The Official Month

AS further manifestations of the Government’s concern to alleviate the misery of a greater portion of the people, the President issued Proclamation No. 13, declaring the period from March 1 to March 13 as the time for the First Republic Roll Call of the Philippine Red Cross; Executive Order No. 35, further amending Executive Order No. 19 and creating the Relief Committee of which Minister of Health, Labor, and Public Welfare Emiliano Tria Tirona is the Chairman; and approved on February 18, 1944, Act No. 23, amending paragraph one and repealing paragraph two under “General Purposes,” “Extraordinary Expenditures,” of section 1 of Act No. 20, authorizing Provincial, City and Municipal Governments and Government-owned or controlled corporations to provide for bonuses to their officers and employees and appropriating additional funds for the purpose.

Act No. 23 is but one of many laws passed by the National Assembly before it closed its regular sixty-day session on February 2, 1944. The legislative body came in for high praise for having passed bills to meet the urgent and emergency problems of the nation. Of its work, His Excellency, President Jose P. Laurel, said: “Judging from its achievements to date, it is to be expected that the future sessions of the Assembly will be even more fruitful and effective in giving concrete evidence of the leadership, loyalty, and patriotism of Speaker Benigno S. Aquino and his colleagues. When the members of the National Assembly rejoin their respective constituencies, they will be in a better position to give fresh impulse and creative direction to the vast project of nation-building. They have acquired and developed the necessary perspective born of an epoch the complexity of whose problems constitutes the very measure of their opportunities.”

The National Assembly passed the following bills on taxation which were approved by the President: Act No. 21, imposing a percentage tax on subsequent sales of commodities, goods, wares, and merchandise; Act No. 24, imposing a school and residence tax; Act No. 25, imposing a specific tax on matches and playing cards; Act No. 26, making taxes on franchises uniform; Act No. 27, imposing percentage taxes on keepers of hotels, lodging houses, restaurants, cafes, refreshment parlors, roof gardens, night clubs, bars, grills, and on proprietors, promoters, lessees or operators of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses, boxing or wrestling exhibitions, cabarets, race tracks, cockpits, Jai-Alai and other places of amusement; Act No. 28, imposing stamp taxes on mortgages, pledges, and deeds of trust as well as on deeds of sale and conveyances of real property; Act No. 29, imposing charges on timber cut in public forests; Act No. 30, increasing the rates of inheritance tax; Act No. 38, increasing charges of registration of large cattle; Act No. 40, subjecting sales made to the Government, etc., to the payment of internal revenue taxes; Act No. 52, imposing an occupation fee for mining claims; and Act No. 59, imposing a fixed tax on business, percentage taxes upon proprietors or operators of rope factories, sugar centrals, rice mills, coconut oil mills, corn mills, and desiccated coconut factories, percentage tax on ” road, building, irrigation, artesian well, waterworks, and other construction work contractors, proprietors or operators of dockyards and others, and a percentage tax on stock, real estate, commercial, customs, and immigration brokers.

The banking laws signed are Acts Nos. 32 and 60. The first authorizes banks to extend loans to Government corporations in excess of 15 per centum of unimpaired capital. The second creates the Central Bank of the Philippines.

THREE new institutions are established by Acts Nos. 50, 51, and 54. Act No. 50 establishes the Land and Maritime Transportation Company; Act No. 51 creates a patent office in the Bureau of Commerce and Industries, while Act No. 54 establishes a School of Fisheries under the administration of the Director of Fisheries. In connection with Act No. 51, the legislature also passed Act No. 55, providing for rewards to Filipino citizens who make useful discoveries or inventions. With reference to Act No. 54, Order No. 38 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources published in this issue designates Dr. Hilario A. Roxas to take charge of the Bureau of Fisheries.

ACT NO. 42 deals with the leasing of forest lands for special purposes. Act No. 43 prohibits aliens from acquiring private non-agricultural lands and buildings, etc., while Act No. 46 appropriates P2,000,000 for the study, survey and construction of irrigation systems in the Philippines.

