Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, at the luncheon in honor of Filipino scientists at the Malacañan Social Hall, Manila, April 14, 1944.
First of all, I would like to thank you very deeply for taking the trouble of coming, in order to share this simple and frugal luncheon with me.
We are all Filipinos, and the Philippines is our native land. Neither the Japanese nor the Americans can love the Philippines more than or even as much as, the Filipinos themselves. And, regardless of the consequences of this war, regardless of my political convictions or of the political convictions of anyone else in this gathering, each of us has the sacred duty to serve our country and our people.
I happen to be the President of the Republic; and, as a true Filipino, I will render that service in the face of all obstacles. But, knowing my own limitations as a human being, I have thought it the better part of wisdom to call upon some of my fellow-Filipinos who, in my opinion, are in a position to help me out in this difficult undertaking.
It is for this reason that yesterday I met the members of the Economic Planning Board headed by General Roxas. The Board has been charged with the task of solving the grave economic problems of the nation, to ward off mass hunger and starvation, and to tide the country over this hazardous period of our history.
A hungry population cannot but be susceptible to the ravages of epidemics; and the Filipino race is running the risk of disappearing completely, unless we take drastic measures to the insure its survival. Even if it be not in our power to make our country happy, prosperous, and great, we should at least endeavor to give succeeding generations a fighting chance to make of the Philippines the homeland of our dreams. ferent bureaus and ministries concerned. The various researchers will have to remain under the supervision of the chief of the office or bureau or ministry, with which they happen to be connected.
To interpret the vital needs of the Government to the Council of Scientists, an Advisory Board has been created. This Board is to be composed of the heads of the different Government entities engaged in research—the Vice-Minister of Health, Labor, and Public Welfare, the Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the President of the University of the Philippines, and the Director of Science and Technology. Because these men are themselves scientists, they are in a position to understand the needs and the work of their colleagues in the Council of Scientists. But, because they are also the heads of Government institutions, they have a thorough knowledge of the economic, political, and social aspects of the imperative problems now confronting the Government.
The entire organization, however, will be directly under me as President of the Republic, because I want to be always in touch with its activities, and because I do not want it to fail. Upon the advice of the Advisory Board, I shall determine what lines of research should be pursued by the individual members of the Council of Scientists, for, although the field of research is limitless, we cannot afford, for the present at least, to expand our activities too much. We have to limit ourselves to the immediate solution of tangible and pressing problems.
How can we, for example, increase the food supply? How can we make the little supply that we have go a long way? What medicinal plants are available locally, and how can they be used by the people? What measures can we take in order to control malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, and other malignant diseases? What researches in agricultural and industrial chemistry can we undertake?
The success of this tremendous project will depend upon the spirit of the scientists themselves. They should submerge their own private whims. In other words, they should be imbued with the spirit of self-effacement. They should forget jealousy, rivalry, or even animosity. They should think only of the common good. They should have only the interest of a larger humanity in their hearts. They should consecrate themselves to service.
The Government is asking the scientists to make sacrifices for their country. But it will also reward them for their efforts and for their denial. The Government will save the scientist from financial worry. They and their families shall not starve. They shall not want And, if they make a real contribution to science that would benefit the nation materially and politically, they may even be pensioned for life, aside from being accorded all the honor that is their due.
As a matter of fact, I am making an initial appropriation of half a million pesos for scientific research. I am willing to make it a million or even two million, in order to give all the facilities to our researchers—if they could only help ameliorate the suffering of the great masses of our people, if they could only give this our Philippines a place of honor in the scientific world.
This, in brief, gentlemen, is my tentative plan. It is up to you to put it into final shape. Would you rather preserve the different boards hitherto organized—the Board of Nutrition, for example, and the Board of Medicinal Plants— or would you rather merge them with this new organization that we are considering? What fields of research should receive your attention? Who should organize and direct the work in each field? What facilities do you need? What can the Government do, what should it do, in order that this plan may be carried out smoothly and with dispatch?
I will be only too happy to help you out in any of these problems at a moment’s notice. For, whatever the fate of this country may be—whether the Americans come back or whether the Japanese remain—we shall have to solve the problems of our native land. This is our supreme duty as Filipinos. I, as President of the Republic, will try to solve the political problem. Yours will be the solution of the scientific problem.
Let us pull together, let us pool our resources, let us face this emergency together with courage and determination. Thus united, we will not only achieve the survival of our nation. We shall also pave the way to its glorious destiny.
Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library