Ramon Magsaysay's Third State of the Nation Address
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Opening of the 3rd Regular Session of the 3rd Congress
Delivered on January 23, 1956 at the Legislative Building, Manila
MR. PRESIDENT, MR. SPEAKER, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS:
We are at the half-way mark of our tenure. It is time, I believe, to restate the basic philosophy of our Administration. When our term began, I announced that the happiness and security of the common man would be foremost among our goals. With material help we would enable him to achieve self-competence, prosperity, and contentment. With spiritual guidance we would foster in him a wholesome attitude toward work, toward his Government, and toward his fellowmen.
Let me emphasize at this point that my concern for the common man is not merely sentimental or emotional. It is a hard fact that a nation cannot survive without the safe foundation of a prosperous and contented majority of its citizens.
We believe that what is good for the common man is good for the whole country. Every policy of our Administration has therefore been directed to his welfare. We have anchored our national destiny to the common man.
In this endeavor we have addressed ourselves, first of all, to the task of rural development. In the rural areas lies the bulk of our natural and human resources, the real wealth of our nation. We must gear them to each other and spark the latter into action so as to achieve expanding production to meet the requirements of national prosperity and security.
Our accomplishments in the rural areas constitute, I believe, the most concrete achievement of this Administration. We have gone a long way in giving our rural inhabitants the material means to prosperity and improvement.
Foremost of these is land.
During the last special session you enacted Republic Act No. 1400, known as the Land Tenure Reform Law. The Administration established by this law has taken the first steps to acquire landed estates for redistribution.
The NARRA continued to do a commendable job of resettling families in public lands. During the year 1955 it distributed homesteads to eight thousand eight hundred families in 22 settlement projects. It is prepared henceforth to resettle at lest twelve thousand families a year. The flow of voluntary settlers in public lands also increased last year as a result of the accelerated surveys being undertaken by the Bureau of Lands. But land alone is not enough. We are also building barrio roads and irrigation systems and placing agricultural experts at the service of our farmers and settlers. In this way they learn scientific agriculture, obtain indispensable water to expand the productivity of the land, and gain easy access to markets for their produce. At the same time new areas are opened up for cultivation.
The fast spreading ACCFA movement has continued to free more and more of our small farmers from exploitation. ACCFA loans, which last year amounted to thirty-eight million four hundred thousand pesos,have enabled FACOMA members to buy and own their carabaos as well as farm equipment and supplies. Through the extension of FACOMA marketing facilities, small farmers are receiving more money for their products. The increase in the total income of farmers-members last year alone is estimated at more than eighty million pesos.
Definitely, the ACCFA points the way to rural stability and progress. We must continue to give it determined support. The credit needs of our small farmers are being met from others sources. Last year the Philippine National Bank, the RFC, and the rural banks extended loans to more farmer borrowers. It is, however, necessary to continue expanding credit for rural development. The improvement of health in the rural areas is another tangible achievement. Many more towns and barrios are now assured of potable water from artesian wells and water systems. Mobile health units, now numbering over one thousand, performed more than ten million work units in a three-month period of operation alone during 1955, providing medical services varying from simple consultations to child delivery and reaching places where no medical service had ever been available before. The complete eradication of malaria within the next three years is now within sight.
Comprehensive as are the material services and benefits extended to our rural inhabitants, this Administration has paralleled them with mental and spiritual stimulation. In this work we have made full use of education in all its aspects.
Barrio schools are increasing. In them children are acquiring not only the basic tools of knowledge but also the skills of hand that can lead to a more abundant life.
Mainly to benefit rural children, who can afford no more than a few years of schooling, a revolutionary experiment is being introduced. Instead of English, the local dialects are now being used in the first two years of the elementary in many school divisions. Further result will, however, bear careful evaluation before the change may be universally adopted.
With encouragement from the Government, civic-spirited private organizations are helping to educate our people. Among these are the agricultural councils. The barrio assemblies, the 4-H clubs, and the purok associations.
The establishment of barrio councils pursuant to Republic Act No. 1408 is another stride toward the strengthening of democracy at the grassroots. It is a good beginning but needs additional means of implementation to give it substance and practical effect. With these new organs of self-expression and self-government, our barrio people will display more initiative in improving their respective communities.
But unless Godliness and morality suffuse the outlook of our people, no objective achieved will be truly satisfying and enduring. We have therefore continued to emphasize the development of these attributes in the character of our youth as one of the fundamental objectives of our educational system.
While we have concentrated on rural development as our first and most important task, we have also endeavored to help the common man along other lines.
