His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
To the Congress
On the State of the Nation
[Delivered at the Batasang Pambansa, Quezon City, on January 17, 1983]
Mr. Prime Minister; Mr. Speaker; members of the Batasang Pambansa; governors; mayors; members of the Constitutional Convention; distinguished guests; members of the diplomatic corps and other foreign guests; my friends:
This is a day both of commemoration and commencement—commemoration because we mark today Constitution Day in our country and commencement because this Parliament of our people convenes for the first time in the New Year that is now upon us. In addition, this is the second year of the lifting of martial law.
In previous years, we have observed these landmark events separately. But today it is highly appropriate that we should mark them together, for this is a time to address with candor and resolution the state of our national life.
All of us here today are profoundly conscious of the hard realities of the present.
We have come through a year of adversity in economic affairs, marked in the global sphere by prolonged recession and crisis and which in turn have wrought their impact upon not only our nation but all other nations.
With the New Year barely a half-month old, already the prognosis for 1983 may be considered ambivalent. There may be no sudden turnaround, though many of us pray for global economic recovery. Once more, the year before us impels decision and fortitude to ride out possible further difficulty and stress.
In such an anxious time as this for our country, it has always been the supreme policy of the national leadership to meet with realism and resolution the challenges to the nation.
Always we have looked at the reserves of stability and strength in our national life to prevail over crisis and chart our course towards the future. In this way, we have prevailed in many times of crisis for the nation, and ridden over the stresses irrevocably brought about by a troubled world.
In such a spirit on my part and on yours, we shall face the challenges of the present year.
Times of uncertainty can sometimes be the instrument to mold the fiber of a people’s resolution and purpose. But they can also presage the erosion of will in national life, because all too often they breed a sense of helplessness and inertia and also because they are often the occasions for the enemies of government to sow national confusion and to debase the coin of national unity and purpose.
So, first of all, let us see our problems for what they really are, and let us recognize those aspects of the national condition which cloud only our perspectives on the problems.
Of late, we have heard here at home the drone of sometimes irrational criticism and abuse that feverishly tries to pass for criticism of national affairs. I do not mean the exercise of continued discussion and self examination that should and must go on as part of democratic dialogue in a free society. Rather, I am talking about the distemper, sometimes the malice, the slander, and the new bent of some to even denigrate or degrade the entire country and our people before the world.
We all know the reason for this distemper―and that is the bitterness of those who sometimes in their lust for power forget that all of us must first start with love of country before anything else. Before they can attain power they must prove that more than anything else, it is our people and country first. Yes, I too have known the feeling of impotence and frustration, but for all their agitation, their nightmares remain their own.
I have long ago learned to live with personal abuse by political partisans as part of their wages of leadership and politics. But I cannot help but be disturbed when such becomes the heaping of indignities not upon individual leaders alone but upon our people and the denigration of our independence and sovereignty.
This is criticism of the most contemptible kind, for which nothing is sacred, not even the worthy and the proud achievements of generations of our people including those who offered love, honor, and life.
Let me now say this to these dedicated opponents of the government.
Kung may nais kayong saktan, saktan ninyo ang inyong mga kalaban sa pulitika, sapagkat iyon naman ang dating gawa natin. Tayong lahat kung minsan ay nagmamalabis sa ating salita. ngunit huwag nating ibuhos ang galit o di kaya’y inggit sa ating kapwa mamamayan. Ibuhos natin sa ating kalaban. Huwag nating sirain ang ating sariling bansa. Saktan ninyo kaming namumuno sa ating pamahalaan, ngunit huwag namang ipahamak ang ating bansa. Huwag naman nating dungisan ang nagawa at natamo ng ating mga pangkaraniwang mamamayan. Hindi naman sila ang inyong kalaban. Wala naman silang pagkakasala sa inyo. Hindi ito makatutulong sa paghuhubog ng ating lipunan.
Napupuna ko dito ang inggit at galit ng ilan sa ating mga kababayan na nasawi sa larangan ng pulitika. Ngunit bakit naman ito pagbabayaran ng ating buong bansa ng kanyang karangalan?
