1971 State of the Nation Address (SONA) – The Democratic Revolution
His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
To the Congress
On the State of the Nation
[Delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila, January 25, 1971]
“The Democratic Revolution”
Once again I come to this Congress to report on the state of the nation.
I have come to you through the streets of Manila where a great number of our people are lined up, not in destructive violence, not in arrogance nor in boorishness, but in quiet appeal to the leaders of the nation. Thousands are outside this hall. They are our people. They demand to be heard—indecorum and in sobriety. They cry for change—peacefully. They mount a revolution, but not with arms. They demand a revolution in the tradition of our democracy. They fight a democratic revolution.
They have asked me to come to speak to you today, now, before it is too late, about their dreams and aspirations.
So I come to speak of a society that is sick, so sick that it must either be cured and cured now or buried in a deluge of reforms.
We, who lead this nation, must now recognize the roots of our disappointments. We are a developing nation in a world divided between rich and poor. And all our dreams and sacrifices have been mocked by a system which permits the few to exercise irresponsible power over the many.
If this observation of our society be true—and I believe it is true—we can no longer achieve so much merely to survive. This brutal pattern in which time and circumstance make a mockery of our heroic efforts must now be broken. For survival is no longer enough for our people. They want—and they deserve—more.
We live, work, and die in a democratic political system corrupted by a social and economic order that is best described as oligarchic. When economic power, driven only by the pursuit of gain, encroaches on political power—the power of the people because it is accountable to the people—then we have a system that permits the rule by the few for the few.
For too long has political power virtually been the handmaiden of economic power.
We talked with the people gathered outside this hall. They demand the eradication of the iniquities of our society. They seek the restructuring of the social order and they will not accept posturings or pious protestations.
Yes, in the past we encouraged investment, and in the future we shall continue to do likewise. We shall give incentives to the exploitation of natural resources. We must develop both agriculture and industry. This we have done in accordance with the program of social and economic development.
When the “economic royalists” prove to be insatiable, when they use the combination of media and economic power to coerce and intimidate the duly elected leaders of the people and to advance their privileges and financial gains, there is no course left but to eradicate them.
It may be the duty of a democratic President to reconcile the few who are rich with the many who are poor. But if the oligarchs would be adamant and block the progress of the many, I shall gladly break with the few, no matter how powerful and wealthy they might be, to fight for the many.
If all our leaders, past and present, must stand accused before the people, let it be so. But we in the present leadership cannot shirk our responsibility. The time has come to redress the balance on the side of the people. We lead in a time of peril—but of rare opportunity.
We must act—we must change—now.
A New Orientation
I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen of this Congress, this new orientation of leadership. In exposing to you the oligarchic element in our free society, I ask for no punitive measures, but a rectification of a social and economic order that has prejudiced popular hopes and expectations. Punitive measures will only hurt the few without helping the many. We shall move, ladies and gentlemen, to harmonize—and not to alienate—the classes of our society; but this can only be achieved by ending privilege and the exercise of irresponsible power.
The illness of our society is aggravated by agitators who would make us so enamored of equality that we would prefer to be equal in slavery rather than unequal in freedom. But despite the demagogues and charlatans, the social unrest is so immensely real that nothing less than the restructuring of the social order is imperative beginning this year.
For the oligarchy is not impressed by social unrest; it uses it instead to manipulate power and influence. While this government has the means to check the oligarchs, only new laws can guarantee that they will never again impose their will on a free people.
This leadership is not under any illusion that such an objective is easily achieved. It may take generations to do so. But we must start now. Frictions will arise. But I am determined that these frictions will not divide the nation into hostile camps.
It is imperative, therefore, that we unite in a common endeavor. Neither shouting in the streets nor inflammatory rhetoric can solve our problems. Let us speak softly, if insistently, so that we may hear and speak to one another. Those who will destroy us will keep on shouting; they will intensify the agitation; but we who have a stake in freedom—in our democratic system—have an obligation to reason together, to work together, in the spirit of unity.
The Three Main Developments of 1970
The year 1970 was marked by three developments or series of events. The first were the steps taken to maintain monetary stability, which culminated with the discarding of the old legal foreign rates of exchange and the adoption of a floating rate. The second was the new militancy of almost all elements of our society in registering their protest against existing evils of the social order and demanding reforms. The third was a series of natural calamities which resulted in damage of about P614 million, without taking into consideration the expected income out of the capital investments that were destroyed.
This series of events limited and guided governmental policy, as well as its implementation in the year 1970, and will continue to do so not only in 1971 but also in the years to come.
Towards a democratic revolution, which alone can forge a strong and enduring unity of our nation, I propose that we think and act boldly but with maturity in 1971.
For the year 1971 is the year of reorientation to a true democratic revolution.
It is the year for the reorientation of our foreign policy.
And it is the year for the reorientation of domestic policy to restructure the social order.
We must reorient foreign policy to gain new friends while we strengthen the ties with our old ones.
We must reorient domestic policy so we may return dignity and power to the people—the peasant, the laborer, the employee, and worker—without wrecking the gains of investment. This needs more statesmanship than the first.
For too long have we used Western methods for our Asian problems. Now we must adopt a Filipino or Asian approach to them.
When we speak of employment, we speak in alien terms of the huge factories and manufacturing centers. Now let us talk of the Asian way of small family-level manufacturers or producers with a central management, financing, marketing, and direction.
We must now change gears in the economic vehicle. The year 1970 was a year of consolidation and stabilization. Although we continue to pursue these efforts, we must now not only consolidate or stabilize but pick up speed and move forward. Undoubtedly, 1970 was a difficult year both for capital and labor. But we moved forward.
Now let us push this momentum of progress further.
In further extending additional credit while attending to more consolidation and stabilization effort, we must continue to move towards the dream of a balanced agro-industrial economy.
In short, we can look forward to some relaxation of credit. Both the public and private sectors will have more money to spend this year.
However, the primary policy change will be a redirection towards more productive undertaking. Historians will probably give this redirection more importance than other policies of government.
The Scarcity of Money but Overproduction in Some Industries
In some industries like cement, on which the total exposure of government is about P900 million, there has been delinquency in the payments of amortization and indebtedness to some government institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines, notwithstanding the existence of huge inventories of stockpiled production which cannot be sold in the open market. In order to give a push to economic activity in this area, we have instituted a linkage arrangement under which these debtor corporations can offset their indebtedness to DBP by delivering goods for public projects. Under this system, the debtor corporations pay the Development Bank of the Philippines in goods which they cannot sell. These goods, for example, cement, are then utilized by government for projects that have been stalled by the lack of supplies and funds.
The experiment seems to have succeeded, and it is my intention that we pursue this ingenious method of breaking the vicious cycle of overproduction, huge inventories, and scarcity of funds of debtor corporations.
As a result of the 20 typhoons that visited our country in 1970, especially Typhoon Yuling’ and Typhoon Sening,’ there has been a marked increase of prices, even of domestic commodities like eggs, vegetables, and poultry. I have ordered immediate implementation of the Agricultural Recovery Program and released P35 million for it.
As part of the crusade against oppressive monopolies and combinations, it is my hope to stabilize rates and prices in public utilities.
Typhoon Damage to Exports
The typhoons, especially Typhoon Yuling and Typhoon Sening, have wiped out 10% of our coconut plantations. We will lose a corresponding amount in our coconut export and dollar earnings. We must now recover this through the other industries, such as mining, etc. Accordingly, we will encourage and support the development of the mining industry, including oil exploration.
Part of the cause of the tensions that grip our country is the fear of unemployment. As I have said before on the use of Asian methods to solve Asian problems, we will now mobilize on a nationwide basis, both in the rural and the urban areas, the Filipino method of dispersed family producers with a central management, financing, and marketing direction.