Under the Administration, labor has gained in stature with its greater participation in public affairs. In matters affecting labor itself, we have not hesitated to seek directly the counsel of its spokesmen, and its representatives now sit in the National Economic Council. The National Board of Education, the boards of various government corporations, and the Labor-Management Advisory Council of the Department of Labor.
The healthy growth of trade unions continues, while the workers’ increasing awareness of their rights and responsibilities is being matched by an expanding labor service on the part of the Government.
The time has arrived for us to make a start on extending to labor the benefits of a social security system. However, we have had to delay the implementation of the Social Security Act because of our desire to assure the success of such a system by building it on a stable foundation rather than risk failure through a hasty start.
I recommend that the Congress give careful consideration to the review of the law, so that we may soon begin to establish a sound security system.
We have always recognized the necessity of providing low-cost housing for our working people. While financial difficulties have retarded our efforts to this end, we have embarked on various housing programs. The People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation is expanding low-rental housing for urban workers and the Home Financing Commission is ready to undertake aided self-help housing in the small communities, as well as private housing under a system of insured mortgages.
Acknowledging their invaluable services to our people, we have provided for the adjustment of the salaries of the thousands of teachers who are themselves part of the low income group we seek to help, as well as active participants in the work of that group’s uplift.
Our Government’s deep concern for the common man is the logical first step toward imbuing the Filipino way of life with the true substance of democracy. Our people must be assisted to the richer rewards of effort but, at the same time, shown that those rewards are won through hard work and integrity. We must nurture in them self-respect, self-reliance, competence, and an ever awake social conscience-qualities that we must develop first of all at the base, as the foundation of the solidarity and greatness of our nation. In our striving for fulfillment as a people, we believe in working from the ground up—in the factories, in the sitios, in the barrios, in the towns of our rural areas—in the conviction that genuine democracy moves upward and not downward.
On the overall level, the national welfare has also advanced.
We have strengthened our friendship with other free countries. In the Bandung Conference, we forged closer ties with Asian and African nations and effectively collaborated with them in achieving unity. In the United Nations we secured Asian representation and membership in the Security Council, although incompletely, by splitting a two-year term with Yugoslovia. We have continued to promote international understanding through various international conferences, some of which were held in our country.
Continuing our fruitful collaboration with the United States, we have made good use of American economic aid in developing some of the activities I have already described. Under our mutual defense treaty with the United States and the Manila Pact, we have further strengthened the national security.
On the domestic front, peace and order are at their highest peak in postwar years. All but a few areas have been liberated from the terror of banditry and the Communist-led uprising. However, against the backdrop of the new Communist diplomatic and economic offensive that has brought the “cold war” to a new crisis. Alien agents and saboteurs have attempted new and direct penetration and subversion. But, alert to their inroads, we have swiftly tracked them down and are prepared to meet every further outbreak of this new peril with vigor and firmness.
The year’s end witnessed an important turning point in our national economy. The era of free trade with the United States came to a close, and new graduated tariff duties were imposed on American imports. With this and other basic changes in our trade relations with the United States we can now lay the basis for a stable economy. It is now up to us to build that economy with determination and dedication.
The national production, estimated at eight billion eight hundred million pesos, increased by nearly four percent over that of last year. This was due to some progress in industrialization and a slight increase in agricultural production. Large outlays for public works and development projects and additional public investments through government-owned corporations made some contribution to the increase. Significant production gains have been made in some manufacturing lines.
I must state, however, that this increase in national production hardly evinces a balanced growth pattern. There is imperative need for the coordination and more vigorous implementation of the Government’s policies and the intensification of our efforts to stimulate production.
An integrated credit pattern is shaping up. The public and private banking institutions are gradually developing a balanced pattern of commercial, industrial, and agricultural loans. A good start has been made in giving special credit support to long-range development projects. The flow of credit should, however, be channeled so as to follow still more closely the main direction of our economic plans.
We have effected field surveys and investigation of our mineral deposits, the location of underground waters for both irrigation and potable water supply, and the survey and delineation of additional fishery areas and forest lands that may be made available for commercial exploitation. All these are intended to expand the utilization of our abundant natural resources. It is our hope that these resources surveys and investigations will make private enterprises fully aware of our potentialities and induce them to participate in our country’s development.