We could, in reply to these alarms that our national energy is spent, quote the verdicts of so many international organizations on the vigor and health of our national economy and the political stability of our government and organizations. But this would only be to fall back into other people’s judgment of us, when in fact we must look to ourselves first and last to know whether we shall fail or prevail, decline, or prosper. In truth and in fact, nothing that the stranger or the alien says about us can help us if we really must fail.
This pandering to the smallest whim and caprice of the foreign observer says so much of why some countries can indeed be dominated by others, and why they often do not have the wherewithal to rise and help themselves.
I say let us do away with these blinders on our perceptions of our national life. Let us see our conditions and our problems with our own eyes; for only in our self-knowledge can we begin to surmount the uncertainties of the times.
What do we know about ourselves and our nation today? This is the question we should ask ourselves.
We know first of all that we are not the same nation that we were in 1965, in 1972. In 1972, this nation was almost brought down to its knees by the combined onslaught of social chaos, anarchy, and rebellion. Our political system, born in the midst of crisis, has proven resilient in the face of crisis after crisis since then.
We know that given the political will, we have it in us to mobilize our energies for the task of nation-building, and achieve development in our land.
We know that as a people we are not the indolent and deprived dependent subjects that colonizers once saw in us, or the credulous horde of citizens that politicians once sought to manipulate, but an authentic society of individuals capable of the highest achievements and worthy of the highest rewards.
We have discovered that our decade of experience in development has provided us deep reserves of strength to draw on.
All these underlie our economic performance in 1982, or for that matter, from 1972 to 1982. And I shall merely invite you to review the record in the printed version of my report which by now should have been distributed to you or will be distributed to you after my speech.
It will be seen from this review that in important and decisive ways, we have moderated the impact of global recession on the national economy, and that the fundamental strength of the economy had been proven solid and sound. By almost every indicator of economic health, performance and capability, I say, we have a sound economy.
The fundamentals are there for continued resiliency in the midst of economic adversity, and for accelerated development in the event of a more hospitable global economic environment.
And it is to these that we must look in facing up to the uncertainties and omens of this year 1983.
So, what then is our agenda for the year 1983? We have reason to be optimistic.
The gross national product increased in 1982 by 10.4%, indicating that per capita income rose to 7.7% or an equivalent amount of P6,595. Inflation dropped to 8% in Metro Manila and 9.4% nationwide, whereas before it had gone to double-digit numbers.
We reduced government operating expenditures by 5.7% in 1981 and by 2.8% in 1982.
Industry falls at a 2.7% growth, while manufacturing expanded by 2.4% despite worldwide recession.
In agriculture we achieved higher yields in rice, corn, and other crops. We are presently prepared to export 400,000 metric tons of rice.
In agrarian reform we covered 680,000 hectares of rice and corn lands in Operation Land Transfer.
The KKK has benefited 194,000 persons all over the country.
The programs we have undertaken in energy development have reduced our dependence on imported oil from 95% of commercial energy requirements in 1973 to 68% today.
The housing program has made great strides. Pag-IBIG membership rose from 1.5 million in 1981 to 1.87 million in 1982.
In 1982 total revenues generated by the public sector were registered at P72.4 billion, indicating an increase of 14.4% from the 1981 level.
Our international reserves by the end of 1982 stood at about $2 billion.
But for 1983, we can say there are a lot of “ifs” and “buts” to this prognosis that counsel prudence.
The recovery of the world economy will largely hinge on whether global interest rates will continue to go down. If not, high interest rates may again exert an adverse influence in the world capital market and affect all countries including ours.
Our reaction to this uncertain prognosis for economic recovery is a continued exercise of political will in areas on which there is a possibility and leeway for such exercise.
It is quite true that there are factors that adversely affect our economy over which we have no control, but there may be and there should be areas on which decisive planning and the application of political will may bring about favorable returns, especially in the stimulation of economic activity, in the reduction of budgetary deficits, in the management of the balance of payments, in the improvement of the employment situation and overall welfare, and in the promotion of our access to markets throughout the world.