This should be so massive that it will reach every home wherein there are idle hands.
The NACIDA and private sector operators will be the principal instrument of this massive, self-employment scheme.
One of the principal problems of production is the inadequacy of power. Only 6% of our people in the provinces have electricity; 14 out of 15 families live in darkness. We have initiated a cheap rural electrification program that must ultimately reach every comer of the country. For this program we will spend P600 million. The sources of funds for this program are reparations from Japan, U.S. Public Law 480, under USAID, and other sources of foreign financing. It is our hope that such machinery and equipment as can be produced locally can now be manufactured by Filipinos.
Jobs from Home Industries
Starting this year, we shall fully mobilize the potential of cottage industries for employment generation. To make these humble industries more economic and efficient, they should increasingly utilize centralized management, assembly, financing, and marketing. The NACIDA and the National Manpower and Youth Council shall collaborate in this field.
State Trading Corporation
I urge the immediate establishment of a State Trading Corporation to stabilize the prices of prime commodities within the reach of the masses by eliminating the middlemen.
I propose the establishment of a National Economic Development Authority to provide effective overall direction to the economy.
One of the principal reasons for the dramatic progress achieved by other countries, such as Japan and Germany, is the availability of highly skilled and educated manpower. The educational system in our country shall therefore now be reoriented to turn out graduates on the secondary and collegiate levels who are capable of meeting our requirements in industrialization and economic progress.
As I promised representatives of organized labor recently, I have set in motion decisive steps to regulate monopolies and curb monopoly practices. I therefore recommend the approval of antitrust legislation. I have also ordered a review of franchises and titles now being used to justify monopolistic practices which lead to heavier price burdens upon the poor. Moreover, I propose to make compliance with labor laws a precondition to the grant of loans by the government’s financial institutions.
I propose a land policy which will compel all landowners to develop their lands or forfeit all or portions of their lands for distribution to actual occupants. To this end, I also propose the revocation or cancellation of all titles and awards over big idle lands—if necessary, through an amendment to the Constitution.
I urge the establishment of a nationwide system of cooperative fanning under which lands acquired under the Land Reform Program shall be organized into large-scale farms owned communally or jointly by actual farmer-occupants.
Land for Small Settlers and Sacadas
I propose to launch a massive land distribution drive aimed at satisfying the hunger for land of our small settlers and members of the cultural minorities.
In the distribution or redistribution of public land in the future, we should give priority to the underprivileged workers, including migrant laborers—the “sacadas.” We should resist and stop the tendency to reproduce in public land areas the regressive and wasteful land tenure of traditional society. Our public land policy must be pegged to the goal of a broadly based, democratic land ownership.
Affluent Consumption Tax
I call for the imposition of a tax on affluent consumption. This shall include a progressive tax on luxury houses, cars, and other symbols of conspicuous consumption.
I propose a radical increase in inheritance tax to stop the perpetuation of unearned wealth in the hands of a few.
I propose a ban on the importation of luxury goods in order to conserve foreign exchange for development purposes.
I urge the creation of a national commission which shall supervise and regulate the importation of crude oil and the production and marketing of gasoline and other oil products in the national interest.
I call for a redirection of our public housing policy so that it will serve, above all, the working people. I urge the establishment of a national housing authority which shall undertake massive low-cost housing projects, resettle and rehabilitate squatter families, and assist in urban planning. The P150 million spent for housing loans by the SSS and an almost equal amount by the GSIS should now be spent for this purpose. I now propose that these amounts be rediverted to truly low-cost housing for laborers and employees. This will further give an impetus to economic activity.
I propose the creation of a fund for the Population Commission established in 1969 under an executive order to cope with the problems of population explosion.
In foreign affairs, the opening of trade and diplomatic relations with the USSR and with other Soviet bloc countries is only a matter of time. On the other hand, we are now engaged in a review of our relations with the United States of America to make them serve more fully the mutual interests of the two countries. This does not mean, however, that we have abandoned our fight against subversive communism inside our country. It is the principal enemy that slowly saps the vitality of our nation.
I propose the adoption of the recommendations of the Commission on Government Reorganization designed to restructure the administrative machinery of government and relate it to the urgent goals of development.
I propose to make permanent certain electoral reforms which were successfully tried in the last election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
I reiterate our policy of disbanding unlawful private armies which constitute a menace to the freedom and peace of mind of the citizenry.
III. REVIEW OF THE ECONOMY
The Year 1970
We started 1970 by adopting the free exchange rate.
This was dictated by the fact that we had begun to overtax our resources. As a people, we wanted to have the best of both worlds. We wanted to have development and to consume immediately its fruits. We imported too heavily, and the rich among us spent profligately out of the total foreign exchange capabilities of the country. The limit was reached in 1970. In February, a drastic decision had to be made to stabilize our economic position before it was further imperiled.
It was inevitable that the free exchange rate would be followed by an increase in prices. But this is a small, and temporary, sacrifice compared to the benefits that the economy has gained in just a year.
In spite of the economic difficulties faced by the economy in 1970, the country’s physical output of goods and services measured by the gross national product (GNP) valued in constant 1955 price continued to expand, although at a slower rate of 4.4% compared to the annual report.
Viewed against the Four-Year Development Plan target for Fiscal Year 1970, GNP at constant FY 1967 prices when converted to comparable fiscal year basis showed a growth rate of 5.2% as against the 5.0% called for in the plan. The GNP at constant FY 1967 prices actually reached level of P29,232 million in FY 1970, P60 million more than the target level of P29,172 million.
International Trade and Payments
We reduced imports by 6% and expanded exports by 21%; we cut our deficit on foreign trade payments from $263.8 million in 1969 to minimal $24.7 million in 1970. On the total foreign exchange payments, we were able to move from a net deficit of $67.7 million in 1969 to a surplus position of $110.7 million.
The net deficits of these magnitudes, of course, are a considerable increase of our total foreign exchange reserve position. Exclusive of Central Bank net borrowings of $83.5 million, the surplus for the year reached $27.2 million. The large government deficit for 1969, which had been necessitated by the requirements of our capital program, was turned into a cash surplus of P56 million for 1970. This was made possible by drastic expenditure cutbacks and new taxes.
Our tax performance for the year is a record that must be stressed, principally because of the passage of the export tax on principal traditional exports. In previous years, the average tax effort measured as a percent of our gross national product (GNP) has been in the order of 10 to 11% of the GNP. Anticipating the collections from the export tax by the end of the current fiscal year, we will raise the tax effort to 15% of the GNP, an impressive rate when compared to other countries. This, I must say, is an accomplishment that is to be shared with Congress.
Yet, in view of the disappearance of the export tax by 1974, this tax effort ratio will return to normal levels, thus necessitating a forward look into tax reform. For how else can we expect to finance the bulk of our development efforts with price stability if we do not raise the total tax effort permanently?
The year 1970 was therefore a year of consolidation. What have we to show for it?
We have climbed back from an extremely low point in the foreign exchange situation to a new plateau. At the end of 1970, our foreign exchange reserve reached $236.6 million compared to $125.9 million at the end of 1969, an increase of $110.7 million. This upward trend will continue. Our fiscal position, internally, is robust and strong as a result of living resolutely within our means, combining fiscal restraint with clear priorities, frugality, with efficiency.
The unprecedented damage caused by a series of natural disasters made the policy of consolidation even more necessary and urgent. Last year, 20 tropical cyclones visited the Philippines. The damage they wrought on public and private facilities, on farms, and on factories was estimated at P614.5 million. It is difficult at this point to predict accurately the effect of these calamities on our future economic performance. The damage to agriculture was estimated at P306.6 million and on manufacturing at P145.1 million. These disasters are therefore long shadows that dim the horizon of our economic future.
