His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
To the Congress
On the State of the Nation
[Delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila, January 27, 1969]
“New Filipinism: The Turning Point”
A Nation Transformed
I have come to report to you on a nation transformed.
Twelve months ago, I rendered to you and to the people an account of how we began to translate the Filipino dream of national greatness into reality. The central theme of that report was the achieving spirit that animated the vigorous partnership between the government and the people. Today, I ask you to witness with me the metamorphosis which the new achieving spirit of the Filipino people has brought about.
The Crises of 1966
In 1966, when I assumed the stewardship of our government, all levels of our national life were wracked by traumatic crisis. With your help, we not only succeeded in overcoming those crises, we also began to stride forcefully and hopefully towards real progress.
The Breakthrough of 1967
In 1967, the energies of the nation were spent on the construction of the physical supports of our economy and society. Our heroic efforts were rewarded by numerous breakthroughs, principally in food production, public works, construction, and education.
A Year of Expansion
In 1968, we expanded our scope to include the public services, foreign relations, domestic and foreign commerce, and industry. The year just past was distinguished by the confirmation of our competence for progress. In the barrios, to whose rapid improvement the year 1968 was dedicated, there is now a growing impatience for progress, a deeper appreciation of the need for self-reliance in meeting day-to-day problems of development.
I shall describe more thoroughly our achievements last year in the next section of this report. Altogether, they signify an end and a beginning. The year 1968 saw the end of frustration, resignation, cynicism, and indolence, of complacency, and of indifference—the chief obstacles to Philippine progress. On the other hand, the past year marked the beginning of purposive, concerted action for national progress—the beginning of our national metamorphosis. For in 1968, we began to shed the habits of the past and to install in their stead new attitudes, new frames of reference, and new values. The result has been a widening of our vision, an expansion of our horizons, arising national strength.
This transformation is essentially spiritual.
It is a prophecy come true.
The Vision of Rizal
In his time, when there seemed little hope of Philippine freedom and progress, Jose Rizal saw that a new Philippines was inevitable. But to hasten that day, he prescribed a positive break with the past. He called on his countrymen to redeem themselves from a reputation for indolence, to acquire a new spirit for work and a new Filipino consciousness. There was no doubt in his mind about the requirements of progress: “In order that (the Filipino) may make progress it is necessary that a revolutionary spirit, so to speak, should boil in his veins since progress necessarily requires change; it implies the overthrow of the sanctified past by the present, the victory of new ideas over the old accepted ones.”
In the 1890s Rizal saw the rise of “new men” and a “new social order” within a century. In 1968, the New Filipino and the New Filipinism came into being.
I ask you to ponder this vital new force in the life of the Filipino people in relation to the pattern of national development since the 1900s.
A Stagnant Economy
In the economic sphere, our attempts at development from the turn of the century until 1965 were long on grandiose schemes and short on real accomplishments. Overdependence on a few agricultural products doomed our economic development efforts to failure from the very start. In nearly half a century until our political independence, no real effort was made to end our dependence on a single market, to look for new trading partners, and to industrialize the economy.
The ancient character of our economic life persisted even beyond the grant of Philippine independence in 1946, attesting to the feeble and unsuccessful efforts to change what has always been the root of our economic maladies—the inequitable distribution of land. Excessive land holdings concentrated in a few families, on the one hand, and conditions of want and tenancy approaching slavery, on the other, comprised an economic structure that had to be, but never was, altered. This, together with the colonial status of our economy from 1900, consigned the Filipino people to a remarkably long experience of economic backwardness.
This condition is summarized by an American observer, who said: “…as it gained political independence, the Philippine Republic was still far from possessing economic sovereignty. The United States, on the other hand, retained some of the economic and military advantages of a colonial power while it was relieved of the burden of administration and of direct responsibility for Philippine welfare.”
In the postindependence years, there were no important changes. Although the requirements of an expanding economy were appreciated after the wholesale pillage and devastation of the last war, the nation continued to make little progress away from its old patterns of land tenure, production, and foreign trade. The inertia of dependence may be best dramatized by the steadily increasing importation of rice which the Philippine government had to make from year to year, culminating in the unbelievable P264-million purchase in 1965.
Industrial growth was at first limited to the advantage of alien interests that were determined to keep the Philippines within the bounds of a limited agricultural economy; and then subsequently set on an erratic course by half-hearted efforts. By 1965, some industrial activity had been induced; but because of the catastrophic mismanagement of the national economy, 1,400 corporations were dead or dying or in dire need of massive government aid before the year was over.
Origin of Social Problems
These and numerous other difficulties can be traced to the period beginning with the turn of the century. These were, of course, to a large extent, due to our own backward economy, the most cruel feature of which is the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between the rich and the poor. The feudal conditions among the peasantry, the stark contrasts and inequalities spawned by tenancy and landlordism, called for penetrating and drastic solutions. The continued impotence of government and society to respond to the legitimate demands of the poor and the oppressed gave rise to despondency and cynicism which culminated in the explosive discontent of the late 40s and early 50s.
The crime and disorder of the postwar years aggravated these conditions. These words of another American observer describe the chaos of the liberation years: “At the end of the war it was difficult to restore law and order and to preserve and foster democratic processes. Manuel Quezon was missed. . . . The primordial struggle for existence gave a degree of lawlessness and criminality to practically every province and section of the country. Robberies, kidnappings, and daylight assaults on buses, trucks and trains were almost daily occurrences. The traditional respect for individual freedom and human rights was insufficient to counteract the petty criminals, the bandits, and the Communist-led groups who debauched the cities and disturbed the countryside.”
A Defective Political System
Our government machinery, indeed our existing political system, has been incapable of producing satisfactory conditions of living. All through these years, no serious attempt to correct obvious faults and deficiencies in our economic and social life has been made. The political structure that was erected during the first half of the century, save for a few insignificant alterations, has remained unchanged to the present day.
The inefficiency and the immorality in government are partly due to this defective political system. What is more, this political system has obstructed the democratic process. The system also has ironically been the chief obstacle to our progress. The sad truth is that we have kept our faith in democracy despite the inadequacies of our democratic institutions.
Excessive partisan politics is responsible for the abuse of democratic principles in this country, and for the consequent inability of certain sectors of society to apply themselves with dedication and vigor to the advancement of the nation. There is an urgent need to curb the selfish and callous tendency of some of our leading citizens to engage in political activity at the expense of the public good.
It is for the purpose of answering this need that Republic Act 4880 was passed by Congress and approved by me on June 17, 1967. The provisions of this law are clear: “It shall be unlawful for any political party, political committee, or political group to nominate candidates for any elective public office voted for at large earlier than one hundred and fifty days immediately preceding an election, and for any other elective public office earlier than ninety days immediately preceding an election.”
And again: “It is unlawful for any person whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any group or association of persons, whether or not a political party or political committee, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the period of one hundred twenty days immediately preceding an election involving a public office voted for at large and ninety days immediately preceding an election for any other elective public office.”
It is my hope, and undoubtedly yours too, that this lawful and necessary injunction is obeyed, this year and every election year hereafter, so that we may with the resulting harmony and cooperation, more speedily perform the common responsibility of nation-building.
It is fortunate that the nation will, just two years from now, call a constitutional convention. I leave it to the delegates of that convention to evolve a truly democratic system, one which will not merely bend, as our system does today, to the wishes of a traditional elite and perpetuate the status quo. Democratic institutions must be instruments of national advancement. Democracy must symbolize change.
Given these conditions and these premises, our principal tasks were, first, to lay the groundwork for the industrialization of the economy; second, to bring about social justice; third, to change the values and attitudes of the people; and fourth, to alter our foreign policy.
In short, our goal is nothing less than the complete transformation of our social, economic, and political milieu, the reorientation of our people’s idea of themselves and of their capability, and the complete change of the assumptions that govern our relations with other nations.
The New Filipinism
To carry them out, it was necessary to make bold decisions. We did not hesitate to make these decisions because we know that they go to the heart of the matter and that they will change permanently the character of our national life. Our aim is clear: to set the nation on a firm and unchangeable course towards progress and independence.
This is the New Filipinism. This is the turning point.
II. A RECAPITULATION
Some Highlights of 1968
The thrust of the administration’s program has been towards a full and relentless application of our people’s energies to nation-building.
This emphasis made its greatest impact on infrastructure development, food production, foreign relations, government reforms, labor and social services, trade and industry, and community development.
In specific terms, how did we implement the national desire for basic and far-reaching economic and social change?
- We built more concrete roads than were ever built from the turn of the century to 1965.
From the start of the American regime to the end of the past administration, the government built only 995 kilometers of concrete roads, 7.268 kilometers of asphalt roads, 39,075 kilometers of feeder roads, and 76,693 lineal meters of permanent national bridges.
In the three years of the present administration, we increased the total length of concrete roads by 105%; that of asphalt by 20%; that of feeder roads by 15%; and that of permanent national bridges by 17%.
- In three years, we reduced by almost 50% the backlog of schoolrooms which had accumulated through the decades.
In 1965, there was a shortage of 90,000 schoolrooms. After three years, the fabrication of Marcos-type and army-type schoolhouses by the present administration had made available 42,165 new schoolrooms. This is in contrast to a total of 400 schoolhouses built in the four years of the previous administration. We expect to fill up the remaining requirements by 1969-1970.
- A breakthrough in rice production enabled us to export the staple for the first time in our history. Before this, we had been habitually importing rice. In 1965, we spent P264 million to purchase 570,000 metric tons of the cereal from abroad. In 1968, we stopped importing rice; what is more, we earned $5.9 million from our rice exports and $1.17 million from the sale of certified rice seeds to various countries.
Our achievement in this field in a time of declining rice production in most countries has elicited the admiration of the whole world.
- We raised the Land Reform Program to the level of serious action for the first time. At the end of 1965, a total of only 12 municipalities had been proclaimed land reform areas. From January 1966 to October 1968, the present administration declared 50 municipalities land reform areas. At the end of 1969, we expect all of Central Luzon to be a land reform area.
- We initiated bold and decisive support to the growth of private industry. The Board of Investments, created in 1968, has set up a system of priorities in our accelerated industrialization effort. Overall industrial production in 1968 increased by 30% over that of 1965. In 1968, industrial employment was 14% more than that of 1965.
- Investment has increased. The private sector has regained faith in government. In Fiscal Year 1965-1966, the total paid-up capital invested by newly registered corporations, partnerships, and single proprietorships was P323.7 million. In Fiscal Year 1967-1968, this amount rose to P478.4 million, an increase of 47%.
- The economy, in a state of ruin at the end of 1965, has gained new life. This is reflected in the growth rate achieved in 1968. The real gross national product increased by 6.3%, to a new peak of P17,594 million in constant 1955 prices. In 1968, there was growth and stability in the economy.
- The external stability of the currency has been maintained. The Central Bank adopted stabilization measures to augment our foreign exchange supply and ease the pressure on the international reserve. In the last quarter of 1968, as a result of these measures, we had a $25-million surplus. Before that, we had successive deficits ranging from $14 million to $38 million.
- Internal growth was matched by an expanding outlook in foreign relations. We have begun to look farther a field in exploring new international relations. The twin needs for additional markets and for greater security have compelled us to come to grips with new and still changing realities. We look ahead to trade with Socialist countries.
- In national defense, we have introduced a new and more self-reliant defense program. In 1966, I directed the Armed Forces to formulate a unilateral defense plan built around the Home Defense Force, or the concept of the Special Forces. With the possible diminution of the American military force in Asia, we must consider the new challenges of security—alone, if necessary.