Self-reliance will be our watchword, even while we hope for global economic recovery to dispel the clouds of anxiety and uncertainty.
There are five key pillars and growth areas on which the economy can rely and on which we will therefore focus the thrust of economic effort. These are energy, agriculture, exports, heavy industries, and the KKK umbrella for small-scale and medium-scale cottage industries or the livelihood program which is the centerpiece.
The first of these pillars for economic development is the energy sector.
Nothing presents a more formidable challenge to our bid, and for that matter, the bid of any country in the world today that does not produce its own oil for economic development, than the meeting of the growing demands of our industry, commerce, transport, and households in the matter of energy. Upon this depends economic stability and growth, and for that matter, survival.
In this area where we have borne the full weight of crisis and hardships and remained vulnerable to shifts and changes in oil prices and supplies, we have begun paradoxically to reap the fruits of our massive and farsighted investments in energy development.
At the start of the program, our dependence on imported energy, as I have already stated, stood at 95% of the total requirement. Today it is reduced to 68%, and the chances of continued growth in domestic energy production are excellent.
The prudent and necessary course is for us to continue to pursue without letup our energy development program, by accelerating the development of indigenous and renewable sources of energy, by encouraging investments in energy exploration and development, and by maximizing the productive utilization of energy supplies.
And thus, you would notice that even while the First Lady was attending to her medical requirements in the United States, I assigned to her the mission to obtain the agreement of the new owner of Cities Services, Dr. Armand Hammer, who came to the Philippines on a new oil exploration program in the country. We are of course inspired by the promise that the new owners of Cities Services will move forward towards greater efforts in oil exploration.
At the same time we are moving towards the further development of our hydro resources and dendrothermal sources of energy. We have of course already exploited much of our volcanic steam sources of energy. We will continue to do so. We will need the support of the Batasang Pambansa in the effort to accelerate the energy program.
The second pillar for development is agriculture.
Of all sectors in our economy, only agriculture has shown a steady growth rate of 4.9% in real terms over the last 10 years. And the principal growth area has been food production.
But we face serious deficiencies in several key areas, principally dairy products and animal feeds, including yellow corn and soya bean. We should now focus attention to these programs and support them with the needed budgetary funds.
The third pillar for growth is exports. Our policies and strategies in this area must now be modified to achieve greater market orientation for our products.
In order to survive in the highly competitive world market, we must specialize in and focus on products which we can produce quickly and more efficiently. We must also produce new lines of products that are less subject to protectionist threats and other forms of market obstacles. We must take advantage of our smallness relative to total world trade—an attribute that provides us greater flexibility in the choice of exportable goods, the ability to offer lower prices without significantly disturbing the prevailing higher world prices, and the promise of gains in trade concessions since the cost of accommodating us relative to larger exporters would be or should be minimal.
The fourth pillar for growth is industry.
As I have said on many previous occasions, our aim is to attain a balanced agro-industrial development. The rapid strides we have made in agriculture leading to food sufficiency are now being matched by equally impressive gains in industry. Within industry itself, our aim is likewise its balanced development. The resources we have devoted to small- and medium-scale industries, principally through the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran or the livelihood program, have increased dramatically in the last two years. On the other end of the spectrum, we continue to pursue with vigor the major industrial projects.
Despite adverse economic conditions, we have been successful in initiating the implementation of 7 out of 11 major industrial projects without drawing funds from budgetary resources. And I would like to emphasize this, because we have heard criticisms from some sectors to the effect that we cannot afford these major industrial projects, since we are cutting down on budgetary expenses. We are not spending budgetary funds for these major industrial projects. Their production will pay for themselves. Neither are we paying the interest or amortization for the loans on these projects from budgetary sources. All of these are covered by the program of indebtedness which our economic managers have been able to work out with the suppliers and the contractors.
