Inaugural address of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, at the Legislative Building, October 14, 1943.
This is the hour of fulfillment of the supreme aspiration of our people for centuries. It is but fitting that we should on this momentous occasion dedicate a prayer of thanksgiving to those who paid the full price of blood and treasure for the freedom which we have now achieved. Rest at long last in your hallowed graves: immortal heroes of the Filipino race! The long night of vigil is ended. You have not cued in vain. The spirit of Mactan, of Balintawak, of Bagumbayan, of Malolos, and Bataan lives again!
The Republic which we are consecrating here today was born in the midst of a total war. Our countryside was transformed into a gory battlefield to become a historic landmark of that titanic conflict. From the crucible of a world in turmoil was unleashed the mighty forces that were to spell the liberation of Asiatic peoples from foreign domination. Today, as we witness the triumphal realization of our national ideal, we would be sadly wanting in those magnanimous qualities which distinguished a noble and valiant race, if we did not forgive the wounds and havoc inflicted by that war, the immolation of our youth with their golden promise of the future, the untold sufferings and privations undergone by our innocent population. This is no time for indulging in unseemly recriminations or for ventilating our grievances. In all dignity and out of the fullness of our hearts we could do no less than acknowledge before the world our debt of honor to the August Virtue of His Majesty, the Emperor of Nippon, for ordaining the holy war and hastening the day of our national deliverance.
The presence here of high diplomatic and official representatives of the Nipponese Empire and other nations of Greater East Asia testifies to the traditional friendship and mutual understanding among all Oriental peoples. In the name of the Filipino people, I wish to convey to the honored guests our sincere assurances of good-will and to express the fervent hope that the fraternal ties which unite our people with theirs will grow ever stronger and firmer in the years to come.
I wish to take advantage of this opportunity also to make public our grateful appreciation of all the acts of kindness showered upon the Filipino people by the Commanders of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy in the Philippines, past and present. I make special reference to General Sigenori Kuroda, Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines, and to General Takazi Wati, Director-General of the Japanese Military Administration, without whose sympathetic assistance and encouragement, the Preparatory Commission for Philippine Independence would not have been able to accomplish its work promptly and expeditiously.
Our first and foremost duty as a free and independent nation is to maintain peace and order within our borders. No government worthy of the name will countenance public disorder or tolerate open defiance of its authority. Unless we enjoy domestic tranquillity, we cannot prosecute to a successful conclusion those labors essential to our daily existence and to our national survival. Without public security, our natural resources will remain undeveloped, our fields uncultivated, our industry and commerce paralyzed; instead of progress and prosperity, we shall wallow in misery and poverty and face starvation.
In the ultimate analysis, all government is physical power and that government is doomed which is impotent to suppress anarchy and terrorism. The Constitution vests in the President full authority to exercise the coercive powers of the State for its preservation. In order to make those powers effective, my administration shall be committed to the training, equipment and support of an enlarged Constabulary force strong enough to cope with any untoward situation which might arise. Certainly, everything must be done to forestall the indignity and humiliation of being obliged to invoke outside intervention to quell purely internal disturbances.
With the attainment of independence and the consequent abolition of the military administration, those of our citizens who have heretofore been engaged in guerrilla activities would prove untrue to the ideal for which they have forsaken their families, sacrificed the comforts of home and risked their lives, if they did not lay down their arms and henceforth tread the pathways of peace. I cannot believe that their sense of duty would dictate to them otherwise than to come down from the mountains and other hiding places and participate in the common enterprise of nation-building. If perchance recalcitrant elements would still persist in the sabotage of our program of reconstruction and threaten the very existence of the Republic, I shall have no other alternative than to consider them public enemies of our government and people and to deal with them accordingly.
Even during the artificially prosperous years of the Commonwealth regime, we had to import heavy quantities of rice and other foodstuffs; with the outbreak of the present war, and worse, in the brief phase of its incursion into our country, our agricultural and industrial activities were thrown out of gear, our trade with other countries was disrupted, and the shortage of our food supply became more acute than ever. With our vast tracts of fertile and arable land it would be indulging in mere platitude to assert that we can produce two times, not to say three times, what we actually need to feed our population. Whether the problem is expansion or intensification of our agriculture, the common denominator is hard work.
