Manuel Roxas' Third State of the Nation Address
|←Second State of the Nation Address||Third State of the Nation Address
Opening of the 2nd Regular Session of the 1st Congress
Delivered on January 26, 1948 at Lepanto Street, Manila
GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:
Barely twenty months have passed since you and I took, our oaths of office; only a year and a half since our Republic was inaugurated. The progress we have achieved during that brief period has been described by foreign observers as the only bright opening in the heavy clouds of misery and chaos that ominously gather over the greater portion of the world. The great strides towards social and economic reconstruction we have made cannot be doubted. To do so would be like denying the dawn by merely turning down the lights.
In my first message to the Congress on the state of the nation, I drew a picture–necessarily a dark picture–of the tragic conditions confronting us. Last year I informed you that the crisis had not passed, but that there were hopeful indications of progress ahead. Today, I am glad to report that the crisis has passed, and that our program of rehabilitation is far advanced. Conditions among our people have been ameliorated. There is relative prosperity in our land. By the boldness and resolution, which you showed in immediately grappling with the tremendous problems which we faced, you have rendered eminent and imperishable service to the nation. The people, I am sure, will give you credit for the major part you played in the promotion of their welfare. As for me, I deeply appreciate your cooperation in the past. I trust you will accord me the same cooperation now and in the future. Properly to appraise the progress of a nation is not an easy task. It is difficult fully to estimate the extent and significance, material and psychological, of the advances made. Many factors producing these results are dynamic in nature and, once set in motion, create a chain of cumulative effects which stimulate activity and progress in many fields.
There are, however, well-known and accepted indices of a nation’s life, not unlike the symptoms discoverable through a medical examination of a man’s health, that reveal equally unerringly the state of health of a nation. By an objective application of certain tests, we will learn the true state of our nation as well as the progress that has been attained. This I propose to do in this report, as accurately and as frankly as I can, without passion nor the least reluctance to admit organic weaknesses or failures to cure some of our ailments.
For fear of being misunderstood, I wish to state at the outset that we have not yet reached all our goals. We have a long way to travel, requiring wisdom and sturdiness of character and an unshakeable determination to gain the highest summits of security and well-being we crave for the people of our land. This upward climb will never end, for we will always keep on struggling for higher peaks of peace and happiness for us and for all men.
The tests I have mentioned or the questions we must answer, are these:
As to the Form and Stability of Government.-Do we have a government born of the nation’s will? Does that government receive acceptance and respect of the whole nation? Is the government functioning in accordance with the Constitution? Is its existence threatened by wide- spread movements either to subvert its foundations or radically to change its basic ideology?
Our present government can easily pass this test. It was established by the will of the people under a Constitution approved by them. It is functioning strictly in accordance with the powers and inhibitions prescribed in that document. Constitutional processes have been completely reestablished. In the past year we have advanced from a state of emergency into the plenitude of constitutional normalcy. Our citizens as well as foreigners living within our gates look upon the present government as the only repository of public authority and are rendering it respect and support. There are no serious popular movements that either weaken or threaten its stability. It is true that we have a group of misguided men in Central Luzon who disturb the nation’s peace in their desire to change through force our basic institutions. But the number of these men is so small, and the support they receive from the people so unwilling and so meager that they cannot be considered a threat to the security of the established order. As to Individual Freedom.-Is the free exercise of individual rights guaranteed to the lowliest citizen of our land? Are we maintaining a free press, untrammelled by censorship or any punitive action of government? Are religious liberty, the right to think and the right to criticize the government, being maintained? Is there purging in the Government? Are there concentration camps where political adversaries of those in power are tortured and liquidated?
My answer to this test is that there is no country in the world today where the people enjoy more individual freedom, especially freedom of the press, of speech and of religion, than the Philippines. We impose no censorship on either the spoken or the written word. As a matter of fact, our efforts to suppress completely dissident elements are necessarily delayed because the government is adhering scrupulously to the limitations of the Constitution intended to safeguard individual rights from the abuses of government. Before the law, the humblest man in this country is the equal of the most powerful. The widest freedom of criticism against the government not only is not curtailed I but is encouraged by those who are in power. The fullest toleration of religious worship exists. Side by side with our Mohammedan brothers and others of varied faiths forgetting religious differences, we are united in a common effort to support and defend the government we ourselves have established. Our courts of justice stand sentinel day and night to prevent the least invasion of individual rights. These courts constitute a coordinate branch of government, independent of the Executive and of the Congress, and are in no manner whatever subservient or answerable to either of them.
How many of the nations of the world today could claim for their people the freedoms that our citizens enjoy? Survey the face of the earth and I am sure you will find that in many countries individual liberty is being directly or indirectly encroached upon, if not entirely denied, and that the lives of citizens are strictly being regimented to sub serve the interest of the State. In the Philippines we take individual freedom for granted. That is the reason many of us fail to realize the priceless boon we possess. But our memory is short. Only three years ago we lived under a different regime, a regime under which the freedoms that we cherish were refused to us. We were not free citizens then; we were subjects of a tyrannical power that blotted our personal dignity and trampled upon our liberty. Today, we enjoy our liberties to the fullest measure and I thank God that we can now stand and walk erect as free men, the equal of the mightiest on this earth.
As to the Administration of Justice.-Is justice being administered impartially, without fear or favor? Do we maintain a free, honest and independent judiciary? Do we enable our poorest citizen to resort to the courts for the enforcement of his rights or the redress of his grievances?
