Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, on the occasion of a tea party given in honor of the members of the National Assembly celebrating the closing of the first session of the Legislature, Manila, February 3, 1944.
MR. SPEAKER, MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY:
During normal times and ordinarily I should have invited our esteemed and honored friend and Speaker and his colleagues in the Legislature to a gathering more pompous, perhaps more solemn and more magnificent as a social and political event in the City of Manila, especially on an occasion like this where the Speaker and the members of the Legislature have done so well, so magnificently well to the credit and the glory of our country; but unable to do so because of circumstances, I have nevertheless allowed myself to invite you to this little gathering and, consistently with the avowed and announced practice and policy of the President to be simple and frugal in every manifestation of friendship and comradeship, you will pardon me for not giving you something to which you are entitled and which I would have done. This modest tea party is being given in honor of the great leader not only of the Legislature but also of our people and in honor of his colleagues therein. I know you deserve more and I know that I should have made an effort to offer you something which would respond to your prestige and to your personality. Before I end this little and brief talk, I would like to express sincerely my deep appreciation to our beloved Speaker and to you gentlemen for the constructive legislation which has been enacted and passed. You have covered all the fields of legislation: the economic field, even the cultural field, the agricultural field, the political field and you have been particularly generous and gracious to the President of the Republic of the Philippines by approving immediately in the first days of your session the budget in its original form and at the same time permitted him to reorganize the Government so that the declared .policy of establishing a simple, efficient, and economical administration could be undertaken. Not only that, but in the last days of your session you have authorized the President of the Republic to exercise emergency powers in order to cope with the exigencies of our situation—powers which you have so graciously conceded to him because, undoubtedly, you have confidence in him, because working with him and with those associated with him, you believe he will do nothing that is not calculated to serve the supreme and paramount interest of our people. More than that, you have given the Chief Executive a very substantial amount of money—three million pesos—in connection with the pacification work. You have done more than that; in connection with the creation of the Central Bank you have even made the establishment of that bank dependent upon the proclamation of the President, permitting him and his associates to make further inquiry and to enable him to get in touch with the leaders of the Legislature and determine whether the time is appropriate for its establishment. You have not overlooked the interest of our own people, and as your distinguished Speaker has said, at the same time we are going after those people who are corrupt or dishonest in the public administration by establishing a public tribunal for the condemnation of dishonest officials so that we might have here a Government deserving of the faith of our people. We have established that tribunal to deal with such kind of corrupt and dishonest officials, but at the same time you have not overlooked their interest by providing bonus or additional salaries because of the fact that these are hard times and our people in the government service are not in a position to live with their compensation. You have not overlooked the economic field through the approval of measures calculated to alleviate their living condition, notwithstanding the fact that the Government is suffering from tremendous financial difficulties, so that the perpetuity of our Government and our flag, the perpetuity of our institutions may go on and on so that we may live forever as an independent country. Not only that, but you have established certain institutions that are calculated to promote our economic and agricultural interests. You have provided laws regarding inventions with the native materials available so that our scientific men may contribute in the scientific field for the survival of our people. You have enacted laws on fishery so that our people may go into the open sea and in our rivers to fish and so that competent and trained men may produce and get fish that we need for the benefit of our people. I may go on and mention every legislation enacted because I have followed the deliberations of the National Assembly with keen and deep interest as President of this Republic however accidental, but it is not necessary for me to do so. All that I can say is that whatever you have done for the interest of our people. And while some of our people may look upon us as puppets of a foreign power and while some of our people may not as yet believe in the reality of this independence, I know that you and I and together we will do all we can so that that independence may become real to the extent not only of our personal interest not only in the matter of legislation and execution of the laws, but in addition, perhaps, more imperative, in the service, in the life in the vigor, in everything that our people need we shall do it to save them.
Mr. Speaker, may I welcome you and invite you to this humble tea party and please join me in this repast.