“The State of the Nation”
Message to Congress
His Excellency Elpidio Quirino
President of the Philippines
[January 22, 1951]
MR. PRESIDENT, MR. SPEAKER, MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS:
I join you today in opening your greatest opportunity yet to make history for our people. This is a year exceptionally heavy with decision and destiny; and your actuations in this your second regular session may spell the difference between irreparable disaster and survival to our country.
I appreciate the earnest response of the Congress to the urgent call of action on the tax legislation program submitted in the last two special sessions which I had called for the purpose. I am gratified by the thoroughness with which you have discussed the individual tax measures. I am happy that you have passed the military appropriation bill to provide means for immediate strengthening of our fighting units for internal security.
The solid action of both houses in approving a concurrent resolution expressing the policy of this Government to give preferential and serious consideration to the main recommendations of the U.S. Economic Survey Mission to accelerate social reform and economic development, and strengthen free and democratic institutions, is an earnest of our determinations to do our part to earn American assistance under the Economic Cooperation Administration.
It is understandable that all these measures cannot be approved in the twinkle of an eye; they involve our capacity not only to shoulder immediate additional tax burdens but also a long-range program of fiscal rehabilitation and financial stability. But the necessity to provide for our imperative needs in the present world crisis presses, as the untoward effects of their neglect mount daily in proportion and importance. Therefore, it is my sincere hope that special efforts will be exerted to carry out our program without much delay.
I refer especially to those measures designed to bolster our security from within and ward off danger from without. Of course, it will be next to impossible to provide for a complete program of national defense with our limited resources alone. We need a goodly measure of outside assistance from friends and allies, particularly the United States; and, to deserve that, we must show beyond cavil that we have the spirit and the will to help ourselves.
Our preparations for defense are not for our own survival alone. We are no less participating directly in the implementation of a world issue, doing our proportionate share in the world effort to preserve peace and freedom for all. Our earnest efforts, therefore, to provide for our own security under the present circumstances become a vital part of our contribution to world security.
On the occasion of your three special sessions called after your last regular session I reported to you, and in my radio chats every fifteenth of the month, to the people, on the state of the nation. And as close and constant observers of ·world developments, you bear witness to such a succession of events as to keep you well apprised not only of the state of the nation but of the ·world situation. It is, therefore, superfluous to repeat in this message, which I intended to be brief, all the problems that have been and are facing us, or to enumerate in detail the unfinished work requiring our common action. I shall, therefore, mention only the outstanding and most pressing ones.
I shall begin with the health of our citizenry. The state of health of the nation is satisfactory, but there is much room for improvement. . Many of our people do not drink clean water and it is extremely costly to construct water systems during these days of financial stringency. There should be more artesian wells in cities and municipalities, especially in the barrios.
The country needs more hospitals and clinics.
Greater impetus should be given to the campaign against malaria, tuberculosis, and malnutrition. We should produce more vaccines and sera and other biological products and antibiotics.
The merging of the Social Welfare Commission and the PACSA into the Social Welfare Administration has been conceived in order to coordinate and concentrate our attention and better promote the welfare of the less privileged class of our population. With the reorganization thus effected, I am sure we will further improve the social welfare services.
More social reforms are due to enable the landless to own their lands, earn their livelihood, and enjoy a higher standard of living. It is never enough to promise social justice. Our most effective answer to Communism is a genuine strengthening of our national social program for the definite and positive improvement of the people’s welfare.
Our immediate need is to provide adequate wherewithal to carry out our social amelioration program. The reduction of our appropriation for this purpose last year has greatly handicapped our relief and assistance to the needy.
I trust that you will act upon the pending minimum wage bill. We want no regions or industries in the Philippines to fatten on underpaid labor.
