Problem in Exile

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The heart of the Philippine Government in Exile is a ten-room suite on the second floor of Washington's swank Shoreham Hotel. There lives Manuel Quezon, the Filipinos' greatest living politician, now rounding out his eighth year as the Filipinos' first President.

In the sequestered stillness of his deep-carpeted rooms, Manuel Quezon moves quietly. Except for his eyes, he seems impassive. Long racked by tuberculosis, he spends most of his days on a reclining chair, dressed sometimes in silk pajamas, sometimes—when visitors call—in double-breasted suits. Rarely is he seen in the hotel's lobby. Illness has changed Manuel Quezon, the man of explosive talk and volatile gestures. His days are spent in routine matters of state. Mostly he sits and waits for the day on which he can return to the Philippines.

Last week this brave, ill, burning man faced a special embarrassment. The problem: Would Manuel Quezon continue to be President of the Philippine Commonwealth after Nov. 15? On that day his term definitely and formally expires; a strict interpretation of the Philippine Constitution would put dignified, intelligent Vice President Sergio Osmeña into the executive's chair. Sergio Osmeña, also in Washington, once bitterly opposed Manuel Quezon, is now his good political friend.

But to the Filipinos who fought the Jap through Bataan and on Corregidor, and who now suffer the full measure of Jap co-prosperity, Manuel Quezon is an undying symbol of Philippine independence. Both Manuel Quezon and goodman Osmeña were mum last week. In the end, the ticklish question of the Presidential tenure will almost certainly be settled by the White House.

Either solution will furnish the Jap new ready-made propaganda material. If Manuel Quezon continues in office, the Jap can say that the U.S. does not respect Philippine law. If he does not, the Jap can propagandize the Far East: the U.S. has disavowed the Philippines' hero.