A judicious answer to these questions is in the affirmative. Our judiciary is competent and honest. We are maintaining the great traditions established under the leadership of the immortal Cayetano Arellano. The courts are free. They are open to all. They are not subservient to any other department of the government. All judicial decisions are respected and enforced. Judges are appointed for life and can only be removed for bad behavior. Here, no judge is answerable to anyone for his decisions rendered in accordance with his conscience. The judiciary is free from politics. Appointments are made on the basis of merit and character. Thus, judges are being appointed from among lawyers belonging to different parties in the confidence that-and this confidence has not been in vain–when a judge sits on his rostrum he will forget politics and personal considerations in the discharge of his sworn duty to do justice to every man. Under the Constitution the enforcement or vindication of individual rights is the chief function of the courts. We will continue to enjoy our liberties so long as we have independent courts and courageous judges who will relentlessly battle for the preservation of those liberties. We have such courts and such judges today. I trust we will always have them in the future.
As to Peace and Order.-Are the people secure in their lives and property? Does peace and order prevail?
At the beginning of this administration lawlessness and widespread criminality prevailed in practically every province and section of our country. Robberies, kidnappings, and daylight assaults on passenger or cargo buses and trucks as well as trains, were practically daily occurrences. Today complete peace and order exists in 90 per cent of our national territory. More than 200 thousand firearms, have been surrendered or captured since our assumption of the people’s trust. This alone is a great achievement. True, in a few sections of Central and Southern Luzon roving bands of bandits and communist-led groups who have defied the government still remain, but their activities are now confined to distant barrios. Our peace officers, principally the Constabulary, are giving them neither rest nor quarter. The efforts to apprehend them will be intensified. We can no longer compromise with these men. Any efforts at appeasement will just encourage them to continue their criminal activities. They are using force. We have to meet them with force. They are not fighting for social reforms. Their most important demands have already been met. Now we know their aim is one and definitive–to gain power through. For whatever measures the government may take m the direction of a more rapid amelioration of the economic and social conditions of the tenants whom they pretend to champion-which improvement of conditions, I know, is your great desire as well as mine–will prove futile and in vain toward making these, enemies of the law come to reason. These elements would continue with their criminal designs until they succeed in wresting the reins of government from the lawfully elected representatives of the people. Their loyalty is not to the Philippines. Their ambition is not to promote the interest of a social group. That is a camouflage, for the tenants whose interest they claim to defend are the very victims of their depredations and atrocities: The pattern of their operations is too familiar to deceive anyone. It is the same pattern used in other countries by groups boring from within to undermine democratic institutions. Their methods are to create social disorder, confusion and chaos, to obstruct national progress, to produce shortages of food and other necessities, to foster widespread discontent and to drive the people to a state of desperation.
They will not succeed in our land. Their numbers are few and rapidly dwindling. If their aims were noble and sincere, why did they have to go underground to defy the government and resort to force? Has the government done anything which would give them the least reason to fear that under our democracy they would be prevented from laboring for the social reforms which they are supposedly to have in mind? They can find no reason for harboring such fear. There is no reform, social or political, which cannot be peacefully secured under our domestic institutions, if it is supported by a majority of the people. Were they men of patriotism and noble ambitions, they should have the courage to return to the processes of the law and face trial before the courts of our land for the crimes they have committed. But as long as they continue defying the government, trying to destroy our every effort to promote the strength and the glory of this Republic and to insure the happiness of our people, we must look upon them as the enemies of our nation. We must deal with them as such. We shall endeavor with all the means at our command to bring them to justice and wipe out to the last vestige every attempt to overthrow our free institutions or disturb the peace in our land. As to National Defense.-Are we secure from outside aggression?
No country in the world, not even the most powerful, can set up a system of national defense which would in itself be adequate to withstand any possible attack. The adequacy of defense is always relative, depending upon the combined strength of the attacking forces. We can never hope to establish a defensive system that will be theoretically impregnable. Our best security is in the success of the plans and efforts of the United Nations organization for the maintenance of world peace. We are actively cooperating with such program. Our representative in that organization has gained for himself and for our nation world recognition as champions of peace and the freedom of subject peoples.
But we have not relied exclusively upon the United Nations for the security of our country. That organization is still in its infancy and we do not know whether it will succeed in gaining the necessary strength to impose peace on the world. We have, therefore, bent every energy to build up a system of defense upon which we may rely in the event–which we hope will not happen–that the United Nations should fail to achieve its aims. We cannot forget the terrible ordeal we underwent during the past war. We must be resolved to avoid a repetition of that experience. To this end we have concluded a treaty with the United States of America for the establishment of American military and naval bases in the Philippines for the common protection of our two countries. We are also maintaining a small military force to consist ultimately of not more than 17,000 men, including the army, the air force, and the naval patrol, which will serve as the nucleus and rallying center of our citizen army which will gradually be built up to a strength capable of denying our shores to an invader. In addition to our armed forces, will maintain a well-trained and well-equipped Constabulary with a strength of around 12,000 men. At present these two forces number 35,000 men.
This year, we shall resume military training of our citizens. By June we shall begin training 3,000 men. This number will be gradually increased, as fast as we can provide the necessary facilities for the trainees, until we reach a rate of 12,000 men a year. The purpose of this program is to give us, after a course of years, a citizen army that will be subject to call in an emergency with a strength totaling eight divisions and an adequate number of trained pilots and ground crews to man and service our combat and transport planes. The ROTC training in the universities and colleges is proceeding in accordance with approved plans. We have now in stock sufficient weapons and ammunition including rolling stock for present needs.