We have been successful in attracting both the necessary equity investments and the long-term financing for these projects. As investors in these projects, we have attracted some of the largest corporations in the world, including IFC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the World Bank.
The products that will come out of the major industrial projects will cost very much less than imported products that we are now bringing in from other countries. An example would be the iron slabs. If produced from our integrated steel industry, iron slabs would cost $180 per ton; if imported, the same would cost $300 per ton.
In the process of saving foreign exchange to the tune of $400 million, we will at the same time be transferring technology and will be learning the most sophisticated art of industry, thus, laying the basis for a balanced agro-industrial economy.
The implementation of 7 out of the 11 projects during these three years since we announced this program is no mean accomplishment. I have personally witnessed the progress of the construction of two of these projects in Isabel, Leyte—the copper smelter and the fertilizer plant—which together will account for over a billion dollars of exports from the Philippines, and I must say that I was very much impressed. I did not expect that these constructions and the structures that now exist could have been set up in so short a time.
With reference to the remaining four major industrial projects, despite periodic newspaper reports to the contrary, I can confirm to you that we will continue with our determination to implement them provided, of course, as we have always said, that we are fully convinced that they are viable.
Now, we have for the moment suspended the petrochemical project while we decide whether we should tie up with any of those oil-producing countries that are setting up their petrochemical complexes and offering equity to us. We have many choices and we should not lose our options.
With respect to aluminum, there are certain offers but we are taking our time so that we may suspend this for the time being while we develop energy sources because the aluminum project is energy-intensive. It might have to be tied up with the development of the Bislig Coal Thermal Plant in Mindanao, which is still in the drawing board and which is part of the negotiations between the Prime Minister of Canada and myself, and our Prime Minister during the last visit of Prime Minister Trudeau.
Finally, there is a fifth pillar for growth—our Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran—which is our principal program to develop the small- and medium-scale industries, to uplift the small people of our country, to stimulate livelihood generation not necessarily only in the urban areas but especially in the areas that have long been abandoned, and to recover from the trash can of our history and our past those that were forgotten and convert them into productive units of our society.
This year, the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran shall assume a new thrust. It shall pursue the primary production activities started in 1981 and 1982. But it shall also initiate new key programs utilizing our basic natural and human resources. I refer to the development of logged-over areas, which we estimate to be about 1 million hectares and which shall be identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources. These areas shall be taken over either for industrial tree farming or for other KKK projects.
Then, we have the acceleration of KKK processing centers, meaning the processing of products of the KKK so that they may be marketable not only here but abroad.
The public market program means the improvement of present marketing facilities. We have public markets but they are not utilized to the full. We must now improve upon the public market system throughout the Philippines.
The “multi-commodity swap and offset” arrangements will be developed and the participation of private financial institutions will be encouraged.
On these five key sectors, we shall focus the thrust of economic effort in 1983, for these are the areas in which growth can realistically be achieved, and from which will flow welfare and livelihood for our people and the broader development of society.
We will finance our development effort while continuing to exercise fiscal restraint and responsibility. Government will set the precedent in initiating cost-saving measures designed to realize a reduction of the cash budgetary deficit.
During the past three years when private investments were weak, the government bore the brunt of sustaining growth. What does this mean? This means that the government had to spend on areas where the private sector did not spend. This was done at the cost of soaring deficits. The limits are fast being reached so that even if we intend to maintain our countercyclical stance, the government could undertake the same at a slower pace in consideration of restrained debt-servicing capacity.
Fortunately, a turnaround creates a favorable condition for private investments, thus exerting less pressure on the public sector to intervene. What this actually means is when the government spends less, then it leaves much of the credit that is available to the private sector, and therefore, we call upon the private sector to utilize this facility and opportunity in order that it may take over the slack that may arise out of government thriftiness.
Government expenditures, therefore, will be programmed at manageable levels. The original obligation program will be trimmed down to P53.2 billion or 18.2% lower than what you and I approved in our session.
