Courtesy Reuters

The Philippines in Transition

From Commonwealth to Independence

WITH the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands the United States took a bold step forward in the development of an important national policy and at the same time broke new ground in the government of dependencies. The government of the Commonwealth is unlike that of any other political entity under the American flag. In status and prospects it is unique among dependent nations and is without precedent in the international world.

The advance that has been made, however, has not solved the Philippine problem. While the law under which the new government of the Islands was created provides in effect that American sovereignty over the Philippines shall terminate in 1946, the Congress left for future determination such vital matters as the trade relations to be established between the United States and the Philippines after that date, the possible neutralization of the Philippine Republic, and the retention of an American naval base in the Islands. Hence the responsibilities of the United States in the Philippines continue for another decade and America has still to make important decisions concerning its Philippine policy. On their side, the Filipinos still face continuing uncertainty in matters vitally affecting their national existence. In the larger view, the future of the Islands is a question giving more concern than ever to the nations which have interests in the Far East.


The form and organization of the present Philippine government were determined by the Filipinos themselves. The Commonwealth constitution was drafted in Manila by a popularly elected convention that was genuinely representative of the best in Filipino character, intellect and political experience. In personnel and leadership it also represented the overwhelming preponderance of Philippine political power. It produced an organic law which was agreed to by all but one of its 202 members and which was subsequently accepted by the vast majority of the Philippine electorate. Few national constitutions have expressed more completely the free and deliberate choice of a people as to the form of government

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