Address by His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, before the National Assembly on the first day of its special session, October 18, 1943.

MR. SPEAKER, GENTLEMEN AND LADY
OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY:

I have come this morning in my official capacity as President of our beloved Republic to greet you on this first day of the special session of our Legislature. I have not come to lend dignity or solemnity that you need because you have them both. With your determination to do your duty, with your known patriotism, and with the greatest title that any Filipino can have nowadays, namely, that of a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, you do not need the President of your Republic to come here and dignify this solemn occasion.

On the other hand, with the Speaker that you have as the head of our Legislature—who is known to be one of the most patriotic citizens of this Republic, whose greatest title to fame and glory, notwithstanding his youth, is the crowning achievement that he has made in his public career both as a public official and as a Filipino—here, the presence likewise of the Chief Executive would seem unnecessary to lend dignity and solemnity to the first meeting or the first day of the special session of this Legislature.

I have not come either to read to you my message to this Special Session, because that message has already been sent to you and I am sure your distinguished Speaker and you, gentlemen, are quite familiar with the recommendations that I have made. If I have come this morning, it is because I desire to transmit to you the little that has been done by the Executive Department during the period of three days since the inauguration of our Republic. It is not my duty; I am under no obligation to appear every time that the Legislature meets in order to report what has been done or what has been accomplished by the Chief Executive, but realizing the necessity of complete understanding and harmony, conscious of that necessity of bringing about cohesion and integration between the Legislative and the Executive, I have come this morning to give you information, first, as regards the felicitations and the recognition accorded the Philippine Republic, and secondly, to ask you to help in the passage of certain measures which are of prime or primordial importance.

According to the information received by the Executive, the following countries have accorded recognition to the Republic of the Philippines: Japan, Germany, China, Manchuokuo, Thailand, and, by implication, Burma. And I say “by implication, Burma” because we have not received any official recognition but simply a telegram of congratulation. It is expected also that the Republic will receive similar recognition from the other friendly countries of the world. In addition to this official recognition accorded the Republic of the Philippines, we have also received numerous felicitations from foreign governments. It is essential that this Body should immediately enact a law— and this, I believe, I have already recommended in my special message—creating the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that we may immediately carry on our international relations not only with Japan but with the other countries not only of Greater East Asia but of the entire world. In addition, you must have been apprised of the fact that the Imperial Government of Japan has already accredited to the Republic of the Philippines an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and it is fitting and proper, as an independent nation, that we likewise, in response to that implied recognition right from the start on the part of the Government of Japan, also send an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan as a sign of international courtesy and appreciation for her having sent us her Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. We cannot delay the carrying on of international relations not only with Japan but with the other countries of the world, but in the meantime, Japan having sent us her ambassador, it is our duty at once to send to that country an ambassador who would represent the Philippines in her international relations in that country. This, by implication, of course means that at the same time we should add to our departmental organization—even at the risk of somewhat modifying the existing departmental organization—by necessity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

My appearance this morning is also for another purpose. And it is to show to our people and to convince the members of this Legislature that notwithstanding the central ideal of creating a centralized government and therefore a strong executive, the Executive alone must need the support and cooperation of the Legislature. The Executive alone cannot go very far and cannot do much, particularly in the adoption of measures calculated to promote the general interest and the general welfare of our people without legislative action or without the concurrence of this Body in many official acts of the Executive. The appropriation of funds without which no plan can possibly be carried into effect rests with the Legislature. In accordance with the principle that we have inserted in our Constitution no expenditure of public money can be made except in pursuance of a lawful appropriation, and a lawful appropriation can be made only by the National Assembly. In the reorganization of our government in order to effect simplicity, efficiency and economy, that, likewise, cannot be done without legislative action as indicated by the fact that, as I have said, in order to create an additional Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this Legislature has to create that Ministry to permit the Chief Executive to appoint a Minister of Foreign Affairs and to carry on the international relationship which we must carry on as an independent country. And the grant of general amnesty to political offenders under the Constitution must receive the concurrence of this Body, so that even in the matter of extension of the benign policy of this new Republic to pardon political offenders and to invite our brothers in the mountains and the recalcitrant elements of our society to help us in the task of reconstruction and rehabilitation, even that needs the concurrence of the National Assembly. In the matter of making or entering into treaties, the Executive also needs the concurrence of the National Assembly, and many more may be mentioned in which under the Constitution of the Republic, notwithstanding the establishment of a strong, centralized government, the concurrence, the cooperation and the collaboration of the National Assembly are so vital and so necessary that nothing may in reality be done to achieve efficacy and efficiency even to the point of relieving our masses from their suffering without the action of this Assembly or without its concurrence. I have mentioned this point in order to emphasize the fact that it is not the Executive that governs alone, it is not the responsibility that is his exclusively; it is a common responsibility, and justly enough, because the bringing about of the happiness and prosperity of our own people cannot be the task of one man, it cannot be a glory of one man; it is a common and joint enterprise of the whole Filipino nation and it is a responsibility that must be accepted and faced even to the limit.