During the first ten months of the year 1955, rising local production, coupled with controls over non-essential imports, brought prices and the cost of living to record low levels since 1952. However, mainly because of speculation in anticipation of new tariffs on American imports as well as the new tariff schedules and the expecting tightening of exchange controls, prices began to rise toward the end of the year and the trend still continues. The hoarding of imported stocks has become evident. It is equally evident that the rise in the prices of many articles of commerce, including basic necessities, not affected or only slightly affected by the new tariffs, is artificial and unjustified.
I recommend that the Congress consider means to prevent the spiraling of prices of essential commodities, either by a well-studied price control system or other effective measures. In the meanwhile, the Executive Department will use all the means at its command, including NAMARCO’s merchandising operations, to hold prices in line.
I would like to express here our appreciation of the cooperation that civic-spirited business organizations and individuals have preferred to the Government in this endeavor.
Another problem that looms large in our mind is unemployment. Its causes are numerous and complex, but this is not the occasion to consider them in detail.
Nevertheless, I take note of this serious problem to underscore its urgency and to emphasize upon all our people, particularly those in business and in the Government, the need for devoting all our energies, all our intelligence, all our zeal to the task of providing and creating opportunities for our people to make a decent living. The guideposts which I shall presently outline contain specific measures to meet this difficulty.
In brief outline, this is the record of the year past. It tells us that while something has been done. Our responsibility is not yet fully fulfilled. But this I know: We have hit our stride. We can and will succeed.
Our people have begun the peaceful revolution of uprooting age-old injustices and social evils and of elevating themselves to their true worth and dignity.
We must preserve and consolidate our gains and accelerate our forward pace.
I wish to emphasize that there is no change in our approach to the country’s problems. There is no departure from our basic economic objectives and policies which in past year I outlined to you.
So that our partnership in national duty and responsibility may produce increasing results, I invite you, as you perform your important share of our common task, to keep the following guideposts in view:
Our first guidepost is self-sufficiency in primary foodstuffs.
Blessed with vast expanses of fertile land, we have the basic means to stop the recurring food shortages. We must attain self-sufficiency at least in the basic food.
Fortunately, we have succeeded in developing some effective incentives to production, such as the maintenance of floor prices in rice and corn and the expansion of credit and marketing facilities. We should now consider the feasibility of extending these incentives to other essential foods.
To sustain our gains, I have directed the NARIC, the ACCFA, and other agencies concerned to coordinate their efforts with the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources toward the early attainment of self-sufficiency in food.
Our second guidepost is the acceleration of land reform.
Because land ownership remains the greatest incentive to productivity and contentment among our masses, we are speeding up land distribution. The salutary impact of the Land Tenure Reform Act will soon be added to the efforts of the NARRA, the ACCFA, and the Bureau of Lands.
I invite the Congress to continue its interest in land reform and devise other means of further intensifying our efforts along this line.
Our third guidepost is the establishment of a strong administrative machinery for community development.
As we diversify our efforts to stimulate community development, the establishment of a coordinating and implementing machinery becomes more urgent. I recommend that the Congress consider the creation of such an instrumentality to undertake this task.
I suggest that the Congress consider measures to make the local governments financially self-sufficient and more effective in community development. If deemed necessary, an organization should be created to undertake studies on this matter.
Our fourth guidepost is the fuller utilization of our natural resources in economic development.
Our main hope of providing more employment to our people lies in the fuller utilization of our abundant natural resources. It is essential that existing as well as new industries make greater use of our available raw materials and develop those that can be produced locally. We should, therefore, give continued emphasis to industries and enterprises that will utilize more of our available materials and resources, as against those which are largely dependent on imported raw materials. Unless this is done, it will be well nigh impossible to build a sound economy.
To promote this objective, I recommend that the Congress provide funds for the continuance and expansion of our resources surveys and investigations.
Our fifth guidepost is the improvement of monetary and credit management to accelerate economic development.
The expansion of credit facilities coupled with the proper allocation of foreign exchange is an effective stimulus to agricultural and industrial production. There should now be developed an integrated system of economic priorities to govern the extension of credit and the allocation of dollars. I have, therefore, directed the National Economic Council to develop such a system in concert with the Central Bank, giving preference to projects and enterprises which will make greater use of our available resources and which have high-income and employment potential.
I have directed the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation and the Central Bank to coordinate their activities and expedite the granting of loans and foreign exchange allocations to qualified agricultural and industrial enterprises.
I have also directed the Philippine National bank and, through the Central Bank, the rural banks all over the country to re-examine their lending operations with a view to giving greater support to small merchants and producers.
Our sixth guidepost is the adoption of educational reforms geared to the requirement of scientific and economic progress.