Nevertheless, the momentum of our advance, especially in agriculture, was so great that not even the series of typhoons and floods could set back our self-sufficiency in rice. You will doubtless recall that, following smaller calamities, other administrations would utilize large amounts of our foreign exchange earnings to finance the importation of rice. There would be long queues of people before rice stalls throughout the country. Fortunately, our agricultural policy was built so soundly, and the results were so successful that today, in the face of unforeseen disasters, we are not importing, and shall not import, rice at all. The rice revolution has been permanently won.
1970 is therefore also memorable as the year when the nation refused to knuckle down even under the weight of disasters whose total destructive power has no equal in our history.
In 1970, moreover, activism gathered unprecedented force among our people, notably among the youth. The disorder and violence that characterized not a few of the demonstrations which marked the growth of this activism have naturally compounded the problems and anxieties of the past year. Even so, my administration viewed the new militancy of our people not as an obstacle but as a catalyst of progress, and I have consequently encouraged peaceful demonstrations and similar expressions of honest dissent.
The year 1970 tested the competence of government to withstand crisis. I think we passed the test with honor and courage.
As I have said, we began the past year under heavy constraints obtaining from the balance of payments problem. The administration found it imperative, as the only means of solving this problem, to break away from the old export-import pattern. Accordingly, we sought early in the year to reorient the economy to exports and thereby bring an end to the vicious cycle of increasing imports and decreasing exports. This we did by allowing the peso to seek its own level in relation to the dollar.
The introduction of the “floating rate” in February 1970 definitely favored the growth of exports in the succeeding months. Total exports increased by 11.1% from $839 million in FY 1969 to $932 million in FY 1970. But to indicate the fuller effects of this exchange rate reform, our exports for the year 1970 over 1969 expanded by 21% to a record level of $1,015 million.
Imports, on the other hand, fell from $1,169 million to $1,104 in FY 1970, or a decrease of 5.5%. Relative to plan estimates, exports for 1970 were lower by only 0.3% while imports were higher by 0.8%. At the end of 1970, imports were $1,039.5 million, some $65 million less than the 1969 level.
As originally designed, the floating exchange rate system effected significant adjustments in the levels of production and investment than otherwise could have been possible under full-blown import and exchange controls. In the long run, the adjustments brought about by the exchange rate reform constitute a necessary step in realizing all the major incentive forces that propel our economy.
The Central Bank foreign currency deposit plan, inaugurated on August 1, 1970, under Circular No. 304, elicited $34 million in deposits by year-end.
Overall repayments on principal on Philippine external debt totaled $514 million; Central Bank, plus drawing from IMF—$124 million; private sector—$274 million; and government—$116 million—equivalent to 28% of our total foreign exchange receipts. Indeed this level of debt servicing would not have been possible had it not been for the accelerated recovery experienced by the economy in the external payments position.
However, the country, despite massive repayments on public and private external debt, operated within its own resources for the first time in four years.
The Consultative Group
During the last year of the first Four-Year Development Program, notwithstanding the fact that we exceeded its most important targets, it became clear that massive foreign support was necessary if the momentum we had gained was to continue.
Consequently, we turned to our traditional partners for this support, but we were told that we had been too ambitious.
As part of the consolidation effort that I have just spoken of, we sought, through preliminary talks in Paris in October last year, foreign assistance in underwriting part of the cost of the current development program. Out of these talks, we hope to obtain trade credits under the auspices of the World Bank equivalent to $350 million, on a long-term basis. Under our proposed arrangement with a consultative group of countries, we hope to obtain equipment and supplies for our development program under trade credits; $200 million of the loan will be utilized for the public sector, and $150 million for the private sector.
Manufacturing and Mining
As we anticipated, the manufacturing sector slowed down in 1970. From an average of 4.7% annual growth rate during the past three years, the growth was 2%. The decrease in the growth of manufacturing is temporary as it is the net effect of the shifting composition of industrial output brought about by the exchange rate reform.
This is a direct but temporary result of the decision to float the peso and the attempt to restructure the economy. The floating rate discouraged importation of production materials. The shift in investment from consumer goods to capital goods also contributed to this slump.
The mining sector, on the other hand, being an export-oriented industry, benefited from these measures. It achieved a record production value of more than P1,800 billion during the year, representing a considerable growth rate of 48.0%. This is approximately 45 percentage points higher than the 1969 production value increments which is a mere 2.23%.
We are about to launch the preparatory phase of oil exploration in our territory. The concerted efforts of both the government and the private sectors make us optimistic that oil will be struck in the Philippines soon.
Prospects for 1971
The past year was tight for capital and labor. Natural calamities and an enforced exchange reform added rising prices to our difficulties.
Yet, in the face of all this, we managed to exceed our reduced growth target for 1970, and indications are that we shall still closely match our target for 1971.
With adequate gains achieved in solving the basic balance of payments problem, the relatively smaller foreign debt service burden, the cooperation forged among different government institutions through activation of the Financial and Fiscal Policy Committee and, finally, with the statutory guidelines and safeguards under the Export Tax Law and Republic Act No. 6142, along with the positive inducements under the various investments incentives laws, the outlook for 1971 appears brighter than the prospects that faced the economy at the beginning of 1970.
The damage of the strong 1970 typhoons on our coconut and abaca crops is substantial and will adversely affect export earnings from our coconut and abaca products this year and the next two years. The bulk of the damage is principally confined to the Bicol region, which suffered the force of the heaviest typhoons. Without improvement of cultivation in other coconut planting regions, the coconut crop damage can shrink output by about 10 to 15% this year.
An aggravating factor in the export trade picture is the recent decrease in the world price of copper, another one of our major export products.
Several factors account, however, for a more optimistic assessment of the export picture in 1971.
First is principally the “floating rate” itself, which assures favorable peso prices for all our traditional and new export products.
Second is the approval of the First Export Priorities Plan, which gives added impetus to our export development program, emphasizing new products.
Third, while the remarkable export expansion of 1970 was due largely to the favorable incentives of the floating rate to all export sectors with existing export capacity, the actual export response of new industries will become more felt this year.
Fourth, damage to permanent crops, like coconuts, can be made up in large part by more modern methods of fertilizer application in Mindanao, which now accounts for a substantial output. Indeed, an agricultural revolution in coconut crops will be partly aided by favorable prices now being enjoyed by coconut farmers.
Thus, a changing composition of our exports, making fuller use of our abundant labor resources from industry, land from agriculture, and new minerals from our mountains, is expected in 1971.
Total Development Picture
Taking into account all factors that would affect the balance of payments—continued supervision over credit and money supply; prudent fiscal policy discipline on imports and foreign exchange disbursements; prospects of expanding the export base; the 1970 typhoons; the drop in copper prices in the world market; the growth targets of the Four-Year Development Plan; and the comparatively lighter debt service burden in 1971—it is reasonable to expect that the country will continue to realize a surplus in its balance of payments this year with a gain ranging from a low of $30 million to a high of $70 million.
The following problems persist, however, underscoring the need for continued discipline, caution, and dedicated effort:
- the stabilization of domestic prices adversely affected by the typhoons and floods during the latter part of 1970;
- current agitation for increased wages, as evidenced by the high rate of strike notices;
- the country must still accumulate foreign exchange reserves to cushion the economy from short-run and periodic reverses in its international transactions;
- continued pressure for intensified government support for rehabilitation and essential services, in the face of difficulties in providing commensurate revenues;
- the need to support without resort to inflationary sources the restoration of damaged productive facilities of the private sector, agriculture, as well as manufacturing and bring them back to normal capacity and maximum employment;
- the need to stem the tide of the continued inflow of unnecessary luxury goods which have persistently compounded the nagging problem of a continued drain on the country’s foreign exchange—there is no recourse but for all of us to discipline ourselves from indulging in things foreign and nonessential; to this end, therefore, I am proposing the total banning of the importation of luxury goods with very limited exceptions as in the case of the needs of the tourist trade.
