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Manuel Roxas, On Agrarian Reforms 1946

5 Nov

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
Message on Agrarian Reforms

[August 8, 1946, Philippine Congress]

I am transmitting to you at this time for your earnest consideration proposed amendments to the Tenancy Law, and am accompanying these proposals with the first report of the Agrarian Commission which recently completed its studies of economic conditions in agricultural districts, and of the unrest which exists in some of these districts.

You will find from the report that the proposed amendments are highly recommended by the Agrarian Commission whose findings are based on a thorough, objective and detailed study of the major factors involved.

The Agrarian Commission was created by Executive Order precisely to study this situation. The members of this Commission have listened to every conceivable viewpoint and have made a first hand study at the very scene of these problems. The conclusions of this Commission are so finely devised, although they represent no new departure from views held by experts on this subject before the war that I have been assured of support for these proposals by representatives of both the tenants and the landowners.

This particular report deals chiefly with the relationship between tenant and landowner in the rice-producing areas the recommendations of the Commission were arrived at after a careful investigation of the economic and social problems of the individuals and groups involved in that relationship, and of the tenancy contract itself as prescribed by existing laws. The Commission also gathered information concerning the actual operation of these contracts and the resulting difficulties and conflicts which have arisen in widespread areas.

I have given much thought and study to this report have reached the conclusion that the recommendations of the Commission are based on sound principle and afford, for the present at least, a fair and just basis for the establishment of a vastly improved relationship between tenant and landowner. I, therefore, recommend to the Congress the amendment of the Tenancy Law in accordance with the recommendations of the Agrarian Commission. As soon as the necessary funds are available, I shall submit recommendations for the implementation of the other findings of the Commission, especially those proposing the construction of irrigation systems, the establishment of agricultural experiment stations, the organization of credit cooperatives for the benefit of tenants and small farmers, and the modernization of the technique of rice production.

Tenancy is an archaic and socially undesirable system as the basis for agriculture. It is a remnant of feudalism. It is a form of extreme paternalism which retards the economic and social progress of tenants and farm workers. It ties the laborer to the land as a chattel. It deadens his spirit of enterprise and makes him totally dependent on the landowner. The condition of many tenants is not unlike serfdom. This situation is repugnant to modern concepts of free enterprise and human dignity. It retards the economic advance of our nation. Wherever the system of tenancy prevails in the world, social and economic conditions are depressed. We must therefore look forward to a gradual but orderly abolition of the tenancy system; we must strive gradually and in an orderly manner to make of our farm laborers the owners of the land that they cultivate and thereby stimulate the creation of as large a class as possible of small independent farmers who can and will be the backbone of the social and political body of the nation.

To attain this end, I propose, first, to establish the fairest possible contractual basis between the tenant and landowner; second, wherever practicable and as soon as circumstances permit, to replace the system of tenancy as we know it with a system of fixed land rental, either in money or in produce; third, to acquire large estates for the purpose of subdividing them for sale at cost to the tenants; and, fourth, to open up large areas of public land for development and distribution to farmers to be attracted from the congested farm areas. This program, together with scientific aid to agriculture and the credit and other facilities that small farmers require in the organization of new farms, necessitates the expenditure of considerable amounts of money. As soon as funds are available I shall propose to the Congress the immediate implementation of this program.

As an immediate measure I propose the following amendments to the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 4054, commonly known as “The Philippine Rice Share Tenancy Act”:

1.   In the absence of a written contract, (a) the tenant is to receive 70 per cent of the net produce of the land and the landowner 30 per cent for first class land—land whose normal production is over 40 cavans of palay per one cavan of seeds; (b) 75 per cent for the tenant and 25 per cent for the landowner for second class land—land whose normal production is between 25 and 40 cavans per one cavan of seeds; and (c) 80 per cent for the tenant and 20 per cent for the landowner for third class land―land whose normal production is less than 25 cavans per one cavan of seeds; provided the tenant supplies the work animals and farm implements and defrays all the expenses for planting and cultivation of the field. Expenses for harvesting and threshing shall be deducted from the gross produce. Expenses for the maintenance of irrigation systems within the respective areas shall be for the account of the tenant, but amortizations for the cost of construction of the system itself shall be for the account of the landowner. The expenses for construction and maintenance of privately-owned irrigation systems shall be agreed upon between landowners and tenants, but in case of disagreement, all expenses for construction shall be for the account of the landowner and the expenses of the distribution canals for the account of the tenant.

2. In case the landowner supplies the work animals and farm implements and the landowner bears all the expenses of planting and cultivation, the landowner shall receive 70 per cent and the tenant 30 per cent of the crop; but if the landowner and .the tenant bear equally the expenses of planting and cultivation, the crop shall be divided equally between the parties.

3. In case the land is planted to a second crop of rice or to other auxiliary crops, the tenant shall receive 80 per cent and the landowner 20 per cent of the net produce, provided all expenses of production are borne by the tenant.

4. In case a written contract is executed between landowner and tenant, it is to be declared against public policy and prohibited for the tenant to agree to receive less than 55.per cent of the net crop, if the tenant supplies the work to animals and farm Implements and is to bear 50 percent of the expenses of planting and cultivation.

5. In case of a contract for a fixed rental of the land, it is to be declared contrary to public policy and prohibited to stipulate a rental higher than 25 per cent of the estimated normal harvest.

6. The area to be set aside for the tenant for his house, garden and the raising of poultry and livestock should be increased from 500 square meters to not less than 600 square meters, nor more than 1,000 square meters depending upon the availability of suitable land belonging to the landowner.

The amendments I am proposing to the Tenancy Law are neither radical nor new in this country. They are virtually the same as those prevailing in the tenancy contracts in the Visayan provinces. In the Visayas, tenants and landowners are working in complete harmony, and the social condition of the tenants is relatively higher than that in the provinces of Central Luzon.

One of the most important effects of these amendments will be to induce the tenant to work harder and more continuously because of the prospect of receiving a major part of his produce. It will also induce him to avoid spending needlessly for planting and cultivating, since he will realize that such expenses will have to be borne by him exclusively. This is actually the case in the Visayan provinces. Whereas in Luzon, the usual expenses for planting and cultivation amount to a considerable sum, in the Visayan provinces few such expenses are being actually contracted because the tenant and members of his family do all the work of planting and cultivating. In cases where additional help is required, there exists a system of cooperative labor supplied by neighboring tenants and their families.

I fully realize that the proposed amendments will not solve all the economic problems of the tenants of rice lands. It is a fact, for instance, that the present methods of rice cultivation are such that no tenant can cultivate more than three hectares of rice land. And even if he were given all the produce of this land, he would still have an insufficient income to support a socially acceptable standard of living. The final answer must rather be found in gradually increasing the efficiency of the tenant by the adoption of modern methods of agriculture, the use of fertilizers, the use of mechanical implements, the stimulation of household industry, the development of seasonal employment, and the increase in the amount of land which the tenant can put into production with his own work. This is a gradual process which will require more than legislation to achieve; it will need greater efforts on the part of the tenant and a long process of education and demonstration in modern agricultural technique.

I have received letters and petitions from owners of small rice landholdings, protesting against the amendments which I am proposing in this message. These petitioners claim that if the tenants are to be given a larger share of the crop, the income of the small owners will be greatly reduced, facing them with economic disaster. My answer to this protest is that these small landowners should cultivate their own lands; thus they will not have to share the crop with tenants. We cannot deny justice to the tenants merely because the landowners do not want to work their own land and prefer to live on the work of others. These owners, if they prefer to have other employment, must be content with a fair return from land ownership.

I wish to emphasize that I am not proposing these amendments to allay threats of violence or in response to the demands of private organizations or their leaders. This is not a palliative. I am proposing these amendments because I consider them fair, just and necessary. The present crop-sharing system in Central Luzon is as old as organized production of rice itself. Crop-sharing tenancy dates back to an age, which preceded even the writing of the Old Testament, when tenants were really the slaves of the landlords.

The 70-30 crop division itself is not an especially novel concept. I recall proposing it several years before the war. The proposition was endorsed by President Quezon; it was only because of the outbreak of war that this reform was not carried out.

I desire to inform the Congress that before submitting this message, a meeting was held to discuss the Agrarian Commission report with representatives of the tenants and of the landowners. I am happy to advise the Congress that these representatives approved the recommendations of the Commission and agreed to support the’ amendments which I am now submitting for your consideration.

In view of the fact that the planting season for rice is under way and that the harvest will take place before the next session of the Congress, I earnestly request that this matter receive your early attention and that the proposed amendments be enacted at an early date.

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NOTE.―The Agrarian Commission was created by Administrative Order NO. 38 on June 4, 1946, to study rural conditions specially in the rice regions, in so far as they affect discontent and unrest among the people there. Among its recommendations which Congress embodied in Republic Act No.34 approved on September 20, 1946, was the fixing of definite percentage rates for the shares of the tenants and the landowners in the rice product. This law provides that not less than 70 per cent of the harvest goes to the tenant if he furnishes the necessary implements and the work animals and defrays all the expenses for planting and cultivation of the crop, except when there is a written agreement to the contrary.

This legislation is calculated to improve the conditions of the tenant in those congested rice regions where he usually received even less than 50 per cent of the crop and had to render to the landowner certain gratuitous services in addition.

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Manuel Roxas, The Life of President Manuel L. Quezon 1946

5 Nov

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
Eulogy on the Life of the Late President Manuel L. Quezon

[July 28, 1946, Delivered before the 1st Congress of the Republic]

We do not gather here to grieve or weep. Time has stanched our tears. The sorrow now in our hearts is not alone for him who lies in blissful sleep before us, but also for ourselves, the living, who yearn still for the strength and comfort of his presence.

This was a man whom we loved with all devotion; this was a man whom we honored with all the gifts at our command. Today we pay formal tribute to his mortal remains. Today our nation, the Republic of the Philippines, enshrines him as a hero on the altar of our love and gratitude.

Manuel L. Quezon has at last returned to his native land. For him, it has been a long voyage home. But as we prepare to yield his body to the good earth which first nurtured him, we know that we will not inter, we cannot inter, the essence of his being. That essence is as much a part of us as the free air we breathe. We are a free people and a free nation, in large part, because of him. This Republic, its Government and its institutions are as much his works as they could be of any single man. These are his perpetual monuments. Across the trackless and virgin territory of time, Manuel Quezon’s wisdom led the way, through four critical decades, through two great world wars, to victory and finally to independence.

The entire world is similarly in his debt. To him it owes a portion of that flaming spirit of leadership, which guided mankind through the valley of evil and darkness to salvation and redemption. In this larger sense, we cannot claim him for ourselves alone. This death took both a father from his country and a leader from the world. The pain of loss is felt wherever men are free. In our sorrow we are one with all mankind.

The sad bugle notes of death sounded for Manuel Quezon even as the forces of world freedom gathered for their final forward thrust. The critical battles had been fought; his work was done. His strife had ended. Victory lay soon ahead. But the leader of his people, the captain of our hosts was not to see the moment of triumph. In an alien but spiritually native land, in the land where he had helped arouse the legions of redemption, he died. On the beautiful wooded shores of Lake Saranac in New York, heartland of the nation he had learned to love second only to his own, the great soul, which had clung so long to a frail and hard-spent body, joined the immortals of all ages.

Perhaps the Almighty, in His surpassing goodness, saw fit to claim the life of Manuel Quezon, after his great work was ended, that he might be spared the trial and pain of seeing the cost his countrymen were to pay for liberty. Perhaps the Divine Mercy was extended that he might one day return home in glory, beloved and mourned, but blissfully blind to the scars of ruin spread across this grotto of tropic beauty, the land whose grace and charm he loved so well.

In this critical epoch, he was the first of the mighty leaders of liberty to pass from the world scene. Eight brief months later, Manuel Quezon’s great and good friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, joined him in death, on the very eve of those final triumphs which brought peace to mankind. But Franklin Roosevelt lived long enough to see the redemption of the pledges he had made to the Filipino people, to see MacArthur’s men return in irresistible power to wrest Manila and the Philippines from the enemy. From Franklin Roosevelt, from that weary body, too, the mantle of life slipped away.

These two men, fast and devoted friends, had ascended beyond the limits of race and nation and reached the blinding heights of universality…one an American, one a Filipino. They were of the chosen race of benefactors of mankind.

It is difficult to evaluate the works of Manuel Quezon at this short space from death, because all of our present is in a sense a product of his past. The record of that past is a continuous canvas of our history in this century. In recalling his life, we recall the story of the modern growth of our nation. His climb to fame and leadership is a tale which must be told to all our generations. The impetuous spirit which broke the bonds of personal poverty, which hurdled every obstacle because there was none great enough to stay him, is one of the proudest products of our race. His name is truly a glittering ornament of this nation.

In Baler, that storied seacoast town of Tayabas, steeped in historic lore and crossed by all the currents of his time, Manuel Quezon grew to manhood in the typical atmosphere of the Spanish era. His rebellious soul declined to bear the indignities of alien rule and national inferiority. Scholarly in spirit, hungry for knowledge, and ambitious, yet he bridled angrily at the plight of his people. With the frank eyes of youth, he learned to distinguish the dignity of worth from the trappings of authority. Although bound to inaction by parental pledge, he was spiritually one with Rizal, with Bonifacio, with Del Pilar , and the other great patriots of that day. When the armies of revolution took the field in 1898, he was quick to join the struggle for liberty. When the antagonist became not Spain but America, when it was feared that the Republic across the seas came but to replace the former tyrant, Quezon fought while there was yet hope, and in the jungles of Bataan suffered privations and dangers which 40 years later he had new occasion to know. But it was not until American deeds and American policies had received the basic doubts in the questioning mind of Major Quezon that he obeyed his orders to surrender.

Suddenly clapped into an American military prison and held without charge for four long months, and then as suddenly released, Manuel Quezon was not conditioned to trust or love the new rulers of his land. The more credit to him, then, and to America, that in the vista he observed in the following years he comprehended in the detail of events the firm pattern of basic benevolence; he saw imported from America not only economic goods for sale but the priceless wares of liberty, of justice and of democracy. He saw American soldiers build hospitals and roads and bridges. He saw schools spring up, and Americans teaching the ways of freedom in them. He saw American judges dispense the law impartially between American and Filipino. He perceived the cult of fair play being preached and practiced by the conqueror. He heard from an American Civil Governor, William Howard Taft, that the Philippines were to be governed for the benefit of the Filipinos. A former revolutionist, Quezon was named prosecutor, then Governor of his proud province.