We must revitalize our educational system with emphasize on general, scientific, and vocational education.
The proposal to have an undersecretary for vocational education merits careful study. We should give full support to the improvement of instruction and facilities in public agricultural, trade, and technical schools.
The decreasing emphasis on the natural and physical sciences runs counter to the rapidly developing era of electronics and atomics. If we are to participate fully in the blessings of science, we must recast our educational system tot rain more engineers and scientists. As a beginning, mathematics and physics should again be taught as compulsory in high schools.
Our seventh guidepost is the need for scientific research as a basis of economic and social development.
Fundamental and applied research has long been neglected. In science and scholarship we have largely depended on progress abroad. It is time that we participate seriously in this enterprise, paying particular attention to our needs.
As one of the first steps, I have created a Science Advisory Committee composed of representatives of the principal scientific organizations.
I urge the Congress to provide more funds for scientific research and investigation. I suggest that an appropriation be set aside for this purpose.
It would also be desirable to establish an Institute of Economic Development and Research in the University of the Philippines to provide not only our students but also those neighboring Asian countries with the advanced training essential to accelerated development.
We should provide inducements for private philanthropy for the benefit of scientific research. One way of doing this is to adopt a far-sighted tax policy in donations and grants for scientific research and investigation.
The eighth guidepost is the redefinition of the incentives for private enterprise.
The insufficiency and timidity of capital, domestic and foreign, has been one of the principal reasons for the delay in our economic development. We should now dissipate the uncertainty in our investment atmosphere and, consistent with the national interest, give to investors the necessary incentives and guarantees.
I trust that the Congress will enact in this session legislation fully meeting this problem.
It is part of our efforts to clarify the goals of our economic growth and the means with which we seek to attain them. Among them ate the economic controls. While we are for their gradual removal, they remain necessary at this stage of our economic development. They must be utilized to assure the most advantageous allocation of our limited resources and thus maintain monetary and price stability.
Improvements must be effected in the implementation of controls. But sudden policy changes which tend to dislocate business should be avoided.
I urge the Congress to consider amendments to the Central Bank Charter which would render the Monetary Board more effective in the administration of exchange and the management of money and credit.
In this connection, I would urge that at least three of the members of the Monetary Board serve on a full time basis. The Central Bank Charter should be amended further to provide for a more liberal rediscounting system so as to enlarge the lending operations of our banks.
We should re-examine the no-dollar import law, define its objectives and scope, and examine its performance in the light of experience to date.
Our tariff structure should be further studied to give full protection to our vital industries. It would also be advisable to renew the authority granted to the President under Republic Act No. 1196 to increase or reduce tariff rates for at least two more years.
Our ninth guidepost is the stabilization of the fiscal position of the Government.
At the bottom of our slow progress in some areas of public service is the insufficiency of public revenues. I therefore urge the Congress to study the following aspects of our fiscal organization with a view to increasing government revenues:
First, the necessity of setting up a tax commission to undertake technical studies of our tax system and recommend improvements;
Second, the further raising of the efficiency of our revenue collecting agencies; and,
Third, the revision of our tax laws where such revisions are deemed urgent, pending the studies by the tax commission.
I shall presently submit to you a report which the Tax Advisory Board has just completed for your consideration.
Our tenth guidepost is the need for raising efficiency in public administration.
The implementation of sound and well-planned projects often bogs down owing to inefficiency in public administration. We must, therefore, continue to buttress our administrative units, especially those directly concerned with economic development.
We have completed the wage and position classification survey and a project on the improvement of budgeting, accounting, and auditing procedures in the Government. We should now apply the results of these studies to effect economy and efficiency.
Our initial experience in performance budgeting in twelve government bureaus has produced beneficial results. We should now extend it to more government agencies.
The most inspiring laws and the best-conceived plans of implementing them are often frustrated by administrative inertia and incompetence.
Realizing this I have created a Presidential Performance Commission and entrusted it with the duty of keeping close watch on performance and result in the executive agencies and instrumentalities of the Government. Energetic, intelligent, and dedicated service at every level is indispensable to the success of Government.
I commend these guideposts to your thoughtful consideration in the full confidence that they will give our joint efforts a common unswerving direction.
In our task, I call upon our people to continue giving us their earnest support. This is their share of responsibility implicit in their twice-entrusted mandate under which we assumed the nation’s leadership.
Our times demand selflessness and self-sacrifice. The insincere, the dishonest, the selfish, the greedy, the laggard have no place. With God continuing His kind blessings upon us, we shall not be found wanting.
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