This military blueprint has been formulated in accordance with plans adopted with the advice of the United States Military Advisory Group assigned to us upon our request. This mission is also planning the training program of our reserves.
The cost of our military establishment represents a substantial percentage of our national revenues. It is a great drain on our resources. The expenditure will have to be increased when the training program starts. But much as we dislike to spend such a large sum for an unproductive activity as the Army is, we cannot neglect this minimum requirement for our defense.
With the effectuation of our defense program, and pro- vided we continue maintaining our close and friendly relations with the United States and carefully adhere to the terms of the Treaty on Military Bases, it is my considered judgment that we can be reasonably confident of our national security.
As to Foreign Relations.-Do we maintain friendly relations with other countries? Are we complying with our international obligations and commitments?
It is most gratifying for me to report that our Republic, so recently inaugurated, now counts upon the actual or implied recognition of more than 50 nations. And we are enjoying the friendship of all of them. We have already concluded treaties of amity with the United States of America, China, France, Italy, and Spain, and have signed 27 other treaties and agreements with different countries. Most of these treaties are with the United States, involving military bases, trade relations, air agreements, a consular convention, conciliation, surplus property and property formerly owned by enemy nationals. Presently, we are discussing commercial treaties with a number of other powers.
I am also happy to report that we do not face any existing difficulty or misunderstanding with other countries. We have given them no cause for complaint. We have no grievance or dispute with any of them. I trust this happy situation will continue. We are fulfilling to the letter all our international obligations. We are complying with every commitment we have made. Our prestige and credit abroad is growing every day.
We are participating actively in many international organizations, in addition to our membership in the General Assembly of the United Nations. We are now members of the Trusteeship Council, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Committee on Non-Self-Governing Territories, the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-commission on Freedom of Information and the Press, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the International Trade Organization, the International Labor Organization, and, recently, the Korean and the Palestine Commissions. This is a great privilege for a young and small country such as ours. I believe sincerely that this recognition is due to the fact that our Republic during its short existence has gained the respect and confidence of the nations of the world. I am happy to state that this achievement has been accomplished in large measure through the good-will tour around the world of the Vice-President and to his brilliant leadership in our foreign affairs.
Our relations with the United States remain on a most cordial and friendly basis. The American Government is giving every evidence of its continued interest in our welfare. We appreciate the cooperative spirit of United States Ambassador Emmet O’Neal, and the heads of the Armed Forces and other agencies of the American Government. We have every assurance of a sympathetic consideration by the American Congress and the American Government of all questions affecting the Philippines. Our Ambassador in Washington undoubtedly deserves high credit for the maintenance of these close and cordial relations. He is representing our government with great dignity and ability. I do not know who could do better. I have great confidence that he will be able to obtain favorable action on many of our requests pending in Washington, such as those for loans for economic reconstruction and industrial development, veterans’ legislation and other important matters.
The fact that Baguio is gaining favor as the seat of international conferences is indicative of the worldwide interest in Philippine affairs, and of friendliness toward our people.
As to Our Financial Position.-Is the government maintaining a reasonably adequate fiscal position ? Are our government revenues increasing at a rate which gives hope that within a reasonably short period we shall be able to finance all our ordinary expenditures with current revenues and thereby balance our budget? Is the Government meeting its financial obligations in accordance with its commitments?
One of the greatest accomplishments of this Republic during the past twenty months is the marked improvement of the financial position of our government. When we took office, we found the government groaning under a large deficit. At that time revenue collections were proceeding only at the rate of around 57 million pesos a year. The appropriation expenditures totalled 228 million pesos. You will recall that immediately upon my inauguration, I appeared before you to apprise you of the precarious situation of the treasury. I recommended to you the approval of certain tax measures and a budgetary loan from the United States. Your ready support of my recommendations tided us over that critical period. The United States Government, through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, granted us a loan amounting to 140 million pesos. When I was assured of an upward trend in revenue collections, we paid back 20 million pesos of this loan shortly after it had been granted. This action gained for us the confidence of our creditors and greatly enhanced our credit.
On August 5, 1946, I informed the Congress that our estimated general fund income for the fiscal year 1946-1947 was 75.5 million pesos. This estimate was subsequently revised upwards. Actual collections reached 170 million pesos. I must mention that in addition there was also received 62 million pesos from extraordinary sources and from reversions from special funds, together with approximately 39 million pesos collected for apportionment to the local governments and for accrual to special funds ear- marked by law for specific purposes.
On June 30, 1947, the general fund registered a surplus of 64.4 million pesos, largely because of the improved collections and the 120-million-peso loan we received from the United States.
For the current fiscal year the general fund revenue collections have been estimated at 180 million pesos. This amount does not include internal revenue collections to be apportioned to local governments, those accruing to special funds and the like. It is now the belief of the Department of Finance that the general fund collections will reach as high as 210 million pesos.
Despite this great and rapid increase in collections, how- ever, our yearly revenues are not yet sufficient to cover the total appropriations for the ordinary expenditures which you have approved. This we must endeavor to accomplish during the next fiscal year. I ask you to consider the tax measures recommended by the National Economic Council and the Joint Financial Commission. At the same time I urge you to practice the severest economy in the approval of appropriations. We must adopt a firm determination to raise our general fund revenues to around 275 million pesos. We must equally be resolved to confine our over-all expenditures chargeable to that fund strictly within that amount. Should we be able to do this, and I am convinced it can be done without sacrificing indispensable services, we shall have balanced our budget and achieved what is considered almost a miracle during this post-war period.