The Conventions and Recommendations under the International Labor Organization to which the Philippines is a party should be ratified. They deal with the means of protecting our workers and promoting industrial harmony. They embody the most notable experiences of practically all the countries of the world, and provide us with a highly dependable guide for constructive social and labor legislation. Both the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the Woman and Child Labor Law, and other laws, parts of which have become obsolete, must also be revised to make them more responsive to the present needs of our people.
Despite limited finances, we have been able to accommodate all the children seeking admission in the public schools. But mere admission is not enough. We must provide a type of education adequate to produce constructive, honest, efficient, disciplined, and loyal citizens.
In the reorganization of the Department of Education, I emphasized the necessity of giving more impetus to vocational training. It is my hope that by a proper revision of our educational laws, coupled with adequate funds and adjustment in the curriculum, our millions of students in our public schools alone could be made to produce many of the things that we need today and not wait for the full development of their potentiality.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
We have revitalized the judiciary by appointing men of proven ability and integrity, and by imposing a more expeditious disposition of court cases. In the face of threats posed by unscrupulous elements, our courts have acted positively and courageously in cases prejudicial to the general welfare and security. But we need more judges of first instance to cope with the increasing work. We need also more severe measures to implement our determination to have the laws safeguarding the life and health of our citizenry enforced.
PUBLIC WORKS AND COMMUNICATIONS
With the help of the U.S. Government under the Rehabilitation Act and with our own appropriations, a total of 1,012.7 kilometers of new roads was added last year to our highway system. Four new bridges were constructed and 321 bridges reconstructed. Six new irrigation systems with a total of 23,000 hectares to be served were built. Under construction are seven major irrigation projects covering a total area of 20,200 hectares. We have maintained 14 irrigation systems already serving 83,600 hectares.
It is necessary, however, that we provide for more urgent projects such as irrigation, waterworks, artesian wells, roads, and bridges. The construction of a network of roads in Mindanao must be accelerated in order to give impetus to the agricultural and industrial development of this fertile region. Funds should be made available for the establishment there of a more extensive and efficient telecommunication system.
In spite of our efforts to rehabilitate our badly damaged agriculture, we still have plenty to do in order to attain our goal. The production of copra, lumber, and others has been brought to prewar level, but our output of sugar, abaca, tobacco, and gold among others has remained below that of 1941. We should accelerate and increase production. We must make our country self-sufficient in food and other essentials. We should produce not only what we actually need but what we shall need in the impending greater emergency. We should set aside more funds to hasten the subdivision of public lands and to expedite the necessary surveys needed for the issuance of titles.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
The application of trade controls to meet the existing emergency has resulted in the recessive trend of trade in the country. However, we have been able to improve the position of our foreign trade. Our unfavorable trade balance during the 11 months of 1950 amounted to over P28.8 million only as against P547.1 million for the same period in 1949.
Present precarious conditions demand the continuance for the time being of economic control measures and their improvement. At the same time appropriate measures should be taken to control exports and prevent the exportation of essential commodities and critical materials needed for construction and national defense.
Measures have been taken to stockpile essential commodities, to lessen the curtailment of imports of equipment and materials for agriculture and industry, and to allow the unlimited import of foodstuffs. The control of prices must be made more effective everywhere. To this end, certain amendments to the Price Control Law are necessary.
Owing to the control of imports, 60 cigarette factories and seven nail factories, among others, have been established. To prevent overcrowding of new industries, a system of licensing of new industries should be adopted.
I am submitting today the final executive acts to complete the reorganization of the Executive Department, under the authority granted by the Congress in Act No. 422. I take this occasion to express my appreciation for the conscientious work undertaken by the Reorganization Commission, headed by Minister Ramon Fernandez, which greatly helped me in this major work of government reorganization.
While few radical changes have been made due to the present political development of the country and the social and economic repercussions that a drastic reorganization entails, it must be stated that the prime objectives of efficiency, simplicity, and economy have weighed heavily in the determination of the changes effected.
In the Executive Department alone, we have been able to effect economies estimated at P5,000,000 in the present budget. A major portion of the savings, however, will be utilized to pay the gratuities of officers and employees whose positions have been abolished. But the yearly saving of P5,000,000 hereafter is awaited.
