The Official Month
EVIDENCE showing that the Government desires to work out the economic salvation of the people are the issuance of Proclamation No. 10, “calling upon the students of public and private institutions of learning, the members of the Kalibapi, neighborhood associations, civic and religious organizations, and other elements of the community to actively assist in carrying out the campaign for greater food production” and the promulgation by the Food Administrator of Orders Nos. 7 to 16-A. Of the Food Administration orders, the first fixes the maximum prices of palay in various regions of Luzon; the second creates an organization to be in charge of controlling the production, supply and distribution of rice and such other cereals as the Food Administrator himself may, from time to time, determine; the third provides that the provisions of Act No. 9, known as the Food Administration Act, shall be enforced in the entire Philippines; the fourth provides for the compulsory cultivation of all private yards and vacant lots in Manila; the fifth, fixes the official prices of palay, rice and its by products in Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, and Manila; the sixth asks all fish producers to be members of fishery cooperative associations; the seventh provides for the registration of hatirin, bangus fingerlings, and restricts the catching and sale of bangus; the eighth demands the compulsory stocking of idle swimming pools, fountains, backyard ponds and other bodies of fish water with fresh water species of fish like carp, pla-salit, sepatsiam and gourami; the ninth provides for the registration of fishing boats and fishing gear and the control of fishing equipment, supplies and materials; the tenth fixes the maximum prices of fresh fish; and the last fixes the official prices of dried, smoked, or preserved fish.
In connection with the creation of the Bigasang Bayan as the body charged with the control of the production, supply, and distribution of rice and other cereals, His Excellency, President Jose P. Laurel, speaking before members of District and Neighborhood Associations at the Manila City Hall on January 5, 1944, declared that the NARIC—which the BIBA was going to replace—had outgrown its usefulness, and that a new organization would have to be created clothed with the same functions as its predecessor, but expected to supervise the production, supply, and distribution of those primary cereals which the people need in an efficient, methodical, and clean manner.
Believing that the campaign for more food can be accomplished if all Filipinos unite, the Board of Information, the creation of which is provided for under Executive Order No. 29, undertook to effect the provisions of Proclamation No. 11. Proclamation No. 11, specifies that the week from January 19 to 25, 1944, inclusive, be known as General Amnesty Week within which all citizens, public and private, must cooperate in convincing those members of guerrilla units to give up their present activities, return to their respective homes and help in the promotion of peace and in food production.
After the General Amnesty Week expired, the Board of Information was pleased to announce that it had accomplished its task with unexpected results. The Chairman and members of the General Amnesty Board who collaborated with the Board of Information were also cited for the yeoman spirit they showed in persuading guerrilleros to come down and join hands with the young Republic with a view to reconstructing the Philippines and restoring complete peace and order for the welfare, benefit and happiness of all the Filipino people. The Speaker of the National Assembly, as the campaign was going on, also delivered a speech over Station PIAM, during the course of which he appealed “to all our countrymen who still entertain doubts and misgivings concerning the present government of our country” to join the rest of the nation in the great movement to promote the progress of the Philippines and other East Asian nations.
In a statement he issued on January 29, 1944, President Laurel expressed his gratitude to the guerrilleros and to other political offenders who had availed themselves of the General Amnesty Proclamation. He said, “I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great step you have taken. It lightens so much the more the burden of pursuing the common task of building a new nation that is worthy of our affection and undying loyalty. With you I am happy to share the privilege of carrying on with this great responsibility. I am confident, now that you have pledged yourselves to a life of peace and cooperation, that you will do your very best cheerfully and courageously to assume the obligations that will be yours in strengthening our solidarity as a people, observing the most faithful discipline in so far as it will enhance the common welfare.”
While appeals for more food production occupied the attention of the people, the reorganization of the administrative and judicial machinery of the Government went on. On January 3, 1944, Act No. 20, appropriating “funds for the operation of the Republic of the Philippines during the fiscal year ending December 31, 1944, and for other purposes” was approved. Executive Order No. 28, “requiring all government officers and employees whose appointments are not by the Constitution vested in the President to vacate their positions”; Executive Order No. 27, reorganizing the Court of Appeals and Courts of First Instance; Executive Order No. 29, creating the Board of Information; Executive Order No. 30, changing the designations of the Director and Assistant Directors of Constabulary and prescribing a new schedule of salaries therefor and for the other commissioned officers of the Philippine Constabulary; and Executive Order No. 32, transferring the powers, duties, and functions of the board of directors of government owned or controlled corporations to the Office of the President, were issued. On January 12, 1944, newly-appointed Minister and Vice-Minister of Health, Labor and Public Welfare, Emiliano Tria Tirona and Ramon Macasaet, respectively, took their oath of office.
The Government program to advance the study and propagation of the national language was pushed forward further as the Ministry of Education opened a school to be devoted to the teaching of Tagalog. In a message he sent at the opening of the school, the President had this to say to its students: “Hinggil sa ating wikang pambansa, na nasa yugto ng kaunlaran, kayo, gaya rin nang dati, ang siyang mga pangunahing tagapagtaguyod. Buhat sa paaralang ito kayo ay palalabasin sa kaukulang panahon na lubos nang sanay at nakahanda upang ikalat ang mga bagong aralin sa pinakamalayo at pinakatagong sulok ng inyong bansa na ang Republika ng Pilipinas ay may sariling wika na ngayon, na siyang makapaghahayag ng mga kaisipan at lunggatiin ng mga mamamayan, at ang wikang iyan, sa pamamagitan ng masusing mga pag-aaral at mga pagpapayaman, ay siyang magiging wika ng mga batang Pilipino na hindi pa isinisilang sa pagka’t ito na ngayon ang wikang panlahat ng buong bansa.” Of our national language, now happily on an advanced stage of perfection, you are, as it were, the first national torchbearers. From this institute you will be sent out in due time fully trained and equipped to spread to the farthest nooks and corners of your country the new gospel that the Republic of the Philippines has now a language of its own, expressive of the people’s thoughts and aspirations, and that language, through scientific study and cultivation, will be the language of the Filipino children yet unborn as it is now the official language of the entire nation.
This month, the Bureau of Forestry issued Administrative Order No. 2-R, which sets forth rules and regulations governing the issuance of permits to open, reopen, and to start the operation of sawmills, and other woodworking industries. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued Order No. 9-1, which fixes the maximum retail price of locally-made cigarettes. The Ministry of Finance issued Order No. 1 containing rules and regulations governing the redemption of the currency notes of the Bank of the Philippine Islands remaining in circulation, while the Bureau of Customs and Internal Revenue issued four general circulars dealing with the income tax provisions found in the National Internal Revenue Code.