- We contributed our share to the task of maintaining peace in Asia. True to our commitment to regional security, we have refused to be stampeded into rash action in seeking a solution to the Sabah problem. Instead, we have constantly appealed for peaceful settlement of the claim, by any of the means enumerated in the Manila Accord. We have set for ourselves new standards of responsibility and maturity in our diplomacy.
- In 1968, our export trade gained unprecedented momentum. In 1965, exports amounted lo $768 million. In 1967, this amount increased to $812 million.
- An alert and uncompromising attitude against venalities and inefficiency in government has characterized our management of the public service in the past three years. Instant response to reports and complaints of official malfeasance has marked our performance in this field. As a result, we have encouraged complaints on governmental corruption.
We have acted decisively and even mercilessly against our own close associates, where necessary.
Up to 1965, only 68 employees had been charged with various offenses. Only two cases had been decided. As of 1968, there were 850 criminal and administrative charges filed against government officials and employees. Of these employees and officials, 28 in 1968 had been suspended; 119 dismissed. Among the latter were two CFI judges, 11 municipal judges, and five fiscals or assistant fiscals.
In the Bureau of Customs, 91 criminal and 111 administrative cases have been filed, or a total of 202 cases. Of these, 60 criminal cases are pending in fiscals’ offices; 31 criminal and 11 civil cases are pending before the PARGO; and 15 new administrative cases are still pending in the Bureau of Customs.
In police administrative cases, the Police Commission received a total of 630 cases. As a result, 101 policemen were dismissed and 21 were suspended.
- Community development projects increased by 427%. This increment has benefited more than six million people. For 128,158 self-help projects, the government provided assistance in the amount of P47.5 million. During the four years of the past administration, P13.3 million was given to aid 24,306 community development projects.
The private sector, for the first time, joined in the community development program, with such projects as the Operations “Kasama”; Low-Cost Housing Project for Rural Areas undertaken with the Archdiocese of Sorsogon; and the Lanao Special Operations, with the Asia Foundation and Mindanao State University.
- We obtained unprecedented benefits for labor. In 1968, 42,000 Filipino workers in local U.S. bases and in U.S. offshore military installations secured benefits amounting to P80 million annually under two separate agreements entered into by the Philippine and the American governments. On the other hand, about P350 million in new benefits were won by our workers through collective bargaining and direct enforcement work by the Labor Department. These measures are reflected in higher real incomes for our workers and, therefore, increased purchasing power.
- Industrial peace was maintained. The incidence of strikes was reduced by 65% compared with the previous administration.
- We have given the country its first feasible manpower development program. Skills training meets frontally the problem of unemployment. Since September 1968, some 25,000 men and women have been trained in 110 manpower training centers; a total of 70,000 will have been trained at the end of the year. Our manpower development program is the model and forms an important segment of the Asian Manpower Plan. It has won the support of the ILO and other UN agencies.
- There is a new vitality and dynamism in social welfare work. The Social Welfare Administration, which was elevated to department level last year, set up branch offices in 10 newly created provinces, ensuring more widespread social welfare benefits.
New initiatives in this field have been provided by the First Lady’s Integrated Social Welfare Program. Her varied projects are designed to intensify the work of existing agencies. They combine innovation and purposefulness.
- We expanded health services and provided free medicines to our indigent population on a scale never before attempted. The controls of diseases and the extension of health facilities to remote areas have been the object of closer cooperation between government and the private sector. This is necessary in the face of the fact that a survey in Mindanao in 1966 showed that 60% of our people die without ever seeing a doctor or a nurse.
In 1965, the per capita expenditure for free medicine was P0.04. In 1968, it was P0.52.
In 1965, the appropriation for rural health was P23 million. In 1968, this was P35 million.
We have asked Congress to provide a special fund for health to ensure continuing and adequate support for health services.
- Education has achieved new vigor. We are solving both the deficiencies in the quality of instruction and the physical inadequacies, such as the classroom shortage and the textbook shortage. One out of five Filipinos is in school today, posing problems as well as offering tremendous possibilities for national improvement.
Education has been geared to development needs. There are now courses in rice culture; manpower training through vocational courses and training centers for out-of-school youths; tree-planting projects to accelerate the reforestation program. Barrio schools are being established.
- The science and technology program has been expanded to answer the requirements of accelerated national growth.
We have encouraged and supported scientific research and development.
We have established special funds for science and education to support programs in these fields.
- We have answered the challenge of crime and lawlessness with a purposeful peace and order program. The crime rate was reduced by 4.7% in 1967 from the 1962 level. This was further reduced in 1968 to a level very much lower than that of any year during the seven-year period from 1962-1968.
Compared to more developed countries, like the United States, Britain, and France, where police agencies are highly skilled and much better equipped, crime growth in the Philippines has been small.
Nevertheless, a relentless program to combat crime has been pursued.
We have intensified police training. Besides a national police academy, we have six regional training schools to professionalize police agencies around the country. They will train and graduate policemen at the rate of 1,000 per quarter. This is being done without Congress providing funds for them.
Peace and order has always been a responsibility of local government. This has limited the ability of the national government to deal directly with local crime. This situation must end. The PC, if it is to be a truly national police organization, must be authorized to enter a town or city and, if necessary, take over the apprehension and prosecution of local criminals.
Financing difficulties have also prevented improvement of police facilities and enlargement of police forces. These difficulties should be remedied.
- We have inaugurated a more effective and purposeful program in Central Luzon. In the past, the approach to this problem had been extremely erratic, swinging from one extreme to the other. At one time, government sought to deal with the problem by repressive measures, at another by extreme leniency and accommodation. We recognized the socioeconomic character of the problem and have embarked on a massive, long-range social justice program unprecedented in the history of the region. Coupled with this approach, however, is a firm military effort against those who would subvert the Republic. In recent days, military operations for this purpose have crushed the backbone of armed dissidence in the area.
- We have launched special programs to quicken the pace of social uplift work for people. Our programs of urban development and urban renewal are designed to meet the problem of expanding population. We have embarked on a massive housing program.
We have relocated squatters in urban areas to healthier and better developed environments. We have only begun to solve this serious problem. In the coming year, we shall tackle it more vigorously and systematically.
We have developed training programs for the youth, particularly for those who are out of school. They are being trained in useful lines of work.
And finally, we have developed a program for the rehabilitation of ex-convicts and the so-called derelicts of society.
Our new investments program in its very first year has already accelerated industrial and agricultural growth. Consequently, vast new frontiers for individual and family advancement have been opened.
All these developments have been set in motion because of this administration’s deep and abiding concern for the welfare of the great mass of the downtrodden and underprivileged. We must as quickly as possible rescue millions of our countrymen from the poverty and deprivation in which they have lived all their lives.
This is the immediate aim of all our endeavors.
The thrust to full development is unmistakable in every field. I sincerely believe that, with the continuing support of our people, the breakthroughs and innovations of the past year will, before long, establish a momentum which neither future negligence nor design can easily diminish or destroy.
Many more aims, however, remain to be fulfilled by that partnership with government which, imbued with the New Filipinism, has brought us to this historic turning point. Our production in agriculture and industry must continue to expand. We must not forfeit the new vitality in the nation’s life by another lapse into in action and indifference. We must further increase the national rate of growth.
III. GENERAL MATTERS
The Gross National Product
In 1968, the economy grew in the manner that has come to be regarded as normal since the beginning of this administration: that is, gross national product increased at an unprecedented rate. According to the National Economic Council, real gross national product at 1955 prices increased by 6.3% in 1968 to a new level of P17.594 million. Both figures exceed the second-year targets of our Four-Year Economic Program which seemed so ambitious at the time they were set. The sector that led this growth was agriculture, which increased at the rate of 8.9% to P4,796 million, a new level.
The rapid increase in government facilities and services also has by now come to be accepted as normal. According to the latest report of the InfrastructureOperationsCenter, we have now completed more than three quarters of our four-year road asphalting program. In irrigation, we have rehabilitated or completed projects covering a total of 212,546 hectares and completed 106 kilometers of access roads. More than 42,165 new schoolbuildings have been constructed. These are only some of the evidence of internal expansion which we will describe in more detail later.
A unique feature of the economy in 1968 was the realization of growth without the usual concomitant movement in prices. In developing countries, it is generally recognized that the forces that induce growth are exactly the same forces that put pressures on prices. The gains to our people’s welfare resulting from an increase in income can therefore be minimized by the extent of price inflation.
On this score, our country had a significant year. Prices, as reflected in the Consumer Price Index for Manila, were literally held to a standstill. The CPI Manila level for 1968 was exactly equal to that of 1967. Consumer Price Index for the whole Philippines showed the same stability, registering only a 0.7% increase over 1967.
According to the Economic Monitor, December 23, 1968: “In terms of prices, this year might yet rum out to be the most stable. For one, the consumer price index for Manila has not shown any appreciable change since January of the current year, increasing from 152.7 to only 154.2 last month or a minuscule 1.5 percentage points rise registered for the same period last year. “
“This relative stability of the general price level is apparently the offshoot of the success of the Administration’s agricultural food production program notably in cereals. Meat and fish output were also reported to have gone up. All these factors are reflected in the small increase in the price index of food of only 2.8 percentage points, from 179.4 to 181.5. “
Last year, we expanded not only our economic but also our political horizons. It is probable that future historians will consider the political redirection more important than the economic gains.
A New Foreign Policy
In 1968, our foreign policy became truly international. We took the first steps towards the possible recognition and establishment of full relations with the countries of the Socialist bloc.
These countries have many things to offer the Philippines in terms of technical knowledge and trade opportunities.
Postulates of Foreign Policy
Actually, the emphases have changed but the principles of our foreign relations are constant. We have been guided at all times by seven postulates.
Foremost is the national interest. Our foreign policy is always governed by our unswerving commitment to the welfare and dignity of the Philippines, by the need to protect our independence, territorial dignity, and national dignity.
In protecting and promoting the national welfare, we have at the same time strengthened our links with Asia.
Considerations of the nation’s welfare also compel us to establish strong safeguards against the threat of communist aggression, infiltration, and subversion. At the same time, we have an open mind concerning relations with Socialist countries, particularly those of Eastern Europe.
We are firm in our belief in the rule of law. We have a rich tradition of freedom and civil liberties. Our foreign policy will uphold this tradition.
We have always supported the United Nations. We believe in viable and mutually advantageous regional defense arrangements.
Peace and security are inseparable. We believe that progress in Asia is the common concern of the countries of the region. Their cooperation for prosperity and stability is possible only in a period of peace.
Finally, we are resolute about accelerating economic development. We aim to overcome poverty not only in the Philippines but in the other countries of Asia as well.
A New Defense Policy
In 1968, we revised the basic assumptions of our national defense. We assumed the eventual withdrawal of the United States from Asia and we began to make new defense plans based upon this contingency.
A Harsher World
In short, in 1968, we began to consider seriously all of the responsibilities of political and economic independence, and prepared to assume these responsibilities. We made a hard and realistic appraisal of the Asian situation and the world situation that the Philippines is likely to face in the near future. We found that in many ways it would he a harsher world than the one we face today, a world in which the Philippines may be hard pressed even to survive as an independent country. We formed our policy for the future on the realistic assumption that this harsh world would indeed come to pass; and in this world, we planned not merely to survive but to emerge as a leader.
What will be the contours of this world?