I stated in the beginning that I have come to report on certain matters which in the brief period of three days I have already undertaken to do. First, as Chief Executive of our nation, and in accordance with what is provided in the Constitution, I have created the Council of State by appointing venerable men to constitute that council. Under the Constitution, the Council of State is a constitutional order created for the purpose of apprising the President on matters of state. The members of the Ministry or the Ministers of State collaborate with the President in carrying on the duties of public administration. There is, as there should be, complete understanding and complete collaboration and complete cooperation between the President and the Ministers of State. This is understood, but in addition to the Ministries that the Constitution has created, that document has also provided the creation of a Council of State supposed to be integrated by men who have rendered distinguished services to the nation, whose prestige, whose reputation and whose morality are beyond question or beyond debate or beyond reproach, and after due consideration and reflection, I have appointed Don Ramon Avanceña as the Chairman or presiding officer of that Council of State, General Emilio Aguinaldo, Miguel Unson, Rafael Corpus, Pedro Aunario and Ramon Fernandez as members.

It is hoped that in times of great crisis when the President, either by reason of ill health or by reason of ailment, when he finds himself hesitating or lacking in courage, when there is for instance, doubt in his mind after consultation with the Ministers, as to whether a certain line of action or attitude should be adopted I hope that the President could seek the counsel of these venerable statesmen so that they may with the President and the Ministers so adopt a determined attitude, whatever that attitude may be, in order to serve the supreme and paramount interest of our people.

In addition, considering the fact that economic problems will loom large in our administration, and considering the fact that we must attain economic self-sufficiency, we must enact legislation providing for the relief of the suffering of our masses; we must bring about perhaps a complete renovation of our economic system and of our public administration in that field. I have also deemed wise, pending the organization of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, as we cannot delay the adoption of the necessary economic measures to give to our people food, medicine, clothing and the essentials and the modicum or the minimum of a civilized life, I have thought it proper, in response to the demands of what I consider public interest, to create by Executive Order what I entitle the National Planning Board, a board that will study and coordinate the different activities that will avoid duplication of work in the different departments and in the different bureaus; that will devise ways and means in order to raise revenue and really support an independent government without relying for any length of time upon Japan or any other foreign country—in other words, for the purpose of providing the necessary means or physical measures for this government—this and more will be studied, considered, and appropriate recommendations made to the executive and the Executive to this Honorable Body, so that we may immediately men those economic problems which we must face courageously now and act on immediately, instantly if possible. To integrate this Planning Board, I have appointed the following gentlemen: Minister Rafael R. Alunan, who is now Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, as ex-officio chairman of the National Planning Board; Hon. Manuel A. Roxas, vice-president or ranking member of that Board; Hon. Jose Yulo, member; Hon. Antonio de las Alas, and Hon. Quintin Paredes, Ministers of Finance and of Public Works and Communications, respectively, members ex-officio; Hon. Miguel Unson, Hon. Rafael Corpus, Hon. Gregorio Anonas, Hon. Vicente Carmona, Hon. Vicente Madrigal, Hon. Elpidio Quirino, Hon. Jose Paez, Hon. Jose Sanvictores, and Hon. Pedro Sabido, as members.

I have consulted my own knowledge of these great men, I have sought the advice of the high officials of the government of this Republic, and I have reached the conclusion that no better set of determined and patriotic men, not only of their services rendered in times past but because of their unchallenged wisdom and knowledge in the economic field, I have no doubt that this Board, integrated as it is by these men, will be able to submit something that would be tangible in the matter of relief or improvement upon the suffering masses of our population.

It is the policy of the Executive in the meantime in order to avoid any disruption in the smooth operation of the government to keep the existing organization as we have now intact, unchanged until the Legislature shall have had enough time to submit a plan of reorganization with reference to the creation of the different ministries, the reorganization likewise of the different bureaus and offices under these different ministries, the avoidance of unnecessary services at this time and the emphasis of those services that must be undertaken in these crucial days. When the time comes for your consideration of that reorganization, which I call the organic departmental organizations, I perhaps shall have again the opportunity to give you my views. For this purpose I do not think it would be necessary in this special session to approve any law providing for the immediate reorganization of our government because we can continue the existing appropriations up to December, keeping everybody in the government, respecting the present governmental organization; then as it is expected that in this special session you will fix the date for your regular session, should you deem it advisable as I have insinuated in my special message, to make the fiscal year coincide with the calendar year because of certain advantages that a change may offer, then I expect, Mr. Speaker, Gentlemen, that you would act wisely if you will limit the activities of the Legislature in the special session to the approval of those essential measures which must be acted upon because of their urgent character and thereafter then you shall meet in regular session and shall have the necessary time to enact other measures including the departmental reorganization.

Mr. Speaker, gentlemen: I rejoice in this opportunity of appearing before you in this special session of our National Assembly, the first that is being held under an independent Republic. May I ask you to please give all the support that you can give, give all the cooperation that you can give, give your hearts and souls, not only I ask of you but I solicit of you to give all that you can give to your distinguished Speaker, who is your own creation, whom you have selected and chosen to lead in the deliberations of this Assembly and whose patriotism and love of country we all agree and may the deliberations and discussions of this Legislature under the guidance of such an able man be productive of beneficial results to our people who are suffering now outside and are anxiously awaiting for them. And with this hope and with the determination on your part and with the unchallenged leadership of your Speaker, may I offer and tender to you whatever the Chief Executive can give you and, in speaking in this manner, I am sure I am likewise expressing the sentiments and the words of my distinguished colleagues in the Ministries, the President and with him the Ministers of State, will be glad to give you what we can give, every cooperation that we can extend, and every effort that we can give in order not only to help you in your career as legislators but primarily and particularly so that the first session of the National Assembly under an independent Republic may bring about not prosperity which we cannot give, but relief and relative blessings upon the suffering masses of our population.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library