Address by Chairman Jorge B. Vargas of the former Philippine Executive Commission, over Station PIAM, Manila, October 16, 1943.
FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES:
I feel great pride and joy in addressing you by that title. For myself I can say sincerely that I feel greater satisfaction in the title of Citizen of this Republic than in any other bestowed upon me. For it is a title of free men, a badge of honor for which our heroes and martyrs in the past gave up their lives without attaining it. Now that our generation has been privileged to bear it, let us bear it proudly, worthily, with unshakeable faith in ourselves and our nation, and with a firm resolution never to bring it into dishonor or disrepute.
W e have entered into a new era in our national history. With the inauguration of the free and independent Republic of the Philippines, the dominion over this fair land, the lowers of government and the administration of public affairs therein, have been delivered to our sovereign government. After long centuries, after countless vicissitudes and struggles, we have at last come into the full possession and enjoyment of our national patrimony and inheritance. We have at last the right to lead our own life as a people, in the pursuit of our peace, prosperity, and happiness.
As we assume the grave responsibilities and obligations inherent in freedom and independence, it is just and proper that we should look back briefly upon our immediate past which have birth to this promising present. In the pursuit of the high ideal of liberating the Oriental peoples and securing their harmonious coexistence in co-prosperity, the Imperial Japanese Forces came to our shores scarcely two years ago and established a Military Administration in which the Filipinos were given an opportunity to participate.
The record of that Administration is familiar to all. Triumphing over the passions of war and the tragic prejudices which at first separated the Japanese and Filipino peoples, it consistently and untiringly sought our true welfare. Amid the most difficult conditions it undertook the material and spiritual reconstruction of our country. Our towns and cities, destroyed in the course of the hostilities, were rebuilt and restored. Our roads, bridges, railways and ferries, were repaired, reconstructed, or extended. The cultivation of our fields was encouraged and protected. Our commerce and our industries were guided and intensified. Our schools were reopened as quickly as possible under new principles and with a new orientation.
Nor did the Military Administration abuse the paramount and untrammeled power which t held to oppress and exploit the Filipinos. On the contrary, from the very beginning, life, property, and the freedom of conscience were guaranteed. Our native laws, customs, and institutions, were respected and preserved. We were afforded an opportunity to participate in the affairs of government with the organization of the Philippine Executive Commission and its several branches and instrumentalities. The Filipino prisoners of war were liberated, rehabilitated, and given generous relief. Our national language was accorded the dignity of an official language. Our retail trade was sought to be nationalized. The livelihood of our people was protected with various measures designed to curb profiteers, Boarders, and other malefactors without conscience who tried to make their private fortunes out of the people’s distress.
But best of all, from the very beginning, our most sacred aspirations for freedom and independence were recognized, encouraged, and promised full satisfaction. Freely and spontaneously, the independence of the Filipinos was pledged, and when, upon the completion of the preparations for independence, the time was judged appropriate for the fulfillment of that pledge, the Filipinos were given the most ample and unrestricted opportunity to draft a Constitution and establish a government that should truly and faithfully reflect our traditions, desires, and aspirations. This was the crowning glory of the Japanese Military Administration which ended two days ago upon its withdrawal to give way to the independent Republic of the Philippines. We who were afforded the opportunity to participate in the Military Administration through the Philippine Executive Commission feel completely vindicated and rewarded for our poor and modest efforts by the establishment of the Republic. We feel that our faith in Japan’s honor and in Japan’s sacred pledge have been completely justified.
As Chairman of the former Executive Commission, I wish to take this opportunity to express once more my deep and sincere appreciation for the loyalty, efficiency, and unceasing i devotion to duty which were displayed by the t public servants of the Philippines through a time of arduous trial. I was always sharply conscious of my personal limitations in the face of the heavy responsibilities of my position. If some measure of success was achieved by the objectives which the Commission set for itself and by the policies which it followed, it has been due entirely to the patriotic collaboration of my colleagues in the former Commission and to the concerted and loyal support of the great body of government officials and employees
I wish to pay tribute in particular to the obscure and humble public servants throughout the land, who, displaying the utmost fortitude and fidelity, completely vindicated the public trust reposed in them. The brunt of the work of pacification and reconstruction was carried by these unsung heroes of the public service—the courageous and devoted governors and mayors, the modest and unassuming clerks and laborers, the self-sacrificing agents of law and order, the post-masters, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, veterinarians, agronomists, rangers, and other small government officials and employees who, sustained only by the spirit of service, braved all uncertainties and misunderstandings, and frequently risked their very lives, in the performance of their duty and in the pursuit of our most sacred aspirations.