Considerable progress has also been made in the fiscal rehabilitation of the local governments. Upon the reconstitution of the Commonwealth, it was inevitable that local governments should be assisted in their initial operating needs. In 1946, the National Government gave 32 million pesos to local governments to meet their ordinary operating expenses. Such aid, however, was intended to be temporary, to last only until these governments could completely be reestablished. When this was accomplished, I asked the provinces, chartered cities and municipalities to intensify the collection of their revenues. There was need of adopting a graduated program of diminishing reliance upon the National Government for ordinary operating expenses. Fiscal recovery was thus given definite direction and objective. In 1947, only a little over 13 million pesos was required for the purpose. For 1948, five million pesos has been appropriated to provide for assistance where it may still be needed in special provinces and in those heavily devastated by the war. Today, with the exception of ten provinces and one chartered city, local governments have registered surpluses in their general fund and other accounts.
While we are making these long strides towards fiscal rehabilitation, we are not neglecting either our public debt or our other contractual obligations. We are rapidly paying in full treasury vouchers issued and contractual commitments made before the war. We have set aside funds for the liquidation of legally issued Philippine National Bank notes. I am just awaiting legislative authority to redeem those notes. We have 30 million pesos earmarked for the, redemption of guerrilla currencies. The registration of these issues as required by the Congress is about to be completed. At an early date I will be able to submit to you the report of the Registration Committee for your consideration. We also have 10 million pesos set aside for the redemption of the emergency currency issued at the inception of the last war.
Our net outstanding indebtedness for bonds floated both within and without the Philippines amounted to P62,964;649.98 as of June 30,1947. This total is the difference between their original face value of P124,507,000 and the accumulated sinking funds provided for their redemption which on the same date amounted to P61,542,350.02.
Out of this net bonded debt of P62,964,649.98, P53,112,214.75 pertains to bonds sold prior to May 1, 1934. Under Section 6(g)-(4) of the Philippine Independence Act, the Philippine Government was required to pay to the United States Treasury on July 4, 1946, the full amount of the outstanding bonds issued prior to May 1, 1934. This requirement could not be complied with, considering the situation of our treasury on the date of our independence. We were even in arrears in the payment of the sinking funds for said bonds, although we were up-to-date in the payment of the interest, the same having been continued during the war period without interruption. The arrearages in the sinking fund contributions amounted on June 30, 1947, to P18,007,000.77. That deficiency has since then been remedied by the transfer to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of P10,156,000 worth of investments in bonds of the Financial Interest Protection Bond Fund and of P12,539,500 of United States Treasury bonds held as investments of the general fund to guarantee the safety of pre-war military equipment loaned to the Philippines by the United States, or a total of P22,695,500. We are consequently up-to-date now in the payment of interest and contributions to the sinking funds on our dollar bonds issued prior to May 1, 1934.
With reference to the settlement of the balance of this portion of our bonded debt as required by the Independence Act, I now desire to report to you that the United States Government has generously agreed to give us time for the compliance of this commitment. I have concluded negotiations with the United States Treasury for the full settlement of this account by annual payments which will liquidate both principal and interest accruals thereon not later than January 1, 1952.
We are in arrears in interest and amortizations to sinking funds on our peso bonds which are mostly held in the Philippines. These arrearages amounted as of June 30, 1947, to P2,917,853.45. They will be paid as soon as the moratorium is lifted.
As to Our Monetary System.-Do we have a stable currency, providing a medium of exchange acceptable to other nations of the world? Our currency is one of our most valuable economic assets. The ready convertibility of the peso to the dollar places the Philippines in a very advantageous position vis-a-vis most other countries of the world. The Philippine peso is accepted everywhere in terms of the American dollar. The same cannot be said even of the pound sterling, and certainly not of the franc, the peseta, the lira, or the yen. I am, therefore, gratified to report today that the decision you made in approving the Trade Agreement with the United States, whereby you linked the peso to the dollar for a 28-year period, was a decisive factor in bringing us to the level of prosperity and economic and social advancement where we are today. When I recall that your action on this matter was taken in the face of a strong and bitter opposition by certain articulate elements of our population, I am strengthened in my belief that the fate of our nation is secure in your hands.
I cannot urge too strongly upon you the need of maintaining the stability of our currency. It is the cornerstone of our economic structure. I, for one, will do my part in defending it. I can visualize far into the future, twenty-six years hence, when the leaders of our people are called upon to pass on the question, that they will be so profoundly convinced of the benefits the nation has derived from the stability of our present currency that they will doubtless decide to maintain and continue the relationship between the peso and the dollar.
As to Supply of Food and Other Necessities.-Do we suffer from shortages of food, clothing and housing facilities?
There is no shortage, and no rationing of food or of clothing in the Philippines today. I do not expect that shortages will occur in the foreseeable future. As a matter of fact, provided we accelerate further our food production program, we may expect a surplus of some food articles for export.
We have greatly increased our rice production during the last two agricultural years. We assumed office in the face of an acute rice shortage, particularly in the Manila area. We were constrained to resort to rationing. With great difficulty we succeeded in importing sufficient rice to meet our national requirements until the next harvest. We also immediately undertook an intensive food production campaign and granted crop loans to rice producers. Even if the government should fail to collect part of these loans, the resulting losses, if any, would not be large, and the amount not recovered would be but a small price to pay for having prevented starvation and distress among our people. Today, despite the many typhoons and floods that swept our country during the past year, we can rest assured that our population will not suffer from a food shortage. Many areas in our country are now producing rice where rice had never been grown before. The same thing could be said of corn. Vegetables are more abundant and the supply of fish is growing every day. The supply of pork is likewise ample. The production of poultry and eggs is also increasing. True we have a shortage of beef. It is possible that there might be a scarcity of this item in the coming months. But we can import beef and adopt other measures to prevent an acute shortage.