Elected to the first Philippine Assembly, an avowed advocate of immediate and absolute independence, Manuel Quezon revealed for the first time the great talents endowed him…the lightning speed of thought, the brilliance of intuition, the unerring judgment of decision, the unswerving devotion to principle and ideal, and the keen incisiveness which enabled him to distinguish between truth and illusion, between appearance and reality, between honesty and pretense. These were the faculties in rare and multifold combination which marked Manuel Quezon for the role of leadership among his people.

In 1912, having already spent some years in the United States Congress as Resident Commissioner and having mastered for his purpose the American language, he helped secure from the Democratic Party a firm pledge of Philippine independence. By a scholarly presentation of the Philippine position, he won President-elect Woodrow Wilson to his side, and through personal persuasion, gained the interest and intercession of Representative Jones of Virginia. The historic product of those labors was the Jones Act of 1916 which promised, to the great wonder of the world, independence to the Philippines as soon as the Filipinos were ready to govern themselves.

In the blazing glory of that accomplishment, Manuel Quezon returned to his homeland to receive a hero’s welcome such as few have ever witnessed. In triumph he was elevated to the supreme leadership of his party and of his people, a leadership he never lost in the 22 remaining years of his life. Seldom if ever has one man attained such power and influence among his people and held it unchecked for so long. Yet it was not power held through force or intimidation; there was no Gestapo to retain him in his rule. It was a leadership exercised by the prestige of his person, by the stature of his accomplishments, by the dominating proportions of his talents, and by the unswerving loyalty of his followers. Few men in all history, unclothed in the purple of royalty, have equaled Manuel Quezon’s tenure as a people’s leader. It has no counterpart anywhere in the world in our time. How did he use this authority, this power, this influence? That is the statesman’s test, perhaps the answer to his greatness. He used it mildly, carefully and skillfully in the interests of his people, in the interests not of vested wealth which sought his favor, not of the socially elite who courted him, but in the interests of the great trusting mass of people, inarticulate, plain and poor. To them he was devoted. For them he was a spokesman and a champion. In their name he espoused, against the opposition of intrenched wealth and power, the cause of social justice. We, today, carry forward with renewed and steadfast resolve the program he so nobly advanced…the struggle against the inhumanity of man to man. We pledge in his name that we will not falter on the path he blazed so well.

He feared no man; often he dared defeat; he was unimpressed by danger. Quick in his anger, and quick to forgive, warmly loving and cordially hating, enjoying ease, yet indefatigable in labor, stern and soft by speedy turn, sentimental yet realistic, the unquestioned master of the spoken word, loving people so much that he hated solitude—this was the man behind the statesman. This was the sum of things which added up to that magic and unforgettable personality. This was the presence which inspired his followers, which awed or won over his enemies, which impressed presidents and kings, which delighted friends, which made him the tender husband and the loving father that he was throughout his life.

Manuel Quezon was no ordinary man. He was beloved by Providence. In his later political career, his decisions were occasionally inscrutable, but almost always right. Through the flat decade of the twenties, when the vessel of independence was becalmed in a sluggish sea, he kept up the flagging will of his countrymen, continued to beat the drums of freedom, and never once lost sight of his goal.

As the tempo of events quickened in the world, Manuel Quezon was ready. With enthusiasm undimmed by a quarter century of public life, with energy apparently undiminished by the drain of the dread illness which was so common among our people, he plunged into the crisis of his lifelong battle for independence. That battle, too, he won.

It was in 1935 and an exulting people voiced overwhelming will that Manuel Quezon be the first President of the Philippines.  It seemed that he had reached the high plateau of his career. He toyed indulgently with the thought of retiring at the end of his term in office, to tend his health, to take his ease, to travel, to spend his reclining years in the warm and comforting circle of a devoted and cherished family.

In his first historic term, he set the new Commonwealth well on the road to freedom. He obtained from President Roosevelt a pledge of’ special economic concessions after independence. He dreamed and designed the construction of a magnificent capital city, the crowning jewel of the fame that was to outlast him. He made a goodwill trip to Cuba and to Mexico, and in accents which rang clear in those lands, he told of his faith in America, in democracy, and in world unity.

Then, from a narrow strip of land called the Polish Corridor, there burst the lightning of war. Guns grew louder; throughout Europe freedom was vanquished; a new tyranny ran rampant over the ancient seats of western civilization. In the Orient, deep out of the north China Sea, there rose the menacing clouds of war. Closer and closer they drew to the Philippines, still only a mark in the sky, but to the wise and practiced eye of Manuel Quezon, they tokened danger .

The time for retirement of the leader was not yet come. This new danger had to be met. In the United States, ideologically pledged to the support of the western allies. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected for an unprecedented third term. In the Philippines Manuel Quezon was chosen for his second. In the few remaining lands of freedom and peace, men girded their loins for battle. Our leader called on his countrymen to rally without question to the cause to which the United States was pledged―the sacred cause for which he had fought all his life, for justice and liberty. The youth, who had fought America with desperate fury in 1898, poured out his eloquence and spent his magnificent spirit in support of that nation now.

The rest of the story of Manuel Quezon is the history of Philippine participation in the war. When the mailed fist of Japan struck without warning, first at Pearl Harbor and then at Manila, Quezon’s choice was already made. It was not an easy choice. It was a choice previously faced by Norway, Denmark, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Siam, and Malaya. It was a choice between resisting for the sake of principle, or yielding for the sake of relative safety. Not all these nations made the same choice. At that time the issue on which hung the future of the world was in grave doubt. The forces of evil were on the march; there were many men of impartial mind who thought the age of barbarism had already won. But the lion heart of Manuel Quezon would admit neither doubt nor despair. He threw, not without question without hesitation, the force of eighteen million Filipinos into the struggle on the side of right, on the side of the United States. In a major sense, of course, Manuel Quezon’s choice was gathered, from the hearts of his people. There was no question in their minds. There was no unwillingness on their part. The die was cast. And when the time came, when he was asked to leave his beloved land, and to wage the fight from afar, he acceded, but with painful sorrow. His heart ached at the thought of leaving his people to face their fate alone. First from Australia and then from Washington, he urged his countrymen to resist, to keep high their hopes, to maintain intact their faith in the eventual triumph of liberty.

He plunged with all his heart and soul into his new task…on the one hand as supreme leader of the forces of resistance, and on the other as the eloquent advocate, for the gathering and launching of the offensive against Japan, for the rescue of our people from their brutal bondage.

The flickering flame of physical vitality burned lower now that he was drawing from unseen reserves the last elements of energy for his final work. The fragile body which supported with so much strain the explosive energy of a dynamic mind served its fatal warning. But death was no stranger to Manuel Quezon. Often it had beckoned, never perched far distant from him. The sultry veil, which those who live call death because they cannot see beyond it, drew closer to him. Still he fought it, refused it. But as to all, even so to Manuel Quezon, death finally came. The essential task accomplished, his glorious achievements lying in brilliant array behind him, the great soul, with the strong surge of the upward flying eagle, wrenched itself from its mortal house. This life was ended.

The American nation and the American people mourned him as one of their own. The leaders of state of many lands paid him tribute. The muffled drums which sounded as the

funeral cortege wound its way through Arlington National Cemetery reverberated across distant waters. They were heard in the Philippines, and the millions here wept in unison.

I remember that day. I was at morning mass in the House of God when the tragic news was spread. Choked with grief, I prayed with all my heart for the repose of his soul, for the solace of his widow and his children, for the salvation of our people, smitten anew with this irreparable loss.

Now the storm and terror of the recent past are ended. The dark and angry clouds which long enveloped us are rolling away. The golden fingers of the new day’s light rest with healing touch upon the pain and wounds which this, our people suffered. Strong and willing hands rebuild that which is destroyed. This rich, kind earth renews itself; the blossoms of tomorrow will hide the scars of yesterday.

Now the body of our leader returns to rest. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead come reassurance, courage and hope. The spirit of Manuel Quezon which never left us, soothes with gentle balm our heavy sorrow. In the Night of Death in which he dwells, our love can hear the rustle of a wing, and the seraphic song of angels to lull our grief, to give us strength, to bring us peace. Let there then be peace, too, for Manuel Quezon; for now he belongs to the ages. May the causes for which he lived and in whose names he died…Liberty, Justice and Democracy…exult in eternal triumph!

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NOTE.─The remains of President Manuel L. Quezon arrived in Manila on July 27, 1946, at 9 o’clock in the morning, on board the United States aircraft carrier, Princeton. The last American Governor General of the Philippines, Justice Frank Murphy, in representation of the President of the United States, accompanied! The casket in its voyage across the Pacific. The arrival gave occasion for the delivery of the foregoing eulogy.

President Quezon died at 10: 05 a.m. on August 1, 1944 (American time) at Saranac Lake, New York State. In the afternoon of the next day, his body arrived in Washington, D.C., and was taken from the Union Station to St. Matthews Cathedral, where a mass for the repose of his soul was celebrated the following morning. After the religious ceremony which was attended by high officials of the Philippines, the United States and other countries, and by many Filipinos living in and around Washington, the remains were transferred to the Arlington Cemetery where they were deposited until their transfer to the Philippines.

It is of interest to note in this connection that the second Act passed by the First Congress of the new Republic appropriated P50,000.00 to defray the expenses for a state funeral and for the erection of a mausoleum to contain the remains of the late President. This mausoleum will only be temporary, for there has been created a Quezon Memorial Committee entrusted with the task of soliciting funds from the public for the construction of a permanent Quezon Memorial.

Manuel Roxas, Convention of Filipino Businessmens 1946

29 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
To the Filipino Businessmen’s Convention

[July 6, 1946]

To the delegates and officers of this convention I wish to tender my heartiest greetings.  It is most appropriate that you meet shortly after the soul-stirring birth of our infant Republic to consult with one another on her crucial problems within your special field of interest.

I look upon you as fellow architects in the vast task of national reconstruction.  Our goal is set, and all I would ask of you as you meet to propose and discuss is to remember that, in what we are determined to build, everything depends upon the quality of our construction materials, the calibre of the competence employed in their use, and the integrity with which what plan we have is enforced into concrete fulfillment.  The very substance of our opportunity for creative leadership rests on these fundamentals.

We are called upon to build firmly and durably.  This requires the best available materials, the greatest skill, the highest honesty, the most far-reaching enterprise.  Where we falter in living up to any of these basic imperatives, the result must of necessity be shoddy, shaky and ultimately disastrous.  As economic leaders of our young Republic, I beg of you to meditate on the suffering that would be visited upon our people should you neglect to lead and cooperate on the highest plane possible.

It is you who will give flesh and bone to the very pattern of our culture and destiny.  It is you who can determine the quality of living in this country of ours—whether it will be progressive, abundant and full of grace, or whether it will remain impoverished, ugly and disruptive.

I need not stress further that this is a tremendous responsibility and that you and I and everybody else must face it together; consecrate ourselves, as it were; and go at it with a heart and a will that shall not reckon the ruggedness of mountains.

I wish your convention every success.  May it be rich in ideas rooted in reality.  May it generate the passion to conquer the most stubborn obstruction.

Manuel Roxas, Cooperation with the US 1946

26 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
On the Cooperation with the United States

[July 3, 1946]

As president of the Philippine Republic, I have committed myself to a policy of frank, open and wholehearted cooperation with the United States in its foreign policy, particularly in the Far East, and toward the United Nations.

I regard the United States as the leading nation in this part of the world.  I have great faith and confidence in the fine purposes and the altruism of the United States and i am certain its foreign policy will always be inspired by these great ideals.

The United States is not looking for advantage anywhere in the Far East.  I am firm in my purpose not merely to cooperate with America’s policy in the Philippines, but also do everything in the power of the Philippine government in enabling the United States to safeguard all military, naval and airbases it may desire permanently to establish here.

As president of the Philippines, I will so arrange the defense of these islands that it may be intimately coordinated with the plans of the United States for the maintenance of defensive bases in the Philippines.  We will maintain as large an army as our resources permit and it will cooperate very closely with armed forces of the United Sates based in the Philippines.

Also, I am committed, with reservations, in favor of stimulating the influx of American capital in the Philippines.  After the destruction we have suffered, due to war, it can be truthfully said that the Philippines constitute an almost complete economic vacuum.  We do not have enough of our own capital to develop the country and, therefore, unless American capital comes to our aid we will have to depend on other foreign capital.

I wish to safeguard against this in order to avoid any future political complications which might prove most dangerous to the independence of the Philippines.

Most of the people of the Philippines, without exception, profess the most profound affection and gratitude to the people of the United States.  It is not merely because of what America has taught us before the war in showing us the ways of real democracy and thus inspiring us with an even greater love for freedom and equality it is also because of America’s liberation of our country from the hands of a cruel and inhuman enemy.

We have drunk very deeply from the fountain of America’s great history and traditions.

After we receive our independence we will continue to seek and to maintain as close relationship with the United States as possible.  Perhaps not always will we be able to maintain a close political relationship, but an intimate cooperation with American institutions will remain and endure.

We will always continue teaching the English language in our public schools.  We will attentively watch America’s leadership in world affairs.

I truly hope there will be no more war.  However, should future events prove otherwise and the United States once again takes up arms in defense of liberty and human rights, i am sure the people of the Philippines will consider it not only merely an honor but also their duty to fight alongside the Americans.

Benigno S. Aquino III, Turn-over Ceremonies of Southville 9 Housing Units 2010

22 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the Turn-over Ceremonies of the Southville 9 Housing Units

[October 14, 2010, Bgy Pinugay, Baras, Rizal]

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council; Governor Jun Yñares; Vice Governor Frisco San Juan, Jr.; Mayor Wilfredo Robles; Atty. Chito Cruz, General Manager of the National Housing Authority; mga naimbitang panauhin; mga iba pa nating kasamahan; mga residente ng Rizal; mga kababayan: Isang napakagandang araw sa ating lahat.

Sa likod ng mahigpit nating schedule, hindi po tayo nagdalawang-isip na samahan kayo sa araw na ito. Ang personal na pag-aabot sa inyo ng mga tahanang ito ay isang karangalan. Maraming salamat sa inyong imbitasyon.