Philippine tourism has grown consistently during the last decade. In 1970, the number of tourists was 144,071 or 16.8% more than in 1969. The normal yearly growth is only 12%. With more favorable conditions for international tourism in 1971, the influx of tourists will definitely be larger.
Our tourist receipts amounted to $9.726 million in 1960 and $27.069 million in 1969. In 1970, an increase of 17% over 1969 was registered, making tourism seventh among the country’s top dollar earners.
IV. FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Foreign policy arises directly out of the requirements of national growth security.
The national interest still is the guiding principle in determining our relations with other countries. Accordingly, for the purpose of widening the opportunities of diversified trade, we must now open our doors to other countries, to the Soviet Union and Socialist countries in Eastern Europe which comprise huge untapped markets for Philippine products. In the past, we hesitated to open trade with these countries due to a lack of comprehensive knowledge as well as the procedures in carrying out trade with these countries.
The new developments around us forcefully compel us to remember that we do not live in a static universe. On the contrary, we live in a world of dynamic change.
While the national interests remain constant, the means for realizing them or for insuring their realization require periodic modification in the light of this condition.
In consonance with the foregoing, we will begin opening our doors lo other countries. We shall do so with open eyes, watchful of dangers but alert to opportunities which serve me national interest.
In my view, the most important developments of the past year in Southeast Asia are the following—the decreasing American presence in Asia, the assumption by Japan of a more active economic role in Asia, the fresh diplomatic offensive by the People’s Republic of China, and the intensification of regional cooperation among the smaller powers in Southeast Asia.
Vast new forces are at work in Asia today. Although the full implications of the new developments are not yet clear, they bolster our belief that a process of change is under way which will radically alter our traditional view of our part of the world.
Accordingly, the principal aim of Philippine foreign policy in 1971 is to seek an accommodation with reality. Realism will be the hallmark of our foreign policy. The objectives are to augment and to diversify relations with other countries, where we feel that such will promote the national interest; and to seek new friends while strengthening ties with old ones.
A far-reaching review of relations with the United States is being undertaken.
An old principle which governs relations among mature nations should continue to form the basis of Philippine-American relations—the principle of equality and mutuality.
The Philippine technical panel will meet with the representatives of the United States for the long-awaited revision of the Bases Agreement. I also expect the formal review to signal the beginning of negotiations, leading to a treaty on economic relations to replace the Laurel-Langley Agreement and in conformity with the enlightened principles of the Charter of Algiers.
At the same time, we have begun exploring the possibilities of diplomatic and trade relations with the Soviet Union and the Socialist countries of Eastern Europe.
Two considerations compel us to take these steps. The first is the urgent need to intensify our export outlets. The second is the recognition of the fact that we have, ever since we became an independent country, steadily closed our eyes to the existence of the sixth-of-the-world which is Socialist.
The Soviet Union and the Socialist countries of Eastern Europe comprise a huge untapped market for Philippine products, as well as an important source of industrial development funds. In the past, we hesitated to open relations with these countries due to lack of comprehensive knowledge of the Socialist market as well as of the procedures of Socialist trade. Studies have now remedied this lack.
Japan’s role in Asia is increasing. A policy of friendship, resulting in mutual benefit, will further enhance the warm relations which exist between the Philippines and Japan.
Our immediate concern is the normalization of economic relations. Pending the signing of a treaty of amity, the Philippines and Japan have negotiated many economic agreements. But the signing of that treaty remains an important objective.
The rise of regional organizations in Asia is one of the key developments in the area. First of all, I regard regional organizations as a means of achieving the individual national objectives of the members of the organizations. Secondly, successful regional organizations make strong contributions to the political and economic stability of the region.
For these reasons, I have given the utmost support to the ASPAC and the ASEAN. In particular, I urge today an intensification of the activities of the ASEAN. I look forward to the adoption of the proposal for an ASEAN Development Decade on the model of the worldwide development decade initiated by the United Nations. This would mean a more concentrated effort in reaching the elusive but paramount goal of raising the living standards of the peoples of the region.
I feel also that proposals for an ASEAN payments union should be pushed beyond the agreement-in-principle stage. Similarly, the project for the establishment of trade centers in the capitals of the member-countries should be implemented as soon as possible.
Finally, I touch upon the Philippine participation in the United Nations. Our commitment to the ideals of the world organization is of long standing. We remain committed to those ideals. In proof of this, the Philippine delegation, upon my express instructions, worked for the adoption of three significant resolutions. I regard this triumph as a measure of our constantly enlarging horizon. We are involved in the problems of humanity and must assume our just share of responsibility.
Since 1967, the second year of my first term, I have urged the return of the Sangley Point naval station and its facilities to the Philippine government. This will come about this year. The growing needs of the Philippine Navy required room for expansion. In the future, Sangley Point will serve, among other things, as the headquarters of the Philippine Navy and as a communication and ship repair center.
To cope with present and anticipated responsibilities, I have directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to undertake a continuing reorganization of both the Home Office and the overseas policies. Revitalized policies require a dynamic career corps.
Last year, we broke the backbone of the Huk or HMB movement in Central Luzon with the capture of Faustino del Mundo alias “Commander Sumulong” and Florentino Salac alias “Commander Fonting” and with the death of Pedro Taruc, HMB chief, during a gun battle with government troops.
Successes against the New People’s Army were likewise significant. We captured several top-ranking NPA commanders and forced that organization to go into further hiding. Our latest intelligence reports indicate a major dissension within its ranks arising from some failures of its leadership.
The Armed Forces likewise stepped up its drive last year against smuggling, carnapping, loose firearms, and general criminality. Total value of contraband cigarettes confiscated by the PC, Philippine Navy, and other commands totaled more than P7 million. Four hundred twenty-four stolen vehicles were discovered, while 175 carnapping cases were solved. A total of 2,839 loose firearms were collected. The Philippine Constabulary solved or filed in court about 4,580 cases.
The military excelled, too, in civic action and disaster control operations. Among the Armed Forces’ outstanding civic activities were those in health and sanitation, manpower training, infrastructure, resettlement programs, and food production. In the wake of destructive typhoons like typhoons Sening and Yuling, prompt rehabilitation was made possible by the speedy relief and rescue operations of the military in cooperation with civilian agencies.
As for the loyalty of the Army, I have never doubted the fidelity of the Armed Forces to their nation and to constituted authority. The Army will continue to be a steadfast ally in our march towards fulfillment.
V. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Philippine education must increasingly become an effective instrument of national development.
Within the context of our fast-changing society, many traditional social values are being replaced as a result of modernization. Cultural patterns are being questioned, and the great masses of people are impatient to acquire for themselves the finer things of life afforded by scientific and technological innovation.
I am convinced that our educational system must be relevant and responsive to the changing times. Every Filipino must be given the opportunity to acquire basic skills, qualities, and attitudes that would enable him to contribute to the improvement of our society.
Total enrolment this school year is at an all-time high of 10.2 million pupils and students. More than one out of every four Filipinos are in school, and our enrolment ratio in higher education remains the second highest in the world (1,500 per 100,000 population), exceeded only by the United States.
At this rate, the nation will have to provide 128,700,000 pupil-and-student-years of schooling in the 1970s compared to 73,100,000 pupil-and-student-years in the last decade. To support this huge educational effort, the country will have to spend, by 1975, no less than P2.8 billion annually.