The NARIC today holds a reserve of over a million bags of rice. This is more than sufficient to supply any deficiency that might occur during the next six months. For the second half of this year, we have allocations of rice from abroad which, together with our production, will fully cover our national requirements.
With regard to textiles, we have not only a sufficient supply but even a substantial surplus over present demands.
There is a shortage of housing facilities in Manila and a few other metropolitan centers. This shortage the government is solving, first, by the extension of liberal credit facilities to house builders through the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation; second, by the adoption of a housing program soon to be started, whereby houses for laborers and small-salaried employees will be built and leased at nominal cost. There is no housing shortage in the country at large.
Sufficiency of food supply as well as of clothing and shelter for the masses of our population is another accomplishment we can justly take pride in. No other war-devastated country, and much less countries that were battlefields in the last war and occupied by the enemy, can today boast of a similar situation. There is hunger and starvation in many lands today. We have every reason to be grateful that because of the resourcefulness of our people and the efforts of our government we have succeeded in solving this vital problem.
As to Inflation.-Have we checked inflation and turned the tide towards a gradual deflationary process? Is the purchasing power of the peso commensurate with the world price level? Is the cost of living gradually declining, there- by increasing the purchasing power of wages?
Inflation is a post-war plague depressing the economy of nations and the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the world. Inflation remains unchecked and is in fact growing worse every day in many foreign countries. In our country we are fortunate that we have succeeded not only in arresting inflation but in starting the deflationary trend. This we have done by stimulating increased production and by temporarily encouraging imports which tend to absorb excess purchasing power as fast as possible. While it is necessary that inflation should be controlled, the deflationary process should not be allowed to proceed too rapidly In the same way that we effectively checked inflation, we must do our best to control the speed of deflation. Failure to do so would disrupt our national economy, set back the progress of reconstruction and development, and bring suffering to our people. By the use of effective controls we will avoid this danger. It will be my privilege to submit to you at this session legislative proposals to that end.
The cost of living has gone down considerably during the past year. Statistics show that the cost of food and clothing in the Philippines has dropped 190 per cent (sic) in the price index since 1946, but the cost of living is still three times the pre-war level. This is a most significant achievement. The Philippine Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and the National Trading Corporation, now the Philippine Relief and Trade Rehabilitation Administration, the National Cooperatives Administration, and the National Rice and Corn Corporation have contributed in large, measure to the attainment of this result. Profiteering during the periods of shortages of essential commodities was greatly minimized by the intervention of these government agencies. The commandeering of critical articles such as milk, flour and roofing materials was often resorted to in order to prevent an exorbitant rise in their prices. While the cost of living has markedly decreased, wages have been maintained at the previous level. This resulted in the increase of the purchasing power of the wages received, which in the last analysis is equivalent to an increase in the wage-level.
I shall cite just a few figures to prove my assertion that the cost of living has considerably declined since 1946. I shall refer to prices of basic foodstuffs and other commodities as well as to prices of construction and building materials usually considered in determining the index of the cost of living for any nation.
These figures taken from the daily market quotations show convincingly that the deflationary process is well under way without having caused serious disturbances in our economy.
Our efforts should be exerted in the direction of further stimulating deflation at a gradual pace. Living costs are still too high. I trust that with the efforts now employed by the government, implemented by an intensification of agricultural and industrial production, we shall be able in the near future to come to a more satisfactory level of prices.
The lowering of prices has resulted in a higher standard of living of our people. Today, the majority of our countrymen are eating more and better food than in 1946, and I have reasons to believe that the larger portion of our population are eating more and better food now than in 1941 when the war started.
The Philippines is one of the very few countries in the world today where food is not rationed. I believe we shall not find it necessary to do so in the days to come.
As to Labor and Wages.-Are we suffering from acute unemployment? Are laborers receiving a living wage? Are we reasonably free from strikes or other industrial conflicts?
We are still suffering from unemployment. It is not so acute as it was a year and a half-ago but we have not yet succeeded in putting to work all of our available labor supply. There are, however, clear indications of an increase in employment.
Thousands of our countrymen are now working in gainful employment not only in our country but also in some islands of the Pacific. We have about 12,000 laborers in Guam and 1,500 in Saipan. In 1941, our census reveals, 1,347,993 persons were unemployed. Today the estimates of the Bureau of the Census and Statistics show that we have only 1,200,000 unemployed. It is my hope that with the establishment of the proposed new industries and the expansion of our agricultural production, we shall be able to give employment to a large number of our laborers who are now unemployed, at satisfactory wages.
Wages throughout the Philippines have increased about three times the wages before the war. In 1946, the cost of living was so high that the purchasing power of wages did not permit a laborer to acquire with his earnings the same needed commodities which he could purchase in 1941 at the then existing rate. It is thus understandable why laborers were clamoring for higher wages. But there was this difficulty to a sudden and large increase in the wage level-most employers could not pay higher wages and continue profitable operation. There was also the danger that higher wages would discourage new capital investments essential to the creation of opportunities for wider employment.