Special Economic Relations
One of them we already know for certain, that our special relations with the United Slates will come to an end, at least in their present form. These relations have been a mixed blessing, and some would not be sorry to see them fade away completely. However, our industrialization program will require huge amounts of foreign exchange, and we still have not sufficiently diversified our export products and markets. We are carrying out such a program of diversification but in the transitional period, until this program is completely implemented, we must preserve the advantages that we already possess. Our needs for foreign exchange are so great that we must retain all the markets we now have besides making a vigorous effort to develop new ones.
The Withdrawal of the United States
The second feature of this new world is almost as certain. The United States, having been morally divided and economically strained by the Vietnam conflict, will seek to reduce its military commitments in Asia. For many this will be a severe but healthy shock. It will force them to abandon those outdated assumptions that are reinforced by the presence of a great and friendly military power.
The time has come for us to start looking out for ourselves, because no one else will. There is now an urgent need to modify our defense and foreign policies in order to make them hew closer to the national interest.
Union of Developing Countries
The third feature of this new world is somewhat more positive. The developing countries of the world, speaking as regional groups, have begun to assert themselves forcefully in the formulation of world economic policy. We have seen in the last few years the formation of several regional unions, the first operations of the Asian Development Bank, and two plenary meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. We have seen the developed nations agree that nonreciprocal preferences should be granted to the exports of developing nations, and that in the interest of diversifying the composition of these exports, these preferences should be granted to exports of manufactured goods as well as to traditional raw materials and semimanufactures. During the current year, we may see agreement on a primary list of products to which these preferences will be granted.
To prepare our country for this new world we formulated last year the following guidelines.
First, we must now industrialize further in order to end our poverty and in order to protect our national integrity.
We enter this difficult world with one important advantage: our breakthrough in agricultural production. Freed from the problem of feeding our people, we can concentrate more of our resources on industrializing our economy and on making our boundaries secure.
The pattern of development that we have chosen is the balanced development of both agriculture and industry. At this stage of our economic development, agriculture is an important support because it generates both the capital and the capability for industrialization. Our main export products, which earn the foreign exchange that we need to buy capital equipment, are still agricultural products. The complete neglect of agriculture now will only set back our plans for the industrialization of the economy.
This does not mean that this will be the permanent pattern of our economy. Simultaneously with the increase in the productivity and efficiency of agriculture and as soon as we have the capital resources and technology for industrialization, we will move on without hesitation to the industrial stage because industry is the only sure and lasting foundation of a strong, modern state.
The National Interest
Second, a drastic change in our foreign policy is necessary. For too long we have been too trusting of foreigners, unthinkingly accepting their beliefs and preconceptions along with their economic and military domination. From now on our foreign policy will be dictated only by our national interest.
Third, our development will be our own affair. We are developing the Philippines for the Filipinos and it follows that all tools as well as all gains must rest in the hands of Filipinos. This is not by any means an expression of xenophobia. For certain phases of our industrialization program, the help of foreigners is necessary. In selected lines of industry, their rights and interests will be protected.
Efficiency and Discipline
Finally, since we shall be forced in the future to rely more and more on our own resources, we must develop greater efficiency and discipline. We have already begun to reorganize the government for greater efficiency and discipline. The spirit of this movement must permeate the entire society.
IV. A PORTRAIT OF THE NATION
Allow me now to discuss the achievements, problems, and policies of 1968 in detail.
Commerce and Industry
The Gross National Product
I have already referred to the satisfactory growth of the national product. For Fiscal Year 1968, we programmed a growth rate of 5.8% for gross national product. The actual growth rate was 6.0%. We expected agriculture to grow by 5.4%, a rate which already represented a considerable improvement over past growth. Such was the national response to our rice and corn production program that actual growth exceeded even this ambitious expectation, and the actual growth figure in real terms was 7.0%. In fact, as is now well known, we were able for the first time to export rice. The figures for Calendar Year 1968 are even more impressive. The growth in real GNP is 6.3%; in volume of agricultural production, no less than 8.9%.
Mining and Manufacturing
Mining and manufacturing grew at the rate of 5.8%. Compared with growth rates in previous years, this is quite impressive, although it fell short of the target by 2.2%; although it is the impression of many businessmen that growth in the manufacturing sector was much better than what the official statistics indicate.
Greater Industrial Efficiency
It is for this reason that we are reexamining the administration of government financial assistance and incentives, which apparently have not promoted as much efficiency in industrial production as we would like to have. There have been heavy imports of machinery, and conspicuous additions to productive capacity; but output has not increased significantly.
I want the private sector to utilize our economic resources efficiently. There have been too many cases of wasteful duplication and the building up of unnecessary capacity. I now ask private businessmen to consider more carefully the needs of their industry and their country as well as their own enterprises; and I have required government financial institutions to be stricter in their evaluation of applications for government support.
Another policy I have been considering is to encourage mergers and other such rationalizations of the structure of industry. Our capital resources are too precious to be dissipated by unnecessary duplication. In the future, we shall require a much better return to the economy in exchange for government support.
Balance of Payments
As is only to be expected when aggregate demand increases, when higher incomes are available to a greater number of people than even before, and when industry is expanding at a fast rate, our balance of payments experienced some pressure last year. The difficulties were complicated by the fact that natural disasters prevented our exporters from taking full advantage of the higher prices that prevailed for our export products.
The deficits resulted principally from the country’s impatience to grow. Close to three-fourths of total imports during the last two years were of essential and semiessential producers’ goods, the demand for which arose from the combined investment programs of the private sector and the government. An additional one-tenth of our imports was in the form of essential consumer goods. Maturities of international obligations incurred in the past also contributed significantly to our balance of payments burdens. It appears that these pressures on our external position have been the cause of certain misgivings on the part of the business community over the future prospects of domestic credit, the exchange rate, and the international reserve. Indeed, the large volume of imports during the last two years partly reflect the efforts of traders and manufacturers to build up inventories in anticipation of adverse movements in the exchange rate or in fear of possible exchange controls.
I wish to state in the strongest terms that there is no basis for these fears. The country’s balance of payments problems are well within manageable bounds and can be handled without resorting to further credit restrictions, exchange controls, or devaluation.
Also, I am asking the Monetary Board to look into the possibility of implementing some suggested measures to be undertaken during the coming months to alleviate the pressures on the international reserve.
Using Available Acceptance Lines
The first is to encourage commercial banks to avail of additional short-term borrowings from abroad by fully utilizing their available acceptance lines. In line with its policy of restructuring our external debt, the banks will be asked to stretch the maturity periods of their unused credit. The Central Bank, for its part, will provide commercial banks with automatic forward exchange cover of their external exposure arising from the financing of imports through acceptances.
Trade Credits from Suppliers
Second, domestic importers will be given the inducements to finance their imports from trade credits available directly from their suppliers, whether the importers are independent companies or subsidiaries of foreign corporations. The general principle to be applied is that imported commodities sold locally for credit—such as equipment, durables, and raw materials—should also be imported on credit rather than for cash; thereby call on our importers to use, or to negotiate for, deferred payment terms from their foreign suppliers. The Central Bank will stand prepared to provide them with forward cover through their commercial banks.
These measures t0 avail of import credits are intended to minimize immediate drains on the reserves rather than to encourage larger volumes of imports at this time. The amount of total imports will still be subject to judicious moderation, both by monetary policy instruments and by fiscal restraint.
Deferments of Remittances Abroad
Third, foreign-owned companies that enjoy the country’s hospitality and profit from its markets are requested to refrain from adding to the country’s foreign exchange burden by deferring the remittance of their profits abroad, particularly when such remittances are made possible by borrowing from domestic credit sources. Such profit remittances constitute a significant part of the country’s annual invisible outflows. A judicious curtailment of such remittances will be a graceful token of the readiness of foreign companies to cooperate with the government in lightening the pressures on the international reserves. It will also be an expression of their confidence in the future of their host country.
I ask those foreign enterprises which avail themselves of domestic credit facilities to finance their remittances abroad to refrain from making any remittances for the remainder of this year. I ask those enterprises which do not use domestic credit facilities to reduce their remittances in 1969 by 50%.
Foreign Sources of Long-Term Capital
Fourth, we will intensify our program to tap foreign sources of long-term capital, in the form of loans or equity, whichever may be suitable under individual circumstances. This is in line with our basic policy that a developing country like the Philippines should absorb as much foreign financing as its future debt-servicing capacity will allow.
Expansion of Exports
Finally, we shall continue our campaign to expand the country’s exports by working towards the establishment of a strong, aggressive merchandising capability and by gearing our internal investment policies towards the enhancement of our competitiveness abroad and the improvement and standardization of the quality of our products.
The investment priorities plan will give some idea of the likely new products that can be developed for export. As for market opportunities, one of the most interesting results of our missions to the Socialist countries was the list they brought back of the commodities we could export to the Socialist countries together with the prices that these commodities may be expected to fetch. This list, which has been widely publicized, has undoubtedly already attracted the interest of many of our businessmen. It shows that there is a wide range of commodities in providing which we can undersell the present suppliers to the Socialist countries by margins ranging from 10% to 70%. Some of these commodities, moreover, are traditional exports for which the regular markets are static or contracting or commodities of which there is chronic domestic overproduction.
The conditions under which sales to Socialist countries will be made seem satisfactory. Best of all, the Socialist countries seem to have a much more positive view of trade with developing countries than do their Western counterparts. Socialist imports from the developing countries have continually increased at a faster rate than their total foreign trade; and this seems to be their deliberate national policy. The reasons behind this policy are obvious, but there is no harm in our taking advantage of it if adequate safeguards are taken. Almost all of our Southeast Asian neighbors have been doing so for several years, and have generally benefited.
Domestic Savings and Investments
We should realize, however, that the country’s success in raising long-term capital abroad depends on our own success in mobilizing capital at home. This emphasizes the urgency of generating domestic savings in massive proportions to finance investments in new industrial plants and equipment, in agricultural improvements, in public works, and in essential social services.
The Investment Incentives Act which Congress enacted in 1967 was designed to encourage the private sector to generate the capital for investment in new areas. The large number of applications for registration under the act by enterprises seeking to enter these high-priority fields is a convincing indication of the effectiveness of the act in stimulating private investments. I am confident that its operation will accelerate private investment efforts in the future as well as rationalize the country’s overall development pattern.
The government, for its part, must keep pace with the country’s requirements by continuously implementing its own development projects and by providing adequate public and social services. Any shortcomings in the government’s efforts in these areas will pose serious obstacles to the country’s total development drive.
This underscores the importance of new taxes. The need for more revenues is acute. It left us no choice but to ask, as I did, for new sources of income. We categorically reject inflation as a way of financing government development projects: The sources of funds must come from savings in the form of taxes.
We should, however, spare the low-income group from any additional tax burdens. The burden of taxation must fall on those who can afford it. The price of progress must be paid primarily by the wealthy, rather than by the poor. Moreover, our efforts to increase tax revenues at home will increase our international credit standing. They are a dramatic indication to foreign lenders of long-term capital that we are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to promote our economic development.
Last year, nine tax measures were enacted into laws. These were among the principal recommendations embodied in the 1968 Tax Reform Program of my administration, which was drawn from the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Executive Tax Commission during this and the previous administration.
Improvement in Revenue Collection
The collection performance of the BIR has remarkably improved. From 63% in 1964, the level of efficiency went up to 75% in 1967. There are strong signs that efficiency has improved further in 1968 as shown by our high tax compliance.
