A day later, on April 26, Presidential candidate Manuel A. Roxas, backed up by General Douglas MacArthur, Paul V. MacNutt (American High Commissioner in the Philippines) and Mrs. Aurora Aragon Quezon, was declared the winner of the presidential post against incumbent President Sergio Osmeña.
Manuel Roxas collected a total of 1,333,392 votes (54 percent) as against President Sergio Osmeña’s output of 1,129,96 votes (45 percent). Hilario Moncado, the third candidate. had a very low 8,538 votes (or 0.35 percent).
Roxas won in most provinces except in Bohol, Cagayan, Catanduanes, Davao and Lanao. But in Cebu City, Osmeña got 15,569 votes from his hometown while Roxas only got 8,759 votes. Still, Roxas won in the provinnce of Cebu.
Good old soldier
Outgoing President Sergio Osmeña inherited a devastated country after the war ended in early 1945. Nevertheless, he showed that old age was not an obstacle to serve the country. He devoted his short term as president to the restoration of peace and order, providing health services for the Filipinos, handling issues of collaboration, reestablishment of foreign relations and reconstruction of cities destroyed by war.
Vice President, senators
Roxas’ runningmate, Elpidio Quirino (1,161,725), also won by defeating his two rivals — Senator Eulogio Rodriguez (1,051,243) and Luis Salvador (5,829). A majority of candidates for senator belonging to the Liberal Party, Roxas’ own party, also won. The elected 24-member Senate was a star-studded chamber reminiscent of some of the best leaders in the aborted 1941 Congress.
The winning senators include: Jose Avelino, Melencio Aranz, Carlos P. Garcia, Antonio Zacarias, Nicolas Buendia, Olegario Clarin, Tomas Confesor, Mariano Cuenco, Ramon Diokno, Fernando Lopez, Eulogio Rodriguez, Prospero Sanidad, Vicente Sotto, Salipada Pendatum, Vicente Rama and Esteban dela Rama. The Liberal Party won nine (9) out of the 16 contested senatorial seats.
US President Harry Truman sent a telegram to President-elect Manuel Roxas and promised to sign the Tydings Rehabilitation Act as soon as possible. The act will provide for an additional outlay of $620,000,000 intended for those who suffered damages during the war in the Philippines.
More poll results
Additional reports published the following day by various Manila-based daily newspapers revealed that majority of the Liberal Party candidates who had won at the polls were proclaimed victors by the Comelec.
Reports also stated that Manuel Roxas registered a majority of votes in 34 provinces and nine cities: Abra, Agusan, Albay, Antique, Bataan, Batanes, Batangas (Laurel’s own province), Bukidnon, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Cavite, Cotabato, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Laguna, La Union, Leyte, Marinduque, Mindoro, Misamis Oriental, Negros Occidental, Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, Pangasinan, Rizal, Romblon. Samar, Sorsogon, Sulu, Surigao, Tayabas, Zambales, Manila, Quezon City, Bacolod City (Negros Occidental), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Baguio City (Mountain Province), Zamboanga City (Zamboanga), Tagaytay City (Cavite), Cavite City (Cavite) and San Pablo City (Laguna)
General Douglas MacArthur, Paul V. MacNutt (American High Commissioner in the Philippines) and Mrs. Aurora Aragon Quezon personally showed up at the residence of Manuel Roxas in Pasay on April 28, Sunday, to personally congratulate the newly-elected President of the Philippines.
On April 29, 1946, erstwhile Senate Floor Leader Melencio Arranz became President Pro Tempore of the Senate, while House of Representatives Majority Leader Eugenio Pérez became its Speaker, days before the new Congress convened in May 1946.
Former Speaker Jose C. Zulueta of Iloilo, on the other hand, joined the Roxas Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior (and later ran and won as senator). Many other members of the First Commonwealth Congress held top positions in the newly-born Philippine Republic.
New Bataan governor
On May 01, Bataan Provincial Board Secretary Ramon L. Santos of Orion received a copy of President-elect Manuel A. Roxas’ order for him to replace Bataan acting Governor Teodoro Camacho Sr. (1945-1946). It was legal since Camacho was only appointed by the defeated President Sergio Osmeña.
Before noontime of said day, Santos occupied Governor Teodoro Camacho’s office at the temporary Capitol building in Balanga. Santos was accompanied by members of the newly-formed Bataan Constabulary. There was no formal turnover between Santos and Camacho because the latter refused to see the newly-appointed governor. The disappointed Ramon Santos immediately invited his local partymates for a celelebration in Balanga.