Faced with the prospects of vast expenditures for education, mounting student unrest, and teacher restiveness, and the ever-increasing clamor by the general public for quality and relevance in our educational system, I created last year the Presidential Commission to Survey Philippine Education.
The commission conducted a thorough study of the following areas: educational administration, educational finance, logistics, higher education, curriculum, manpower development, science education, vocational-technical education, and teacher education.
Its findings confirm the existence of distortions in the manpower output of education, maldistribution of educational facilities among the various regions of the country, weaknesses in standards, and some irrelevance in content. In general, our educational system prepares pupils and students for the next higher grade in the system of training them for a worthwhile role in the national society.
It is evident that educational planning has been a weakness of our system. There is a lack of clear definition in operational terms of education’s role in national development; the absence of long-range goals; setting performance targets for each operational component of the educational system; the absence of policy guidelines that define the proper function of each educational level or sector; the nature of the decision-making process of both individuals and educational institutions based more on free choice than on guided selection; and the disproportionate magnitude of educational responsibility relative to the economy’s capacity to support the corresponding requirements for educational services.
A comprehensive development plan is therefore badly needed. The objectives of education, in the context of planning requirements, need to be translated in more operational terms. At present, the objectives define a scope of responsibility that is not feasible for the educational system alone to achieve.
Pending the completion of this comprehensive development plan for long-term implementation, measures can be taken immediately to achieve some of the needed reforms of our educational system.
I have already issued the appropriate instructions to the Department of Education to revise all curricula in the elementary and secondary schools, in order to make the school experiences of pupils relevant to life in the community and to the needs of social and economic growth.
I have also authorized the design of project plans for long-term programs requiring external low-interest financing.
It is with abiding concern that I view the educational situation, for I believe that a democratic society can be strong and stable to the degree that its citizens are enlightened and are given the opportunities for occupational, social, and cultural expression. The development of the nation’s human resources is deserving of the highest priority in our scale. Education must continue to deserve the increasing investment of resources for its expansion and strengthening.
For instance, I propose that free education must eventually extend to high school students. I have decided to commend to Congress, to the Board of Education, and to the Department of Education the need to study how such a proposal can be fulfilled at the earliest possible time.
I view with no less concern the restiveness of our students and other young people. Many of their demands are valid and deserve our attention. I am convinced that our militant student and youth population constitutes a positive force for bringing about radical reforms in our society.
At this stage of our economic development, the need for middle-level manpower has become imperative. Technological education deserves to be given greater emphasis by providing training programs that are closely related to the needs of our economy. Incentives such as scholarships should be provided for those who have the aptitude for technological education. Accordingly, I am recommending a substantial increase in the funding of the State Scholarship Council.
In order to remedy the disparity between educational output and the demands of national development, I strongly propose that appropriate reforms at the level of higher education be given due consideration. I urge that there be more intensive efforts to prevent further increase of the educated unemployed as well as to enhance the quality of higher education through professionally designed accreditation schemes.
To revitalize our higher institutions of learning, I propose to the Constitutional Convention that academic freedom be guaranteed to all universities, public and private.
1970 was a dynamic and fruitful year in the field of labor.
Despite the impact of stabilization measures, like the floating rate and the new minimum wage law, industrial peace remained relatively stable. Only 87 cases out of 1,021 strikeable labor disputes exploded into actual strikes. As the year closed, labor-management relations had largely adjusted to the changes brought about by the floating rate and the new minimum wage law. Barring the rise of new disruptive factors, I expect greater stability in industrial relations this year.
The Department of Labor helped in the negotiation of 206 collective bargaining agreements providing more than P101 million in additional wages and benefits for more than 41,000 workers all over the country.
Organized labor achieved new gains. Some 436 new unions embracing 71,000 workers were organized. Agricultural workers and college and university professors represent the biggest segments of this new accretion to organized labor.
The enforcement of labor and social laws was pursued more vigorously than ever. Through regular and special labor law enforcement drives, the Department of Labor caused the restitution of about P6,000,000 to 19,792 workers, representing underpayment or nonpayment of wages, overtime, and other benefits assured by law to the workers. Most of the beneficiaries are employed in the sugar industry, in the logging industry, and in service and retail establishments.
New measures were undertaken to protect migrant workers, especially the sacadas in the sugar industry. The Department of Labor now operates regional employment offices in Panay and Negros islands, which closely supervise the activities of labor contractors and the movements of migrant workers. Labor contractors are now required to file cash and surety bonds, of which P281,500 has been filed covering 13,079 sacadas. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the labor contractors.
Moreover, the labor department policed more closely the recruitment of Filipinos for overseas employment as well as the entry of prearranged employees, resulting in the filing of criminal charges against unscrupulous recruiters.
Also in line with the policy of maximum protection for the workers, 20,000 workmen’s compensation cases were decided last year, resulting in the payment of P21,209,975 to claimants all over the country.
We maintained our position as a major voice in Asian labor affairs, and reinforced further our bonds with the International Labor Organization. The ILO area office in Manila, established in late 1969, has been working actively in collaboration with the Department of Labor and the National Manpower and Youth Council.
The Department of Labor continued to protect 61,000 Filipino workers in U.S. military bases in the Philippines and 16,000 Filipino workers in U.S. military bases in the Philippines and 16,000 Filipino overseas workers in U.S. bases in the Pacific area through active supervision of the two RP-U.S. base labor agreements.
To offset the adverse effects of the floating rate upon the workers, we have caused the enactment of a new minimum wage law, raising the base pay from P6 to P8 for industrial workers and from P3.50 to P4.75 for agricultural workers. Moreover, the Department of Labor helped our workers in adjusting their wages to the floating rate through free collective bargaining.
Dollar Repatriation Program
To cope with new price fluctuations and to help hasten industry-wide collective bargaining, I have constituted the Wage Commission envisioned in the new minimum wage law. This commission will adjust minimum wages by industry as the need arises.
Our foreign exchange reserves received a substantial boost with the implementation of the dollar repatriation program. Total receipts under the program during the year 1970 alone reached $163.048 million. This includes the dollar salary remittances of some 16,000 Filipino workers in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, expenditures of the U.S. government in the Philippines, and dollar proceeds of “lipsticked” U.S. treasury warrants received by Filipino pensioners.
A significant contribution to this program is the Dollar Deposits Plan under Central Bank Circular No. 304. Total deposits made in authorized agent banks under this plan has reached $39.2 million as of December 28, 1970. Many of the estimated 250,000 Filipinos in the United States, Canada, Hawaii, and other countries were reported as having made substantial contributions.
The progress of the dollar repatriation program launched in late 1968 may be credited in part to the efforts of a special mission charged with its promotion and implementation, and also to the growing confidence in our banking system of our countrymen in foreign lands.
Proposals in Labor Policy
In the interest of social justice and industrial peace, I propose the following:
- The consolidation of the Court of Industrial Relations and the Court of Agrarian Relations. This will make the operation of the two courts not only more economical but also more responsive to the needs of the working masses.
- The enactment of a law authorizing Department of Labor lawyers to prosecute violations of labor laws in courts. This will fix responsibility in the prosecution of labor cases, which is now shared by the fiscals of the Department of Justice and lawyers of the Department of Labor.
- The transfer to the Department of Labor of original and exclusive jurisdiction over all union representation cases. This will facilitate action on cases of interunion rivalries, which account for more than 45% of all strikes and other labor disputes.
- The creation of a workers’ bank to accommodate the special credit requirements of our workers which are beyond the scope of ordinary banks.
- The establishment of an unemployment insurance system to be administered jointly by the Department of Labor, the SSS, and the GSIS.
- The establishment of a Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.