With the lowering of the cost of living, the condition of the wage earner has been greatly improved. Living costs today average about three times those before the war. The level of wages is also three times the pre-war level. We have, therefore, reached a fair relationship between wages and the cost of living. This gain is vital and should be consolidated and in every way improved in the interest of the workers. One of two things could be done: either bring about a reasonable increase in wages or further reduce living costs. I, for one, favor both these courses that we may secure for all our laborers a decent livelihood.
What I have stated with regard to laborers should be applied to low-salaried employees. Government and business and industry are in duty bound, within the limits of their financial capacity, to increase the earnings of their laborers and low-salaried employees, at least, while the cost of living remains high.
I am glad to inform you that during the past year we did not have serious strikes. Through the intervention of the Department of Labor and the Court of Industrial Relations, industrial conflicts were speedily settled. The Department of Labor alone had settled 72 out of 81 industrial disputes brought to it for conciliation. Nine were endorsed to the Court of Industrial Relations and disposed of by that court. I trust that labor unions will be convinced of the deep sympathy which the government holds for them. They should have an abiding faith that the government will use every effort to gain for them every just and reasonable concession from their employers.
As to the National Income.-Is the national income in- creasing in volume and in value ? How do our imports compare with our exports? Are we maintaining a reason- able equation in our balance of payments? Does a reason- able percentage of the national income go to the formation of capital and is that capital being invested in productive enterprises?
According to government statistics and the estimates made by the Joint Financial Commission, our national income has increased from around 2 billion pesos before the war to over 3 billion pesos today. The volume of our national production, however, is still probably less than pre-war although with the rehabilitation of the sugar industry and some of our mines, which is proceeding at a rapid pace, we may reasonably expect that by the end of this year we will have surpassed our production before the war.
The balance of trade is still against us by a large margin. We buy today over half a billion pesos more than we sell abroad. Although our exports have materially increased since 1946, showing a total of more than P440,000,000 for the year 1947, our imports for the same year have exceeded P1,004,000,000. However, our 1947 export total is around 41 per cent over our exports immediately before the war and 240 per cent over that of 1946. Presently, our unfavorable trade balance is more than covered by payments received from the United States in the form of war damages, veterans’ pensions, expenditures of the American Army, Navy, and Air Force. These compensating payments are not permanent. Some of them will cease within five years. At that time our export trade must meet the cost of our imports. With the expected increase in our exports, to be implemented by legislation which I propose to recommend I to Congress, I am confident we shall be able to narrow down gradually the adverse balance of trade against us.
Under normal conditions, capital formation in a country proceeds at the rate of around 20 per cent of the national income. The figures I have at hand show that this percentage is exceeded in the Philippines today. I also have figures indicating that more than 20 per cent of the national income has been spent in reconstruction and economic development during the past year. This is a sound situation. It shows that economic reconstruction and development is I proceeding at a relatively normal pace.
As to Education and Public Health.-Are we discharging our obligation ordained by the Constitution to provide educational opportunities for our youth? Do we maintain a reasonably efficient system of sanitation throughout the country for the protection of the health of our inhabitants? Are we reasonably free from epidemics and plagues? Do we provide hospitals and medical service to our people?
Before the war, we had two million students in the public schools. Today our enrollment is around three and one-half million. Our expenditures for public education have, risen from 30 million pesos to 65 million pesos. Nevertheless, we have not yet succeeded in providing educational facilities for all children of school age but we are very rapidly approaching that goal. I trust we shall be able to increase our appropriation for the Department of Education in the coming fiscal year. We shall probably have to cope with the problem of financing the opening of around 3,000 more extension classes to accommodate around 240,000 expected additional enrollment. How far we can meet the financial burden that this program entails will largely depend upon the willingness of Congress to approve new tax measures calculated to produce the additional required revenue.
Our sanitary system is functioning efficiently. We have been free of epidemics and plagues during the past year. c :, At the same time we are systematically eradicating malaria ,!~ and waging a more intensive campaign against tuberculosis. II; We have created a new Bureau of Hospitals for the purpose of better coordinating the functions and raising the efficiency of our city and provincial hospitals. During the fiscal year 1946-1947, we administered 1,824,240 treatments in our dispensaries. There is still much to be done in connection with these services but I believe we are moving in the right direction. Our aim is ultimately to provide hospital facilities to the people of every province and municipality in our country.
As to the Veterans.-Are we taking care of the heroic veterans of the war and the widows and orphans of our dead soldiers to the limit of our resources ?
Yes, we are. We cannot afford to neglect the men who fought and the families of those who died for our country during the darkest period of our history.
We continue to pay pensions to our veterans of the Revolution. A larger number of veterans are now receiving pensions than before the war.
As to the veterans of the last World War, we are taking care of the disabled and many of those who need hospitalization. We are also giving educational benefits to veterans who have chosen to enroll in public or private schools, universities and colleges. We are paying to the widows of our dead soldiers ’50 a month and in addition ’10 for each child. We are now paying tuition fees for over 10,000 veterans. We are now giving pensions to more than 20,000. widows and orphans and indigent parents. We care for about 1,000 disabled and sick soldiers. These expenditures amount to approximately ’800,000 a month. Our total expenditures for the Philippine Veterans Board will amount to around 12 million pesos this year. I trust that very soon the major part of these expenditures will be taken over by the U. S. Veterans Administration. I feel that we are doing the best we can within the limit of our resources for the welfare of the veterans of the last war.
As to Substantive Law.-Are we revising our substantive laws, especially our Codes, to insure that they are in harmony with Filipino customs and with present-day tendencies?
