Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, at a convocation of officials and employees of the Office of the President. Manila, February 23, 1944:

MR. SECRETARY, FELLOW-WORKERS IN THE GOVERNMENT, PARTICULARLY IN THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT:

It has long been my purpose to come in contact, not only with the officers and employees under the Executive Department, but also with all officers and employees of the Government, in order to give you an idea of my plan of public administration and to discuss problems affecting the welfare of all those in the public service. The work which I have had to do in connection with the establishment of our Republic has not given me any chance to come in contact with my co-workers. Although I have had the opportunity to express myself on various occasions on the broad and fundamental policies of the administration, I would have preferred conferring personally with the officials and employees of our Government. I am happy, therefore, to have this privilege of saying a few words to you this afternoon.

We all know that there is a great deal of suffering among our people. The lack of prime necessities, the lack of many things that we used to have and to enjoy cannot but affect the lives of our people.

The Cabinet has decided to allow practically all officials and employees who may wish to go to the provinces to do so. They may reside there temporarily and engage in some productive enterprise, like food production. They can also help our Government in the re-establishment of peace and order, which alone can insure the progress and stability of our new Republic.

This Republic is ours to enjoy and to defend. Having transmuted into reality the dream of our forefathers and of our heroic dead, we owe it to them no less than to our posterity to overcome the many handicaps and difficulties which threaten to overwhelm our young Republic in the midst of the present war. The reality of this independence depends upon the attitude of our own people towards the Republic.

First of all, everyone must believe in the strength and efficacy of this Republic to achieve the reality of our independence. This is especially true in the case of officials and employees of the Government. We would be committing an injustice to ourselves, to our country and to our people; we would even be committing an act of disloyalty to the memory of those who have gone before us, if, placing ourselves in the public service and receiving compensation, however, small, from the Government, we should be found wanting—and biting the hand, so to speak, that is helping us tide over this difficult and precarious period of our history. If a public employee does not believe in this Republic, if he does not believe in the policies of those who are at the head of this Republic, he should feel free to leave the service of the Government. That is the most manly and patriotic thing to do under any circumstance.

The present rustication of some of the government employees in line with the reorganization of the Government affords ample test of our loyalty to the Republic. If we are sending some of our employees to the provinces, it is not because we dislike them, but as everybody knows, it is made imperative because of our two-fold problem of food production and the restoration of peace and order. It is to their own interest and the interest of our people that these employees should willingly go where they may be more useful.

The unnecessary concentration of population in the metropolis is inimical to their health and safety, considering that the Philippines is still within the radius of war operations. Moreover, the abnormal increase of inhabitants in the City of Manila is responsible, not only for the food shortage, but also for aggravating the social problem therein. By sending as large a portion of the population of the City of Manila as is possible to the provinces, we would, on the one hand, minimize the food problem in the city, and on the other hand, increase the available manpower in the provinces to carry out to a successful conclusion the national food production campaign now being undertaken by the Government. Once the food problem is solved, we shall have gone a long way towards the restoration of normalcy by wiping out the most fertile source of discontent among the masses.

Those employees who are being sent to the provinces will continue in the government payroll, at least until the end of this year. When conditions improve, they may be recalled to the government service. It does not mean therefore, that they should remain idle in the provinces. As government employees and as civic-spirited citizens, they must help the Government in the problem of saving our people from extinction. They can, and they should contribute their utmost to the pacification campaign in their respective communities. Moreover, as government officials and employees imbued with a high sense of public service, it is expected that their presence in the provinces will bring about a wholesome influence in the way of effecting a cleaner and more honest administration of the government. They should fight corruption and dishonesty wherever they may find it, and without quarter, so that the people may not eventually lose faith in the Government which they represent. They should endeavor to make of the Government in every corner of the Philippines the real champion of public service and the true guardian of public welfare. They should bear in mind that the problem of national survival can be solved only by Filipinos, and only for the benefit of the Filipinos themselves.

Theoretically, we have reorganized our Government; but, in reality, we have not. We have not reduced the appropriations or expenses of the Government. Although we are sending to the provinces some employees whose service are not, at present, needed, we will give them their salaries, and their transportation expenses. They can engage in agriculture. They can raise poultry. They can cultivate vegetable gardens. In short, they can help produce food and perhaps multiply our population.

Then, too, we must have peace and order. I think that the time has come for us to do away with any mental reservation. I have received information, and my agents have reported to me that some officials and employees of the Government (I even have their names) do not believe in this administration and in the fundamental policies of the new Government; perhaps because of their background, or because they have not yet emancipated themselves from that attitude of mind engendered by forty years of association with the United States.

I could have taken drastic action. But I have kept this information and these names to myself, because I know that my people have suffered. Many of them are still suffering because of certain mistakes that have been committed in the arrest and in the trial of those who have been accused of espionage and other crimes said to be against military law.

I do not want to contribute to these mistakes and to my people’s suffering. On the contrary, my hope and my purpose in being in this Government, my longing and my sincere desire, is to be in a position to free our people from this suffering and to make this a real Republic.

In the hope, therefore, that the people mentioned in the confidential report that I, as President of the Republic, have received, will take the time and the effort to reflect on their error, I am still holding the report.

I look forward to the day when, as President, I shall be able to announce that each and every member of the public administration is a true and loyal public servant—loyal to the Republic, interested in good and honest government, a disbeliever in subversive organizations. I want to be able to announce that every member of the public administration is willing to do what is in his power to reestablish peace and order, to do what he can to help our people live and survive this great catastrophe.

We shall be a united people. And, instead of frittering our time away in discussing academic questions—whether the Americans will ever return or whether our association with Japan will be permanent—we will, with one single purpose in mind, with one definite end in view, make this independence real, if it be unreal. We will fight for that ideal. We will get rid of our present mental depression. With courage, with readiness to suffer difficulties and hunger, if that be the price of real independence, we will lay aside mutual suspicions among ourselves. We will cease thinking that some Filipinos are more patriotic than others. We will have confidence in the patriotism of every Filipino, whether rich or poor, ignorant or intelligent.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library