I am filled with humility when I consider the sacrifices which they made, uncomplainingly, unselfishly, without thought of gain, reward, or advancement. I am oppressed by the knowledge that their labors cannot find adequate recognition or reward. I am consoled only by the conviction that the people will know how to remember and appreciate their services, and that the establishment of the independent Republic of the Philippines will itself constitute the greatest, most precious, and most lasting reward for these good and faithful servants of the nation.
Our task, however, is not yet finished. It can never be finished. The life of the nation continues beyond the span of life of any of its citizens or of any administration. The progress of the nation cannot be halted or suspended. Two days ago we ended one period in our history, only to begin a new one, a new era of freedom and independence, which requires from each and every one of us, from each and every citizen of this Republic, supreme unity, faith, courage, and unlimited labor and sacrifice.
If my word should count for anything, at least as the word of one who has ever sought the best interests of our country, I appeal to all Filipinos to give to the Republic a loyalty second to none.
The Republic needs and demands a solid national union, a union transcending all allegiances to region, party, class, or creed. I appeal to our compatriots in the mountains and forests to cease their disturbances and lawless activities. If out of sincere conviction they felt unable to cooperate with the Philippine Executive Commission in the past, there is no reason now why they should not render full and complete allegiance to our own sovereign Republic. Whatever the differences in our political ideals, our hopes for the future or our past allegiances, let us now unite in making the independent Republic of the Philippines a real and lasting success. The Republic bars no one from its service; it embraces all the Filipinos wherever they are, in hiding or in exile across the seas. Its offices are open to all; its supreme objective is the good of all; and by the same token it deserves and demands the loyalty and support of all. Divided by pride, fear, prejudice, or hatred, we cannot survive; united by a common love of country and independence, we can surmount all obstacles, brave all dangers, in order to secure peace, liberty, and justice.
The Republic also needs and demands a firm and resolute faith;—faith in our ability to govern and maintain ourselves, faith in our destiny as a nation which shall stand on its own feet without undue dependence on any other. I appeal to those among us who are weakened and distracted by fears, doubts, and hesitations, to face the future with confidence that, whatever happens the Filipino people will not be abandoned by Divine Providence so long as we keep in our hearts a pure and undying faith in our right to be free and have a share in the peace, progress, and prosperity of the world. Let us not be blinded to the urgent and imperative tasks of our own nation by torturing and futile speculation on the fortunes of war and the shape of the world to come. The life of our people and of our Republic cannot wait for these decisions to be made. The part of courage, wisdom, and virtue is to do our duty now, to survive, to rule ourselves as best we can, meeting future problems when they come and only then. The Constitution of the Republic has wisely left the way open for all eventualities and emergencies; it avows itself as merely a provisional instrument ready to be changed or modified to suit the requirements, needs, or aspirations of the people after the conclusion of this decisive war. Thus we are ready to face and overcome the future if only we have and keep faith in ourselves; if only we have firm and resolute confidence in our strength, ability, and destiny as a people who have survived four centuries until this glorious day.
Finally the Republic needs and demands sincere understanding of the responsibilities and obligations of independence. I, therefore, appeal to all my fellow-citizens to consider well that they have duties as well as rights, and that in like manner the Republic has responsibilities as well as privileges. I appeal to them to cast aside all ideas that independence means isolation, selfishness, exclusion, or any of the blind excesses of misunderstood nationalism. We do not and we cannot live alone in this world; as President Laurel said so aptly and concisely in his inaugural address, we must live and help live. We must live as good neighbors in this region of the world where Divine Providence has placed us, seeking our own security and prosperity in the security and prosperity of the other nations of East Asia and of the world. Apart from the sacred ties of gratitude that bind us to the liberator of the Oriental nations, the Great Japanese Empire intelligent and laudable self-interest should move us to help it to establish a New Order of co-existence and co-prosperity in East Asia which will be the surest refuge and protection of our own happiness and welfare. To that end the Constitution proclaims the desire of the Filipino people to contribute to the establishment of a new world order of peace, liberty, and moral justice. To that end we must now as a Republic and as individual citizens, exert every effort to secure harmonious cooperation with our brothers in the Orient.
All this is required to make our Republic a success: unity, faith, understanding, and our unstinted labor and support. But I know I need not urge you to give your all to the cause of our freedom and independence. I know that as worthy descendants of those noble martyrs and heroes of our past, you will render utter loyalty and utmost service to the independent and sovereign government of our Republic and its great President, Dr. Jose P. Laurel. I know that you will respect and obey our Constitution, and that you will defend it and make it work with wisdom and virtue for the welfare of our people, so that our beloved country may rightly use its independence to attain its proper place in the concert of free and happy nations.
Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library