Although the world’s economic prospects are forecast to improve during the year, the possibility of immediate relief should not be expected. Like the good soldier who goes to battle, we must prepare for the worst although we pray for the best.
For us, as a developing country, therefore, the main task of social and economic policy will be to defend jobs and incomes against any further ravages and to prepare our economy for the expected global rebound so that we can take full advantage of any rising demand for our products in the world marketplace.
There are indications of increases in commodity prices. Coconut oil has increased from 18 to about 20-21 cents a pound. And copper was quoted the other day at 74 cents bounding up from 67 cents, and it is projected to reach $1 a pound in the middle or latter part of this year. The same thing is true with some of the other products. Gold sometimes reaches $500 an ounce.
And on and on, but we can see some optimistic signs—reasons for us to hope that 1983 will be much better. But we cannot depend upon such symptoms; we must continue to be frugal, to be tenaciously dedicated and devoted to the programs that we have prepared for this year. We will overcome these temporary adversities, however, only when we act together, only when labor and management realize the need for cooperation and solidarity as the sole means by which both productive partners can survive these very hard times.
I therefore appeal to both industry and labor to desist from acts that can only exacerbate the economic suffering of the majority of our people through reckless and thoughtless acts that affect our economic stability. I have no doubt that management and labor within their own groupings have their own politics, their own conflicts, and their own leadership and personality disturbances, and therefore, they try to outdo each other in demands and claims on government and on adversaries. The adversary relationship between labor and management should not be permitted to go out of bounds.
Our concern for the welfare of the workers within the constraints of a less developed country is reflected in our labor policies that are considered highly advanced for a member of the developing world. Since the first oil crisis, we have raised legal minimum wages through 10 presidential decrees and one presidential wage increase of P8 in the base year of 1972, and incomes have been protected against inflation.
But as important as industrial peace in promoting the cause of national development is the maintenance of peace, order, and security, which perhaps, above everything else, is the first condition for economic enterprise and development of any kind.
Times of economic stress and anxiety are often the precursor of decline in the civility of social life and the rise of criminality in society. And just as often, they are the occasions on which insurgency and rebellion feed and gather momentum.
We have seen some evidences of this well-worn saw or saying. Effective response to this twin threat of criminality and insurgency lies on the twin program of economic development and counterinsurgency. Foremost in our law enforcement efforts and in anti-insurgency campaign must still be the efficiency of the grievance machinery and justice for all including the smallest of the small, and at the same time, economic development that will touch the life of our common people.
Along this line, I have ordered the Philippine Constabulary to now commence a program for the retraining of all its officers and men. Likewise, with a view to strengthening our law enforcement effort, I intend to create an integrity council for the police, following the completion of our judiciary reorganization.
Finally, I would emphasize the importance that foreign affairs plays in the national development effort.
The world today will never be as it was before because of its interdependence from which there can be no escaping its pressures and influences. What happens elsewhere in the world inevitably affects us in one way or another, sooner or later. And nowhere is this more so than in the economic sphere, largely because foreign policy today is international trade policy. And foreign relations are a test of molding effective economic cooperation with other countries.
So, what is our legislative agenda for this year? Action in these key areas of national concern, and on the scale and urgency required, is feasible under the system of government which we have evolved and enshrined in our Constitution.
I come to you as the head of the party that controls the majority in the Batasang Pambansa, but still we depend upon mutual consultation and consensus, and meeting with our people and feeling out their pulses. Actually, most of the role of leadership is feelings out the thoughts, the unexpressed feelings and desires of our people, and finally articulating them whether in legislation or orders and in plans and projects. These we must continue to do, for we now have the political mechanism for response to every stress in national life, be it in peace and security or in the economic and social frontiers. In this mechanism for effective and responsible government, the Batasang Pambansa is a cornerstone of governmental leadership and power. And I now urge this Assembly to use that authority to help meet the unprecedented tasks before us in its legislative agenda for the year, as follows:
You have pending before you on Third Reading the Local Government Code which is awaiting your action.