- The enactment of a law regulating casual employment, the use of contract workers, and stopping the abuse of apprenticeship and leadership to circumvent labor social laws.
- The establishment of regional labor relations offices in centers of organized labor in the Visayas and Mindanao.
- The establishment under the Department of Labor of a public defenders office in every city and province.
During this year, we shall initiate major moves to accelerate low-cost housing for the workers of our country.
Current estimates are that the total need for housing ranges from 300,000 to 400,000 units each year, whereas only 15,000 to 30,000 units are being supplied.
In the Four-Year Development Plan, we have programmed the production of about 13,000 resettlement lots, the construction of over 10,000 dwelling units, and the distribution of about 6,000 urban lots, as well as the construction of about 38,000 units to be financed from the GSIS, SSS, and DBP housing loans. This four-year program will benefit only 67,000 families, which is still short of the estimated urban housing requirement even for only one year. This is so because the program is based on the current capabilities of implementing agencies and the funds usually made available to the housing sectors. It should now be revised.
I have increased this potential by making available about 3,000 hectares of land in Montalban for housing and resettlement capable of accommodating at least 50,000 families. I have also directed the GSIS, the SSS, and the DBP to concentrate their investible funds on mass housing projects for our workers. For this purpose, these agencies are to give priority to the development of government-owned lands so as to keep costs to a minimum.
There should be a simultaneous effort to attract private capital to invest in housing.
To this end, I propose to establish a workable secondary mortgage market which would allow private long-term housing mortgage loans without restricting liquidity. Indirect subsidies shall be extended by the government to maintain interest rates at a level within the reach of the low-wage earner. At the same time, this subsidy will allow investors reasonable returns for their investments. These measures shall be supplemented by the establishment of a Housing and Urban Development Fund which I also propose to this Congress. The funds shall be constituted mainly from (1) an employer’s payroll tax subject to a compensating tax credit should the employer invest in company housing: (2) an employee’s refundable assessment; (3) a progressive tax on high-cost dwelling; (4) a special tax on idle urban lands; and (5) a special housing development tax which is merely an extension of the present science tax. These taxes are expected to generate about P170 million in the first year and as much as P350 million by the 10th year.
As a major part of our employment promotion strategy, we quickened the pace of national manpower and out-of-school youth training in 1970. This was a priority program we launched in 1967 to train and develop human resources, and which we have since transformed into a nationwide program.
For FY 1969-1970, the National Manpower and Youth Council trained 98,098 unemployed young adults and out-of-school youths in a wide range of occupational skills; 75 to 85% of these graduates have found employment or have become self-employed.
We have trained 3,874 employed industrial workers under special programs for in-plant training, skills upgrading, supervisor, and trainer training.
We are now building the NationalManpowerSkillsCenter in Taguig, Rizal, to train vocational instructors and trainers. The center will be operational around the middle of this year. Training tools and equipment for the center, worth $50,000, have been received from the UNDP/ILO.
In addition to its routine functions, the National Manpower and Youth Council also conducted 15 special projects in conjunction with either private or public agencies. A total of 3,481 trainees have been trained in these special projects.
At the same time, we conducted surveys on the training needs of both the public and private sectors.
This year we will modify our accelerated manpower training program. I want the National Manpower and Youth Council to turn out better trained people.
I hereby direct the National Manpower and Youth Council to redesign the accelerated manpower program to make it more relevant and responsive to the needs of industry and the national economy.
To realize these goals, I propose the strengthening of the council through the creation of regional offices in 13 regions throughout the country to coordinate the activities of training centers and to assist the local manpower youth committees.
I also propose the expansion of the NationalManpowerSkillsCenter to upgrade further the skills of experienced workers in all sectors of industry.
To make the employment of our trained manpower easier, we shall establish more regional and provincial employment offices this year.
In my State of the Nation message last year, I said that the prospects for our economic development suffered from an exploding population.
The problem is still very much with us. But our population planning program has so succeeded that we can look with optimism to the future.
Since the Presidential creation of the Commission on Population in February 1970, the number of family planning clinics has gone up from 240 to 700. The female participants in our family planning program rose from 10,000 to about 350,000.
The Philippines now has a population of about 37,800,000. We are the 15th largest country in the world in terms of population and seventh largest among developing countries. We contain 1% of the world’s population and 1.8% of that of Asia.
The Philippine population is now growing at an annual rate of 3%. This implies a doubling of the number of people in less than 22 years. The stresses on the social and economic fiber of the nation will be tremendous. Gigantic efforts to meet the geometrically rising requirements of the masses will have to be made—in the areas of housing, employment, education, food production, medical care, and essential public services. The pace of our development dictates that we adopt a genuine family planning program.
I ask Congress to enact a law setting up a commission on population to place our family planning program on a sustained and permanent basis.
The administration of justice is not simply a matter of law but also of social behavior. Although legally, all men are equal, the principle of equality is so distorted in reality that we are often appalled by the difference.
It cannot be denied that no matter how noble in their conception, some of our laws have been perverted in practice so that a few can aggrandize themselves at the expense of the many. I remember the civic-minded couple in Davao del Norte against whom an injunction was issued by a court over a barricade established in their own property and for which they were imprisoned for contempt of writ. The case of Datu Ma Falen is another proof of this perversion of a law. The reservation in which Ma Falen and his people lived had been assimilated into a public land award and therefore the tribe had to fight back. The law was on the side of Ma Falen’s enemies, technically. But in this case, the law was harsh, inhuman, antisocial, and ultimately, divisive of the nation. In the past year, fortunately, we acted just in time to remedy such abuses against several cultural minorities, who, as a result, have been restored to their patrimony as well as to their confidence in the government.
The law must continue to grow in both flexibility and wisdom. But above all, it must increasingly be attuned to the real needs and aspirations of the masses of the people.
We achieved a minor reform in the judicial system in 1970 by cutting down the time it takes to finish criminal cases in the courts of first instance to a little more than three months. As a result, the nationwide backlog of cases has been considerably reduced.
The CFI managed to dispose of criminal cases in record time by holding daily hearings. Additional complements of district state prosecutors were assigned to special courts where the trial of a case, once started, is continuous until termination, with the decision rendered within the requisite 30-day period after submission.
We have also worked on the speedy disposition of criminal cases involving the taking of human life. We discouraged postponements of hearings while at the same time giving adequate protection consistent with the requirements of due process. It is hoped that this step will reduce the incidence of murder and homicide.
The Department of Justice in 1970 also launched “Operations Search Warrant” to protect our people from abuse, harassment, or criminal acts by public servants or private persons in the application or issuance of search warrants.
There was speedier prosecution of cases involving smuggling, carnapping, election protests, and crimes against national security.
Internal reforms were undertaken in the Justice Department and the judiciary. In a precedent-setting action, a judicial supervisor was assigned to prosecute a complaint against a municipal judge. The department also speeded up action on administrative cases against judges and fiscals. A number of district and municipal judges and fiscals were dismissed. The department adopted the policy of denying transfers on promotions to district judges responsible for the heavy backlog in their salas.
In Congress, a number of “justice-for-the-poor” bills were enacted. Among these are laws eliminating the need for trial de novo and converting city and municipal courts into courts of record; creating additional new salas in the CFI; giving preference to criminal cases where the parties are indigents; dispensing with the requirements of bail, subject to certain exemptions.
On the justice front, we also secured the following gains last year: the NBI coordinated with the Bureau of Lands to unearth anomalous payroll and travelling accounts running into millions of pesos, and to charge the culprits; the Public Service Commission gave reasonable relief to distressed public services as a result of increased costs insuring quality of public service; the Code Commission completed the new proposed Penal Code; the Office of Agrarian Counsel succeeded in preventing the ejectment of tenant-farmers in Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and Rizal; and the Court of Agrarian Relations achieved a record high in the number of cases handled and disposed.
