MANILA – On September 16, 1935, exactly 86 years ago, Filipino voters went to the polls to elect the first group of officials of the Philippine Commonwealth government, as provided for in the 1935 Constitution signed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in March 23, 1935.
It was the first national election organized under the Charter of 1935 drafted and approved on February 8, 1935 by the Constitutional Convention of 202 Members of 1934 chaired by Senator Claro M. Recto and ratified by the Filipinos in a national plebiscite on May 4, 1935..
Section 1, Article XVIII (The Commonwealth and the Republic) of the 1935 Constitution stated: âThe government established by this Constitution shall be known as the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
According to the book “Philippine History and Government” (5th edition of August 5, 2002) written by the eminent historian Dr Gregorio F. Zaide and his daughter, Dr Sonia M. Zaide, at stake in the polls of 1935 were the positions of president , Deputy Speaker of the Commonwealth Government and 98 members of the new legislative branch of the National Assembly.
The protagonists of the presidency were then the President of the Senate Manuel L. Quezon of the Party of the Coalition (Nacionalista); former president of the Philippine revolutionary government Emilio F. Aguinaldo of the Socialist Party; and Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church Gregorio Aglipay of the Republican Party.
As expected, the winners of the first two positions were Quezon and his running mate, former House of Representatives Speaker Sergio OsmeÃ±a Sr.
The Commonwealth of Philippines government was inaugurated on November 15, 1935, paving the way for Quezon’s declaration: “I’d rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans.”
The Commonwealth government existed from 1935 to 1946, although it was disrupted by World War II which forced its leaders into exile in the United States from 1942 to 1944.
When Quezon died in New York on August 1, 1944, OsmeÃ±a succeeded him.
The last Commonwealth polls were held on April 23, 1946 and saw the election of former Senate Speaker Manuel A. Roxas as the last President of the Commonwealth and first President of the Republic of the Philippines inaugurated on July 4, 1946.
Roxas did not complete his term as he died during a visit to Clark Air Base in Pampanga on April 15, 1948. He was replaced by Vice President Elpidio R. Quirino.