We must till our idle lands, improve and diversify our crops, develop our fisheries, multiply our livestock, dairy and poultry farms. Next we must produce other necessities such as clothing, fuel, building materials, medicinal preparations, articles of daily use; in short, the minimum requirements of civilized life. Then, we must turn our attention to the demands of heavy industry, explore the possibilities of our exporting to other members of the Sphere those raw materials which we have in abundance in exchange for goods which we cannot locally produce, adjust our internal economic structure in coordination with the regional economy of the Asiatic bloc, and thus contribute our share to the realization of the noble purpose of common prosperity. This means that we have to rehabilitate and plan out our national economy; adopt a sound and stable currency; overhaul our credit and exchange systems to insure the steady flow of capital; foster private initiative in business enterprise; stimulate scientific invention and research; create new industries; establish factories and manufacturing plants; improve our existing transportation and communication facilities construct more roads in accordance with a well devised general plan to promote mutual intercourse; build bottoms to accommodate our overseas and coastwise trade; and finally, adopt a more efficient machinery of price control to prevent hoarding and profiteering and insure a more equitable distribution of prime commodities consistent with our war-time economy. All these cannot be undertaken haphazardly but must be accomplished in accordance with a well conceived economic planning if we expect to rise to the full stature of independent nationhood. Our political emancipation would be vain and illusory if we did not at the same time work out our economic salvation.
Hand in hand with national self-sufficiency, we should look after the individual welfare of the poorer elements who constitute the bulk of our population; assure decent living conditions to our laboring class by raising the level of the minimum wage; afford relief to the needy and suffering, especially to war widows and orphans. Social legislation in this direction would be nothing more than social justice in action. In the prosecution of this humane policy it would be far better to err on the side of benevolent paternalism than on the side of laissez-faire and rugged individualism. The slogan should no longer be live and let live, but live and help live, so that the government may bring about the happiness and well-being, if not of all, at least of the greatest number.
Especially at this time we should guard against the dominating passion for wealth. Unless economic equilibrium between all classes of society is achieved, we may not be able to forestall the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, to the detriment of the suffering masses of our population. If necessary, we should take positive steps to attain the social mean by preventing the rich from getting richer and the poor from getting poorer.
We are endowed with sufficient agricultural land to dole out to those who produce our wealth with the sweat of their brawn and who constitute the real mainstay of our economic solvency. The Constitution has limited the size of public agricultural land which private individuals may acquire by purchase or by homestead so that there may be enough to go around and so that the poor may have a chance to obtain their just share of the public wealth without undue competition from those who already have more than what is necessary for their sustenance. We may even have to carry out this socialistic policy to its logical conclusion by invoking the constitutional sanction authorizing the National Assembly to limit the maximum acreage of private agricultural land which individuals or corporations may hold or acquire. By encouraging and materially aiding landholding among the masses so that every citizen may become an independent freeholder, we shall have gone a long way towards the desideratum of social and economic stability. Love of country springs only from genuine attachment to the soil; it can receive no nourishment from the uprooted and artificial life of the homeless and the disinherited.
There is need of awakening the moral consciousness of our people so that they may be able to face their new responsibilities with added vigor and enthusiasm. We should evolve a new type of citizen who would be ready and willing to subordinate himself to the larger and more vital interests of the State. The Constitution guarantees to every man that modicum of personal liberty essential to his enjoyment of relative contentment and happiness. But of more transcendent importance than his privileges, are the duties which the individual owes to the State. The Constitution gives precedence to those obligations in consonance with the fundamental idea that man does not live for himself and his family alone but also for the State and humanity at large. The new citizen, therefore, is he who knows his rights as well as his duties, and knowing them, will discharge his duties even to the extent of sacrificing his rights.
Loyalty to duty should be best exemplified by our public officers and employees who receive compensation from the State. Simple honesty demands that they earn their pay by rendering the full measure of service that is expected of them. They should observe strict punctuality, maintain maximum efficiency and devote all their official time to government business. Less than this measure of service is morally tantamount to embezzlement of public funds. Public service, in order to be deserving of popular faith and confidence, must be infused with a new meaning and based on the highest considerations of morality. Government employment is neither a sinecure nor an instrument for self-enrichment, but a noble calling of service to the people. Dishonesty, bribery and corruption have no place in the government and they shall be eradicated without quarter. Our public functionaries shall be faithful servants of the people—tall, strong men and pure, self-sacrificing women who will safeguard the public interest like vestal fire.
In the up-building of the national character, the school, no less than the home and the church, should play an important, if not dominating role. Our educational system must be renovated and due emphasis placed on the moral objective laid down in the Constitution. The other aims decreed in the fundamental law like the development of personal and collective discipline, civic conscience, vocational skill and social efficiency, should be subordinated to the cultivation of moral character as the handmaiden of an intransigent nationalism. Character-formation shall be the mainspring of all educational enterprise born of a telling realization that scholarship destitute of character is worthless, that religion deprived of morality is mere fanatism, that patriotism devoid of honor is only a posture. We can combat the evil of excessive materialism which we inherited from the West only by a return to the spiritual ways of the East where we rightfully belong.
