The present war has brought home the fact that even the most elementary freedom, the right to dispose over one's own person, cannot be taken for granted. Despotism backed by military force still rides roughshod over the rights of man. But whereas formerly a conqueror confiscated without hypocrisy the working power of his victims as well as their property, today world opinion forces him to use circumlocution, to pretend to purposes other than those of greed. Thus, labor in the Philippines has been recruited for compulsory services “in the interest of public safety, security and welfare.” And the compulsory nature of that recruitment is disguised by a pretense of voluntary enrollment which deceives few, least of all the victims. Actually, under a recent order in Manila all citizens between the ages of eighteen and fifty were eligible for labor conscription, and in other parts of the country more general enactments have been interpreted as permitting an almost unrestricted use of Filipino labor for the construction of defense works, roads, air fields and air raid shelters, and for other purposes. A false air of respectability has been given to some of these services by persuading leading citizens to lead parades, armed with spades, to the places where the “voluntary” and “patriotic” work was to be performed.

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