There are proposed amendments to the Election Code, some of which pertain to the recognition or certification of parties, turncoatism, and the like. The question of the apportionment of seats cannot be postponed because elections are to be held next year.
Then there are proposed amendments to the Investments Act. We probably have to review many of the provisions of this act.
In addition to these and other items in your legislative calendar, I now ask you to look into the policy that has been adopted by our Constitution which seems to have wiped out what was originally intended to help the poor acquire public land from government holdings. I refer to homestead, free hold, or to sales and other means of transfer of land.
We must now discuss the possibility of a constitutional amendment pertaining to the alienation of public land. At present, the Constitution provides only for the lease of public lands, and as such does not allow for their long-term utilization by large-scale enterprise projects.
Let us take, for example, a tree farm project for the dipterocarp, or say, tropical wood which may take 70 to a hundred years to grow. Can anybody now utilize any of these public lands for tree farming if under existing constitutional provisions the land can only be leased for 25 years, and extended for another 25 years?
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages with this, and we must look into them. In the light of our economic development objectives, we may have to consider the use of such public lands for long-range economic enterprise projects and allow their eventual sale again.
At the same time, we must solve the problem of the squatters in public lands by allowing small landowners to title the same. Under the existing provisions of the Constitution, there is a legal obstacle to the titling by small landowners of public land. I submit this matter to you for study.
On the question of judicial reorganization, may I say that as vital as the fulfillment of your legislative agenda is the fulfillment of the letter and spirit of legislation that emanates from this body.
Today, as a fitting celebration of Constitution Day, you shall bear witness to the signing and promulgation of what may be a monumental document, the executive order declaring the reorganization of the entire judiciary with the exception of the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court, as mandated by Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
This executive order seeks to rectify the shortcomings of the past endeavors to institutionalize the achievements of the present, and embodies our hopes and optimism on a judicial structure that shall ever be responsive to the changing times and to the needs of our people. It shall sharpen the grievance machinery to meet the needs of our modern times.
With this Executive Order, I am initially appointing 34 appellate justices of the Intermediate Appellate Court, based on the recommendations of the Integrity Council and upon consultation with the Supreme Court and other sources like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as members of this august body and other leaders. I have decided to reappoint 23 incumbent justices of the Court of Appeals (which means that some of them had been removed) whom I believe are deserving of the privilege and the honor to continue serving the New Republic and the Filipino people.
We have introduced innovation in the structure of the new Intermediate Appellate Court, and this is specialization. I have kept this in mind in filling the positions of each specialized division by taking into consideration the qualifications, experience, and specialty of each appointee.
Of the 720 positions of the judges of the regional trial courts created under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, I intend to fill only 618 salas in the meantime.
To the 339 incumbent judges of the old courts of first instance, I am constrained not to reappoint at least 32 after careful consideration of the recommendations of the Integrity Council which was created to review and screen not only the competence and qualifications but also the moral fitness of the incumbent judges.
At the same time, about 35 judges have been called to a hearing and their records and services scrutinized in their presence. Warnings have been issued to some, if not most of them.
In the National Capital Region, out of 172 positions of judges created under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, I intend to fill 135 positions.
Upon recommendations of the Integrity Council and after review of individual performances, and upon consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I am reappointing 60 incumbents of the old courts of first instance in Metropolitan Manila. To the remaining 75 salas, upon recommendation again of the Integrity Council and after consulting the Supreme Court’s seniority listing of those who have served the judiciary more than 7 years or judges who have served less but have commendable service records (especially those who have been able to decide cases at the rate of more than 300 per month) I have decided to appoint, by way of promotion, 67 incumbent judges stationed in various provinces. To fill the remaining eight positions, I have made deserving choices from an array of distinguished and learned prosecutors and lawyers.
The new appointees to the Intermediate Appellate Court and the filling of 127 salas in Metro Manila from amongst the 399 incumbents is solid evidence that politics has not crept into the choice of appointments in the judiciary. We have listened to the recommendations of the members of the Batasan, the governors, the local administrators, and everybody, including the clergy and the intelligence officers, but the final deciding point was merit and experience.