Total revenue collections have increased from P1,869 million in Fiscal Year 1966 to P2,589 million in Fiscal Year 1968. The total collections of the BIR and the Bureau of Customs in the last three years covering the period 1966–1968 increased significantly over that of the previous three years (1963–1965). Overall rate of increase almost doubled from 9.5% to 18.2% for the two periods. The increase in internal revenue collections rose from 12% to 15.7%, and that of customs collections, a more impressive increase, from 2.5% to 25.9%.
Along with the rise in revenue collections, the requirements of a growing economy for increased government facilities and services have also been increasing. In Fiscal Year 1969 alone, the total requirements of the national government amount to P3,450 million. However, the amount that can be generated to finance this requirement will only be P2,997 million, leaving a gross financial gap of P453 million. The magnitude of the problem is such that if we do not muster the required additional resources, we will not be able to meet our goals. Our goals are reflected in the growing demand for more schoolbuildings, housing, health, irrigation, power and water facilities, roads, communications, peace and order, and wage adjustments for government employees.
I make a special appeal to Congress to enact the measures to enable the government to respond to these needs.
The Central Bank and Monetary Policies
In monetary affairs, official effort was geared towards maintaining stability and servicing the financial needs of a developing and growing economy. Monetary action during the year was aimed at keeping inflationary pressures under control and overcoming balance of payments difficulties, which persisted throughout most of 1968. Towards the end of the year, however, there were positive indications of the effectiveness of monetary measures in containing credit expansion, improving the pattern of credit flows, and in relieving the pressure on the country’s external accounts. The Central Bank also continued to play a key role in developing the credit markets and in ensuring the smooth functioning of the banking system.
To check excessive credit expansion, dampen import demand and channel the flow of credit resources from import financing to domestic production (particularly rice) and export production, several measures were taken. The more important ones included the selective reduction of the expansion of the Central Bank’s credit portfolio from P630 million during January to November 1967, to only P300 million during the comparable period for 1968. In addition to raising the rediscount rates on a selective basis, the Central Bank also increased the margin requirement against selected import in the form of increased commercial bank reserves. Again, in October, ceilings on the credit portfolios of commercial banks were imposed to limit the volume of credit for imports at a specified level and to make possible the utilization of additional credit facilities for financing the production of rice and certain export products.
Financing Rice Production
In the formulation of Central Bank policy, growth and development objectives were taken into consideration. This is evident in the selective character of the measures adopted during the period. More importantly, the Central Bank took the necessary steps to provide for the financial requirements of the rice production program which had progressed much faster than anticipated. Thus, outstanding Central Bank credit for the rice program increased by P150 million during the year.
The agreement of the International Monetary Fund was also obtained to increase the margin for Central Bank credit operations under the standby arrangements by P100 million expressly for the rice program. Significantly, despite the restrictive measures taken, economic development did not slow down. Production statistics continued to show improvements in agriculture and manufacturing.
External Stabilization Measures
For purposes of ensuring the external stability of the currency, the Central Bank acted to augment the supply of foreign exchange and to ease the pressure on the international reserve, particularly those brought about by the burden of servicing official short-term foreign obligations.
In line with this policy, a standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund of P27.5 million was secured. Upon negotiation of this standby arrangement, the U.S. commercial banks agreed to convert $81.5 million of their $234.6 million short-term loans to the Central Bank into medium-term credit (four years). In the process, $24 million of Central Bank deposits which were pledged against the short-term loans were released by the commercial banks. In addition, the Central Bank obtained a $60-million credit line with various commercial banks, of which only $10 million has been availed of by the end of the year.
The balance payments during the last quarter of 1968 resulted in a $25-million surplus after registering successive deficits in the four quarters ended July-September 1968 ranging from $14 million to $38 million in October-December 1967. The surplus arose from the reduction of the trade deficit from $81 million in the fourth quarter of 1967 to $61 million in October-December 1968 and the increase in the nontrade surplus from $44 million to $86 million, respectively. The leveling off of quarterly import payments, the gains inexpert and nontrade receipts, and the decrease in nontrade payments made the surplus possible.
In the foreign exchange market, Central Bank intervention to stabilize the exchange rate declined from $669 million in 1967 to $395 million in 1968. Although the average selling and buying rates of commercial banks was higher in 1968 than in 1967, the interbank rate which averaged P3.917 in 1967 declined to P3.916 in 1968.
Banking Development and Growth
Apart from stabilization problems, there were events which threatened to disrupt the smooth operations of the banking system. As a result of undue publicity given to the impending liquidation of two banks and the subsequent congressional investigation of the matter, a moderate run on banks took place in mid-September. To avert a national crisis, the Central Bank promptly extended full support to the banking system by granting about P100-million emergency loans. The Central Bank authorities also reassured the public of their readiness to extend their aid if necessary. By the end of September, after two weeks, the run subsided and the confidence of the public in banking institutions was reestablished.
Notwithstanding this event, the banking system continued to grow and to expand. During the first three quarters of 1968 alone, 29 branches of commercial banks, 2 new savings banks, and 4 branches of established savings banks were opened. Twenty-nine new rural banks and seven branches of development banks were established to service the rural areas.
Internal and external monetary pressures are interrelated. Easing of pressure on our balance of payments results in the relaxation of internal credit; and the effect also works the other way around. If new sources of revenue are found, then the Central Bank within our covenants with IMF can ease the restrictions it now places on both public and private borrowing, and will be in a much better position to improve the structure of our external debt.
While the government borrowed a total of P1,602.88 million in Fiscal Year 1968, of which the amount of P1,332.85 million was from domestic borrowing and P270.0 million from foreign sources, a total amount of P1,048.4 million was redeemed. Of this redemption, P889.6 million serviced the foreign indebtedness. In the redemption of the external debt, P24.15 million was for the direct indebtedness of the national government, while P134.66 million was for borrowings of government-controlled corporations that were guaranteed by the national government.
Treasury Bills Program
We have, through the Department of Finance and the Central Bank, launched a Treasury Bills Program designed to provide the national treasury with funds during seasonal lags in revenue collections and at the same time to establish a private market for short-term treasury bills. These securities serve as a standard or benchmark for private investors as they are auctioned competitively and traded freely in the open market. The present success of the trading of short-term government bills indicates that a responsive money market for government securities has already been established in our country.
The promulgation of Executive Order No. 97 on October 26, 1967, which created the Financial Policy Committee, finalized the creation of an overall body entrusted with the responsibility of planning and coordinating the financing operations of the national government and its instrumentalities. Currently, the committee is concerned with the servicing of the external debt of the Philippines and its restructuring. It is now necessary to restructure our external obligations in order to reduce the pressures on our foreign exchange reserves.
Annual public expenditures under this administration were higher than at any other time. This was due to the increased social and economic demands of our rapidly expanding population.
Social development expenditures had always received the biggest cut from the government’s fund resources (44%), while the allotment for economic development was never below 17%. In the last year of the past administration, the allocation for social development was only 31% and for economic development, 11%. Certainly, previous allocations were too low for the present size of our population.
The Financing Problem
The one overriding problem of government is lack of funds. This had hounded previous administrations; it continues to face us. This fiscal year, we are faced with a financial gap of about P450 million to P500 million. There are four alternative solutions to the “financial gap.” These consist of taxes, borrowing, greater efficiency in collection, and savings.
On taxes, we submitted to you last year a program of proposed tax measures. Some of them you have passed; the others you have not. On borrowing, you gave me the additional authority and we have done the best we can to avail of loans to support our development program both in the public sector and in the private sector. But there are practical limitations that prevent a full utilization of our legal borrowing authority.
Foreign loans usually require local currency counterparts. The generation of local currency on the other hand has to be done in such a manner as would not provoke inflation and balance of payments complications. We have also done much toward the development of a domestic government securities market, but this takes time and the absorptive capacity thus far developed is still insufficient.
On greater efficiency in collections, the record of revenue collections in both the BIR and Customs during the past three years and the studies of your own as well as our Joint Legislative Executive Tax Commission can attest to the degree of effort we have exerted in this area. On savings, I have already instructed the Budget Commission to effect a reduction in the current year’s program of expenditures as well as to reduce by P200 million what had been originally programmed for FY 1969-1970. But we can go only so far in this area because we started in the first place with an attitude of spending only for the bare essentials. Our people rightly look up to us to provide them the services which they need. These consist of social overhead facilities or infrastructure as well as current services, such as those of education, health, and peace and order.
We cannot, therefore, refuse to heed these demands on the grounds of inadequacy of existing funds.
Additional Sources of Income
My appeal for new sources of income was not supported completely by Congress. My program called for an additional revenue of P1.2 billion, but Congress approved only around P296 million. I appeal to you again to enact in the next regular session the consolidated Tax Code bill, the gasoline tax, the specific tax on cigarettes, the omnibus amendment to the Tariff and Customs Code, the abolition of some special funds, the elimination of tax exemptions and subsidies, and the tax on idle land.
Public Works and Communications
The construction of those numerous facilities which constitute the infrastructure for substantial and lasting progress has a high priority in our development program. Begun early in 1966, this has continued through 1968. In 1969, public works construction, principally road-building, will not only be continued— it will be accelerated.
During the period from the turn of the century to 1965, the country had 995 kilometers of concrete roads, 7,268 kilometers of asphalt roads, 39,075 kilometers of feeder roads, and 76,693 lineal meters of permanent national bridges.
In only three years, the present administration finished 1,046 kilometers of concrete roads (or an increase of 105%); 1,502 kilometers of asphalt roads (a 20% increase); 5,694 kilometers of feeder roads (a 15% increase). We have also built 403 permanent national bridges with an aggregate length of 13,007 lineal meters (or an increase of 17%).
The previous administration, on the other hand, finished in four years only 70 kilometers of concrete roads, 458 kilometers of asphalt road, and 118 kilometers of feeder roads.
The Role of the Armed Forces
In addition, the Armed Forces have, in support of the highway program of the Department of Public Works and Communications, constructed 60,829 kilometers of concrete roads, 42,582 kilometers of asphalt roads, and 544,939 kilometers of feeder roads. The 51st Engineer Brigade of the Armed Forces, which constructed most of these roads, also completed two bridges measuring a total of 72.38 lineal meters, and various civic action centers throughout the country finished 71 bridges.
Schoolhouses, Public Buildings, and Hospitals
An important feature of the infrastructure program is the construction of prefabricated schoolhouses. In 1965, there was a backlog of 90,000 schoolrooms. In 1968, 42,165 rooms were made available through the fabrication of Marcos-type and army-type schoolbuildings. At this rate, we should have enough schoolbuildings by 1970.
A total of 287 national buildings and 73 hospitals and sanitaria have also been constructed.
Manila Waterworks System
The Manila and Suburbs Waterworks System, a project partly financed with a $20.2-million IBRD loan, is now 79% complete. Expected to be finished in the latter part of 1969, it will provide the metropolitan area with 300 million gallons of water per day. We have also constructed 116 provincial waterworks and improved 121 others, built 516 artesian wells, rehabilitated 1,955 others, and developed 36 national springs.
We completed 12 national irrigation systems, work on which was suspended during the previous administration because of lack of funds. These systems irrigate 88,870 hectares. Through the rehabilitation and improvement of existing irrigation systems and the installation of pumps, 120,219 hectares were placed under irrigation, making a total of 209,089 irrigated hectares as of 1968.
Still under construction are 19 irrigation systems and 28 commercial projects. Under study at the moment is the Upper Pampanga River Multipurpose Project, which will irrigate some 81,000 hectares in Nueva Ecija and supply power and water to Greater Manila. Through the National Irrigation Administration, we are developing eight pilot projects on water management in collaboration with experts commissioned by the Asian Development Bank.