The following day, acting Governor Ramon Santos met with Emilio V. Reyes of Dinalupihan and Lorenzo dela Fuente Jr. of Abucay who retained their posts as provincial board members in the absence of an order from Malacañang.
During this time, the lawyers of acting Governor Santos, together with some Constabulary personnel, presented a copy of President Roxas’ order to Governor Teodoro Camacho Sr. at his home in Poblacion. After reading the order, the latter agreed to turn over the rein of power to his newly-designated successor.
At past noon, Governor Santos formally occupied Teodoro Camacho’s office at the Capitol after a short turnover ceremony. Only the lawyer of Teodoro Camacho Sr. showed up to represent his client. Thereafter, Santos held another meeting with his party leaders who will be appointed as municipal officials.
True to his words, US President Harry Truman signed the Tydings Rehabilitation Act which will provide for an additional outlay of $620,000,000 as payment for those who suffered damages during the war.
The Tydings Damage Act will also provide $900,000,000 for payment of war damages, of which one million was earmarked to compensate for church losses. The sum of $240,000,000 was to be periodically allocated by the United States President as good will. Also, an amounnt of $60,000,000 in surplus property were to be transferred to the Philippines government within the year (1946).
The Bell Act, on the other hand, stipulated that no amount of payment would be given unless the Presidents of the United States and the Philippines reached an agreement regarding trade relations between the two countries. The act gave “parity” rights to the Americans, “the right to dispose, exploit, develop, and utilize all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands in the Philippines, together with the operation of public utilities and exploitation of the waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and mineral resources of the nation.”
The Bell Act also gave the Philippines eight (8) years of free trade with the United States, then twenty (20) years during which tariffs would be upped gradually until they were in line with the rest of the American tariff policy.
The law also fixed some quotas for certain products: sugar – 850,000 long tons; cordage – 6,000,000 pounds; coconut oil – 200,000 long tons; and cigars – 200,000,000 pounds.
The Tydings–McDuffie Act, officially called the Philippine Independence Act, Pub. L 73–127, 48 Stat. 456, enacted on March 24, 1934 was a United States federal law which provided for self-governance of the Philippines and for Filipino independence from the United States after a period of ten years. It also established strict limitations on Filipino immigration. It was authored in the 73rd United States Congress by Senator Millard E. Tydings of the state of Maryland and Representative John McDuffie of Alabama, and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, all Democrats.
Back in 1934, Manuel L. Quezon, then President of the Senate of the Philippines, headed a “Philippine Independence mission” to Washington, D.C. where it successfully lobbied in US Congress and secured the act’s passage.
The Tydings–McDuffie Act specified a procedural framework for, within two years of its enactment, the drafting of a Constitution for the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The act specified a number of mandatory constitutional provisions, and required approval of the constitution by the U.S. President and by the Filipino people. The act mandated U.S. recognition of independence of the Philippine Islands as a separate and self-governing nation after a ten-year transition period (1936-1946).
On May 02, 1946, President-elect Manuel Roxas instituted a campaign against the Hukbalahaps based on the advice of General Douglas MacArthur. He accused them of lawlessness and of being communists. He even convinced the wealthy landlords of Central Luzon to start hiring Filipino military police and civilian guards to protect them, their property and to fight the Huks.
The following day, President Roxas ordered a series of raids on Huk bastions which immediately resulted in successive skirmishes in various areas in Central Luzon from May 2 to 7. Here, civilians, Huks and their supporters were the immediate victims.
Bataan local officials
After attending a morning Mass at the Balanga Church on Friday, May 03, acting Bataan Governor Ramon L. Santos convened the newly-appointed municipal officials at the Capitol and gave his final instructions. The new mayors include:
Joaquin R. Banzon was the new mayor of Pilar who replaced Arcadio Herrera of Wawa; Anastacio Valencia of Abucay vice Mauro Ganzon; Emiliano Navarro vice Arsenio Joco (Orion); Estanislao Ramos vice Roman Jaring (Hermosa); Bartolome Oconer vice Apolonio Nanasca (Samal); Zoilo Gutierrez vice Angel del Rosario (Bagac); Jose N. Gonzales vice Mariano Herrera (Balanga); Francisco B. Reyes (retained in Limay); Silvestre Yraola (replacement of Francisco Octavio in Mariveles); Buenaventura Linao vice Ambrosio Guzman (Morong); Jose Payumo Sr. (retained in Dinalupihan); and Raymundo Galicia (retained in Orani).
To be continued