Paroo’t parito na po ang unos na dumaan sa ating bansa sa mga nagdaang taon. Bagyo man o baha, lindol man o landslide, tila naging karaniwang pangyayari na sa atin ang mga iba’t-ibang sakuna. Subalit ipinakita natin sa isa’t-isa at sa buong mundo: kailanma’y hindi tayo magpapatinag. Sama-sama tayong umaahon sa bawat paglubog; buong bayan tayong bumabangon sa bawat pagkasadlak. Sa pagbabayanihan, pinatunayan nating wala tayong hindi kayang gawin. Kaliwa’t kanan man ang sumpong ng sakuna, basta tayo ay nagtutulungan, kailanma’y walang makakatibag sa atin.

Mahigit isang taon na ang lumipas nang hinagupit tayo ni Ondoy. Isang taon, ngunit alam kong parang kailan lang para sa ilan sa inyo. Nalinis man ang mga daan, may bakas pa rin ng kahirapang iniwan sa karamihan. Sa dami ng mga nawalan ng bahay, iilan pa lamang ang nare-relocate sa maayos na tirahan. Marami pa ring nakatira sa mga lugar na malapit sa panganib ng baha, sakaling dumating muli ang mga ganitong kalamidad.

Hanga po ako sa mga tulad ninyo: matitibay sa likod ng mga pagsubok. Sagisag kayo ng katatagan ng isang tunay na Pilipino.

Tulad ninyo, maraming kinaharap at kinakaharap na hamon ang ating administrasyon. Sa kabila ng mga ito, hindi rin tayo magpapatinag. Ngayong nakamit na natin ang tagumpay, saka pa ba tayo bibigay? Sa pagwaksi sa malubhang kondisyong dulot ng kahirapan, sa inyo pa rin nanggagaling ang aking lakas. Tayo po ay nagdadamayan at sa ganitong paraan, lahat tayo ay magtatagumpay.

Ilang buwan pa lamang matapos tayong mailuklok sa pagkapangulo, agad na po nating hinarap ang mga problemang ito. Kabalikat ang iba’t ibang ahensiya—ang HUDCC, na itinatag ng aking ina at ngayo’y nasa kamay ng ating Bise Presidente; ang mga sangay nito na tulad ng NHA; at mga lokal na pamunuan—naninindigan tayo upang makamit ng ating mga kababayan ang layuning magkaroon ng maayos, maipagmamalaki at sarili nilang tahanan.

Ang pagbabahagi natin ng mga pabahay sa Southville 9 Housing Project ay bagong pinto para sa bagong buhay – isang pagbubukas ng inyong mas magandang simula, at pagsasara sa kung anumang alaalang dala ng nakaraan. Ngayon, abot-kamay na natin ang pinapangarap nating bahay at lupa para sa ating mga pamilya.

Sa kasalukuyan, mula sa target na 2,800 na housing units, 2,600 na ang naipagawa at may 957 na pamilya na tayong nailipat at nabigyan ng disenteng tahanan. Patuloy pa po natin itong dadagdagan. Pangarap ko pong makita na ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ay magkaroon ng sarili nilang bahay at lupa. Kaya naman po natin higit na pinapatibay ang mga programang pabahay.

At batid po nating walang silbi ang pagkakatayo ng libu-libong tahanan kung wala namang nakaugat ditong aktibo at maunlad na pamayanan. Kaya naman po maliban sa inyong mga bahay, naniguro po tayo na may mga community at livelihood facilities na magagamit ninyo sa pagpapaunlad ng iyong kabuhayan. Sa kasalukuyan po ay may Baras National High School at Day Care Center na po tayong mapapasukan ng ating mga anak. Nagagamit na din po natin ang ating Multi-Purpose Hall, ang Ynares Learning Center at ang covered court. Lahat po ng ito ay bunga ng maigting na pakikipag-ugnayan ng lokal na pamahalaan sa mga pribadong sektor at mga NGOs. Maraming salamat po sa inyo.  Kayo ang patunay na sa mga ganitong public-private partnerships, walang ibang direksyon ang ating bayan kundi kaunlaran lamang.

At hindi po dito magtatapos ang pagkakaisang ito. Magdadagdag pa po tayo ng labinlimang (15) silid-aralan para hindi na po magsiksikan ang ating mga anak sa mga eskwelahan. Maliban sa barangay hall, palengke at kapilya, itataguyod din po natin ang isang multi-purpose hall para sa iba’t-ibang programang pangkabuhayan na maaari ninyong pagkakitaan at health center upang mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng inyong pamilya. Lahat po ng ito, magagawa lamang kung bawat isa sa atin ay buong-pagkukusang mag-aambag sa katuparan ng ating pinapangarap na maunlad na pamayanan. Lahat po ng ito ay walang-tigil na isinusulong ng ating administrasyon dahil nagtitiwala kaming buhay ang diwa ng People Power, at handa ang bawat Pilipinong magbayanihan upang tapusin na ang kahirapan.

At hindi po nagtatapos sa pagtugon ng iilang problema ang ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan. Sa tulong muli ng lokal na gobyerno, sisiguruhin po nating may mga ahensiyang nakatalaga sa paghahanda upang maiwasan ang mga paparating na kalamidad.  Mas magiging maagap na rin po tayo tuwing may mga bagyo matapos nating repasuhin ang weather forecasting system ng PAGASA. Malalaman niyo na po agad, hindi lang ang mga natural na sakunang parating, kundi maging ang mga nararapat ninyong gawin upang makaiwas sa perwisyong maaaring idulot nito. Lahat po ng ito ay ginagawa natin para sa inyong kapakanan at kaligtasan.

Kasabay po sa matagumpay na pag-aabot ng mga tahanang ito ang patuloy ninyong pakikipagtulungan sa gobyerno. Makilahok, sa halip na magreklamo; makibahagi sa solusyon sa halip na dumagdag sa gulo. Nasa iisang bubong na muli tayo. Marami pa tayong kailangang gawin; marami pa tayong kailangang kumpunihin sa nag-iisa nating bayan.

Sa inyong lahat: welcome home. Heto na ang inyong mga bagong tahanan: pugad ng kaginhawaan, at harinawa’t pugad ng darating na masaganang kinabukasan para sa inyong pamilya.

Maraming salamat po.

Manuel Roxas, Ratification of Executive Agreement with USA, 1946

21 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
On the Ratification of the Executive Agreement with the U.S.A.

[June 21, 2946]

MR. SPEAKER, MR. PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS:

I have asked that this joint session be called in order that I may report to the Congress on the actions now required to provide for future trade and economic relations with the United States.

The American Congress has lately passed a Philippine Trade Act and a Philippine War Damage Act Those two acts provide the pattern of United States aid for our reconstruction and for the rehabilitation of our national economy. Without this assistance we are faced immediately by disaster. Without the helping hand thus extended to us, I do not believe we can survive.

I do not pretend to tell this Congress that this legislation or the money voted us by the United States Congress will automatically accomplish the rehabilitation of the Philippines. It is my duty to advise you that we must look forward to years of sacrifice and toil to accomplish our aims. Our future is grim, brightened only by the patriotic determination of the Filipino people to succeed, at whatever cost.

In my report to the Congress on the state of the nation, I described our present precarious economic condition. We are today living through the most crucial period of our life as a nation. Each day brings its crisis to our attention. We are faced by difficulties and decisions which test our capabilities to lead our people.

The obstacles are great and numerous. They will require all our wisdom and courage. One of our sources of hope is the help we have been offered by the United States. That nation which is about to grant us our freedom has also tendered to us the means of solving our economic problems, a protected place in the American market for 28 years and funds to help us rebuild our shattered land.

Such are the purposes of the Trade Act and the War Damage Act. I am directing your attention today largely to the Trade Act which grants us the protection of American tariff preferences.

The American Congress, in order to provide those trade preferences, had to cut across all the protective features of American tariff law. These preferences are being offered exclusively to the Philippines.

A new and unprecedented legal formula had to be devised. That formula consists of an Executive Agreement to be negotiated by the President of the United States with the President of the Philippines. Authorization for the Agreement is contained in section 401 of the Trade Act. That section also requires the acceptance by the Philippine Congress of the Agreement and the implementation by law of all the terms of that Agreement. We must agree to continue these provisions in force after we become a Republic and finally we must agree to take steps to amend our Constitution to provide certain rights for American citizens which are now at variance with the Constitution. I am already authorized by the United States Congress to enter into such an Executive Agreement with the President of the United States but it is expressly provided that this Agreement cannot be proclaimed and put into effect until this Congress accepts the Agreement by law.

I wish to report to the Congress, therefore, that I am proceeding to negotiate this Executive Agreement in accordance with the provisions of the Trade Act. As soon as it is complete and duly signed, I will submit it to this Congress for approval. I hope to be able to present the Agreement to you early next week. I am making every effort to hasten the conclusion of negotiations in order to give the Congress as much time as possible to reach a decision.

This Congress has never been asked to deliberate upon a more vital matter. Your decision will determine the fate of this nation for the next generation. I need not ask the gentlemen of the Congress to lay politics and political expediency aside. I know that regardless of party or faction every one of you recognizes his heavy responsibility. I ask merely that you examine all the facts and make your decisions accordingly. My recommendations are well known by now. I propose that you approve the Executive Agreement that I will soon transmit to you. It is my considered judgment that to do otherwise would be to invite economic and finally political catastrophe.

The Trade Act and some of its provisions have been under violent attack in some parts of the press and in some public circles during the past two months. I would like to be able to say that public discussion has been in progress. I am afraid I cannot describe what has been going on as discussion. There have been misrepresentations and misstatements of fact. Some political leaders have been willing to make capital out of a question which should be above politics. I shall undertake, in the course of this report, to present the facts regarding this legislation and to correct some of the gross misrepresentations which have been made. I have no doubt as to what your decision will finally be. Yet I feel that the Filipino people have the right to be correctly informed, to have their fears set at rest, and to view in intelligent perspective the proposals which have been made.

There are perhaps some plausible arguments against some portions of the Philippine Trade Act. If I had been permitted to promulgate it by personal edict, it would have been different in many respects from the Act we are considering today. But no one man can hope to see his own ideas completely accepted in an act of Congress. It is well if that this is so.

Let me recall, for the benefit of those who might not know, the procedure by which the United States Congress enacts legislation. There are introduced into the Congress at every session an average of 8,000 different measures.  Of this tremendous number no more than a few hundred are ever acted upon. The rest die in committee. Many desirable proposals suffer this fate. Any controversial measure to be approved by Congress must have a support so widespread as to demand priority over all others clamoring for congressional attention. Many proposals urgently desired by the national administration never see the light of day. In a Congress occupied by so many various and conflicting concerns, there is no other way.

Those of us who are old enough to remember can well recall the difficulties we faced in getting Philippine legislation through past Congresses when national problems in the United States were far less complex than they are today. It was only by a coalition of divergent interests that the first independence act was forced through the American Congress. It took that same coalition, backed irresistibly by an administration in the first flush of its early prestige, to secure the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act.

Today we have one strong advantage in Congress that we never had before: wholehearted and unselfish concern for our welfare. But all the sectional and economic interests must still be reckoned with and must be reconciled in any piece of major legislation affecting them.

Moreover, each administrative department of the federal government is called upon to make a minute inspection of all legislation to insure that it is in conformity with the overall policies of the United States. The views of all these departments must be taken into consideration. There is established by these means a long and dangerous gauntlet of individual guardians of particular interests and policies. Such a system is inevitable for the maintenance of a continuous national policy in a nation so huge and with interests so vast.

I have gone into some detail in sketching this background. It was not without reason. I hope you will now realize how difficult it is to get legislation which satisfies any particular group or which conforms to any ideal plan.

The Trade Act had to run such a gauntlet. For six months it was considered by the various committees of Congress. It was entirely revised no less than five times during this process. In the end it required no less than the personal intervention of President Truman to effect a reconciliation of many viewpoints and interests.

Filipino officials representing this Government during the framing of this legislation desired at first perpetual free trade but later agreed to 20 years of free trade. Senator Tydings proposed twelve years of gradually increasing tariffs. The State Department insisted upon the elimination of preferences at the earliest possible date. The Agriculture Department was opposed to granting the Philippines a sugar quota. There were other departments which had similar strong views on various aspects of the legislation. In September, 1945, the first Bell Bill was introduced providing 20 years of free trade. A few weeks later the first Tydings Bill was introduced providing twelve years of gradually increasing tariffs. In October, Senator Tydings introduced a second bill prescribing twelve years of declining trade preferences and authorizing 100,000,000 dollars in war damages. In November, President Truman brought about the compromise between the Bell and Tydings proposals. Senator Tydings, President Osmeña, Representative Bell, High Commissioner McNutt and representatives of the administrative departments agreed to a plan for 8 years of free trade and 25 years of gradually decreasing preferences. The period of declining preferences was later shortened to 20 years. That is substantially the proposal which is before us today.

Many hearings were held on this measure before both the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committees. Those hearings extended over a period of six months. The Philippine representative in Congress, Commissioner Romulo, testified many times. High Commissioner McNutt testified at great length and on many occasions. President Osmeña sent letters to the Congress which are in the record for all to read. As long ago as last October 12 he appealed for the passage of the Bell Bill. Commissioner Romulo has consistently asked the approval of this measure in all its various forms. Commissioner McNutt spent two and a half months in Washington, from February until April, in a supreme and finally successful effort to get this legislation through. Without his patient and tireless efforts, I do not believe that any of the Philippine legislation would have been passed before now.

The Trade and War Damage bills were finally approved in April of this year. Much has been said recently regarding so-called onerous provisions in these Acts. But all the violent protests are of very recent vintage. It is a fact that there was no formal protest from Philippine sources until this legislation was on the point of passing―on the eve of our national elections, to be exact. Let us examine some of these protests, with some reference, perhaps, to their timing.             I shall speak first of all of section 341 of the Trade Act, which provides as follows:

“The disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if open to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the United States citizens.”