I propose the enactment of a probation law that will enable our society to take advantage of extramural treatment as a correctional tool. All progressive systems of criminal rehabilitation have provided for a system of probation, and it is time we did the same. I therefore ask Congress to approve House Bill No. 4614 which provides for an adult probation system.
I propose the creation of a maximum security prison for dangerous prisoners in the Bureau of Prisons. A youth institution for offenders from the age of 16 to 21 and a reception and diagnostic center should be established. There is an urgent need to increase the per capita expense on prisoners and to establish regional penal institutions. We should increase the number of prison guards and at the same time establish an institution to house detention prisoners.
In the Public Service Commission, it is recommended that the PSC have an office in every region for more effective supervision and collection of fees. A field examination unit should be created to examine books of accounts. The PSC should be provided a staff of engineers to determine the value of the property and equipment of public services.
In the Board of Pardon and Parole, it is recommended that the board have direct supervision over all parolees to do away with the practice of municipal and city judges undertaking such supervision.
In the Anti-Dummy Board, it is recommended that amendatory legislation be provided for the inclusion of antidummy cases within the jurisdiction of the circuit criminal courts.
I propose the establishment of more branch offices in the Court of Industrial Relations. Additional funds for its operations should also be provided.
We should also increase the appropriations for the Court of Agrarian Relations. To remedy the lack of competent special attorneys, the Secretary of Justice or the Agrarian Counsel should be given authority to transfer special attorneys in less active areas to districts where their services are direly needed.
In the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, I propose that the court be equipped with more technical assistants, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage counselors, and social workers.
Last year, the Department of Social Welfare trained out-of-school youths in 31 community centers for leadership and community welfare work; extended direct services to 31,625 youths and students in depressed urban areas; provided emergency relief to 4,500,000 victims of different disasters; implemented the social action program on the barrio level to bring social services to the rural areas; gave assistance to 10,112 national minority families in Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Pampanga, Sulu, and Zambales through community development projects; resettled 13,150 squatter families in government relocation projects in Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan; distributed certified seeds, fertilizers, farm implements, and money to 18,000 families; and provided vocational rehabilitation for some 10,000 disabled men and women including recovered drug addicts, released prisoners, and negative hansenites.
The allocation and release of adequate funds will enable the Department of Social Welfare to decentralize fully its programs to regions, provinces, municipalities, and barrios so as to bring its services closer to the people in need and to hire additional social workers.
Despite drastic curtailment in resources, our achievements in community development have been outstanding. During 1970, some 87,865 self-help community projects worth P89,626,480 were undertaken by our rural folk themselves. This attests to the new achieving spirit now at work in 26,000 barrios all over the country.
On the other hand, 1,898 infrastructure projects valued at P11,771,826,000 were finished, benefiting 1,898,000 inhabitants. These projects include feeder roads, public markets, schoolhouses, gymnasia, rural electrification units, and others.
In the interest of food sufficiency, 942 food production projects were completed valued at P4,965,794 and benefiting 1,000,000 farmers.
In the field of health and sanitation, 644 community projects worth P6,792,226 were finished. These projects are now serving some 650,000 inhabitants in the rural areas.
To link our rural masses to the mainstream of ideas and events, we distributed 3,700 transistorized radio sets in our far-flung communities.
We shall continue the emphasis on community development this year, with special attention to impact-type development projects in our rural areas. The aim is to set the momentum for self-sustaining growth in our 26,000 barrios by mobilizing the creative will and energy of the rural folk themselves.
During the last five years, out of a total expenditure of P796 million, we were able to build 20,433 kilometers of roads and construct about 37,167 lineal meters of bridges. During the current year alone, when expenditures for highway projects totaled P147.2 million, some 4,820 kilometers of roads were constructed and improved, and permanent bridges with an aggregate length of 6,636 lineal meters were built.
Next fiscal year, we intend to step up the pace of road construction through the concrete-paving of 386 kilometers and asphalting of 406 kilometers of developmental and feeder roads, and the erection of 7,500 lineal meters of permanent bridges.
The focal point in next year’s program is the construction of the Philippine-Japan Highway Project stretching from Aparri, Cagayan, to DavaoCity which is covered by a $30-million loan from Japan.
Two other trunk roads of great economic value to Mindanao are also scheduled to be started next fiscal year; the General Santos-Cotabato and the Digos (Davao)-Cotabato City Road. The Asian Development Bank has recently approved a loan of $10.6 million for the first project, while the second project is now under study by the World Bank.
During the last five years, we spent about P27.8 million constructing or improving airports. This year, we have improved 870,000 square meters of runways, taxiways, and aprons in several airports by paving them with concrete or asphalt.
Next fiscal year, we plan to pave 492,000 square meters of airport space and to improve the facilities of the ManilaInternationalAirport to make it adequate for jumbo jets. We also plan to continue the installation of navigational facilities.
Next fiscal year, we shall put emphasis on the second phase of the nationwide telecommunications expansion and improvement project which will extend to other major cities and towns not covered by the backbone network completed in the first phase linking principal cities and towns. Another important project is the expansion of the Government Telephone System.
This year, we plan to extend the PHILCOMSAT’s capability by building another large disc antenna to permit operation with the satellite not only over the Pacific but also over the Indian Ocean to link our country to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and several other Asian countries.
Our target for the next fiscal year is to put 47,000 hectares of agricultural land under gravity and pump irrigation. The Upper Pampanga River Project, with an authorized loan of $34 million from the World Bank, has been started. When completed, it will provide year-round irrigation to 76,000 hectares in Central Luzon, aside from providing power, fish conservation, and recreation facilities. In Mindanao, preconstruction activities on the ADB-financedCotabatoRiver project are under way. Some 9,430 hectares of land in Cotabato and South Cotabato stand to benefit from the completion of this project which includes a hydropower plant.
In the last five years, we completed 18 foreign and 78 domestic ships’ berths, reclaimed 58 hectares of port area, built 77,632 square meters of cargo sheds, dredged 38.5 million cubic meters, and constructed 7,500 lineal meters of seawalls. Among the major facilities completed are Piers 3, 15, and the MarginalWharf of the Port, which was financed by a loan from the World Bank.
Next fiscal year, we intend to construct or improve the Port of Manila and at least 43 other national ports as well as 107 marginal ports, including the NavotasFisheriesPort, the ports of Davao, Iligan, and Batangas.
We feel that to minimize the destructive effects of recurrent floods in the Greater Manila area, a long-range integrated and rational flood control program should be evolved. Such a program was prepared last year. It will involve drainage mains, pumping stations, and related facilities. Flood control works including river walls, revetments, floodgates, and the Marikina division channel, and control facilities will also be undertaken. This long-range program will cost P300 million to be spread out over a 15-year period.
We have also adopted an interim program to provide for immediate relief to the flood problem in the area, involving primarily the dredging of esteros and repair of river walls, drainage mains, and pumping stations.
To solve the transportation problem of Greater Manila, we have undertaken a study of the mass transportation system in the area. To relieve the traffic problem and to promote the healthy development of Metropolitan Manila, we propose the creation of a Greater Manila Transport Authority which shall be responsible for the integrated planning and regulation of transport investments and operations in the area.
The many natural calamities experienced in 1970, particularly Typhoon Yuling, which left Manila in total darkness for several days, brought home to many of us who enjoy the comforts of urban life what 14 out of every 15 families in our rural areas go through in their everyday existence. It is because only 6% of our people in the rural areas have electricity that I have embarked on a new program of electrification that would provide area coverage and ultimately improve the total productivity of the Philippine countryside.