Last March I created a Code Commission to revise our old codes and to draft new codes of substantive law that will be more in conformity with Filipino customs, the modern trends in legislation, and the progressive principles of law. The Commission commenced the preparation of the Civil Code on May 8, and finished this most difficult task on December 15, 1947. The printing of the draft is about to be completed. As soon as this draft and the report of the Commission explaining the philosophy of the suggested reforms are printed, I will present them to the Congress. I take the liberty of recommending that you hold public hearings on this great piece of legislation to stimulate the widest possible discussion of its provisions.
I have reasons to expect that the Commission will be able to finish another code-the Penal Code-in time for submission to you at your regular session next year. The proposed Commercial Code will be completed before June 30, 1949. The Commission deserves high commendation for the speed in the performance of its delicate tasks.
As to Other Indices of Progress.-Bank deposits have more than doubled in comparison with pre-war figures. As of June 30, 1941, bank deposits in the Philippines amounted to P228,512,000. As of December 27, 1947, bank deposits reached P566,116,000. Bank loans as of June 30, 1941, amounted to P213,601,000. As of December 27, 1947, bank loans totalled P349,470,000.
Life insurance policies, exclusive of the Government Service Insurance System, issued during 1940, had a total value of P42,161,309. For the year 1946, the total value of insurance policies issued was P106,639,050. I am informed that the present total value of life insurance policies is over 130 million pesos.
Government expenditures for public works during the past year, including expenditures of United States funds for rehabilitation of public buildings, roads and port facilities, total approximately 125 million pesos.
Building construction costs in Manila and in the provinces, including rehabilitation of factories, mines and agricultural facilities. are estimated at more than 300 million pesos. The official records in Manila alone show an expenditure of P73,907,248 during the year 1947. The number of motor vehicles registered as of November, 1947, totalled 73,562 compared to less than 50,000 in 1941.
The number of passengers and the amount of freight carried by the Manila Railroad are much less than the pre-war totals. But the rolling stock of the line when it ” was returned to us by the United States Army in February, 1946, was only 40 per cent of its pre-war number. Today 60 per cent of the pre-war trackage has been rehabilitated. The passengers and freight carried by the railroad in 1947 were almost double the 1946 figures. The number of Filipino citizens and companies now engaged in the retail trade has already surpassed the pre- war figures. In 1941 there were 50,771. During the year 1947 Filipino nationals duly licensed to engage in the retail trade numbered 55,207. It is believed that the figure for this year is much larger. Air passengers, embarking and disembarking in Manila, both for local and foreign trips, have increased a hundred- fold since 1941. The creation of the Manila International Airport by executive order became imperative because of this ever- increasing international air traffic. The United States Government has already returned to us the airport at Nichols Field. It is our hope make Manila the hub of air transportation in the Far East.
There are perhaps less important items that could be, considered to show the progress which the Republic has achieved during the past twenty months. Those that have been mentioned, however, are sufficient to convince any i; intelligent and impartial student of the reality and extent of that progress.
Should we apply these tests to actual conditions in four- fifths of the nations of the world, despite the tremendous financial and material aids that have already been given to them, we will find, I am certain, convincing evidence of the unparalleled progress we have made since liberation. The statesmen of the world have now come to the conclusion that unless more and greater aid and assistance is given to them, the peace of the earth would be disturbed because the peoples of those nations would undergo acute human suffering. On our part, we have endeavored to solve, and I believe we have succeeded in solving, most of our difficulties and problems through our own efforts and sacrifices. It is true we have received some assistance from the United States of America; but it cannot be denied that if .we have succeeded at all, it is mainly because of the fortitude shown by our people under the calamitous circumstances from which we have emerged.
I shall not attempt to burden you further with a detailed report of the activities of the different departments of our j government. I have already referred to them in many respects in the course of my exposition of our present t conditions. These reports are available to you upon your request.
In order to accelerate further our rehabilitation, to expand our productivity, to strengthen our fiscal position, and to develop our national economy, I shall now enumerate the legislative proposals which I earnestly recommend to you for consideration at this session. I shall not undertake to explain these proposals in detail. I shall take the liberty of submitting them to you in separate messages.
The measures I recommend are the following:
1. An Act establishing the Central Bank, defining its powers in the administration of the monetary system, amending the corresponding provisions of the Administrative Code, and for other purposes.
2. A law granting to the President, under such conditions as the Congress may impose, authority to control imports and to increase or decrease from time to time the sales tax on luxuries, semi-luxuries and non-essential commodities up to 100 per cent of the present rates, but in no case to be less than the rates now imposed. This measure is intended to raise revenue, conserve our dollar exchange resources, and to channel surplus purchasing power towards productive investments.
3. A law appropriating the proceeds of certain loans which the government may obtain, to finance the construction of specific hydro-electric power projects, and a fertilizer plant.
4. A law providing for the redemption of:
- (a) Philippine National Bank notes legally issued and now outstanding, and providing for the registration of Philippine National Bank notes issued illegally by the enemy.
- (b) Emergency notes legally authorized by the Philippine Government at the beginning of the war; and
- (c) Duly authorized guerrilla currency in circulation at a fixed percentage or fixed value, not to exceed a total outlay of P30,000,000.
5. A law authorizing the President of the Philippines to obtain from the Central Bank funds for certain purposes specifically authorized by law when, in the opinion of the Bank, the existing exchange reserves are in excess of foreseeable demands to cover the balance of payments of the nation.