Apart from these projects of the Department of Public Works and Communications, the Armed Forces completed 227 irrigation projects in Central Luzon.
To relieve congestion in the ports of Manila, Piers 3 and 15 and the MarginalWharf of the InternationalPort were completed. A total of 105 other national and municipal projects around the country were finished to complement these ManilaPort projects. Altogether, these projects provide an additional 17 foreign and 151/2 domestic ships’ berths. Transit sheds with a total area of 21,054 square meters were also constructed to accommodate the increasing volume of cargo.
In addition, through the combined efforts of the Bureau of Public Works and the Philippine Navy, we have dredged more than 36 million cubic meters of foreshore area at a cost of less than P1.00 a cubic meter, compared to previous costs which were as high as P5 a cubic meter.
To mitigate the destruction caused by floods, especially in the developed delta areas, we have concentrated our flood control works on five major river basins in the country. These works are the Manila Flood Control, Pampanga River Control, Agno River Control, Camarines Sur River Control, and Ilog-Hilabangan (Negros Occidental) River Control projects.
To support the growth of civil aviation and to meet the need of modern air travel, we have embarked on an expanded airports development program.
We have built or improved 22 airports, the more important of which were the Iloilo and Cotabato airports and the ManilaInternationalAirport’s terminal apron. The construction or improvement of 33 other airports is now under way.
Until 1965, the Philippines was one of the three countries in Asia with the poorest telecommunications system. The growth rate of telecommunications in the Philippines was 7.6% annually, just slightly higher than Singapore’s 7.5% and Indonesia’s 6.5%.
To stimulate taster growth in telecommunications, we allowed the private sector to participate more extensively in this industry. Early in 1966, we limited the Bureau of Telecommunications to the function of developing projects in areas where the potential traffic is inadequate, so that private enterprise may make reasonable profits. In less than three years, private telecommunications companies burgeoned and prospered. Last year, these companies invested an additional $8,263,300, nearly thrice more than their investments in 1966 which amounted to $3,977,100.
The projected growth of the telecommunications industry is 10.5% a year. Our future program calls for an average yearly investment of $ 15,424,190. This annual additional investment will be provided mainly by the private sector.
We are now working on still another program, which is to get all telecommunications companies, government and private, to enter into interconnecting agreements so that a subscriber of one system could easily be connected to a subscriber of another.
Government itself, however, has been more active than at any other time in the past in developing telecommunications. Some of our more important projects are:
- The Nationwide Telecommunications Expansion and Improvement Program, which is now more than 60% complete. When completed in 1971, it will provide telegraph facilities in all municipalities, a multichannel radio telephone-telegraph linkup of all provincial capitals and cities, expanded government telephone services in Greater Manila, automatic telegraph switching facilities for direct and fast transmission of messages, and fully automatic telephone systems in at least 27 cities and provincial capitals interlinked with each other and with Greater Manila.
Already in existence are 21 telegraph stations, 25 radiotelegraph stations two radio stations, and eight telegraph-telephone stations. The Telex Switching Operation was also set up last year. The Telex Network in Manila, Baguio, and Tarlac now serves 20 automatic telegraph offices in various parts of the country.
- The Mindanao Telecommunications Development Project, which will provide a system interconnecting 19 cities and towns in that area. This system will link up with the nationwide system through switching facilities at Cagayan de Oro City.
- Expansion of the Government Telephone System in the Greater Manila area by adding 13,000 telephone lines or 21,000 telephones.
- Establishment of telegraph facilities in 20 municipalities in Central Luzon and modernization of telegraph plants in 120 municipalities in the same region.
In addition, we have completed the Philippine Communications Satellite (PHILCOMSAT) and the ground tracking stations for the Global Telecommunications System.
These do not include the massive expansion and upgrading work being done by the Armed Forces to improve their own telecommunications facilities. When I began my administration, the interservice communications system of the Armed Forces was primitive. The Air Force could not communicate directly with the Philippine Constabulary, the Army, or Navy. They had to course their communications through a central communications system. You can well imagine the inefficiency and contusion that this setup caused.
We have now considerably improved that system. The equipment of all services of the Armed Forces has been standardized and integrated, and their radio services interlinked.
Concerning the satellite system that we have set up, the private sector has established the main line, which starts from Baguio to Manila and from Manila to Cebu, and finally all the way down to Cagayan de Oro and Davao. This is the main line from which other lines will radiate to all provinces and cities. For instance, there are 1,000 Cebu telephone exchanges interconnected with the Cebu-Philippine Long Distance exchange, which has five incoming and outgoing trunks. This alone has increased the power of our communications system a thousand times.
We have also set up a number of troposcatter stations around the country, including one in Ilocos Sur which will link us to Taipei.
Up to the recent past, little attention had been given to the electrification of the rural areas. Last year, the administration took decisive steps to correct this situation.
With the assistance of the USAID, we organized nonprofit rural electric service cooperatives. Two such cooperatives have been organized as pilot projects—one in Northern Mindanao and another in Negros Occidental. Their capital requirements were met by low-interest, long-term loans from both the Philippine and United States governments through their respective agencies. Six other electric service cooperatives in other regions are to be organized within the year. With the experience gained from these projects, we expect to extend the program of rural electrification through nonprofit, people-owned cooperatives throughout the country at the earliest time possible.
Power development and transmission are also being accelerated. Feasibility studies are being made for the construction of a power transmission grid throughout Mindanao together with the gradual increase in power generation at the Maria Cristina Plant. A thermal plant is being constructed in Bataan. Plans are under way for the generation of about 1.5 million kilowatts in the Greater Manila Area and in Luzon within the next five years.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of providing our people with cheap electric power. Adequate power is the base of a modern industrial economy.
Infrastructure Goals for 1969
From January through December 1969, we will pave 328 more kilometers of roads with concrete and 136 more kilometers of main roads with asphalt; build 1,742 more kilometers of feeder and development roads; and construct 10,949 more lineal meters of permanent bridges.
Before the year ends, we expect to complete the Manila and suburbs interim waterworks projects. We will also construct 65 more provincial waterworks systems. Studies are now being made to increase the capacity of the Manila and suburbs interim waterworks projects to meet the fast-growing needs of the area. Simultaneously, a master plan for a sewerage system for the metropolitan area is being prepared.
Some 3,252 additional irrigation pumps will be installed. To meet this goal, we propose to tap Japanese reparations and to work out a deferred payment scheme for procuring additional irrigation units.
We will continue to improve the Port of Manila. We also hope to complete the reclamation of 31 hectares of port area and to construct a breakwater in the InternationalPort, a marginal wharf at the domestic port, and a Fisherman’s Port at the NorthHarbor. We will construct and improve 17 other national ports and 53 municipal ports.
We will continue working on the five major river control projects already started.
Airport development in 1969 will consist of concrete paving of aircraft movement areas, and the extension of existing runways to accommodate larger jet-propelled airplanes. The airports to be improved are those at Cauayan, Cagayan de Oro, New Roxas, Tagbilaran, Tuguegarao, Legaspi, Surigao, and San Jose (Mindoro Occidental).
The construction of 7 out of 45 airports programmed for permanent improvement will be undertaken. To accommodate turboengine aircraft, we have also programmed 33 airports for repair and improvement of runways.
National Power Corporation
In 1968, the National Power Corporation completed its 218,000-kW Angat (Bulacan) Hydroelectric Plant. The NPC also finished the third unit of the Maria Cristina Hydroelectric Plant, thus boosting the industrial development of the IliganBay area in Mindanao.
Philippine National Railways
We have reduced the losses incurred by the Philippine National Railways from over P8 million at the start of our administration, to about P1. 8 million in 1967, and to only about P1.6 million last year.
National Development Company
The National Development Company invested 55% of the total authorized capital stock in the PHILCOMSAT, which in turn is the participant in the International Satellite Communications System, to which our Republic is a signatory. The Philippines’ first station consisting of 12 circuits was inaugurated recently. This undertaking is not only highly beneficial to our economy, since a net operating profit of over P2 million is assured, but it will also revolutionize the communications system of the nation.
The Government Service Insurance System
To meet the needs of the people of the rural areas more quickly, the GSIS established offices in Laoag, Baguio, Bacolod, and Tacloban. Very soon, branch offices will also be established in Iligan, Isabela for the CagayanValley area and in San PabloCity for the Southern Tagalog region.
In the past year, the GSIS has given no less than P99 million in salary loans and another P166 million in real estate loans. It has also granted P11 million in insurance claims and invested P128 million in stocks and bonds.
The Social Security System
The SSS last year launched a massive low-cost housing program, financed the establishment of more public hospitals, liberalized salary and educational loans and extended its coverage.
During the last three years, the SSS has registered 813,600 wage earners and 21,600 employers, or 24.8% of all wage earners and 36.7% of all employers registered since 1957. As of the end of 1968, member-employers totaled 87,000, while wage earners totaled 2,215,600.
The SSS has paid out a total of P153 million in all kinds of benefits over a period of 11 years and 4 months to about 460,000 members. Over one-half of this amount was paid in the last three years, during which the number of claims increased considerably. This increase could be attributed mainly to the speedy processing of claims.
The promise of this administration to promote low-cost housing is now being fulfilled. To give more meaning to the provisions of the SSS charter, the system starting in January 1968 embarked on a massive low-cost housing program for its low-income members. The revised housing program, which in the main grants loans to employers for the employees’ housing project at a maximum of P15,000 instead of the previous P60,000, represents a major shift of policy. By extending the amortization of the loan from 15 to 25 years, the system has made it possible for the ordinary workers to own houses.
The SSS supports the Medicare bill now pending in Congress. This program will provide hospital and medical services to a large number of workers who, for financial reasons, would not ordinarily be able to pay for such services. The program aims to include the dependents of the members of the system.
One definite step we have taken to develop the less favored regions of the country is the creation of the Industrial Estates Corporation as a subsidiary of the National Power Corporation. Its first undertaking is the Limay Industrial Estate Pilot Project in Bataan. Similar projects have been programmed for CebuCity, DavaoCity, and IliganCity.
The Limay pilot project will yield lessons and examples for the establishment of similar projects in areas where economic development is sluggish. It envisions a complete industrial complex incorporating the industrial community formed by the Bataan Refinery, the ESSO Fertilizer Plant, the Bataan Thermal Plant, the Philippine Columbia Carbon Plant, the bulk storage facilities, and the Wood Mosaic Plant. A steel company, a textile company, a copper wire company, and sulfuric acid company have signified their intention to build their factories in the estate.
Aside from stimulating the growth rate of the economy of the country, the industrial estates project will help decentralize industries, and thus help minimize socioeconomic problems such as unemployment, criminal delinquency, sub-standard housing, and the like.
We stressed the protection and promotion of the quiet hero of our development—the Filipino worker. In 1968, we multiplied our efforts in his behalf and for the welfare of his family.
New Labor Agreement with the United States
For the first time in 20 years, the Philippine government last year succeeded in negotiating two separate labor agreements with the United States government, extending wide-ranging benefits to 61,000 Filipino workers in local U.S. bases and to 16,000 Filipinos employed in American offshore military installations in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Additional monetary benefits for these Filipino workers under the agreements are estimated to reach P80 million annually. To these workers have been extended also for the first time the right to self-organization and collective bargaining.