This is the so-called equal rights provision. In order to fulfill the obligations imposed upon us by this provision we must amend our Constitution. Had I been in Washington at the time, I would have vigorously protested against its unilateral quality and, had it been insisted upon, I would have suggested other means of accomplishing the same objective. If we trace the legislative history of this provision, we will find that it was in the first version of the Bell Bill introduced on September 25th, 1945. It was accepted at that time by the Commonwealth Government. I have assurance that it was approved by a former Secretary of Finance as well as by the head of the Commonwealth Government. No opposition to it was even expressed until November 16th, when it was mildly suggested by the Resident Commissioner that this provision should better be, included in a treaty of friendship. But the same provision persisted in every successive version of the Bell Bill. It was insisted upon most vigorously by Representative Harold Knutson, the author of what is now known as the Knutson Amendment.

Today we are faced by the fact that section 341 is a part of the Trade Act. There is no way of divorcing it from the Trade Act. If I could, I would remove it, not because of the alleged dangers it holds for us—I believe these to be non-existent―but rather because of the manner and form in which it is included. I do not believe that these reasons should weigh too heavily with us at this time, confronted as we are with the fact that this provision is part of the law. I have no fear whatsoever that the granting to American citizens of rights equal to those of Filipinos in the development of our natural resources will bring about an imperialistic exploitation of our country. This was not the intention of Congress. I am certain it will not happen.

It is perhaps too distant in the past for most of us to remember, but it is most interesting to note, that the provision in our Constitution protecting our natural resources from exploitation is not of Filipino but of American origin. The prevention of this exploitation has been the constant concern of the American Government from the very beginning of the occupation in 1898. Our laws restricting the acquisition of public lands and the development of our mineral resources can be traced back to the first Philippine Bill approved by the United States Congress in 1902. These wise provisions were implemented by the Philippine Commission and consistently repeated in the successive organic acts until finally these provisions found lodgment in our Constitution.

It seems to me therefore that to suspect the American Congress of conspiring to open the flood-gates to an imperialistic deluge, is to deny every fact we know. To impute this motive to the United States Government is to ascribe evil to virtue itself and to put an ugly countenance upon the noble stewardship maintained here by the United States for the past 48 years. A nation that for these many years has striven patiently and at great cost to uplift us politically and socially, a nation that has preserved for us our national patrimony so that when we shall become independent we may enjoy it in full measure and pass it on to our posterity—such a nation does not deserve the scurrilous attacks which have lately been made. I can ascribe those attacks only to lack of information or to malice. They do not befit our dignity as a people or nation. They arouse resentment among our trusted friends in Congress to whom it is proposed that we appeal for redress.

Today those who make these attacks are furnishing ammunition to the enemies of democracy elsewhere in the world. They are besmirching the good name of the nation which, more than any other, is the hope of all the underprivileged and defenseless peoples of the earth.

No, I will not attribute such motives to the American Congress. I will not believe that Congress intended any unworthy purpose. The Congressional intent was simply to invite and encourage American capital to invest in the Philippines and aid in our rehabilitation. The equal rights provision was not designed as a protection for American interests already here—it is intended to reassure potential investors that the Philippines is a safe area for enterprise, safe against discrimination for the next 28 years. Every responsible Filipino leader I know desires American capital enterprise and know-how to participate actively in our reconstruction. Our rehabilitation would be impossible without such assistance. The only question is the means of inviting that capital to venture here. Congress selected a means with which we may disagree as to form. We cannot disagree as to the objective. To seek the elimination of that provision at this time would be to warn American investors and American enterprise not to come to the Philippines. That would be suicidal for us. I will not propose it.

That does not mean that we should not be on guard against ruthless exploitation and imperialism. We must maintain a constant vigilance against the dangers of such exploitation by persons of any alien nationality, or even by Filipinos. We now have ample legal safeguards to accomplish that. The Government need not open up lands or resources for development or can halt at any time the dissipation of such resources. The Government itself can assume the responsibility of their development. The Government has the power to expropriate public utilities; the Government has the power to tax and control conditions of employment. Of course we shall not use those powers except to prevent abuses. But if abuses occur, we shall not hesitate to use the legal authority that is already available or set up new devices of restriction and control to protect our national interests. The Executive Agreement will set up no barriers to our exercise of all legal means to prevent predatory exploitation or the domination of our economy by selfish economic interests. Commissioner McNutt himself has publicly urged us to maintain such safeguards. And in the very remote possibility that the American Government should ever change its policy and seek to further imperialistic designs here, we have the recourse of terminating the Executive Agreement on five years’ notice.

I wish to emphasize again and again that all the arguments which have been made against this provision have been based not on facts but on fears. I refuse to be frightened by the ghost of imperialism. Americans have had equal rights—potentially more than equal rights― for 48 years in the Philippines. America could have made of the Philippines a Belgian Congo. I look about me and see no evidence of outrageous exploitation. Instead of being made slaves we have been freed. Instead of teaching us obedience, America has taught us love of liberty. Instead of overseers, America has sent us teachers. Since 1913, the balance of trade between the United States and the Philippines has been heavily in our favor in every single year until the outbreak of the war. If this provision, whatever its form, will help us survive economically as an independent nation, I will go along with it for the emergency period. I do not propose to sacrifice the national welfare on the altar of pride. I will not be Lazarus on a heap of ruins.

At the proper time I shall propose the required amendment to our Constitution but I shall recommend it as an Ordinance appended to the Constitution to be effective only during the life of the Executive Agreement.

I will now refer to section 402, sub-section (f). This is the provision pegging the peso to the dollar. It has been cited as an infringement upon our sovereignty and free choice. Those who make that citation forget, perhaps, that the peso is already pegged to the dollar in the Bretton Woods International Monetary Agreement which has been duly ratified by the Philippine Senate. In a world searching for security, the stability of monetary values is an economic essential. We cannot expect to retain the freedom to raise or lower the value of our peso and retain the confidence of traders in other parts of the world. As far as pegging the peso to the dollar is concerned, the dollar is the standard of value for all world currencies today. By connecting our peso with the American dollar, we stand within the magic and charmed circle of standard value, the dollar area, to which all currencies are being attracted today. This provision does no more than require us to do something which it is to our own unquestioned interest to do. But if this arrangement should work a hardship on us, we are not without recourse. The ratio of the peso to the dollar can be changed with the approval of the President of the United States.

Some voices have been raised in protest against the absolute quotas provided for certain of our exports to the United States. It is said that this is discrimination. Such a charge cannot in my judgment be maintained. These quotas are the very same—in the case of cigars, our new quota is greater―that we had in the American market before the war. The quotas were originally established as a compromise to allay the opposition of American commodity interests who had protested in years past against unlimited imports from the Philippines on a duty-free basis in competition with similar American commodities.

These quotas are now being continued in the post-independence period as an offset against the trade preferences we are given. But these fixed quotas are now a source of considerable advantage to us. By establishing a ceiling on the amount of these commodities we can ship to the United States, we are automatically forced, after our production reaches quota limits, to diversify in other non-quota fields. That is one advantage we gain. A second benefit lies in the 28-year insurance of these quotas. We are assured for that period of time of having a market for these goods up to the amount of our quota. No other country has such an assurance.

In the case of sugar, all producing areas including those inside continental United States are under quota, but none of these areas has a quota assurance for a period longer than two years. In the Philippines we are given a 28-year guarantee, a guarantee which supersedes any sugar act which Congress might pass in the future. The same is true of cordage.

The President of the United States is given authority to establish quotas on other Philippine commodities entering the United States when those imports threaten American producing interests. That is also a fair safeguard. As long as the United States grants us the privilege of preferential tariffs, we must respect America’s right to safeguard her own interest against Philippine products which have a market in the United States as a result of tariff protection.

We are told that there are no quotas on American commodities entering the Philippines. For the time being we desire none. We want as many imports as we can possibly get. If, during the course of the 28 years of the Agreement, we find any Philippine industry threatened by imports from America, we are free, in my judgment, to establish quotas on those imports or devise other means of protecting our infant industries. I find nothing unreciprocal about this provision.

One other aspect of the rehabilitation legislation against which criticisms have been leveled is the so-called tie-up between the Trade Act and the War Damage Act. That connection is established by section 601 of the War Damage Act which provides that no war damage payments in excess of 1,000 pesos may be made to private individuals or corporations until the Executive Agreement has been proclaimed to be in effect by the President of the United States. This provision has been described as a club to require our acceptance of the Bell Act. I consider this allegation to be completely baseless. Honestly speaking, I see no particular purpose in section 601 since to my mind the Trade Act is as essential, if not more so, to our national welfare as the War Damage Act and it is inconceivable to me that the Executive Agreement provided in the Trade Act could be rejected. There is a natural and organic connection between the two Acts. In the original Tydings version they were both in the same bill and were separated only for reasons of legislative convenience to make simultaneous consideration in the Senate and the House possible.

Actually and legally section 601 associates only part of the war damage payments with the Executive Agreement. Regardless of whether we accept the Executive Agreement, the P240,000,000 for the reconstruction of our public buildings, roads, bridges, and harbors are still to be spent in our behalf. The P200,000,000 worth of surplus property will still be transferred to us. Private war damage payments up to 1,000 pesos are to be made in any event. The other payments are made contingent upon the effectiveness of the Executive Agreement only because they are part of the pattern of economic reconstruction. It would be senseless, for instance, to make payment for the reconstruction of a sugar central or a coconut mill if there were no market for the sugar or the coconut oil. It was the clear and consistent intention of Congress that the War Damage funds be used for the rehabilitation of industries destroyed by war. Special and careful provision is made in the War Damage Act to prevent individuals from collecting war damages and transferring the payments out of the Philippines. Buildings and structures must be rebuilt or in process of rebuilding, as a condition precedent to receiving war damage payments. Hence it was decided that these payments would not be authorized unless there were trade provisions permitting these industries to exist.

Let us not imagine that the war damage authorization represents a windfall of dollars ready to be distributed among us for whatever purposes might meet individual fancies. These funds are carefully earmarked and their expenditure safeguarded so that they must be used for rehabilitation purposes. But these funds alone are only a part of the amount of money that will be needed to rebuild our land. Vast amounts of fresh capital must be attracted to accompany the war damage money to give us a productive economy adequate to our needs. Of the $620,000,000 authorized for war damage payments, $400,000,000 is set aside to compensate for damage to private property. That $400,000,000 must be divided among all the claimants and the number of claimants will total more than half a million. According to the survey of the War Damage Corporation of the United States Government, total losses suffered by private persons and corporations amounted to $464,420,000. Damage inflicted on church property amounted to $139,000,000. These figures are today considered extremely conservative. All these losses must be met out of the $400,000,000 authorized by Congress. These losses include automobiles, household furniture, and office equipment. The buildings which were damaged include club houses, auditoriums and theaters. The amount of money which will be paid out for the rehabilitation of productive enterprises is but a part of the total available amount. And if that amount is the only money we have for the rehabilitation of our economy, those who pin all their hopes on war damage payments may look forward to a rude awakening.

It was not the intention of Congress to make these payments a bribe to induce our acceptance of the Trade Act, because Congress well knew the war damage money is but a fraction of the capital we require. The Bell Act provision and the subsequent encouragement of trade and productive enterprise are in themselves intended as an inducement and as a lure for capital investment here. Without that investment we are lost. No bank will lend us money unless we have a productive economy. We cannot have a productive economy without markets and without the capital required to produce for those markets. The three elements of our rehabilitation are first, a market for our goods; second, capital to enable us to revive our production; and third, labor and enterprise to produce. To coordinate this trilogy the United States Congress provided, first, trade preferences; second, assurances to capital; and third, a part of the funds we will need to rebuild and reconstruct. To strike out any one of these elements is to destroy the whole of the master plan for our rehabilitation.

I have gone into great detail in regard to the so-called onerous provisions of the Trade Act. It might be well by contrast to recite the beneficial provisions regarding which there can be no question.

The Trade Act provides eight years of completely free trade and twenty years of gradually increasing tariffs or declining duty-free quotas as the case may be. For sugar and cordage, for instance, increasing tariffs are provided. For coconut oil, tobacco products and some others which could not withstand the imposition of any tariffs, declining duty-free quotas are stipulated.

These are provisions which have never been made for any other foreign country on earth. These are provisions which violate America’s basic international trade policies. Yet without these provisions, our industries cannot even begin to function. The tariff preferences are basically and fundamentally essential to us.

When consideration of this legislation was begun seven months ago, it was believed an impossible task to secure congressional approval of such provisions. But in the end, they were approved.

The tariff duties, when they begin to be assessed against our products in 1954, are to be assessed at the lowest world duty charged to any nation in the world including Cuba. That means that Cuba, for instance, which has enjoyed a 20 per cent preferential in the American market since 1901, will be at a disadvantage compared to the Philippines until 1974.

It also means that products which are found on the free list for Cuba, and for Cuba alone, as, for instance manganese, will be on the free list for the Philippines for the full 28-year period of the Agreement.

We are guaranteed a two-cent preferential in processing taxes on our copra, also for 28 years, thus guaranteeing for that period an exclusive market in the United States for Philippine copra. No other country can compete in the face of this preferential.

Whereas, the United States agrees to tie its hands in the allocation of sugar quotas and in the assessment of processing taxes on coconut oil for those 28 years, we make no such concession. This is a provision completely unilateral in our favor, completely non-reciprocal.

The United States, under this Act, in effect revises all its tariff laws, all its reciprocal trade agreements with all the countries in the world, departs from its own international trade policy, and sets up a special trade relationship with the Philippines.

It might be well for us to remember that our forthcoming independence is a free grant by the United States. Added to that grant are the economic privileges I have already referred to. The nation whose productive power and armed might brought Germany and Japan to their knees is committed to the guarantee of our security and of our survival. We could have no more magnificent sponsor of our independence.

We are a prostrate nation. The apparent well-being of some of our citizens today leads them to puff up with dignity, like the bullfrog of Aesop’s fable. But let us look at the real plight of our people, and the real situation which stares at us from every quarter.

What if we reject the Executive Agreement, and assert our pride and dignity and demand that Americans stay out of the Philippines and refrain from making investments here? What is our situation then? What are our prospects, on the one hand of obtaining a better bill, and on the other of getting along without the Trade Act at all? In the first place, I do not believe we could at this time get a better Act. After July 4th, we will be without congressional representation. Any proposition submitted to Congress in our behalf after July 4th must be the product of an inter-departmental agreement within the United States Administration. I do not think such an agreement possible without months of deliberation. And while these deliberations are going on, the Congress will adjourn. This is an election year in the United States.

