Tag Archives: Pres. Manuel Roxas

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.

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]


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]


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.