With this initial wave of appointments to the Intermediate Appellate Court of distinguished jurists and lawyers, I am confident that we are moving close to the attainment of the objectives of the Judiciary Reorganization Act, which are to minimize the overload of about 450,000 cases and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the courts to enhance the quality of justice administration.
In your presence, therefore, I now sign this Executive Order which puts into effect this reorganization law as well as the interim Rules of Court, copies of which have been submitted to the Batasan and to me by the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
I therefore sign this Executive Order in your presence. [Applause]
At the same time, you are well aware that we are approaching this matter of economic development in a more systematic manner by appointing area managers. The governors and mayors have met with the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, as well as with our various technocrats, in order that they may choose the area managers in their respective provinces. The listings have been submitted to me and the designations are therefore with me.
I hereby announce and proclaim the effectivity of Executive Order No. 803, which now establishes the “Area Management System” throughout the Philippines, and I hereby appoint the following as area managers throughout the Philippines in accordance with the recommendations of the various provincial councils and economic development groups.
In your presence, I sign these appointments and this proclamation. [Applause]
May I now conclude by saying that at no other time in the life of our new Constitution has there been more urgent need to realize its meaning and purposes in our deliberations and decision making.
If we review our journey during the last 10 years, we can say that one phase of national effort—vital, dramatic, and crisis laden—has come to a close. We have seen ourselves emerge from a long night of national travail, lived through an eight -and-a-half-year period of crisis government, and brought at its close the structure of our new Republic.
Now we are into a new stage of national evolution where our new mechanisms of government and all the lessons we have learned from the last decade must now confront the challenges and promises of a new decade, a new age, a new time.
We look to the state of our nation today, and we are not dismayed but encouraged. We have exorcised the demons and the goblins of the past. We have confronted the ghosts which terrorize us in times of crises in dark of night and overcome them. We look to ourselves and what we have achieved and we are not ashamed, but proud.
Those among us who can only view the adversities of today with sickly anxiety and defeatism only mark their isolation from the work which we have been engaged in. For is it not a fact that through all these years of trial and effort, these Cassandras of doom, small men of little faith, could only cavil while we worked, hard and desperately, prophesying our failure while we reaped success, and could only lust for power while impotent to win the allegiance and the support of our countrymen?
The time is past for us to even deign to listen to these counsels.
In this solemn hour of challenge to our country, let us rather listen to the chords of memory and experience, which remind us of how step by step, year after year, trial after trial, we have built the sinews of this New Republic.
Let us turn to the farmers in our fields who in their toil have raised the productivity of our farms and are changing the face of our countryside.
Let us listen to the workers in our factories all over the land who have raised the productivity of our industries, and whose products today are being seen and bought in foreign lands.
Let us listen to our people—the teachers, the managers, the office workers, the public servants amongst us—all who have exerted themselves, all within their modest domain, to contribute something, even if it be but small, of themselves to lift up their country and their people.
Let us listen to the voice of our local communities today, each of which is aware now of what is within its capacities to build and create, as all of them see life changing in their country, and they see a dawning, a bright new day.
For theirs are the myriad labors that are the nuts and bolts of nation building. And they constitute the authentic voice of our nation today—a voice to which we must pay heed in guiding the course of national life.
So much of democratic leadership finally and truly consists in understanding those people’s needs and hopes, in giving due dignity and honor to their labors. No matter how much we may compete for political authority, we must recognize the labors of the ordinary common man. And so much of success in the exercise of authority rests on the ability to mobilize such needs, such hopes, such dreams, and such labors, into a single union of effort.
And we in this Assembly are merely the instruments of our people’s deepest wish to gather them together, to enable them to achieve the best that is in them, and to do all these for love of country and of the Republic, to make our nation strong, prosperous, and free.
In the spirit of that mandate, let us therefore go forward and lead. I am confident that you will.
Thank you and good day. [Applause]