Re-definition of purpose and re-orientation of curricula would be futile if they were not brought to bear upon the great mass of our population. While the Constitution provides for citizenship training to adult citizens which should not be neglected by all means, more decisive results would be accomplished if we concentrate on the plastic minds of our youth and revolutionize a whole generation. Elementary instruction must not only be free and public as required by the Constitution, but attendance, at least in primary grades, must eventually, and as resources permit, be made compulsory for all children of school age. It is the constitutional duty of every citizen to render personal military and civil service as may be required by law, and the State has every right to expect that the person called upon to discharge this obligation be physically, mentally and morally equipped for the task demanded. To insure this, the State may furnish the necessary preparatory training dovetailed to its requirements, and the individual is duty-bound to submit to the instruction so prescribed.
All the students in our schools, colleges, and universities must be subjected to the rigid discipline of a well-regulated daily schedule. In general and subject to such regulations as may be prescribed, they must wear a prescribed uniform not only to inculcate in them the habits of thrift but to permit closer supervision over their activities. In this way, our youth will be able to devote themselves conscientiously to their studies instead of wasting their time and substance in frivolity and dissipation. Only by strengthening the moral fiber of our youth and casting them into the heroic mould shall the soft metal of their minds harden into maturity indelibly impressed with unswerving devotion to the country that gave them birth. Thus will they grow into worthy descendants of our illustrious sires who once trod this very soil as freemen in dim ages past—brown, sun-kissed Filipinos, who love freedom dearer than life itself.
The work of our schools should be correlated with and supplemented by wholesome and substantial home life, in order to afford the young a practical pattern of social behavior and a working demonstration of group cohesiveness. It is imperative that we forge and rivet the links of family solidarity. The family is the basic unit of society and the breakdown of the family can only result in the disintegration of society. The consolidation of the authority of the paterfamilias, the cultivation of the Oriental virtues of filial piety and obedience, and the restoration of womanhood to its proper place in the home—this is the tripod which should hold fast and elevate the Filipino family under the Republic.
We cannot listen to the fads of modernism which seek to flatter our women by giving them more freedom for their own undoing, without undermining the institution of the family. Nor can we deprive them of the rights they now enjoy without turning back the clock to the days when they wore shackles and were regarded as mere chattel. As we can neither advance nor retrocede, we have to maintain the rights which we have already conceded to our women without impairing in any way the authority lodged in the head of the family to which they belong. This is inevitable because the matriarchy of primitive times has long since ceased to exist. In every social unit there must always be a focal center of authority, and in the Filipina family that epicentre has always been the father as head of the first barangay.
The Filipino woman must incarnate the purity and tenderness of Maria Clara, the solicitude and self-sacrifice of Tandang Sora, the fecundity and motherly love of Teodora Alonso. The home is her sovereign realm and motherhood is the highest position to which she should aspire. She should look forward to the rearing of children as the consummation of her noblest mission in life. The young generation must suckle from her breasts not only the seeds of patriotism but also those rudiments of familial discipline which will imbue them with respect for their elders and obedience to constituted authority.
The home, more than the school, should be the nursery of the mother tongue. The Government will take the necessary steps for the development and propagation of the Tagalog language as ordained in the Constitution not only through the medium of the Institute of National Language and the encouragement of vernacular literature, but also by making its study compulsory in all schools and eventually prescribing its use in official correspondence as well as in public ceremonies. But the horn must do its share so that our children may learn from the cradle those folk-songs and folklore transmitted by word of mouth from generation to generation and which form the repository of our common imperishable tradition.
Man has by his science conquered the inorganic and the animal world and harnessed their forces to minister to his needs and to suit his fancy. But he has neglected the science of man as a human being. It is a sad commentary on the present state of our civilization that we bear daily witness to the lowest depths of crime and human degradation, obtain a passing glimpse of misfits and derelicts in human shape, and go our different ways paying little heed to these living indictments of our society. It is time that we frankly face the situation and remedy matters by going to the very source of this social cancer. It would be foolhardy for us to so much as attempt to check the natural growth of our population and by a process of rigid selection produce only supermen of whom philosophers have dreamed. The increase of birth-rate which is desirable for a young country like ours is not incompatible with the improvement of the racial stock. Over heredity we have no control except in so far as we may prohibit the marriage of diseased individuals or prescribe the sterilization of imbeciles and lunatics. But we can and we should shape the forces of our environment and eduaction so that the propagation of health and intelligence may outrun the reproduction of disease and ignorance.
