Banner_EA 1922_150906_Twitter-03Banner_EA 1922_150906_Twitter-04The 1922 legislative elections was a watershed moment in the development of Philippine politics. It involved a split in the Partido Nacionalista, which enjoyed an overwhelming majority in the Philippine Legislature since 1907. The question upon which the electorate was called to decide on was: Should public opinion play a role in government?

That issue was manifested in a confrontation between the leadership of the House of Representatives, personified by Sergio Osmeña, and the leadership of the Senate, personified by Manuel L. Quezon.

Before the passage of the Jones Law in 1916, Sergio Osmeña’s leadership had been unquestioned. Tensions arose after 1916, when Senate President Manuel L. Quezon insisted that he should outrank Osmeña, who was only the Speaker of the House of Representatives, although they managed to keep their discontent with each other covered. By 1921, the two factions had their first open conflict in the form of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill, which passed in the Senate but not in the House:[1] The Senate would have the power to transfer judges, while the House wanted it lodged in the Supreme Court, which was half Filipino and half American. The famous split occurred on February 17, 1922, when the Partido Nacionalista-Colectivista was announced with Quezon as its president.

The major issue that the two factions fought over in 1921-1922 was leadership: how should Filipino leadership be exercised in the government, and who should be the leader?[2] Quezon accused Osmeña of his almost dictatorial control over the government,[3] and argued that leadership should be collective, not unipersonal: both the Senate and the House should elect a group of persons to assume leadership of the government to ensure proper representation of all elements.[4] Quezon also attacked Osmeña’s faction for not consulting the public in its decisions.[5]

Osmeña, on the other hand, denied these charges of dictatorial unipersonalism. He argued that leadership within the party and the government was necessary, because a leader’s role was to guide, advise, and direct, not to dictate, command, or dominate. He stressed the importance of responsible, centralized leadership in order to achieve independence. Furthermore, he declared that even as a leader he was acting in a representative capacity: he was not immune to the control of both the majority party and public opinion.[6] And yet, from the time of the split of 1922 until today, Osmeña’s group has always been described as unipersonalist, indicating his failure in the competition of political branding from the start.

Speaker Osmeña left the House of Representatives to run for the Senate and, by so doing, directly challenged Senate President Quezon: at once an acknowledgment of Quezon’s view in 1916 that the Senate was the more prominent chamber, while also triggering a national division on the issue both leaders were split. The elections, which took place on June 6, 1922, was a defeat for the Nacionalistas: it marked the first time the Partido Nacionalista lost its majority in the Philippine Legislature since 1907.[7] But it was not a complete victory for the Colectivistas, who retained control of the Senate but lacked the votes to elect a Speaker in the House. The House was fragmented: of the 84 elected representatives, there were 25 Colectivistas, 26 Democratas, 24 Nacionalistas, and 9 independents. The Senate was likewise divided, with 3 Colectivistas, 4 Democratas, 3 Nacionalistas, and 1 independent joining 11 holdover senators.[8]

The balance of power in the House of Representatives was thus held by the Democrata Party, the opposition party formed after the defeat of both the Progresistas and the Terceristas in the 1916 elections. The two parties had decided to merge themselves to form a single opposition party—the Partido Democrata—on April 22, 1917. Their principles were similar to those of the old Partido Democrata Nacional.[9] By 1922, the Partido Democrata had become a solid opposition party.

The 1922 elections also marked the end of Osmeña’s long period of preeminent leadership. While he succeeded in being elected to the Senate, he lost the Senate Presidency to Quezon, while Manuel Roxas took over his old position as Speaker of the House.[10] The Democratas initially approached Osmeña and offered to have their senators vote for him as Senate President if the Nacionalistas in the lower house supported the Democrata candidate Claro M. Recto as Speaker. Osmeña refused, and instead allied with Quezon and the Colectivistas.[11] By April, 1924, the Nacionalistas and Colectivistas reunited as the Nacionalista Consolidado, until they once again split in the next crucial election, that of December 1933.


This article on the 1922 elections is a preview of the 2nd edition of the Philippine Electoral Almanac, by the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), which will be released in December 2015. 


Footnotes

[1] Dapen Liang, Philippine Parties and Politics: A Historical Study of National Experience in Democracy (San Francisco, CA: The Gladstone Company, 1970), p. 120-121.

[2] Jonathan Ralston Hayden, The Philippines: A Study in National Development (New York: Arno Press, 1972), p. 330.

[3] Dapen Liang, The Development of Philippine Political Parties (Hongkong: South China Morning Post, 1939), p. 145-146.

[4] Dapen Liang, Philippine Parties and Politics: A Historical Study of National Experience in Democracy (San Francisco, CA: The Gladstone Company, 1970), p. 127.

[5] Dapen Liang, The Development of Philippine Political Parties (Hongkong: South China Morning Post, 1939), p. 153.

[6] Jonathan Ralston Hayden, The Philippines: A Study in National Development (New York: Arno Press, 1972), p. 331.

[7] Clarita R. Carlos and Rommel C. Banlaoi, Elections in the Philippines: From Pre-colonial Period to the Present (Makati City: Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 1996), p. 40.

[8] “Vote tables practically completed,” The Manila Times Vol. 24 No. 202, June 15, 1922.

[9] Dapen Liang, Philippine Parties and Politics: A Historical Study of National Experience in Democracy (San Francisco, CA: The Gladstone Company, 1970), p. 92.

[10] Dapen Liang, The Development of Philippine Political Parties (Hongkong: South China Morning Post, 1939), p. 157.

[11] Dapen Liang, The Development of Philippine Political Parties (Hongkong: South China Morning Post, 1939), p. 165.