In the reorganization of government-owned and controlled corporations, it is estimated that a savings of P7,000,000 will also be effected. The discontinuation of enterprises which have been incurring substantial recurrent losses in the past years and the recasting and coordination of the activities for greater efficiency and economy of the corporations that remain, will likewise add to the estimated saving of P7,000,000 by the reorganization of the other entities.
All in all, therefore, an estimated yearly saving of P12,000,000 has been effected due to the reorganization. But this is not the limit. It is my hope that, with a more detailed study of the changes which have been started, the Congress may yet make judicious changes in several branches of the government in order to reduce the overhead expenses of administration.
With combined assets estimated at over P1.2 billion, the government-owned and controlled enterprises, have been reduced from 23 to 13, but will continue to exert decisive influence in various parts of the Philippine economy. It is gratifying to note the readiness with which private leaders of industry have responded, making themselves available in the cooperative work of coordinating public and private enterprises.
But the present government agencies assigned to implement the economic rehabilitation and development program are not structurally patterned to meet emergency situations. They do not possess adequate power and authority in themselves, separately, to cope with the new situation. Thus, I have appointed an Economic Mobilization Committee composed of members of the Cabinet and of the Congress and economic leaders outside the government to study the advisability of centralized direction and control over the economic forces of the country that should be concentrated and coordinated to assure that changing conditions may be met promptly and effectively.
Philippine economy made great strides last year. Through the efforts of the government and our people, the nation’s economy is again on the upgrade. Much still remains to be done. Our development program must be pushed through with vigor.
Last year the Philippines achieved a favorable balance in international payments of $85.4 million as against a deficit of $161 million in 1949. However, dollar receipts in 1951 are expected to be much less due to the termination of U. S. war damage payments.
I am gratified to observe the determination of the Congress to follow up our commitments for the implementation of our understanding with the United States leading to financial assistance under the ECA. But I must state that our tax program is not predicated merely on our desire to do our part in furtherance of said commitments. We have to provide for our most critical and urgent necessities. In fact, if we have to adequately meet our imperative needs, we must have an income more than the goal of P565 million envisaged in that understanding. But I know the capacity of our people. I would not be a party to bleeding them to inanition. Nevertheless, we must all make a sacrifice, not merely to meet ECA requirements but to insure our own good and safety. With the approval of our pending tax program, both can be substantially accomplished.
I realize that the tax bills are not popular, for taxes are seldom popular, if at all. They are, however, of absolute necessity now. There is no longer any other source for needed public funds. The borrowing capacity of our Government is limited. We cannot justifiably look always to the United States to meet our budgetary requirements. This Government cannot be delivered to the Treasury of the United States. We need additional revenues to carry out more effectively our peace and order drive, to educate our children, to protect our people against epidemics, to provide for our national defense, and even for the normal functions of government alone. And certainly, we need additional revenues to finance and accelerate the implementation of our economic development program in order to promote a rising level of production and employment. We must convince our people not to begrudge the just share of each for the ultimate benefit and protection of all. After all, the tax program before you places the burden on those who are able to pay and aims to correct inequalities under the present tax system.
Some eight months ago, the majority of our people believed that the solution of our peace and order problem could be achieved primarily by the adoption of measures other than military. Even today there are some who delude themselves into believing that our peace and order problem is predominantly a social one. Social and economic measures will doubtless contribute immeasurably to the solution of this vital problem. For that reason, I have put into operation various non-military agencies to look after the welfare of the masses in various areas.
Present conditions, however, compel us to meet this problem with military force. We cannot risk losing by sheer default the priceless heritage of freedom we still enjoy.
I am pleased to note that the people and the Congress have given unqualified support for the increase in strength of the Armed Forces by ten battalion combat teams.