While the present Congress is favorably disposed toward us, I cannot forecast the complexion or attitude of the next Congress.

We, ourselves, are not agreed on what a perfect trade formula would be. Some are against free trade. Some are for perpetual free trade. Some wish our pre-war industries revived. Some wish them to remain destroyed.

Should we be so foolish as to ask the United States Government to reconsider, I doubt if there would be legislation enacted before 1948. I doubt whether it would be as satisfactory legislation as that which we have today.

What of the other alternative, of dispensing with the Trade Act entirely?

Let us look at the facts of life. After July 4th, without this Executive Agreement, we will be on a full foreign duty basis, like any other foreign nation, with respect to the United States.

The sugar, tobacco, and coconut oil industries will be dead. So, too, will be embroideries, and pearl buttons, and probably cordage. Our exports for some years to come will consist of copra and abaca, and chrome. There will even be a tariff against our manganese. It will be many months before we can mine gold again.

That means, at pre-war production levels, an income from exports of approximately 60 million pesos, using current prices as a standard. Our imports this year from the United States will be valued at approximately 600 million pesos. If we are to rehabilitate ourselves, the amount of imports must be increased next year. The result will be that at the end of 1947, we will have denuded the Philippines of practically every peso and every centavo which the American GI’s and others brought in here, the so-called nest-egg on which we have been living and doing business for the past 18 months. We will be penniless.

It is easy to say that we can raise our own food and live, as we lived under the Japanese. Do we wish to push our people back into the middle ages of subsistence and economic isolationism? Of course, we do not. But unless we attract capital from abroad, and even more important, unless we can begin immediately to increase our exports of our major cash crops, we are doomed to disaster and worse.

We must be reminded that should we reject this Trade Act, and deprive ourselves of preferential markets, we prejudice completely our applications for loans from the United States Government. No government would lend us money in the absence of a productive economy that would permit us to repay the loan.

I do not think that there is any question of confronting such a situation. There is no reason to expect that this Congress will refuse to meet this question in its true light.

I have described and defended the Trade Act at great length. I sincerely believe that we have only one choice, and that is, to accept it. Let me point out to the Congress, that were we to be actuated by partisan considerations, the majority party might oppose this legislation. We are not responsible for it. We had nothing to do with its formulation or passage. But we do not intend to take a partisan attitude toward a question which involves our national existence.

One supplementary reason for this stand is our strong conviction that, as we approach independence, we must establish firmly the principle of continuity of foreign policy. I know of no more vital principle for the promotion of the respect of the world for our nationhood, for our stability, for our political maturity. I will not put this Government in a position of denying the commitments entered into with the United States by the last administration, merely for a doubtful political advantage. I believe it my patriotic duty to follow this policy. I hope to see developed among our people an understanding that politics halts at the water’s edge. We will not, we must not, play politics with our commitments abroad.

I have placed before you a momentous choice. There is no time for delay. We cannot gamble with the lives of our people. They must have assurance of future work. We must draw now the pattern of national reconstruction to permit the development of a broader, a richer, a more productive economy, than we ever had in the past.

All the dreams we have dreamed, of democracy, of social security, of agrarian reform, of prosperity and happiness for our people, hinge on your actions and your debates. By the wisdom of your decisions hangs the fate of this nation. In imposing this responsibility upon you, I need not go further. I need not indicate to you at any greater length the course you should follow.

I appeal to your patriotism and to the love I know every member here holds for his native land, to act in good conscience for the welfare of his country. Chart now the course this nation must follow in the years to come. Tell our people now that you have faith in our nation and in the ability of their Government to safeguard them from evil. Tell them that their struggles and sacrifices of the past four years were not in vain, and that the Republic of the Philippines is soon to reap the benefits of those sacrifices and struggles.

The basic blueprint of our economic recovery is here. It is for you to accept. It is for you even to reject. I assure the Congress that in accepting and in implementing the program that has been designed, they will be giving to the people of the Philippines, and to our friends and well-wishers throughout the world, the signal that we are on our way in a great crusade, 18,000,000 strong, to reach the haven of economic security which all the world is seeking today.

Manuel Roxas, Inaugural Speech

20 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
As President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

[May 28, 1946]

MY COUNTRYMEN:

I have taken my oath as President of the Philippines to defend and support the Constitution and to enforce the laws of our country. I assume in all humbleness the complex responsibilities, which you have chosen to give me. I pledge my effort and my life to discharge them with whatever talent, strength and energy I can muster. But those responsibilities must be shared by the Congress, by the other branches of government, and, in the last analysis, by all the people of the Philippines who face together the great test of the future. I would not be content to assume this office, I would not have the hope to discharge the duties assigned me if I were not confident that my country- men are ready and capable of sharing in full measure the work and sacrifices which lie ahead. Certainly no people in recent history have been called upon to surmount the obstacles which confront us today. But I have supreme faith in the ability of our people to reach the goals we seek. I ask from the nation the full and undivided support of heart, mind and energy for the necessary tasks which await us.

In our traditions there are ample sources of inspiration. From the recent past we have the standard of dynamic leadership erected by Manuel Quezon, that mighty champion of independence and great friend and benefactor of the masses of the people. We have the spotless integrity and noble patriotism of Sergio Osmeña who grasped the banner of leadership when the incomparable Quezon was taken from us.

Our appointment with destiny is upon us. In five weeks we will be a free Republic. Our noble aspirations for nationhood, long cherished and arduously contended for by our people, will be realized. We will enter upon a new existence in which our individual lives will form together a single current, recognized and identified in the ebb and flow of world events as distinctly Filipino.

Yet look about you, my fellow-citizens. The tragic evidence of recent history stares at us from the broken ruins of our cities and the wasting acres of our soil. Beneath the surface of our daily strivings lie deep the wounds of war and economic prostration. The toppled columns of the Legislative Building before which we stand are mute and weeping symbols of the land we have inherited from war.

Unemployment is increasing, as the United States armed forces decrease the tempo of activities here. Our soldiers are being discharged in growing numbers to swell the ranks of those who must find work and livelihood. Many of those who have work are employed in trades dependent on the rapidly shrinking expenditures of the Army and Navy.

There is hunger among us. In the mountain provinces and in other far-flung areas of our land children starve. Prices race with wages in the destructive elevators of inflation. The black market with all its attendant evils of disrespect for law and public morality thrives in the channels of commerce.

Plagues of rats and locusts gnaw at our food supplies. Public health and sanitation have been set back a quarter of a century.

Housing for most of our urban citizens is shocking in its inadequacy and squalor. Disease and epidemic threaten, and we have to thank the Divine Providence that the toll of death is still relatively small.

Our communications are destroyed, stolen or disrupted, and many of our countrymen are still today cut off from the main currents of national life. Schools have been burned and teachers have been killed, our educational system is in large measure a shambles.

I have sketched a dark landscape, a bleak prospect for our future. I have not meant unduly to dramatize our ills. I do not wish to parade the sackcloth and ashes of our people. Nevertheless it is necessary to know the truth.  Many of us live today in the chambered Nautilus of our own mental construction. There are those who close their eyes to the problems that confront us, and prefer to direct the national attention and the national energy at objects outside ourselves, at fancied enemies, at fancied fears of imperialistic aggression. The coincidence of easy money and high prices gives to some of our people the false illusion of national prosperity and the mad notion that we have time to dally and debate. The prosperity of money and prices is a hallucination, a nightmarish dream resulting from the scarcity of commodities and the influx of a half billion dollars of troop money. Soon, very soon, we must awake from that dream. We will find that mere money, bloated by inflation and circulating in narrow channels, does not bring about prosperity and national well being. Every day, that money is being siphoned from our land by more and more imports—not productive imports, but imports of consumption. The well-being of the tradesman alone is not the well-being of our people. Disaster awaits us tomorrow if we do not rouse ourselves and get back to work, to productive work.

I recall our national temper and our national condition five years ago, the last year of the generation of peace.

We had then a land of comparative plenty. The products of our fields and farms were flowing in a never-ending stream across the oceans to the United States, to Europe, to China―even to Japan and Russia. The Government was rich in revenue from taxes, from customs, and from the refunded collections on Philippine products processed and taxed in the United States. We were in the midst of a program aimed at the eventual achievement of social justice for the underprivileged elements of our population. Yes, we had those elements then, as we have them now. We must not imagine that economic maladjustments, land hunger and farm tenancy are problems born of recent years. They are as old as our present civilization in the Philippines.

The brutal hand of war spread its breadth across our land and blotted out not only our progress toward a fuller life for all, but our entire economy, all the economic goods and tools we had amassed by a century of labor. We had not expected to be a battleground. We had not expected war. Nor were we alone among the peoples of the earth in our lack of understanding of the military aims of our enemies.

We were treacherously attacked; soon, despite the unmeasured heroism of our men at arms and of their gallant American comrades on Bataan and Corregidor, despite the magnificent courage and leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, our land was conquered. A new sovereignty, by dint of force, was imposed upon us. From the beginning the Filipinos had indicated by word and deed that the fate of the United States in this global conflict was the fate of the Philippines. President Quezon offered the United States the blood and treasure of the Filipino people until victory came. We did not then realize how complete that offer was!

For three and a half years we were an unwilling part of the Japanese sphere of conquest. But though the land was possessed, there was never a moment in which our hearts or convictions faltered. The Filipinos discharged their debt of allegiance to the United States with a payment of loyalty which has never been surpassed.

I need not refer further in phrase or word to the gallantry of our countrymen in their resistance to the Japanese. The deeds of the Filipino people have been celebrated wherever men have gathered to pay tribute to heroism, courage and fidelity. Their gallantry has become an epic, a byword, a standard by which all heroism many be measured. Many have tried to explain that heroism and that loyalty. But like all heroism it rises above the logic of mere reason. I judge it a proof and product of the passion for democracy  and freedom which America has taught us during 48 years  That teaching took deep root in a soil made fertile by our great heroes of pre-American days—Rizal, Mabini, and Bonifacio. Our hearts were ready when the Americans  came in 1898. By the manner in which America discharged her trust, we developed a devotion to that great nation which I know will exist for all time.

A nation is something more than the people who inhabit a geographic area. It is a spirit, a tradition and a way of life. There have been Americans whom we have disliked. There have been American administrations from which we have received scant comfort. There have been American Governors General with whom we have quarreled. But we have never had cause to waver in our confidence or faith in America. We have clasped to our  bosom her system of government, her language, her institutions, her historical traditions. We have made them ours. We cannot forget this fact and this great truth. We are to be a free nation largely because we were aided in that direction by the love of liberty and the goodwill of the American people. If we succeed as a nation, if we are able to survive as a nation—and of course we will—we will have America to thank. I bear witness to the fact that America stands ready to help, without selfishness, without motive except to reward us for our loyalty and to advance in our land the great cause of democracy and freedom for which Americans and Filipinos died together, in many corners of the earth in the past four years.

I find no dream of empire in America. While cognizant of power, America, as a nation, is troubled in the use of that power by an earnest and heartfelt desire to advance not the cause of greed but the cause of freedom. We are and shall be a living monument to this fact.

Yet we have today in our own land a few among us who would have us believe that we are in danger of an imperialistic invasion from the very nation which is granting us our sovereignty. They would have us believe that the American Republic, resplendent in her power and prestige as the leader of democracy and as the spokesman for freedom, would lend herself to a theft of our national heritage for the sake of a thimbleful of profits. No, my mind will not stoop to as low a conceit as that. The nation which spent three hundred billion dollars to arm the hosts of freedom, the nation which has spent and is spending so much of its substance not only to free but also to feed the hungry peoples of the earth will not do that. Small minds see small deeds. I will not place my Government in the position of accusing the United States Congress of willingly conspiring to cheat us of our birthright. I admit the possibility of error in the United States Congress as in any other constitutional body. But I have faith that justice will be done us by a country which has been our mother, our protector, our liberator and now our benefactor. In this world, the balances of justice move only on great momentums. I am firmly convinced that when the scales point unmistakably to injustice being rendered us, the United States Congress will grant us redress in full and generous measure.

I have no fears from a nation which idolizes humanity and crowns with laurels those who fight for freedom and brotherhood. There is no greater regard in America today than the national regard for our people. Shall we sacrifice that rich regard on the altar of petty pride and foolish fears? Shall we hold up to world obloquy the country whose legions liberated us for freedom? Shall we give comfort to the enemies of liberty in the crisis which now grips the earth? The forces of evil may be defeated, but they are not dead. And there are new forces of evil growing even in nations which were our allies. I see no such forces reflected in the policies of the United States.

Let us strengthen as much as we can the hand of the nation which stands clearly in the world’s confusion today for democracy and for justice under law. Let us bide our time for the rectification of alleged impositions. When the time comes, let us present facts rather than fears.

The gratitude of the Filipino people to America is great and enduring. Our feeling toward America is not represented by the loud complaints of an articulate few in our midst. I say in the presence of our great American High Commissioner―one of the ablest and most unselfish of our advocates and friends―that the America of Franklin D. Roosevelt and of President Truman is a land we love and respect. The mighty concern that these men have felt for our welfare dwarfs the magnitude of our fancied ills against the United States today.

Meanwhile, with the tools, which have been provided us, we must move forward without pause to bind up this nation’s wounds, to toil, to make, and to build. We have, and will have, a market for our produce. We must concentrate on production, on ever-increasing production. This nation must produce to live. We must have income from abroad―income from exports. We must have that income so that we may buy the machines, hire the technical skills, and, for a time, buy the food, which we need to sustain our strength and impart vigor and health to our young. That task must be begun now, today. The time for action has come. The national energy, in all its parts, must be focused on a single purpose, on the rehabilitation of our destroyed and ravaged economic enterprises―on rice, on sugar, on coconuts, on abaca, on coconut oil, on cigars and tobacco―on gold and chrome, and manganese and lumber. We must foster the enterprises which will raise the national income and bring in financial returns from abroad.