It shall be the concern of my administration to improve the individual quality of the masses by stressing medical attention for expectant mothers, correct methods of pre-natal and infant care, proper nutrition for our children, a well-balanced diet for adults, clean amusement and wholesome sport and recreation for both young and old, and other measures designed 10 conserve the health of the populace. For this purpose, all the resources of learning and science at our disposal will be mobilized There is absolutely no reason why we should devote more effort and attention to breeding super-stallions for our racing stables, milch cows for our fairs or prize hogs for our markets, than to raising healthy, intelligent and self-respecting human beings who will be a credit to our country and who will glorify the Filipino race. There is dire need for the reappraisal of our standard of human values, for the perfection of human industry as an art and a science, for the exaltation and dignification of the human personality.
During the infancy of the Republic we should not expect the immediate accomplishment in a single stroke of the vast and vital projects that I have outlined to guide my administration. We should not forget that war is still raging with unabated intensity outside our borders and that we are handicapped with restricted means and still undeveloped resources. The least we can do for a start is to undertake the preliminary steps of long-range planning to be carried into execution as much and as fast as our limited finances will permit. In the meantime, the popular mind will have to be fully prepared and rendered both receptive and responsive to the new national outlook.
The orientation of the new government under the Republic is one of centralized control for service to the people regardless of any obstacle. “The welfare of the people,” in the fiery language of Andres Bonifacio, “is the supreme purpose of all governments on earth. The people is all; blood, life, wealth and strength: all is the people.” This is the guiding philosophy of the Constitution and the mandate of those called upon to assist in the establishment of the new government. The scientific method will be availed of to streamline the government machinery and effect simplicity, economy and efficiency in its operation to insure maximum attention to the welfare of the people and their needs. Red-tape and official routine should be reduced to a minimum, duplication of work avoided and unnecessary services eliminated. But the active principle of social justice will have to be invoked to ameliorate the lot of the lowest paid employees and increase their compensation either directly or by some budgetary method in reasonable proportion to the present high cost of living. This must be pushed through even if we have to sacrifice further promotions in pay and if necessary slash the salaries of those in the higher brackets of our officialdom. Without political consolidation we cannot hope to accomplish the desired integration of our political, economic and social life. The abolition of political parties is a desirable feature of the military regime which we must conserve especially during the formative period of our Republic. Political parties have divided us in the past and we should avoid the recurrence of our sad experience. We must eradicate the baneful influence of factional strife and strike at the very roots of partisan spirit. I shall stand for no political party while I hold the rudder of the Ship of State. We must serve only one master—our country; we must follow only one voice—the voice of the people.
We must have only one party, the people’s party, a party that would stand for peace, for reconstruction, for sound national economy, for social reform, for the elevation of the masses, for the creation of a new world order.
At no time in our history is the demand for unity amongst our people more urgent or more compelling. Only by presenting a compact and undivided front to all vital issues of the day can we hope to erect the foundations of a strong and enduring Republic. I consider as rallying centers of our national unity: The Flag, the Constitution, the National Anthem and the President of the Republic. The Flag, I because it symbolizes the sacrifices of our heroes and synthesizes our common imperishable tradition. The Constitution, because it expresses our collective and sovereign will and embodies the sum of our political philosophy and experience. The National Anthem, because it epitomizes the trials and tribulations, and crystallizes the longings and aspirations of our race. The President, because he is the chosen leader of our people, the directing and coordinating center of our government, and the visible personification of the State. Foursquare on these rallying points, the dynamic instinct of racial solidarity latent in the heart of each and every Filipino must be roused from its lethargy and inflamed with the passion of faith in our common destiny as a people.
Across the horizon, the Hand of Fate beckons us into the Promised Land. I am sure our people will rise as one man to meet the challenge. After all, the government we have established under the Constitution is our own government; it will be officered and manned by our own people; the problems it will face will be our own problems. We shall encounter difficulties greater than any we have ever faced in our national history. We shall have to adapt ourselves to the strange stimuli of a new environment and undergo the travails of constant adjustment and readjustment. God helping us, we shall march with steady, resolute steps forward, without doubt, vacillation e or fear. There shall be no tarrying on the way, no desertion from the ranks, no stragglers left behind. Together we shall work, work hard, work still harder, work with all our might, and work as we have never worked before. Every drop, every trickle of individual effort shall be grooved into a single channel of d common endeavor until they grow into a flowing stream, a rushing cataract, a roaring torrent, a raging flood, hurdling all difficulties and demolishing all barriers in the way of our single purpose and common determination to make our independence stable, lasting and real.
Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library