In behalf of our fighting men, I urge approval of the bill now before you, granting gratuity and other benefits to officers and men of the Armed Forces who become casualties in the present anti-dissident campaign. Only by doing so can we hope to do justice to our gallant men who are engaged in the heroic task of restoring peace and order in this country in the shortest possible time.
Equally urgent is our task of making available to the Armed Forces the necessary funds to make possible the retirement of officers and men who have served the country so faithfully and well and thus accelerate their replacement with younger and deserving elements.
The new year presages events of extremely serious consequences, particularly to the countries in the Far East. Almost two years ago I presented to the American people, through the U. S. Senate, their highest foreign policymaking body, to the problem of security of the free countries of Asia. I said then, and I say it now, that “I consider it my supreme responsibility in this perilous hour to call upon our friends everywhere, but especially our friends in America, not to tarry too long in the redefinition of fundamental attitudes towards Asia,” in the face of growing Communist menace and aggression, for the issue involves “the fate of more than half of mankind in the next thousand years.” I decried the lack of “calm, deliberate movement towards clarity, vigor, and resolution.” I observed then that the reaction was suppressed or cautious concern. And I posed, “Only the blind will say that the menace does not concern America, because the history of the last two world wars shows all too clearly that this great democracy cannot remain unconcerned wherever and whenever the survival of free men in a free world is at stake.”
America’s immediate action last June in the· defense of the freedom of South Korea justified my prediction. And we are now fighting side by side with her· and the forces of the United Nations, in the plains and mountain fastnesses and ravines in Korea, in our determined adherence to the principles of peace, liberty, and justice against the forces of aggression.
Owing to the mounting tension and uncertainty, we have therefore urged for a thorough and expeditious implementation of our military assistance pact with the United States. And we have received assurances from the American Government that the United States will help us defend our national integrity and independence.
But we cannot depend entirely on foreign assistance to maintain our integrity. National honor and dignity require that we do not accept the role of a mere ward in the defense of our own liberty and freedom. Thus, we are making the utmost sacrifice to meet our internal and external obligations to enable us to contribute our just share to world security. For we can only hope that world statesmanship will eventually find a peaceful and honorable solution to the pressing problems that threaten the freedom and security of mankind.
Gentlemen of the Congress, I have come not merely to urge action, but to offer cooperation. We must pull together and assume solidarity of responsibility in the execution of a program for our country’s preservation. I have come to ask that we all concentrate our united efforts to insure our stability as a nation and preserve our liberty as a people. This is our sworn solemn duty, and we can .do no better than share cheerfully and decisively in the discharge of that great responsibility.
These are unusual times indeed. We are called upon to do our utmost in a situation in which we have never been placed before. We have to summon all our courage and intelligence and coordinate and contribute all the strength we can muster, in material and moral resources. We cannot afford to fail in meeting the present problem of survival.
Arms without valor, however powerful, are useless weapons. Valor can be aroused only by a righteous cause. This we have, and we are pledged to fight for it and if need be to die for it. We are doing that right now even beyond our borders. We are increasing our forces for this cause-the cause of innocent free men, women, and children in our midst and everywhere, ravished and destroyed by the agents of a foreign foe bent on world domination.
But we know that armed forces are not enough. We need even more critically, on the part of all of us, a moral rearmament. Our greatest enemy can be ourselves when we stubbornly resist to purge what is selfish in us. The world is not merely on the verge of fire; it is on fire. And yet people can be immobilized by fiddling and tempo razing while the nation’s very life and future are at stake. Let us, as leaders of this nation, give the appropriate example in moral rearmament. Let us, to the limit of our spiritual resources, will to fight the formidable enemy, whose lust for world power has impressed many of our people, to the extent of falling for his familiar tricks of fostering dissension and subversive ambition.
At this most critical moment, our attitude has become a matter of individual and collective conscience. I call upon you to stand as one man, morally and spiritually rearmed to rise and protect our country and people from the blight of inaction and fratricidal strife in a period of the greatest peril.