But our aim is not alone to rebuild the economy that was broken and destroyed by war. That is only the beginning of our task, stupendous as it is. We must rebuild, repair, and replace. We must feed the hungry and heal the sick and disabled. We must care for the widows and orphans of our soldier dead. We must wage war against inflation and unemployment. That is the obvious foundation stone of national rehabilitation. But we know, we have long known, that the narrow economy of the past must be broadened. The national structure must be sufficient to house the energies of the whole people. For the Philippines to fit into the pattern of the 20th century, to take its place as an equal among the nations of the earth, we must industrialize; we must make as well as grow. Only in this way can we raise to substantial and permanently high levels the living standards of our people. To support this kind of economy, the producers must become consumers and purchasers. They must have the income with which to buy the products of their toil. Higher wages accompanied by efficient and increased production are the true road to full employment. Increased wages and income in pesos must represent increased purchasing power. Prices must be kept under control until production and importation reach saturation levels. We must avoid a price structure based on scarcity. We must avoid a wage structure based on inflated prices. Meanwhile we must encourage the production of more and more of our primary requirements, production of things we ourselves will consume. The encouragement of production for consumption and the increase in the purchasing power of the masses are parallel paths which we must travel.

Our people are well known for their handicraft and for their ingenuity. There are available in the world today tools and machines of which we must become the masters. There are many natural resources in our land which can be processed by the methods of modem technology into finished items for our consumption and for sale abroad. There are many small industrial and business enterprises which must attract the skills and talents of our citizens. Every encouragement must be given the Filipino to participate in all the operations of our new economy at all its levels. But this participation cannot be a grant of government. Participation in business and industry cannot be magically induced. Opportunity can be afforded but it is the responsibility of the individual and groups of individuals to strive for and capture that opportunity and, by so doing, become integral parts of the expanded economy of the nation.

Tools and implements will be needed to make this dream an actuality. Capital will be required. The savings of our own people will be called for, but they are inadequate. We must invite foreign capital, American capital, investment capital.

We may well wisely look to the great international organs, the International Monetary and Rehabilitation Bank and others, for financial aid. We may look to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. But for some of our needs we can only obtain assistance from the United States. In addition, we must remember that the United States is the source of most of the finances of all these organizations. What we can secure directly from the United States is far better and more expeditiously obtained than through the devious channels of international action. We must bear in mind in this and other connections that the great international organization of the United Nations, lofty in concept, is yet only an infant in the arena of world affairs. Recent events have demonstrated to us, as to the rest of the world, that the skeleton of the United Nations Organization must grow flesh and develop muscles of its own before it can be depended upon as a repository of our immediate hopes.

We will be as wholehearted as any nation in our devotion to the ideals of an indivisible peace and an indivisible world. We will maintain with all our strength and all our power our obligations to the United Nations, and to the causes set forth in the United Nations charter to which we are a signatory.  In the same way we will maintain friendly and honorable relations with all our neighbors and look forward to the day when peace and security will be maintained by mutual consent and by the collective conscience of mankind.

But until that happy day dawns upon us, we can much more securely repose our fate in the understanding and comradeship which exist between the Philippines and the United States than in the hope of an international morality which, however desirable, is still today in the process of development. We are fortunate to have as the guarantor of our security the United States of America, which is today the bulwark and support of small nations everywhere in the world.

I have spoken of the past; I have spoken of the future; I have not spoken much of the present. I have suggested some of the problems we face. I have not referred to one of our most urgent ones.

In some few provinces of our land the rule of law and order has yielded to the rule of force and terror. Using economic injustice as a rallying cry, demagogues have destroyed the precious fabric of public faith in democratic procedure. The faith of the people in government and in law must be restored. I pledge myself to rectify injustice, but I likewise pledge myself to restore the role of law and government as the arbiter of right among the people.

A great American who loved mankind and died in its name, Abraham Lincoln, once said: “Among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet…they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost.”

This great humanitarian could not be accused of placing the values of law above human values. He recognized as do all right-minded men that if government has one function, it is to insure the reign of law for the protection of the weak in their inalienable rights―the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This Government is pledged to maintain the rights of the underprivileged with all its strength and all its power. It will see justice done to the poor, the lowly and the disinherited. But it will not sanction, it will not permit, it will oppose with every force at its command if necessary the imposition of extra- legal rule over any section of this country by any group of self-anointed leaders or individuals. The show of arms and terror will not daunt us. Defiance will not obtain from us a single additional iota of justice.  Justice is absolute and is not to be measured by strength of contention.

We will move with maximum speed to cure the ills which beset the landless and the tenants, the hungry and the unemployed. Only unavoidable lack of means can delay the full execution of this policy. A new tenancy law, granting a greater share of the produce of the land to those who till the soil will be recommended; usury will be stamped out; lands will be purchased by the Government and re-sold to tenants; new agricultural areas will be opened to settlement; modern methods of agriculture will be taught, and farm machinery will be made available for purchase. It is my aim to raise the status of the farm worker, to increase his earnings, to spread wide the benefits of modem technology.

Labor must be given the full fruits of its toil. Its right of organization must be protected. The dignity of work, and the worker’s equity in the product of his labor must be assured by the Government. We will endeavor to assure economic security for all our people. But meanwhile terror must be abandoned as an instrument of justice. Lawlessness must stop without a moment’s delay. Our people, starting out on a career of nationhood, cannot permit our national efforts to be influenced by fear. This proud nation will not grant economic concessions at gunpoint. Arms must be surrendered, except by those licensed to bear arms. The Government will undertake to protect each man, woman, and child in the security of his person, of his liberty, and of his property. That protection is an absolute requisite of progress.

We understand the habit of violence which developed in time of war when violence was the creed of freedom. Many of those who now hold arms illegally served well our common cause. We will not forget their services. We are not without sympathy for the centuries-old burdens of injustice visited upon some of our people. We must understand that anger will lurk in the hearts of men when the gains won by violence in war seem about to be taken away. But the rough gains achieved in the absence of law are transitory and insecure. Be assured that the welfare of those who suffered injustice in past years will be heeded. Their war-won gains will be replaced by the more substantial benefits of justice, of peace and tranquility within a framework of national prosperity and economic well-being. But first, arms must be surrendered and the leaders of violence must recognize the leaders duly chosen by the free vote of the people.

I recognize that government, in order to maintain respect for law, must in itself bear the unassailable stamp of integrity. Honesty in government is the first essential for the maintenance by the people of faith in its actions. It is a corollary of this that government must be efficient and must watch with vigilant eye the expenditures of public funds. Public officials must render public service. That is their duty. That is their responsibility. Every centavo of the people’s money must be spent for the people’s benefit. I intend to maintain these standards during my administration.

We have great tasks before us, tasks which challenge the very best and the most that is within us. There is no seed of effort which can be spared from the national planting. Charity and understanding must replace bitterness and anger. We cannot afford to cherish old feuds or old divisions. For the many tasks of national reconstruction, we need the thousand talents of all our people―men and women alike. The recent elections are past. Likewise the strife of war is over. Bitterness engendered by these events must be forgotten and healed. Violations of basic law will be tested and punished by law. Traitors will not escape their just desserts. But among the people, there must be no recriminations or mali2nancies. Errors of mind rather than of heart must be forgiven. The great test of war and sacrifice through which we have passed with such hardship will have failed in one of its few benefits if it has not taught us that only in unity can there be power, that only in singleness of national purpose can there be achieved national salvation. I do not mean to suggest that there is no room in this democracy for division of views or of parties. Vigilant, free and constructive minority organization is a spur to majority leadership and responsibility.

But as we go forward in our full faith to work out the destiny of our land and of our people, we must cling fast to one another, and to our friends across the seas; we must maintain in both our hearts and minds a gentleness of understanding as well as firmness of purpose. Sweat and sacrifice will be needed, but they will fall on barren ground, unless we move in the path of God, “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right.”

I have faith in the wisdom of our people. I have trust in the goodness of God. Let us together maintain our faith in each other, in liberty and in the ways of democracy, and give strength to one another as we advance in our search for the evergreen pastures of peace and well being for all. With the help of God, let us build in this our land a monument to freedom and to justice, a beacon to all mankind.

Sergio Osmeña, SONA 1945

20 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Sergio Osmeña
President of the Philippines
Message to the Congress of the Philippines

[June 9, 1945]

GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:

Today, a moment of great historic significance, the voice of our people, muted throughout the long dreary night of enemy enslavement, is to be heard again in the halls of this Congress, through their duly elected representatives.

It has been a long lapse of time since that day in November, 1941, when you were elected, to this day when you gather in your first session. We can hardly recognize our country after the cataclysm that has engulfed it. The war has left its livid scars everywhere—on our buildings as well as on men’s souls. Probably nothing can more starkly summarize our present plight than the fact that the Executive and Legislative branches of our Government have to meet today in a borrowed house because our Legislative Building is a heap of rubble and ashes, mute witness to the savage desperation of the beaten enemy.

The tragedy that has afflicted our nation has lacerated our hearts. We all miss today many dear and familiar faces that are no more. But perhaps no sorrow has touched us more deeply than the passing of our beloved leader, Manuel L. Quezon. I know, however, that you feel as I do that his immortal spirit abides with us in this hour of trial and crisis, encouraging us to proceed with the arduous tasks that lie ahead. This great man, who dedicated his entire life to his country, died as he would have wanted to die—in line of duty. Soon his mortal remains, kept at the Arlington National Cemetery at Virginia, will be brought back to the Philippines, and we shall all have the opportunity of rendering him our last homage of admiration and affection. We shall erect him a monument so that we and our generations yet unborn may keep his memory enshrined in our hearts.

The Philippines is the one territory under the American flag which has suffered the most at the invader’s hands. Not only are its war casualties the highest in proportion to population, not only have its cities and towns been destroyed and looted, its countrysides and farms laid waste, and its whole economic structure ruined, but its people have undergone more physical pain and mental anguish than in any other part of the United States. As early as December 8, 1941, a few hours after her felon attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan sent bombers and task forces to the Philippines. Unavoidably turned into a battlefield, our country suffered heavily in men and property, especially in Bataan, where the Filipino-American Army battled the Japanese forces for four long months.

Then followed a period of enemy occupation, cruel and humiliating. No sooner had the fighting in Bataan ended than the enemy began the systematic looting of our country. There was no limit to what he could requisition with his worthless money. Even our barest necessities were commandeered. And when we tried to stand by our rights, force, ruthless force, immediately intervened. With or without cause, people by the scores were arrested and sent to prison and concentration camps—some to be tortured, others to be executed. As time went on, we became more impoverished, while the enemy became still more cruel and arrogant. After undergoing three years of enemy domination, no people was a more pitiful sight than the Filipinos—lean, ragged and famished.

I wish to stress the fact that the extreme suffering of the Filipinos and the widespread destruction wrought on our country has been due, in a large measure, to their unwavering loyalty to the United States. No people, I believe, has given so much proof of fidelity to the cause of the mother country as the Filipinos.

When Japan invaded the Philippines, the American flag was here. Even without that flag, Japan would probably have launched her attack. But as long as the Philippines remained under American sovereignty, the responsibility for the defense of the Islands lay with the United States. For forty odd years, in our continuous preparation for self-government, we exercised jurisdiction over matters of education, public works, sanitation and other functions of public administration, but never over our national defense. This function remained in the hands of the United States as the sovereign power. It is true that as soon as the Commonwealth was established, we started giving our citizens military training and building up a modest army, but these steps were in preparation, not for war, but for the fulfillment of our peaceful duties as an independent nation.

Notwithstanding these facts, the Filipino people rallied to the defense of the American flag, paying no heed to the cost and consequences. The sad moment came when it had to be admitted that the battle was lost, since a relief force could not be sent to the Philippines. But far from wavering, the Filipino soldier, side by side with his American comrade, fought on harder than ever until he was overwhelmed by superior numbers.

Unwilling to bow to the enemy, the Filipino people valiantly took up the struggle with all the strength they could muster. Patriotic groups soon sprang up throughout the length and breadth of the Archipelago. At first eluding the enemy, the guerrillas took to the mountains, but with the active support of the civilian population they quickly grew in number and strength to become a virtual challenge to the enemy. The story of the guerrilleros and of the civilian patriots who helped them, is an epic of heroism, loyalty and sacrifice. As far as possible they should be given recognition. Recognized guerrilla units have already been incorporated into the Philippine Army.

As stated in Leyte, in praising the guerrillas we should not be forgetful of the loyal civilians who were left behind and, at the risk of their lives, supported the resistance movement. Included among these civilians were those who, at the beginning of the war, were civil service employees or holders of subordinate positions in the government, and who remained at their posts to protect the people and extend to them all possible aid and comfort. They should, as a general principle, be recalled as soon as their services should be needed; only for strong reasons should they be deprived of their privilege to serve. This policy applies as well to elected provincial and municipal officials who were chosen in the election of 1940, thus giving due consideration to the will of the people as expressed at the polls.

Filipino loyalty to America is an incontestable fact. It is the more remarkable when we consider that right from the start of the war the Filipinos were subjected to a terrific barrage of anti-American propaganda. Claiming invincibility and professing a brotherly spirit toward the Philippines, Japan declared that she had come to our country to free us from the American yoke, and offered us a place of honor in here much vaunted Co-Prosperity Sphere. But we contrasted these soothing words with the factual, liberal and generous record of America. Against the obviously empty promises of Tojo was the solemn pledge of President Roosevelt to the Filipinos that “their freedom would be redeemed and their independence established and protected.” This pledge was later enlarged to include the promise that the Philippines would be “assisted in the full repair of the ravages caused by the war.”

It was in quest of the fulfillment of the promises of President Roosevelt that President Quezon and his Cabinet accepted his invitation to transfer the Commonwealth Government to Washington. In the course of this session, I shall have occasion to report to you the activities of our government in the United States. In this message I propose to discuss only the salient phases of that labor.

When we reached the United States, this country was entirely preoccupied with the problems of her mighty war effort and her attention was concentrated on the European front. She was straining all her means and resources towards the fulfillment of her resolution to crush Nazi Germany first. It was then extremely difficult to divert American attention to the Pacific, but determined to present our cause before the American people, President Quezon held conferences with President Roosevelt and appeared before the Senate and House of Representatives. In spite of the delicate state of his health, he worked ceaselessly during the first year of his stay in Washington, delivering important speeches and repeatedly broadcasting to the Philippines in an effort to maintain the faith of his people. In active support of the President, the members of his Cabinet also made speeches throughout the United States, inviting the attention of the people of America to the loyal stand of the Filipinos and urging prompt efforts for their early redemption.

The United States has kept her pledge. The Philippines is now liberated. This arduous campaign of eight months, beginning at Leyte Gulf, has ended with the current final phase of mopping up in Mindanao and Northern Luzon. Only the mountain corridor of Cagayan Valley, a trap from which there is no escape, remains under Japanese occupation.