6. A law fixing the site of the Capitol and the offices of the National Government, authorizing the expropriation of private lands to be included in that site, and appropriating the necessary funds for the payment of the value of such lands, the development of the site and the construction of the buildings thereon.
7. The enactment of the Civil Code prepared by the Code Commission.
8. A law to authorize the Bureau of Lands to subdivide United States military reservations returned to the Philippine Government and to sell the same in small lots, giving priority to present bona fide occupants of such lands and to war veterans at prices approved by the President, except such portions as may be reserved by the President for the use of the national or local governments.
9. A law amending Republic Act No.8 authorizing the Bureau of Lands, the National Abaca and Other Fibers Corporation or such other agencies of the government as the President may designate, to subdivide agricultural and residential lands formerly belonging to enemy nationals and which have been transferred to the Philippine Government, except such portions as the President may reserve for the use of the national or local governments, and to sell such lands in small lots at prices approved by the President, giving priority to veterans, including members of the USAFFE, recognized guerrillas, and unrecognized but deserving members of guerrilla organizations.
10. A law appropriating the necessary funds for a new census.
11. A law authorizing the creation of a public corporation to administer the international airport as well as the other commercial airfields throughout the Philippines belonging to the government.
12. A law requiring insurance companies to invest at least fifty per cent of their reserves in loans, the proceeds of which will be used in the Philippines.
13. A law amending the Administrative Code to grant more autonomy to, and enlarge the power of taxation of, provinces and municipalities.
14. A law authorizing the. President under certain conditions to guarantee loans granted by certain international or foreign credit institutions to government or private banks, companies or private individuals.
15. A law authorizing the government to guarantee a certain percentage of any loss which may be suffered by any private bank, insurance company or any other credit institution, on account of loans it may grant to private individuals for home construction, the amount of each loan not to exceed P10,000 for each individual borrower, and fixing the aggregate amount of the loans for which such guarantee may be given.
16. A law amending the National Internal Revenue Code by providing for collection in advance of the sales tax on the basis of the declared cost of the merchandise withdrawal from the custom-house or factory; the amount collected in advance to be credited to the actual tax liability after the first sale has been made.
17. A law amending the National Internal Revenue Code by increasing the present tax rates on alcoholic beverages, beer, soft drinks, cigarettes and other tobacco products.
18. The approval of other measures implementing the recommendations of the Joint Financial Commission. 19. A law lifting the moratorium subject to certain conditions.
20. A law establishing a social security system for the benefit of wage earners and low-salaried employees. My specific recommendations will be submitted when the actuarial studies bearing on this subject are completed. We cannot be too careful in estimating the burdens that any program of social security will entail on the employers and the taxpayers. We must proceed gradually and cautiously on this matter. On the other hand, we must not delay or spare any sacrifice or effort to safeguard the livelihood and security of the workingmen. The program under study is a modest beginning. It contemplates a plan for the payment in addition to existing benefits of P1,000 to the beneficiaries of a wage earner or low-salaried employee upon his death, and to grant to him 50 per cent of his salary for a period not exceeding three months, in case of illness or loss of employment not attributable to his fault or negligence. The system will apply to employees and laborers of the government as well as to those working in private enterprises.
From time to time during this session and at the earliest possible date, I shall submit for your consideration other legislative proposals.
I ask the Congress to give preferential attention to the creation of the Central Bank. This measure would strengthen our banking system and provide resiliency to our monetary system without in any way affecting its stability. With the reform contemplated in our monetary system, as a result of the creation of the Central Bank, I expect some funds will become available to finance our industrial program, the construction of irrigation systems and other aids to agriculture and industry which are urgently needed to accelerate the economic development of our nation.
I also request your earliest consideration of the measure I have mentioned above appropriating the proceeds of loans we are now seeking to finance the construction of certain hydro-electric power projects. The approval of this measure is absolutely necessary before the loan we are now applying for could be granted.
The legislative measures I am recommending in this message cover many subjects. They are intended to meet our requirements in many fields. I am convinced that they will serve not only to consolidate the advances we have made but to pave the way for wider and further advances towards national reconstruction and development.
APPEAL FOR ACTION
We are still far away from our chosen goals. But we are decidedly on our way. I assure you we are treading on firm ground and marching in the right direction. We are following paths which the experience of nations has proven to be safe and reliable. We are attempting no shortcuts. We are developing our national economy in the hard but surest way. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by the alluring promises of new and strange ideologies or the radical theories of neo-economists. We cannot afford to make mistakes. We would pay for them very dearly in tears and toil. If we should work together now as we did in the past, I assure you we shall move forward at a good pace without having to change our democratic ways, without renouncing the liberties that we cherish, ever closer to the high planes of prosperity, well- being, and social justice that we have always sought for our people. Let us not waste our energies in partisan conflict nor in any attempt to gain personal advantage while we are engaged in this all-consuming task of lifting our Republic from the ashes of war and insuring for our countrymen all the blessings of peace and happiness. What the future may have in store for you or for me is of no consequence. What will befall our people and the kind of heritage we leave to our children, and what we can do to make their lot a happy one, constitute the only problem that should absorb our thoughts and stir our hearts during these trying days which, I am sure, will also be days of triumph and glory for our Republic if we have the courage and the wisdom to meet the challenge of the times and to keep faith with the noble principles and traditions which have inspired and sustained us throughout the darkest period of our history. The stakes are too high and the risks are too great to allow ourselves to be swerved from our sworn duty to the nation. God help our people if we desert our trust!
MANUEL A. ROXAS
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