Dollar Repatriation Program
Through the dollar repatriation program, our overseas workers in the Pacific and Southeast Asia may now safely and expeditiously remit their earnings to their dependents and beneficiaries in the Philippines through the Philippine National Bank. This program is not only a welcome convenience to them but is expected lo boost our foreign exchange reserve by some $100 million annually.
Crash Manpower Program
In the summer of 1968, without funds provided for in the Appropriations Act, we launched a “crash” manpower development program for our unemployed citizens. The initial effort involved training centers in four provinces. A scant P100,000 and the facilities of trade schools and colleges were used. In three months, we were able to train 1,000 people in various skills to qualify them for immediate employment.
Inspired by this success, we directed the Manpower Development Council to undertake a nationwide program of “accelerated manpower training.” One hundred ten centers are now in operation from Batanes to Sulu.
The principal government agencies engaged in the manpower development effort are the Manpower Development Council, the Department of Education, and the Department of Labor. The program is also supported by city and provincial executives, leaders in industry, and agriculture, labor, civic, and religious leaders. Above all, it has elicited enthusiastic response from our people.
In the last six months, we have trained some 25,000 men and women at the cost of less than P100 per trainee. By the end of 1969, we hope to raise this total to 70,000.
The manpower development program is a breakthrough in the solution of the perennial unemployment problem. For the first time, we have set up a national program designed to give new skills to workers who otherwise would have no chance to get formal training.
UNDP-ILO Assistance Program
The success of our program has impressed international agencies. Mr. David A. Morse, director general of the ILO, has paid tribute to our program which he held up as a model for the Asian Manpower Plan adopted by the ILO at its Tokyo conference last year. The United Nations Development Program and the International Labor Organization have given 75 scholarships and study grants for administrators and instructors involved in the manpower development project.
The United Nations has also granted our request for special fund assistance valued at $2 million to the Philippine national industrial training plan. This project will equip our research and demonstration centers in support of our manpower program.
Placement of Workers
Our manpower program involves not only training but also placement of workers.
A nationwide network of employment centers is the necessary complement to our skills training program. We have expanded the public employment service to strategic regional sites all over the country.
We now urge the city and provincial governments to implement the executive agreements for the establishment of their own local employment centers.
And finally, we ask for the immediate passage of the manpower training bill which is now in the Senate.
Enforcement of Labor Laws
We have intensified the enforcement of labor laws, resulting in the increase in restitutions paid to our workers by P12 million in 1968 over the previous fiscal year, or an increase of 35%. A highlight of this program was the attention given to our unorganized and underprivileged workers, principally the “sacada” or migrant workers, other types of agricultural workers, and household help. In this connection, we have opened two employment offices in IloiloCity and BacolodCity to regulate the activities of contractors and middlemen who supply “sacada” labor.
Free Trade Unionism
We have consistently encouraged and supported free trade unionism and collective bargaining. The administration unequivocally upheld freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining when these were threatened last year. We have also caused the repeal of the law requiring leaders of organized labor to submit nonsubversive affidavits every year. We shall continue to defend and preserve the rights of our workers to participate in shaping the conditions under which they work.
Industrial peace was more stable last year in spite of a few dramatic strikes. Work stoppages went down by 5% in 1968 compared with the previous year, and by 65% compared with the average for the previous administration. We have helped in the conclusion of 520 collective bargaining contracts and other agreements resulting in the payment of more than P180 million in wages and fringe benefits to 126,142 employees.
More than 47% of all strikes in 1968 arose from interunion jurisdictional disputes. In fact, interunion raiding has become a major threat to industrial peace. To arrest this alarming development, we call on organized labor, especially on the leaders of the leading labor federations, to get together and adopt a code of ethics with a workable provision for no-union-raiding. At the same time, we have asked the Department of Labor to prepare a bill designed to correct this problem.
The Filipino worker won substantial wage increase and fringe benefits and restitutions of wage differentials resulting from collective bargaining and direct enforcement work by our labor department. Roughly quantified, these accretions amount to about P350 million.
International Labor Affairs
We have increased our voice in international labor affairs. The leadership of the Philippines in the conferences held by the International Labor Organization in Geneva and Tokyo last year was hailed by no less than the ILO director-general during his recent visit to the Philippines last year.
This year, as in previous years, we shall demand that the worker and his family be given their due share of the fruits of our national drive for growth and development.
A Department of Labor study on the “brain drain” problem has brought to light the exploitation of our doctors and nurses abroad under the exchange visitors program, and the unrestricted migration of technicians and skilled workers of developed countries. We have directed the agencies concerned, such as the Manpower Development Council, to attend to this problem, which adversely affects our economic development.
Our School Population
We accommodated 6.5 million children in the grade schools under the best conditions in the last decade. Our cumulative classroom production since 1958 exceeded 37,000 rooms. We had 1.5 million high school students and 640,000 college and university students. Our school population of 8.4 million exceeded the total national population of 60 other countries of the world. The schools and studentry were mobilized for development projects, especially for massive tree-planting and civic action activities.
We are revitalizing vocational schools and work education projects. We have paved the way for local responsibility for education by creating municipal, city, and provincial school boards.
We began a 10-year construction program of sports centers, by providing P1 million for athletic facilities for the interscholastics and P100,000 to P400,000 for regional meets, spread throughout the nation.
Special Education Funds
Recently, Congress passed the special education fund, making available some P106 million from certain taxes for educational projects. The P106 million will be appropriated annually for new classes, schoolbuildings, textbooks, teaching devices, machinery, and equipment for vocational courses.
We have a program to aid private education, notably the Philippines-U.S. trust fund of P24 million from which grants and loans will be made available to private schools. Projects related to national development have been given priority. The fund will double in 10 years.
Our government will also set up its own P24-million trust fund for private education. Earnings from this fund will help private schools update courses related to development. The fund will also be used to stimulate university growth in various regions of the country, thus easing student congestion in Manila.
Other Aid Funds
A big part of the $27-million war damage fund was given to private universities to encourage them to give courses in technology and science and to engage in basic research.
We have also funds to improve private medical schools. We plan a medical internship dispersal project under which interns will be asked to do a tour of duty in provincial hospitals. This might also arouse their social conscience and reduce the “brain drain.”
The Textbook Program
We have given new stress to a textbook program. By 1970, we expect to produce 10 million textbooks at a cost of P40 million. About 3.5 million textbooks were turned out last year. To help hard-pressed parents, we scrapped textbook rentals in public intermediate schools. By the middle of this year, we will also do away with textbook rentals in public high schools.
Dispersal of Colleges
To broaden college opportunities for young men and women in the rural areas, we plan to disperse colleges and universities all over the country. We hope to give incentives through tax privileges or credit arrangements to rural colleges. We also plan to disperse technological schools in areas with high agricultural and industrial potentials.
We continued to support the University of the Philippines as a free and independent institution of higher learning. The financial contribution of the national government to the university budget has increased by 100% since 1962, and the StateUniversity on its part has set the pace in our educational world while developing a nationalistic and Asian orientation in its courses and general policies.
The MindanaoStateUniversity in MarawiCity has been maintained as a center for Muslim studies and culture.
Asian Regional Projects
We have tried to push regional education projects such as a Southeast Asian regional center for graduate study and research in agriculture, and a center for tropical medicine in this country. During my state visit to three neighboring countries, I also proposed a University of Asia.
All these show that we have responded to the challenge of an imminent revolution in education that demands an educational perspective appropriate to a nation moving forward into the 1970s.
The National Library
An integral part of national development is cultural growth.
Cognizant of its role in the cultural development of the country, the National Library has started the first postwar inventory of its holdings. To enable our scholars and students to use its collection, it has created special reading rooms—an Asia Room, Theses and Dissertations Room, Rare Books and Manuscripts Room, Social Sciences and Humanities Room. It has also organized additional libraries, bringing the total to 32 provincial libraries, 16 city libraries, 229 municipal libraries, and 19 barrio libraries. We plan to set up reading centers in all barrios.
Through a National Advisory Council on Libraries, we intend to initiate a system for coordinating all types of libraries, whether public, special, university, and private libraries, to make the total library resources of the country available to all.
The National Museum
The role of a NationalMuseum as a medium for public education has had a positive impact on the community as evidenced by the increased number of visitors to the exhibition halls of the NationalMuseum, which has through its long-range program of cultural research gradually closed the gaps in the chronology of Philippine prehistory and history.
Our present building for the NationalMuseum, however, leaves much to be desired, and we plan to provide a new location, possibly one of the government buildings at the Agrifina Circle in the RizalPark.
The Uses of History
On the proposition that history is both inspiration and energizer of a nation, the National Historical Commission through public lectures, publications, exhibitions, and historical conservation sought to imbue our citizens with a deeper historical sense.
Our national archival materials, now safely housed in the National Library, are being processed, cataloged, and microfilmed for the use of the scholars and researchers. This meets a long-felt need of Filipino scholarship.
The youth development program is a new concept for our schools. We have a three-pronged program: (1) for out-of-school youth; (2) for students; and (3) for integrated youth training.
Summer Youth Program
We also have the Summer Youth Program to promote physical fitness and the productive use of leisure time.
Also under our youth program is the Summer Reforestation Project. I have released P175,000 for this program which now has 8,000 youth volunteers in 33 provinces.
Other volunteers conduct free tutorial classes in summer for out-of-school youth. Senior vocational students give training in basic skills, while bright college and high school students tutor elementary pupils in civics, reading, writing, and arithmetic.
We also have youth volunteers working at community sanitation, repair of roads and bridges, agricultural extension work, literacy classes, and community beautification.
To know more about our children, the NationalCoordinatingCenter for the Study and Development of Filipino Children and Youth is undertaking a comprehensive study program. Research projects on subjects such as the value system, study habits, physical development, and nutrition of our youth have been conducted and the findings made available to the public. Clinical services have been provided; seminars and programs coordinated. The center also runs a Children’s Village that serves as a laboratory school and demonstration center for better education.
These are some of the reasons why I believe in the capacity of our youth—the new generation of Filipinos—to lead the country forward. I am gratified that despite upheavals on campuses all over the world, our students have been more responsible. They demonstrate, but peaceably; they engage in the national dialogue over important issues and they are responsive to the challenges of nation-building. And it is precisely for this reason that I have initiated the move to reduce the voting age from 18 to 21 years. We want to keep them politically involved, responsible, and above all receptive to new skills, new knowledge, and new responsibilities as leaders.
Science and Technology
Lag in Science
The Constitution provides that the State must promote science and scientific research. But progress in this field has been very slow.
The following statistics should illustrate the paucity and inadequacy of scientific manpower and investment in our country.
In the United States, there are 853 scientists per million population; Russia has 772 scientists per million; West Germany has 486; France has 333; Italy, 350; Australia, 334. In the Philippines, we have 135 scientists per 1 million Filipinos.
Again, in the United States, the per capita expenditure of science is P90. In England, it is P60. In the Philippines it is from P0.60 to P0.65. This goes show how far we lag behind developed countries with respect to our investment on technology and scientific research.
Recognizing the primary importance of science and technology in national growth, the government has accelerated its program to encourage scientific research and development far beyond all previous levels.
A Science Community
On April 6, 1968, we proclaimed 35 hectares located at Bicutan, Taguig, Rizal, as the site of the Philippine Science Community. On this land shall rise a complex of edifices to house research laboratories, multipurpose pilot plants, technical workshops, a science museum, a scientific library, and other facilities for research.