Yet, in the flush of victory, we are apt to take for granted the monumental effort which the United States has had to exert to liberate us. Into the Southwest Pacific Area the Japanese General Staff had poured a tremendous amount of troops, planes and ships. Estimates place the Japanese, military forces in the Philippines as comprising an entire army area, two army corps, at least 22 divisions and brigades, and a large number of service troops, totaling at least 450,000 men. Merchant marine, laborers and hastily drafted civilians swelled this locust plague of armed of occupation forces.

Enormous distances had to be traversed, but within the framework of a master plan that took everything into consideration—climate, terrain and an enemy who preferred suicide to capture—operations stretching over 3,000 miles were relentlessly pursued throughout the bitter years of 1942, 1943 and 1944, until the brilliant goal is within inescapable reach in 1945. The main goal of these far-flung operations was the liberation of the Philippines. Enemy losses in the Philippines to date exceed 380,000, a mortal wound inflicted on the Japanese army. With relatively low losses to ourselves, we have before us another example of the brilliant strategy of that genial military leader, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.

The strategic effect of the liberation of the Philippines has been to set the stage for ultimate Japanese defeat at home and in the south, two areas now severed from each other. Filipinos have done their part in this work by giving lavishly of their men and resources to the United States. But the fight is not yet over, and so I have offered to General MacArthur one division of Filipino troops, under Filipino officers, for the final assault on Japan. Words alone cannot express our gratitude to the United States for all it has done for us, and I take this opportunity to repeat the offer made by President Quezon in 1941 to the people of America—that the men and resources of the Philippines are unconditionally at the service of the United States.

While our Government in Washington did its utmost to present before the American people the political aspect of the struggle in the Philippines, it did not neglect the economic phase, fully aware that the war would produce serious dislocations in the economic life of our country. President Quezon initiated personally the negotiations with the Federal Government to obtain the necessary economic assistance after the war. He did not stop negotiating directly with that Government until, because of his health, he had to retire temporarily from active labor. To proceed with the work already commenced, he created a Post War Planning Board. This Board held sessions continuously and completed its preliminary work. This served as the basis for a program which was finally submitted by the representatives of our Government on the Filipino Rehabilitation Commission presided over by Senator Tydings. I am presenting to you with this message the reports which have been submitted to me by the Filipino group of this Commission. Upon their examination you will find that the program of relief and rehabilitation, as prepared by our representatives in Washington, is very comprehensive. I wish on this occasion to praise the work done by our group. Our men there accomplished a difficult task within very limited means. Now that there is available to me a wealth of human material, it is my purpose to appoint to this Commission new representatives, among whom will be members of this Congress.

When I assumed office as President of the Philippines, I considered it my duty to exert every possible effort to obtain the active personal interest of the President of the United States in our problems. But when I was prepared to confer with President Roosevelt on his return from Quebec last October, I received an urgent request from General MacArthur, to join him and the forces of liberation that were poised to retake the Philippines. Because of this urgent request, I was able to have only a short conference with President Roosevelt, but I promised him that I would return to the United States as soon as possible to continue our conversations.

After the reestablishment of the Commonwealth Government in Leyte, I returned to the United States. President Roosevelt being then out of Washington and, on the other hand, finding myself in urgent need of submitting to a physical examination, I went to Jacksonville, Florida. Everything was in readiness for my hospitalization there when I received another telegram from General Macarthur urging me to join him in Luzon immediately. Reaching Lingayen on the very day I was expected, I rejoined General MacArthur in his headquarters and with him I entered Manila.

Upon resuming my functions in this Capital, I endeavored to convene the Congress, but due to the military situation, it was not possible to do so. I then decided to return to the United States to renew my conferences with President Roosevelt. We met on April 5th and reached an agreement on some of our basic problems. We further agreed to meet again in Washington. Unfortunately, the President died on the 12th.

Shocked by the sad news, I hastened to express to his successor the most profound condolences of the Filipino people. I flew to Washington to attend the funeral services. In the passing of President Roosevelt we, with the entire world, have suffered an irreparable loss. I recommend the erection, by public subscription, of a national library to be named “Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Library” as a lasting tribute to him who was a true friend of the Filipinos and a great champion of human rights and liberties.

President Roosevelt had suggested that our next meeting be at the White House on April 19. On that date President Truman received me and we conferred in the presence of the Secretaries of State, War, Navy and the Interior. This was followed by another conference the next week in which President Truman accepted as his own President Roosevelt’s commitments with respect to the Philippines and decided, with my concurrence, to send Senator Tydings of Maryland as his special envoy to the Philippines.

The object, of the Tydings Mission was not to collect data here, since all the necessary statistical and other information were already available to Senator Tydings before he left Washington. The mission desired, firstly, to obtain a personal impression of the situation in which the war had left us, and secondly, to contact personally the officials of the Philippine Government, the Military Command and other interested parties, with a view to coordinating their suggestions and fitting them into the rehabilitation plans already under consideration. Deeply moved by what he saw in Manila, Senator Tydings decided to return immediately to Washington to report to the President of the United States. Indicative of the sympathy, zeal and industry of the Tydings Mission is the four-point program for the rehabilitation of the Philippines which it has publicly announced. I am confident that action on this and other programs will soon be forthcoming.

First and foremost in our minds, as Filipinos, is the question of our political future. In this matter, no greater and nobler message has been given to the Filipino people than that of President Roosevelt when, on August 13, 1943, reiterating his previous promises on independence made on December 28, 1941, he expressed himself in the following words:

“On December 28, 1941, three weeks after the armies of the Japanese launched their attack on Philippine soil, I sent a proclamation to you, the gallant people of the Philippines.

“I said then:

“’I give to the people of the Philippines my solemn pledge that their freedom will be redeemed and their independence established and protected. The entire resources in men and materials of the United States stand behind that pledge.’

“We shall keep this promise just as we have kept every promise which America has made to the Filipino people.”

Soon after, on the initiative of President Quezon, steps were taken to obtain congressional sanction for these pledges. If President Quezon did nothing but this in his political career — and his political record can hardly be surpassed — it alone would entitle him to the eternal gratitude of his people. Senate Joint Resolution No. 93, which President Quezon and I asked for and accepted, is the culmination of our joint congressional efforts. This legislation authorizes the President of the United States to advance the date of independence provided in the Independence Law. It also provides, through the maintenance by the United States of bases in the Philippines, “for full security for the Philippines, for the mutual protection of the Islands and the United States, and for the future maintenance of peace in the Pacific.”

So that the import of this new legislation, and the responsibility which we Filipinos have assumed thereby, may be better understood, it is necessary that we review past events even if we have to walk again on well-trodden paths.

National independence was the goal which our revolutionaries of 1896 and 1898 set for themselves. When the fortunes of war were adverse to our arms and American sovereignty was established in 1898, individual liberties were recognized, among them the right of free assembly. Under the protection of this freedom, two political groups came into existence: the Federalistas, who declared themselves in favor of the annexation of the Philippines to the United States so as to constitute, in due time, a state of the Union; and the Nacionalistas, who advocated the ideal of independence which the Filipino revolutionaries had proclaimed but were not able to achieve in war.

The aspiration to be free, nurtured in an atmosphere of peace, was received with sympathy in the United States. The legitimacy of this aspiration was recognized by Dr. Jacob G. Schurman, President of the first American Commission sent by President McKinley to the Philippines, in these memorable words:

“The watchword of progress, the key to the future of the political development of the archipelago, is neither colonialism nor federalism, but nationalism. The destiny of the Philippine Islands is not to be a State or territory in the United States of America, but a daughter republic of ours—a new birth of liberty on the, other side of the Pacific, which shall animate and energize those lovely islands of the tropical seas, and, rearing its head aloft, stand as a monument of progress and a beacon of hope to all the oppressed and benighted millions of the Asiatic continent.”

On their part the Filipino people, who had elected a majority of Nacionalistas to the first Philippine Assembly, which met in 1907, repeatedly reiterated their confidence in them in successive elections, until the Congress approved in 1934 the Tydings-McDuffie Act creating the present Commonwealth. This law was accepted, first by the Legislature and then directly by the people, thus binding America and the Philippines to a virtual covenant by which the United States formally committed itself to withdraw its sovereignty from the Philippines and proclaim our independence on July 4, 1946. The ten-year transition period was not established to delay the proclamation of independence, but only to prepare the Philippines adequately for the responsibilities of nationhood.

We were well advanced in our preparations for independence when we became the object of an unjust aggression by Japan. But Japan’s military occupation of the Philippines had not affected the independence program agreed upon between the United States and the Philippines. When President Roosevelt invited the President of the Government of the Commonwealth and his Cabinet to evacuate to the United States, he did not do so merely to preserve the constitutional integrity of the Philippine Government but also to assure the realization, in due time, of the program of independence.

With this fundamental idea in mind, the United States took the initiative of considering the Philippines as possessing all of the attributes of complete and respected nationhood. I cannot give you a more authoritative statement concerning the status of our Government in Washington than that which President Roosevelt himself made in his broadcast to the Philippines on August 13, 1943:

“The Philippine Government is a signatory of the Declaration by the United Nations, along with thirty-one other nations. President Quezon and Vice President Osmeña attend the meetings of the Pacific War Council, where the war in the Pacific is charted and planned. Your government has participated fully and equally in the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, and a Philippine representative is a member of the Interim Commission created by that Conference. And, of course, the Philippine Government will have its rightful place in the conference which will follow the defeat of Japan.”

In confirmation of this status we are now participating, among the free and independent nations of the world, in the United Nations Conference on International Organization now taking place in San Francisco.

This war, which has ravaged the world and which is yet to be won in the Pacific, has brought to the Philippines a permanent blessing. I refer to the fundamental change in America’s policy with regard to the outside world, namely, her abandonment of the attitude of isolation and her frank acknowledgment of her duty, as one of the most powerful nations on earth, to preserve for all mankind liberty, justice, peace and security.

In conformity with this new, well-asserted ideology, Congress approved in 1944 Joint Resolutions 93 and 94 which provide, among other things, for the permanent security of the Philippines. America will not only acknowledge our independence as soon as it is possible after the Japanese have been expelled from our soil but will provide, besides, protection for that independence.

When the Philippine Assembly in 1907 formulated the first official petition of the Filipino people that it be granted independence, it did so fully aware of the responsibilities which the new status would impose on us with respect to our security. The Jones Law of 1916 offered us independence as soon as we had organized a stable government, and we accepted it in spite of the fact that such a law did not contain any promise giving us the protection of America after the attainment of our political freedom. In 1934 the Filipino people had occasion in a plebiscite to accept or reject an independence law without adequate American guarantee for its maintenance. The people accepted the offer by an overwhelming majority. With America now offering us protection which assures the permanency of our independence, it would be inconceivable for any Filipino to vacillate.

The program of independence, initially written with the blood of the heroes and martyrs of our history, which took root in the days of the first Philippine Assembly in 1907, which acquired consistency throughout the long period of Filipino-American collaboration resulting in the approval of the Jones Law in 1916 and the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1935, is a program definitely accepted by the Filipino people. Those of us who are temporarily in charge of the affairs of state are mere trustees of the sacred ideal of our people. We have no right to turn back—we shall not turn back—cowed by imaginary dangers or swayed by the desire to lead a life of ease and plenty. We cannot sell our liberty for a mess of pottage.

When Andres Bonifacio and his men uttered their now historic First Cry of Balintawak, they were not held back by fear of the enemy, or by any love of earthly goods. When we took over the banner of liberty from those that fell in the night of our defeat, we asked only for freedom and for nothing more. When we were asked in 1934 if we preferred liberty to prosperity, our people answered overwhelmingly that they desired liberty above everything else. Now that the United States, in recognition of our role in this war, has declared itself our ally and, with liberty, offers us security, it is our duty and our choice to accept.

So I say to every Filipino and to all other elements in our state, that the die is cast. Our course is straight and inflexible. We are going forward to the achievement of our national aspiration.

Gentlemen of the Congress: You are gathered today under the most trying circumstances. There are many serious problems ahead of us. But we who have so long and ardently clamored for self-government must prove to the world that we are equal to the most exacting tasks of public administration. That great and distinguished friend of the Filipino people, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, once said that they are only fit to live who are not afraid to die. Our people have shown on the battlefield that they are not afraid to die.

But the tasks of peace are at times more exacting than those of war. We are administering the affairs of eighteen million people just delivered from three long years of enslavement. To them we owe justice, order and the means to live in contentment and happiness. I am aware that our means at the moment are inadequate. We are not able to provide our people with as much as they deserve. But we shall not falter in the line of duty.

Let us get together in one mighty effort. Let us set aside selfish considerations and forget petty differences. Only in unity can there be strength. To the experienced, I turn for advice. From the youth of the land, I ask for its enthusiasm and energies. My faith in our people is unbounded. Over the ruins of our cities and barrios we shall build anew. In this most crucial hour of our history, I look forward to our destiny unafraid, confident that, God willing, ours will be a happy, progressive and prosperous land.

In closing, permit me to congratulate you most heartily for being the first elective Congress to meet in a country liberated from the enemy, although the Philippines is among the last to be free from enemy occupation and control.

I wish you all success in discharging the tremendous responsibility that is yours during the present emergency.

Sergio Osmeña, Inaugural Address 1944

19 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Sergio Osmeña
President of the Philippines
Message to the Cabinet-In Exile

[August 10, 1944, Delivered at Washington D.C.]

Gentlemen of the Cabinet:

Nine days ago, when I performed the painful duty of announcing the passing of our beloved leader, President Manuel L. Quezon, I said in part:

President Quezon’s death is a great loss to the freedom-loving world. No champion of liberty fought for such a noble cause with more determination and against greater odds. His whole life was dedicated to the achievement of his people’s freedom, and it is one of the sad paradoxes of fate that with forces of victory fast approaching the Philippines, he should pass away now and be deprived of seeing the culmination of his labors — the freedom of his people.