OTHER important laws are Act No. 45, providing for the internment of aliens who commit acts inimical to the peace, security and interest of the Republic of the Philippines; Act No. 58, providing for the retirement with gratuity of members of the fire and former police departments, including provincial guards of various provinces, chartered cities and municipalities; Act No. 37, providing for the reopening of puericulture centers and the establishment of new ones in the different municipalities and chartered cities; and finally Act No. 22, authorizing the President of the Republic of the Philippines to purchase a site and building for the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

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ON February 5, 1944, a dinner was given in honor of Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jorge B. Vargas by President Laurel. In a speech on that occasion, the President said that the five principles embodied in the Joint Declaration adopted in the Greater East Asia Congress, should be the “guiding principles which should illumine the path of each and every diplomatic representative, whether in Japan or in the Philippines or in any other country . . .” Ambassador Vargas, speaking on the same occasion, declared, among other things, that “Our diplomacy to be successful, must be open diplomacy, the diplomacy of an open mind and an open heart, willing to see the other side without prejudices or disbeliefs, willing to help the other side without secret reservations or breaches of trust. We cannot be exclusively preoccupied with what Japan can get from the Philippines or what the Philippines can get from Japan; rather we must apply ourselves to what Japan and the Philippines can do for each other without sacrificing those essential rights and prerogatives which constitute the very substance of sovereignty and nationhood.”

ON February 29, Ambassador Vargas presented his credentials to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.

ADDITIONAL impetus was given to the food production drive of the Government with the issuance of Executive Order No. 37, decreeing the recruitment of able-bodied persons for civilian emergency service in food production. An elaboration of this decree is Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Order No. 42.

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THE Food Administrator issued Orders Nos. 17, 18, 20, and 21. The first fixes the official prices of palay and rice in Central Luzon and Manila, the second fixes the payments of palay purchased by the Bigasang-Bayan in Central Luzon, the third creates the Manila Branch of the Bigasang-Bayan, while the last deals with rules and regulations on the procurement and distribution of fish.

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ON Farmers’ Day, February 12, 1944, President Laurel urged all farmers to carry on with the work of making the earth yield its riches. In his appeal to the farmers, he said, “We Filipinos must use our hands, meet suffering, and even death in the face—if the independence gained at the cost of the sweat and blood of our ancestors, our fathers and our elders, is to remain ours.”

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IN conjunction with the purposes of Act No. 39, declaring a state of emergency and authorizing the President of the Republic of the Philippines to promulgate rules and regulations to safeguard the safety, health and tranquillity of the inhabitants of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 36 was also promulgated. This order creates the Civilian Protection Service, defines its powers and provides for the coordination and control of all activities and functions for the protection of the civilian population during air raids. Named to head the Civilian Protection Service were Jose Paez, Civilian Protection Administrator; Dr. Eusebio Aguilar, Chief of Medical and First Aid Service; and Alfredo Eugenio, Chief Air Raid Warden.

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In consonance with the policy to effect a simple, economical, and efficient Government, Ordinance No. 3 and Executive Order No. 34 were promulgated. The ordinance creates the positions of Commissioner for the Visayas and Commissioner for Mindanao and Sulu, and the executive order provides for the rank and emoluments of the Auditor General and Commissioner of Civil Service.

THE Ministry of Home Affairs this month issued Order No. 9, dealing with the transfer of the seat of government of the Province of Misamis Occidental from the municipality of Oroquieta to the municipalityof Misamis, and Order No. 14, dealing with the annexation of certain municipal districts of Surigao to specified municipalities of the same province.

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THE President, speaking before leading Filipino educators last February 12, clarified the status of the newly-created Ministry of Education, saying that one of the fundamental educational policies of the Government is the inculcation of intense nationalism in the minds of the youth “not only for self-protection and self-preservation, but also for the purpose of intensifying love of country and of bringing about a type of citizenry after our great hero, Rizal. I would like to have developed in this country that type of Filipino who will be patriotic, honest, upright, and at the same time, simple and frugal in his way of living.”

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AND in an address to the Filipino youth, he called upon the young men and young women of the land “to join hands with the forces of the Government to stimulate food production, to restore complete peace and order throughout the length and breadth of the Philippines, and to work actively and persistently for the welfare, progress and prosperity of the Republic.”

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His interest in an intense Filipino nationalism can also be gleaned in his statements on the 72nd anniversary of the martyrdom of Fathers Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora, and on the 82nd anniversary of the death of Francisco Balagtas (Baltazar). Said he on the first occasion: “We are the heirs of the dignity and beauty of life of subsequent generations. It is for us to keep the light of their sacrifice forever aflame. We should guard it with zeal, protect it with our very lives, lest our right to determine our destiny be snatched from our hands again.” On the anniversary of Balagtas he said: “At a time that calls for courage, abnegation and discipline, the substance of the message of Florante at Laura (considered the masterpiece of Balagtas) holds a timely pertinence to the thought and life of every Filipino who is solicitous for the success of the Republic.”

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library