NSDB Research Projects
Through the National Science Development Board, we have completed 52 research projects within the last fiscal year and are now engaged in 181 projects. These studies, oriented to social and economic development, involve projects in agricultural and natural resources, industry and engineering, medicine and allied sciences, food and nutrition, behavioral sciences, and basic sciences. Although the government sector was the major recipient of grants-in-aid from the NSDB, private agencies were also supported in their research programs.
Manpower Training and Science Scholarships
Through the manpower training program of the NSDB, public and private high school and college science teachers throughout the country were trained in several institutes and seminars.
The program of graduate and undergraduate training of science scholars was continued. Thirty-eight foreign scholarships for advanced training of deserving staff members of the board and its agencies were obtained from different international agencies and through bilateral agreements.
The government also conducted a workshop on fisheries and oceanography to accelerate fishery research and to identify areas in which science-based technology might be applied for economic development.
We shall utilize more fully private institutions for urgently needed research. The government will be ready to award important research contracts to deserving private institutions, including our colleges and universities. Tax incentives, including double exemptions, are contemplated for the promotion of private research. This is the kind of partnership that will effectively advance the frontiers of science in our country.
Our principal problem is to break out of the prison of old attitudes and outmoded habits of thought. New realities confront us. We must adjust to these realities.
Our nation, acting alone, cannot do it. I think this is the lesson that the sixth decade of the twentieth century has taught us. We must act in concert, small and great nations alike, to achieve common objectives. Despite Vietnam, the Middle East, and Czechoslovakia, the world to day is in a better position to meet, in common constructive endeavor, the challenges of building a durable peace.
The prospective conquest of the moon has electrified the imagination of the world. If we can harness the courage, the vision, and the daring of the space travelers towards the solution of terrestrial problems, then perhaps we can begin to make that bold stride towards the future.
Two great challenges face the world today. The first is the problem of peace and security. The second is raising the living standards of peoples everywhere. No one would dream of minimizing the difficulties of these problems. In both the stakes are large—the future of generations to come and the survival of life as we know it. We of this generation hold the future in mortgage. We cannot afford to fail.
I said last November, in a speech at the Manila Overseas Press Club, that we in Asia must strive towards a modus vivendi with Red China. I reiterate this need, which is becoming more urgent each day. Before long, Communist China will have increased its striking power a thousandfold with a sophisticated delivery system for its nuclear weapons.
We must prepare for that day. We must prepare to coexist peaceably with Communist China. For our part, this means relentless work towards full self-development, so that we can live beside our powerful neighbor with confidence and dignity. For her own part, Communist China must accept the fact that superior military strength cannot justify aggression.
I believe that the faith and goodwill, as well as the competence, for peaceable coexistence exist in the heart and mind of all Asians.
The Communist Threat
One good result of the Cold War detente is the fragmentation of the Communist empire. Where there was only one center of power, today there are several. Nationalism within the former Communist empire, rather than ideology as such, has become the real motive force in the relations of the Communist countries with each other and with the outside world. The trend towards relaxation is clear. Communist China’s willingness to resume the Warsaw talks with the United States, the Soviet Union’s “feelers” towards agreement on arms control are important straws in the wind.
As far as the Philippines is concerned, external Communist aggression represents a minimal threat—at least not to the extent we once felt it to be. Our real problem is the growth of internal Communism arising from urgent economic problems. The main thrust of my administration is towards economic development or, which is the real meaning of economic growth, raising the living standards of our people.
A just peace in Vietnam has always been our endeavor since the 1966 Manila Summit Conference. Any negotiations must provide room for compromise; that seems to be elementary. We feel that the principles enunciated in the Seven-Nation Summit Conference are sufficiently broad to provide leeway for both parties to reach agreement. The Paris negotiations will probably take a long time. But the fact that the Paris negotiations are taking place at alt seems to be a good sign. It is the clearest expression yet that a desire for peace exists; half the battle is thereby won.
Role of Japan in Asia
The terms of the presumptive withdrawal of the United States from Asia have not been spelled out in detail. This may mean, at the least, a desire to avoid further involvement in Vietnam-type operations in Asia; or, at the most, diminution of economic aid and relinquishment of security obligations in Asia.
On the theory that U.S. withdrawal would cause a power vacuum in the region, Japan is being increasingly talked about as the inheritor of the role of the United States. All possible contingencies are being studied by the Philippines.
My administration is undertaking an intensive study of the problem.
Closer regional cooperation has been one of the main tenets of my administration. To this end, we have formed the ASPAC, revived the ASA, and begun the ASEAN. The main drawbacks have been the lack of practical experience in regional cooperation. We are all, in a manner of speaking, undergoing on-the-job training. The other drawbacks are regional conflicts, such as the Sabah controversy between the Philippines and Malaysia.
These impediments are considerable but not insurmountable. The practical aspects of cooperation will be mastered in time and as for conflicts, they should be isolated and solved peacefully and in accordance with tested procedures of international law. In this way, we may succeed in preventing disruption of regional cooperation activities.
For this reason, we have proposed, more than once, the creation of an Asian political forum, to help solve intraregional conflicts or, at least, defuse potentially explosive situations.
Another reason we attach great value to regional cooperation is that, individually, the nations of Southeast Asia are hard-pressed to achieve the objectives of independence in the economic sphere. In the case of the Philippines, the first objective of self-sufficiency in the staple foods has been achieved. But beyond that, we feel that regional cooperation can accelerate growth.
Our Claim to Sabah
If the Philippines were not convinced of the validity of its right to Sabah, we would be the first to say, “Drop the claim.” But we feel that on legal, historical, and moral grounds, the Philippine claim to Sabah is justified. We are bound to pursue it as a matter of principle and as a matter of justice.
We will pursue the claim peacefully in keeping with the spirit of previous understandings with Malaysia and in accordance with the principles of national law. The claim is in the national interest and we intend to pursue it by making use of all available peaceful resources. We are encouraged by the fact that many of our Asian friends are helping in the search for a modus vivendi between the Philippines and Malaysia.
We are passing through a transitional period in world politics and we have only ill-defined landmarks to guide us. What will emerge are, without question, new relationships among the great powers in Southeast Asia, and between them and the smaller powers, including the Philippines. What has become obvious, even at this stage, is an impending American withdrawal in the military sphere, an event of great importance to countries which have hitherto depended upon American military guarantees.
Our defense policies have begun to take these emerging changes into account, to follow three guidelines.
A Flexible Approach
First, these policies should provide for a more flexible approach vis-à-vis the main powers in our part of the world.
A more workable relationship with the United States, based on realism and mutual advantage, should be developed.
Regional Defense Arrangements
Second, Philippine defense policies must take in account regional defense arrangements.
In this connection, it should be noted that the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) has been plagued by disunity, giving rise to severe criticisms as well as to doubts that it can and will do the part for which it was created in 1954. In any case, SEATO can, in the meantime, be strengthened. But another organization can issue out of the present situation.
Finally, these policies should give a high priority to the peaceful settlement of our Sabah claims.
Since the end of the last war, Philippine defense policies have been formulated in response to entirely foreign, domestically irrelevant crises, such as Berlin. Korea, the Congo, even Vietnam. For the first time, an issue of tremendous domestic importance has come up: to recover a territory about which a great many of our citizens, particularly in the South, feet strongly.
The settlement depends of course on a number of variables, any one of which may upset the formula for settlement.
On our part, we have been consistent with our declarations of peaceful intention. We have doused the war-fever that raged in the South. We shall continue to search for solutions that are in keeping with our dignity and integrity as a nation and with our regional commitments.
One of the most heartening breakthroughs of the administration is in rice production. We have always been known as an agricultural country, and yet—to compound this seeming handicap—we were one of the biggest importers of rice. In the last three years, we have dramatically increased rice production to a level never before attained. We began producing rice not only for our own consumption but for export as well. We have drastically reduced importation of rice from a record high of 570,000 tons in 1965 to zero in 1968. This means a savings of P264 million a year, the amount we spent to import rice in 1965.
As we had envisioned in 1967, we were able to export rice worth $5.9 million to different countries. We suffered a temporary setback in our exportation program due to the long drought that hit a wide area of Luzon and the typhoons that destroyed our crops. However, with the present trend in rice production, we expect to be able to resume exportation this year.
We attribute this success in rice production to the effective implementation by the Rice and Corn Administration of the Price Support Law which was enacted in March 1966. This Price Support Law increased the price of palay from P12 to P16 a cavan, and of corn from P9 to P13 a cavan. In addition, the RCA has a going program to improve warehousing techniques, rice milling methods, and marketing.
Although we expect to be 7.5 million cavans shy of our projection of 121 million cavans for the Crop Year 1968-1969 because of the natural calamities that .came our way, we expect our rice supply to remain plentiful and the price to remain lower than the projected level, although higher than last crop year.
With the tremendous success and confidence gained, as well as the lessons learned in the last three years, we are optimistic about our agricultural capability.
Breakthroughs in Other Areas in Agriculture
Along with the tremendous success of the rice and corn production program, our development goals in agriculture were substantially enhanced by increased productivity in the sugar industry, the planting of new areas to coconut, the intensification of the cattle dispersal program, the opening of artificial insemination centers, and the revitalization of the fishing industry.
These have been made possible by the increase of technical knowledge and the channeling of fresh resources to the agricultural sector. Our experience in 1968 proved that only through the use of technology in agriculture can we realize the goal of maximum agricultural productivity.
One of the most significant developments in the last three years has been the increase in quality and quantity of agricultural research. An important factor for the breakthrough in rice production was the development and subsequent multiplication of the high-yielding varieties, like IR-8, BPI-76, College 18, College 4-63, and IR5. We now have corn varieties that yield three or four times the ordinary varieties. Superior strains of mongo, tomatoes, eggplants, bush sitao, sorghum, soybean, and sugarcane have been developed. Chicken broilers far superior to the common “dumalaga” and “inahin” have contributed to better nutrition for our people. We have developed a new chicken breed that can lay more eggs than the white leghorn.
These developments prompt us to view with boundless optimism the prospects of food abundance in the near future.
However, in spite of the major breakthroughs we made in agricultural research, there is still much that remains to be done. We hope soon to make the Philippine Coconut Research Institute fully operational. It is crucial for us to improve the productivity of our coconut plantations so that we can ward off the encroachment of soybeans and synthetics in our traditional markets for coconut products. The same goes for the sugar industry. There is an urgent need to raise sugarcane productivity so that this industry can earn more foreign exchange.
Agricultural Development South of the Typhoon Belt
The natural calamities that last year befell several of our major crops, particularly rice, sugarcane, and coconut, underscore the fragility of this important section of our economy. If Mindanao offers too great an attraction to agro-industrial entrepreneurs, it is largely because it is outside the typhoon belt and the rainfall is abundant and evenly distributed throughout the year.
The promise that was once Mindanao is now fast becoming reality. The influx of investments in new coconut plantations, citrus and coffee farms, bananas and pineapples, hog farms and cattle ranches in our southern frontier strongly attests to the foresight and pragmatism of our new breed of entrepreneurs who have chosen to go south. All these would not have taken place, however, without the vigorous support of our financial institutions who have gone into partnership with our pioneering entrepreneurs.
Stimulating the Fishing Industry
A major deterrent to the development of our fishing industry is lack of cheap ice. To solve this problem, the Philippine Fisheries Commission started in June 1968 the Fisheries Infrastructure Program. The objective of this program is to provide the fishing industry with cheap ice and cold storage facilities in strategic fishing areas. The Philippine Fisheries Commission will establish 17 ice plants and cold storage projects in various parts of the country.