President Quezon was a champion of freedom in war and in peace. The plains and hills of Bataan, where the brave Filipino and American soldiers faced with heroism the overwhelming power of the Japanese invader, were also his field of action during the revolutionary days. The city of Washington where his body temporarily rests was the scene of his early appeals and peaceful efforts for Philippine freedom. It was here, almost thirty years ago, where he secured from Congress the promise of independence, which is contained in the preamble of the Jones Law. Here, again, eighteen years later, he succeeded in obtaining the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act – a reenactment with some slight amendments of the Hawes-Cutting Law which was rejected previously by the Philippine Legislature. Pursuant to the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Law, which was accepted by the Filipino people, we drafted our Constitution and established the present Commonwealth of the Philippines, and elected Manuel L. Quezon as first president.

When the war came and it became necessary to evacuate Manila, President Quezon, frail and sick as he was, moved with his Cabinet to Corregidor where he shared with the soldiers the rigors of the tunnel life and from there braved the hazards of a perilous journey to the Visayas, Mindanao, Australia, and America, in order to continue the fight for the freedom of his people. Here, in Washington, with his War Cabinet, he functioned as the legitimate government of the Filipino people and served as the symbol of their redemption.

It was largely through his untiring efforts that the Philippines was made a member of the United Nations and accorded a seat in the Pacific War Council. It was through his initiative that negotiations were held, resulting in the introduction of Senate Joint Resolutions 93 and 94. By the terms of Senate Joint Resolution 93, the advancement of the date of the independence prior to July 4, 1946, was authorized and the pledge given to the Filipino people by President Roosevelt in 1941 — that Philippine independence will not only be established but also protected — was sanctioned by Congress. His efforts to secure the rehabilitation of the Philippines from the ravages of war resulted in the enactment of Congress of Senate Joint Resolution 94, which provides for the physical and economic rehabilitation of the Philippines. Even before Congress definitely acted on this resolution, he had already created the Postwar Planning Board, entrusting it, together with his Cabinet, with the task of making studies and submitting recommendations looking toward the formulation of a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the Philippines.

In the last few moments before his martyrdom, the great Rizal lamented that he would not be able to see the dawn of freedom break over his beloved country, but he prophesied that his countrymen would see that day. “I have sown the seeds,” he said, “others are left to reap.” Quezon, more fortunate than Rizal, died with the comforting thought that the freedom of the Philippines was already an incontestable reality, awaiting only the certain defeat of the enemy for its full expression.

The immediate duty, then, of those of us who, under the mandate of the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines, are charged with the mission of continuing President Quezon’s work, is to follow the course he has laid, to maintain and strengthen our partnership with America and to march forward with the United Nations with unwavering faith and resolute determination until complete victory is won.

The tide of the war which rose high against us in the early stages of the struggle has turned in our favor. The forces of victory are on the march everywhere-in Europe, in India, and China, and in the Pacific Normandy and Britanny have been occupied by the Anglo-American forces. Poland is half re-conquered by our Great Russian ally. Two-third, of the Italian peninsula are in our hands, while thousands and thousands of planes continue to batter and destroy German communication and production centers, bringing the war to the German home land.

In the Pacific, the progress of the war has been equally impressive. Most of the Japanese strongholds in the Bismarck Archipelago, in New Guinea, in the Gilberts, and in the Marshalls, have fallen. The Japanese bastion of Saipan is in Allied hands; so is Tinian. The reconquest of Guam is almost completed. B-29s, the American super fortresses, are already penetrating the Japanese inner defenses, causing destruction in the enemy’s vital centers of production. General MacArthur’s forces are hammering the enemy’s outposts only 250 miles from the Philippines; while the United States Navy, maintaining mastery in the Central Pacific, is relentlessly attacking Palau, Yap, Ponape, and the Bonin Islands, in its steady advance toward the Philippines, China, and Japan.

The size and strength of the Allied landings in Europe, supported by thousands or planes and using thousands of ships, surpasses the immigration. It is no wonder that before them the most formidable defenses of the enemy are crumbling. I believe that when our D-Day comes the same pattern will be followed, and the mighty Allied forces will join our brave loyal countrymen in an epic victory.

But the forces of freedom will not land in the Philippines with guns and tanks alone. They will also bring with them food, medical supplies, and clothing which are so much needed by our suffering people. Thirty million pesos has already been set aside for the requisition of these supplies which will be sent to the front as soon as possible for distribution to our civilian population. As the war progresses and as more troops are landed in the Philippines, increasing quantities of these supplies will be made available. Philippine relief will be prompt and adequate.

As Philippine territory is wrested from the enemy, civil government will promptly follow military occupation so that the orderly processes of self-government may be established under the Constitution. Red Cross units, both Filipino and American, will follow the armies of freedom to help alleviate the suffering of the people. Hospitals, health and puericulture centers will be reestablished. All schools in operation before the war will be reopened in order to resume an education of patriotism, democracy, and humanitarianism.

The veterans of our wars for independence, and all those who supported our struggle for freedom, will receive for their labors and sacrifices the full recognition expected of a grateful nation. War widows and orphans will be provided for. Ample compensation will be made for the destruction of public and private properties. Roads and bridges destroyed by the enemy will be rebuilt. Disrupted communications by land, sea, and air, will be repaired and improved. Towns and cities, which either were destroyed or suffered damages because of the war will be reconstructed under a systematic and scientific town planning program. In this program, the towns of Bataan and Zambales will receive preferential attention. Bataan, the historic battleground where our brave soldiers, Americans and Filipinos, faced the enemy until death, will be made a national shrine.

In providing for the reconstruction of our industries and the rehabilitation of our agriculture, immediate attention will be given to factory workers and farm hands throughout the Philippines, and full and generous assistance will be given to the small farmers who, because of the war, have lost their nipa huts, their work animals, and farm implements.

We are making preparations to meet the manifold problems arising from the closing and insolvency of our banks, insurance and credit institutions, the adulteration of our currency with unsound enemy issues, the impairment of the basis of taxation, and the initial difficulty of tax collection. Moreover, we are formulating a long-range economic program with a view to securing that sound economic foundation which will give our independence stability and permanence.

In the gigantic task of rehabilitation and reconstruction, we are assured of America’s full assistance and support. The joint Filipino-American Rehabilitation Commission is under the chairmanship of a staunch friend of the Filipino people, Senator Tydings of Maryland. To it is entrusted the task of studying and recommending to the United States and Philippine governments measures calculated to secure the complete physical and economic rehabilitation of the Philippines and the reestablishment as soon as possible of such commercial relations between the two countries, and will assure us a reasonable level of public and private property.

In the preparation and execution of the Filipino rehabilitation program, America’s support and assistance are essential. But there are responsibilities which we as people must undertake ourselves, and which can be assumed only if we are faithful to our ideals, principles, and commitments.

We are a Christian people and the faith that we imbibed sprang from our contacts with nations of Occidental civilization. We embraced Christianity a century before the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth. For more than four hundred years we have kept that faith. We cannot now turn back and be a pagan people.

For centuries, we have been a law-abiding people. We believe in and practice democracy. That is the reason why Section III, Article II of our Constitution provides that we renounce war as an instrument of national policy and adopt the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the nation. It is repugnant to our Christian traditions and democratic ideals to be the satellite of a conquering power or to be allied with the masters of brute force, whether in Asia, Europe, or elsewhere.

The mutual relationship between the American and Filipino peoples for half a century has revealed to the Filipinos the high ideals of the American nation and the good faith that has always animated the United States in its dealings with us. Out of this association have arisen mutual understanding and continuous cooperation between the two countries, resulting in great national progress for the Philippine progress that is without parallel in history. In the epic of Bataan, where the American and Filipino soldiers fought together, the enduring friendship of our two peoples was sealed.

In this war between a free world and a slave world, the Philippines has freely and voluntarily taken side with the defenders of liberty and democracy. In the same manner as the enemy is resorting to every means to attain his evil ends, the United Nations are exerting their utmost to achieve complete victory. Pledged in this war to the finish, we will continue doing our best to help the war effort. Every commitment made by us in this respect will be fulfilled.

The Filipino people, with their wisdom in peace and gallantry in war, have established their right to take place in the family of nations as a full and sovereign member. We cannot renounce this right nor its obligations and responsibilities. We shall, as a free and self-respecting nation, fulfill our duties not only to ourselves but also to the entire freedom-loving world by participating in the establishment and preservation of a just peace for the benefit of mankind.

Our path of duty is clear. It is the path of national honor, dignity, and responsibility. It was laid out for us by the great heroes of our race — Rizal, Bonifacio, and Quezon. We shall move forward steadily to reach our goal, maintaining our faith in the United States and fully cooperating with her.

In the fulfillment of my duties as President of the Philippines, I ask in all humility and in all earnestness the cooperation of all my countrymen in the United States, Hawaii, in the homeland and elsewhere in the world. With their full and unstinted cooperation and support, and God helping me, I shall not fail.

Manuel L. Quezon, 2nd Inaugural Address, 1941

19 Oct

Speech of His Excellency
Manuel L. Quezon
President of the Philippines
2nd Inaugural Address

[December 30, 1941, Corregidor]

On November 15, 1935, I took my oath of office as first President of the Philippines under the most favorable auspices. The Philippines was at peace and the Filipino people were happy and contented. At the inaugural ceremonies held in the city of Manila, there were present high dignitaries of the Government of the United States, and a vast multitude of Filipinos deeply grateful to America and thrilled with the vision of a bright future.

Today I am assuming for the second time the duties of the Presidency under entirely different conditions. We are in the grip of war, and the seat of the government has been temporarily transferred from the city of Manila to a place in close proximity to the headquarters of our armed forces, where I am in constant touch with Gen. Douglas MacArthur. All around us enemy bombs are dropping and anti-aircraft guns are roaring. In defenseless cities and towns air raids are killing women and children and destroying century-old churches, monasteries, and schools.

Six years ago, there was every reason to believe that the Filipino people would be able to prepare themselves for independence in peace and without hindrance. In my first inaugural address, I outlined a program intended to lay the foundations for a government that will, in the language of our Constitution, promote the general welfare and secure to the Filipino people and their posterity “the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy”.

Our task of nation-building was in progress when suddenly, on December 8, 1941, the Philippines became the victim of wanton aggression. We are resisting this aggression with everything that we have.

Our soldiers, American and Filipino, under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, one of the greatest soldiers of our time, are fighting on all fronts with gallantry and heroism that will go down in history. In the face of frequent air raids which are causing so much death, suffering, and destruction, our civilian population are maintaining their morale. Despite the enemy’s temporary superiority in the air and on land and sea, we have been able to check the rapid advance of the invading armies. America and the Philippines may well be proud of the heroic struggle that our forces are putting up against the invader.

At the present time we have but one task — to fight with America for America and the Philippines. To this task we shall devote all our resources in men and materials. Ours is a great cause. We are fighting for human liberty and justice, for those principles of individual freedom which we all cherish and without which life would not be worth living. Indeed, we are fighting for our own independence. It is to maintain this independence, these liberties and these freedoms, to banish fear and want among all peoples, and to establish a reign of justice for all the world, that we are sacrificing our lives and all that we possess. The war may be longdrawn and hard-fought, but with the determination of freedom-loving peoples everywhere to stamp out the rule of violence and terrorism from the face of the earth, I am absolutely convinced that final and complete victory will be ours.

Soon after the outbreak of the war, I received a message from President Roosevelt expressing admiration for the gallantry of our soldiers and the courageous stand of our civilian population. Yesterday, the President of the United States issued a proclamation which, I am sure, will hearten our fighting men and thrill the soul of every American and Filipino in this land. This is the proclamation:

“News of your gallant struggle against the japanese aggressors has elicited the profound admiration of every American. As President of the United States, I know that I speak for all our people on this solemn occasion. The resources of the United States, of the British Empire, of the Netherlands East Indies, and the Chinese Republic have been dedicated by their people to the utter and complete defeat of the Japanese War Lords. In this struggle of the Pacific the loyal Americans of the Philippine Islands are called upon to play a crucial role. They have played, and they are playing tonight, their part with the greatest gallantry, As President, I wish to express to them my feeling of sincere admiration for the fight they are now making. The people of the United States will never forget what the people of the Philippine Islands are doing these days and will do in the days to come. I give to the people of the Philippines my solemn pledge that their freedom will be redeemed and their independence independence established and protected. The entire resources in men and materials of the United States stand behind that pledge. It is not for me or for the people of this country to tell you where your duty lies. We are engaged in a great and common cause. I count on every Philippine man, woman, and child to do his duty. We will do ours. I give you this message from the Navy:

“The Navy Department tonight announces the Japanese Government is circulating rumors for the obvious purpose of persuading the United States to disclose the location and intentions of the American Pacific Fleets. It is obvious that these rumors are intended for, and directed at, the Philippine Islands. The Philippines may rest assured that while the United States Navy will not be tricked into disclosing vital information, the fleet is not idle. The United States Navy is following an intensive and well planned campaign against Japanese forces which will result in positive assistance to the defense of the Philippine Islands.”

 My heart, and I know the hearts of all Americans and Filipinos in this country, are filled with gratitude for the reassuring words of the President of the United States. My answer, our answer, to him is that every man, woman, and child in the Philippines will do his duty. No matter what sufferings and sacrifices this war may impose upon us we shall stand by America with undaunted spirit, for we know that upon the outcome of this war depend the’ happiness, liberty, and security not only of this generation but of the generations yet unborn.

Mr. High Commissioner, may I ask you to convey to the President of the United States our profound gratitude for the noble sentiments expressed in his proclamation. The Filipino people are particularly grateful for his abiding interest in our welfare and for his pledge to assure and protect our freedom and independence.

General MacArthur, there are no words in my language that can express to you the deep gratitude of the Filipino people and my own for your devotion to our cause, the defense of our country, and the safety of our population. I trust that the time will come when we may express this sentiment to you in a more appropriate manner.

To all Americans in the Philippines, soldiers and civilians alike, I want to say that our common ordeal has fused our hearts in a single purpose and an everlasting affection.

My fellow countrymen, this is the most momentous period of our history. As we face the grim realities of war, let us rededicate ourselves to the great principles of freedom and democracy for which our forefathers fought and died. The present war is being fought for these same principles. It demands from us courage, determination, and unity of action, In taking my oath of office, I make the pledge for myself, my government, and my people, to stand by America and fight with her until victory is won. I am resolved, whatever the consequences to myself, faithfully to fulfill this pledge. I humbly invoke the help of Almighty God that I may have the wisdom and fortitude to carry out this solemn obligation.