Today in Philippine History, June 19, 1943 the KALIBAPI elected twenty members of the Preparatory Commission for Philippine independence

   George B. Vargas speaks before the KALIBAPI
   Jorge B. Vargas speaks to the KALIBAPI in the presence of Lt. Gen. Shigenori Kuroda and Speaker Benigno S. Aquino, in the old Senate Session Hall in the Legislative Building, Manila.
On June 19, 1943, The KALIBAPI after declaring quorom and adopting resolutions of gratitude to, and of cooperation with Japan, elected twenty members of the Preparatory Commission for Philippine independence. This body, on orders from the Japanese Imperial Government through the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines, was charged with the task of framing a constitution for the Japanese-sponsored Republic headed by Jose P. Laurel.

The very next day the members were formally inducted by Lieutenant General Kuroda. Kuroda made it a great point of the membership of Manuel Roxas in this Commission. It was to be known later however, that the Japanese included Roxas without consulting him. It was believed that Roxas have been avoiding such entanglements by feigning to be more ill than he actually was.

The Commission immediately set to work on the drafting of a constitution, and this "remarkable document", said to have been drafted principally by Laurel, was signed on September 4 and unanimously ratified by a General Assembly of 117 KALIBAPI delegates on the 7th, three days later.

The Constitution bestowed practically unlimited powers on the President, which was what the Japanese wanted for their own convenience. However, the Filipinos who took part in the whole mock process believed that, under the circumstances, it would be best to have it so.

The KALIBAPI

It was announced in December 1942 that all existing political parties had dissolved themselves and that, in their stead, to unify the people and to promote the Oriental virtues, an organization was to be formed called the KALIBAPI, a shortening of Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Filipinas (Association for Service to the New Philippines).

The aim, as officially stated, was -

"To unify the Filipinos, regardless of class, sex, rank, or creed, in order to extend positive cooperation to the Japanese Military Administration in the reconstruction of the country ... and to invigorate in the people such Oriental virtues as faith, self-reliance, loyalty, patriotism, bravery, discipline, self-sacrifice, and hard work ..."

It was emphasized that the KALIBAPI was not a political party, but a non-political service organization, although no person can be employed in the government and any of its institutions unless he is a member. All persons 18 years old or older could join, and a little later it was announced that all "civic bodies", such as the Filipino "newsmen", and writers, and nurses associations, the various women's clubs and federations, even the Young Men's Christian Association, were to be "sworn in".

Jorge B. Vargas was appointed President ex-officio of the KALIBAPI and Benigno Aquino, Commissioner of the Interior, was appointed Vice President and Director-General.

References:
The American Chamber of Commerce Journal,
Volume XXVIII, No 1, January 1952
Pambansang Komisyong Pangkasaysayan
Photo credit: Presidential Museum and Library, Philippines

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