By the end of this month, we expect the completion and operation of five ice plants, one each in Mercedes, Camarines Norte; Masinloc, Zambales; Guiuan, Samar; Sagay, Negros Occidental; and Magallanes, Sorsogon.
By June of 1969, we expect two more ice plants to be in full operation. These ice plants are situated Barugao, Leyte, and Liminangcong, Palawan.
By the end of Fiscal Year 1969, these seven ice plants will produce 8,000 MT of ice. The remaining 10 ice plants are now in various stages of construction.
We expect to operate our 40-ton ice plant in Bato-Bato, Sulu, and the ice plant in New Washington, Aklan, by December of this year. Other ice plants and cold storages now under construction in Bayawan, Negros Oriental; Pala-Pala, Iloilo; Saravia, Negros Occidental; Dalahican, Quezon; Jolo, Sulu; and Pio Duran, Albay will be in operation in 1970.
Expanding Fish Production
In 1968, the volume of fish catch was about 745,000 metric tons, representing 68% of our nutritional requirements for fish. Our goal is to attain self-sufficiency in fishing by 1972.
To invite investments, the Board of Investments has made fishponds and deep-sea fishing priority areas for government assistance. A fishing port is being constructed in Navotas which will be backed up by the Greater Manila Terminal Food Market to serve a major outlet for fresh food commodities, including fish.
Coupled with the investment incentives and the infrastructure support being given to the fishing industry, we now propose to set up a regional fishery research center with the support of the countries in Southeast Asia and Japan and the U.S. government. This center will conduct basic and applied research on freshwater and brackish water fishery.
We will also continue to stock our major lakes, swamps, and other inland bodies of water with fry and fingerlings.
Saving the Abaca Industry
A major problem is the steady decline of our abaca exports. Technological advances leading to the development of many types of synthetic fibers have eroded our traditional market for abaca cordage. Sisal and henequen, which are cheaper, have also undercut abaca in the constricting market for natural fibers.
We have to find new uses for abaca. Long and painstaking research efforts are now starting to pay off. Several pulp and paper plants are now using low-grade abaca for pulp production. Abaca is now being used for tea bags. Studies are being made for the use of abaca for textiles as well as to replace jute in the production of sacks for rice, fertilizer, and sugar. The Gomez process for the manufacture of abaca chips as raw material for long-fibered pulp will soon be tested on a commercial scale with the establishment of a pilot project with the financial support of the National Development Company. The Board of Investments has included the manufacture of long-fibered pulp in the priority areas for investment. In the long run, diversification appears to be the only feasible solution to the abaca problem. In the short run, we are exploring new markets for abaca within the Socialist bloc; we have also asked our friends in the Western block to refrain from further disturbing the market for natural fibers.
The Greater Manila Terminal Food Market
After so many years, we have finally taken the first bold step towards establishing an organized national marketing system which will stabilize the prices of prime commodities and which will induce qualitative and quantitative improvements in food production, thereby raising the income and standards of living of our rural population.
I refer to the Greater Manila Terminal Food Market, or GMTFM, which will be the first of a network of food terminals to be established in strategic places all over the country. The GMTFM will rise, before the end of this year, on a 120-hectare lot in FortBonifacio along the South Superhighway. When completed the GMTFM will be a combined producer-wholesaler-transit market complex equipped with the latest in storage, refrigeration, food handling, and trading equipment for effective wholesale distribution of the produce of more than 1 million food farmers from 27 supplier-provinces in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
The GMTFM will not, as mistakenly believed, buy and sell for its own account but will provide the facilities and services to enable farm producers, wholesalers, and other legitimate traders and large-scale consumers to engage in spot wholesale buying and selling of fresh produce under conditions of free market interplay to prevent any group from monopolizing or cornering the supply of fresh produce.
The GMTFM will, however, not merely provide physical marketing facilities but will correct the sharp imbalances between food supply and demand, with their attendant violent price fluctuations. It will be deeply involved in various programs and projects intended to change the produce marketing system in our country, and it will protect the small food growers from exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen. It is presently engaged in the organization of cooperatives of producers who will be financed from production to marketing by six commercial banks chosen by the Bankers Association to the extent of P60 million to P120 million.
Along with correction of food supply and demand imbalances and erratic price fluctuations and raising the income of our rural population, the GMTFM will, among others, promote ancillary and service industries; strengthen the food processing industries by assuring them a steady supply of quality and graded food commodities; develop superior varieties of food crops; introduce new techniques of fresh food preservation, handling and transport, packaging and trading; create a favorable climate for the export of certain commodities; and even improve the dietary habits of Filipinos. All these will generate far-reaching social and economic benefits.
In 1968, we carried out a determined campaign to protect and conserve our forest resources. We enforced the selective logging system and the requirement to consolidate timber licenses into working units of at least 20,000 hectares with 25,000 cubic meters of annual allowable cut each.
Under the selective logging system, only the mature timber of at least 60 centimeters in diameter may be cut, thus leaving behind a healthy residual and logged-over area for future harvest. Thus, without damage to our forest resources, logging areas expanded significantly during the last three years, with the aggregate annual allowable cut increasing from 6,439,059 cubic meters in 1966 to 11,048,008 cubic meters in 1968. Consequently, the total income of the government from forest charges during the three-year period reached the unprecedented amount of P112,582,139.83.
At the same time, disposable forest lands were opened to profitable uses, including fishponds, recreation sites and resorts, pastures, private camps, radio stations or communications station sites, and the like.
During the period, 10 watershed forest reserves with a total area of 103,107.6 hectares were established, while 16 other watershed areas were surveyed.
Reforestation is being carried out by the government, schoolchildren, volunteers, loggers, and civic organizations. However, their efforts are not enough. Vast tracts still have to be reforested. This year, we will intensify our reforestation effort. Our target is the reforestation of denuded watershed areas and forest parks. At the same time, we will improve our system of guarding our forests. I have also asked the relevant agencies of the government to prepare a comprehensive wildlife conservation plan. I intend during my incumbency to do everything to conserve our forests and wildlife.
The improvement of health services for the people, especially for those in the rural communities, is a principal program of this administration.
On free medicines for the people, the per capita expenditure of our government in 1965 was four centavos. Today, for free medicine, we spend 52 centavos per person. In other words, we are distributing throughout the country about P16 million worth of free medicines as compared to only P1.3 million in 1965 to 1966.
Rural Health Services
The rural health program of the Department of Health provides health and medical services to 80% of our people. As of July 1967, a total of 1,352 rural health units served the same number of municipalities. By July 1968, although additional units were created to increase the total to 1,459, still a number of municipalities remain unserved. Furthermore, of the existing rural health units, 1,000 are not completely staffed and are operating with inadequate supplies and medicines. We will seek to correct these inadequacies this year.
We concluded an agreement with AID for the establishment of 500 nutrition centers for children all over the country. At the same time, we are engaged in a campaign to show the need for better food, for we are all well aware of the nutritional deficiencies of our people.
The PACD continues to be an agent of change in our rural frontiers.
Over the past three years, our barrio people completed with minimal government assistance a total of 128,158 projects worth P47,599,469.67 as compared to 24,306 projects valued at P13,365,522.50 during the four years of the previous administration. This means an increase of 427% in number of projects and 156% in project cost. These projects now serve over 6 million people.
In the past years, the PACD served 16,000 barrios as against only 3,600 during the four years of the previous administration. This is a gain of 345%.
A new feature of the community development program is the participation of the private sector. Some of the major activities undertaken with private support are Operation “Kasama’” in cooperation with the University of Santo Tomas; low-cost housing project for rural areas in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Sorsogon; the Lanao special operations in cooperation with the Asia Foundation and Mindanao State University; and many others.
Through its volunteer program, the PACD with financial support from the Asia Foundation, initiated the Volunteers for the Improvement of the Philippines (VIPs), trained no less than 250 student volunteers from 16 universities and colleges in the Bicol region under the Bicol Students Volunteer Service Program (BSVS), and cooperated with the civic action program of the Department of National Defense in launching the Rural Service Volunteer Program (RSVP).
Participation in the Food Production Effort
The PACD played an important role in the implementation of our rice and corn self-sufficiency program. Among its contributions are communal irrigation works, self-help barrio roads, farm to-market roads, and cement dryers. From the reparations allocation of the PACD, centrifugal irrigation pumps, power tillers, marine diesel engines, and agricultural tractors have been sold to small farmers in Central Luzon on very liberal amortization plans.
P100-Million Rural Development Fund
PACD fieldworkers throughout the country were directed to assist in the implementation of the P100-million Rural Improvement and Community Development Fund project.
Last year, the Department of Social Welfare set up branch offices in the 10 newly created provinces, in Mt. Province, Davao, Agusan, Samar, Cotabato, and Misamis Oriental. The department also established two community centers in Manila, which gave vocational training to 10,000 out-of-school youth. With the support of the private sector, child-caring institutions were decentralized, while a Reception and StudyCenter was set up in Cagayan de Oro City. Three hundred seventy families with 2,653 dependents were given financial and technical aid to get them back on their feet.
Integrated Social Welfare Program
Allow me now to talk about the integrated program for social welfare. You will forgive my pride—this is a program that has been called the First Lady’s Integrated Social Welfare Program and would not have been possible but for the First Lady’s determination, and a social conscience sensitized by all that she has seen of poverty and suffering in this country. We will not let politics or malice stand in the way of helping those who need help. For years, and through countless administrations, social workers had been trying to push through the idea of lifting welfare work in the Philippines above the level of rice and sardines. They spoke of decentralizing Welfareville, which had become, through laziness, inadequate funds, and sheer ignorance, the dumping ground of society’s rejects. They dreamt of projects with lasting impact, programs and services whose returns might not be immediately discernible but which would help large sectors of the population adjust themselves to life—I refer here to our dependent groups, of all ages: the abandoned, the orphaned, the handicapped, the disturbed, the aged, the poor, the sick—but not until this administration came along did these dreamers find an advocate. Without a single exception, professional social workers speak of the integrated social program as a milestone, a breakthrough, moving relentlessly towards a reorientation of the entire welfare movement in our country. What is it? Put simply, it is a massive effort, tapping both government and private sources, to help the helpless, but not only in terms of simple food and shelter, but also of adjustment: where those who can, are taught skills that will help them become independent and responsible members of society; where those who can’t, either by reason of age or of physical or emotional handicap, are given protection and sustenance but in an atmosphere of dignity.
The integrated program is, of necessity, a program of priorities—because the children must be saved immediately, they have come first. Thus, the Nayon ng Kabataan at the Manila International Airport; the Reception and Study Center in Bago Bantay; the Marillac Hills project for girls. Work has begun on the MolaveVillage, a training school for boys in Tanay. Because they don’t have long to live, and because we have a special affection for them, the aged will soon have a home near the Reception and StudyCenter in Bago Bantay. The pattern is unmistakable: As quickly as possible, Welfareville, long a byword for hopelessness, is being decongested, and its population moved out to the countryside where nothing is being spared, nothing that funds and technical knowledge can give, to provide them with a new hold on life.
I invite my countrymen, particularly the Liberals, to visit these homes, and to see for themselves how much we can do and how far we can go, when we are driven not by self-aggrandizement but by the plaintive cry of the foundling and the orphan, the neglected, and the abandoned. The integrated social program does not stop here; when the children will have been taken care of, it will turn its attention to the mentally helpless, both young and old. We are determined to do everything for the NationalMental Hospital, and the mentally retarded children and the unfor