For this program, we will spend P600 million. We have allocated thereparations program from Japan, peso proceeds from U.S. Public Law 480, and other sources of foreign financing. Having identified this firm investment in rural electrification, as well as the various components that make up a complete electrification system, I call upon our Filipino entrepreneurs to help me sustain this program by manufacturing in the coming years the equipment and material requirements of this program.
I therefore recommend the enactment of bills creating special funds for our programs involving flood control in Greater Manila, portworks expansion, irrigation expansion, modernization of airport facilities, nationwide flood control, and forest resources development. These special funds will provide steady sources of financing for the projects, thus insuring their sustained implementation without depending too much on the General Fund which is also the source of financing other equally essential government services. Moreover, it is fell that special assessments levy on direct beneficiaries of projected improvements is directly related to the benefit principle of taxation.
I also propose legislative action calling for the creation of a telecommunications commission to absorb the present regulatory function of the Radio Control Office, establishment of a mass transit authority, amendment of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 917, and the passage of a synchronized public works bill for the implementation of our Four-Year Infrastructure Program.
Last year was significant for our national minorities. Through the PANAMIN’s community development projects and medical missions, the government has continued with increased vigor and intensity to serve the needs of the cultural minorities. The private sector has also helped by donating close to P3 million to implement the different PANAMIN projects.
By proclaiming last June 5, 224 hectares as a civil reservation for the Tebolih group in South Cotabato, we benefited directly 5,000 residents in that critical area and brought peace to some 75,000 Taga-bilis, Bilaans, and others.
VI. AGRICULTURE AND LAND REFORM
It is time to maintain the momentum of development by expanding the agricultural revolution into two vital areas: fish and meat production. This will supply the vital protein needs of a healthy nation at the lowest possible prices.
I noticed, however, that despite its successes, the agricultural sector has not been getting enough financial assistance. No one will disagree with me, I am sure, that our economic headway can be traced to the agricultural sector. It is about time that we recognize its important contributions.
I want to reorient assistance to productive economic activities with short gestation periods. In short, credit expansion in this coming year will be focused more on the agricultural sector, which continues to be the nucleus of all economic activity in the country.
Rice and Crop Diversification
Now that we have stabilized our rice supply, we shall devote our attention to crop diversificaton.
We can achieve similar breakthroughs in the other crops. We have clearly demonstrated that given the proper motivation and equipped with the proper tools, we can increase production without increasing acreage.
You are all aware that we are now giving priority to the production of feed grains to support livestock production. The National Food and Agriculture Council has embarked on a program of feed grains production, particularly yellow corn, sorghum, and soybeans. The increase in the supply of these crops will lower the production cost of meat and therefore its price in the market.
From all indications, the 1970 sugar crop of 2.1 million short tons, raw value, will be the highest sugar production on record. This will allow us t0 return part of the additional quota appropriation from the Puerto Rican deficit last year.
At this juncture, I should like to issue an appeal to sugarcane planters and sugarmillers to work together towards the synchronization of field and mill operations.
This will enhance the productivity of this sector and enable it to increase its contribution to the social amelioration fund of its workers.
Our coconut product industry is undergoing a very trying period. After picking up by the middle of last year, production and exports have been stunted by natural calamities such as droughts and typhoons. Furthermore, coconut oil and copra are sluggish in the world markets.
I cannot think of a better way to rehabilitate the coconut sector than to propose an amendment to the Export Tax Law or R.A. 6125: Instead of gradually diminishing the rate of the peso earnings to be imposed and assessed on our coconut product exports, the rate for the year should be maintained and the proceeds from this earmarked solely for coconut rehabilitation and development.
Considerable progress has been attained by the livestock industry, particularly in poultry and hog raising.
Aside from the production expected from the feed grain program of the National Food and Agricultural Council, we are exploring the feasibility of tapping several institutions for financing. Two FAO/World Bank missions have visited the country to help us prepare a project loan for livestock financing for the World Bank. These funds, if approved, may be channeled into the development of our cattle, hog, and poultry industries.
We are determined to attain self-sufficiency in at least poultry and pork within the next three years.
1970 was a good year for the fishing industry, especially in terms of foreign assistance. Joint efforts of the ADB and the UNDP have been directed towards establishing the NavotasFishingPort, the first of its kind in the country.
The completion of a major fish hatchery in Candaba, the conversion of the Candaba swamps into freshwater fish farms with FAO assistance, and the successful breeding of imported carp by the Philippine Fisheries Commission are among the important breakthroughs in this sector in 1970.
We have recently finalized a P6.9-million project establishing two major fish research stations that will provide training and extension services to our inland fisheries producers. This is part of a major fish production program that we launched last June.
Our goal within the next three years is not only self-sufficiency in fish but possibly the joining of the ranks of exporters of fish and fish products.
Today, land reform encompasses 161 towns in 16 provinces and benefits some 224,361 palay and corn farmers working more than half-a-million hectares of farm lands. Of these, some 137,585 were erstwhile share-tenants working an area of 320,992 hectares. These tenants are now lessees by operation of law.
As of December 1970, 33 agricultural estates covering 3,874 hectares and worked by 1,547 farmers were acquired by the Land Bank at a cost of P15,697,300. Preemption and redemption deposit payments have been made in the Court of Agrarian Relations for eight other estates in the amount of P963,836. Forty-five other estates are under negotiations, while petitions for the purchase of 341 estates are under investigation by the technical staff of the Land Authority and the Land Bank. In addition, the Land Authority has acquired six landed estates worth P6.2 million under R.A. 1400 consisting of 2,944 hectares with 1,212 beneficiaries.
Land distribution has been expedited. As of November 1970, 21,512 contracts were perfected, representing 14,989 orders of awards, 344 agreements to sell, and 6,184 deeds of sale. Under Administrative Order No. 100 of 1969, the Land Authority has already issued a total of 1,479 patents to farm-families within its settlement projects.
Land reform increased agricultural productivity. In land reform areas, average rice yield per hectare in 1966 was 48.9 cavans for the first crop and 41 cavans for the second crop. At present, the production per hectare is 63.1 cavans for the first crop and 64.5 cavans for the second crop, representing an increase of 29.4 and 57.3%, respectively. This experience has led the National Land Reform Council and the National Food and Agriculture Council to integrate two government programs—land reform and agricultural production, with Nueva Ecija as a pilot province.
The National Land Reform Council is testing new approaches and schemes to improve the life of our farmers.
Supported by the Filipinas Foundation, the Magalang Project is an experiment to prove that increased production, not just land ownership, is the primary objective of land reform. This project is patterned after the Moshave of Israel, which is actually a cooperative of leaseholder-settlers. Similar projects are being undertaken by the Land Authority in Agusan del Sur and in Palawan, also with the cooperation and support of private institutions.
The fact is we have been engaged in the promotion and development of cooperatives for some time now. Lack of experience in the techniques of organization and management as well as inconsistent policies and insufficient support impeded the efforts until 1963. Since then, however, using the experience of previous efforts, under the Agricultural Credit Administration and the Agricultural Productivity Commission, we have produced strong and sound models.
About 200 agricultural cooperatives, primarily of the multipurpose type, are now actively operating on the municipal level in addition to hundreds of credit unions and consumers cooperatives in the nonagricultural sector.
These cooperatives are now effectively channeling credit to small farmers, introducing new farm technology, procuring and distributing production inputs, unifying marketing, and forming capital. They are gradually integrating upward to the processing and marketing activities and downward to production and will eventually move to such strategic areas as banking, insurance, housing, and other desirable enterprises.
In the last session of this Congress, I certified HB 866 providing for a system of developing cooperatives. However, it was not passed. I urge this Congress to review this bill, to update it, and to enact it into law.
We are also considering the feasibility of implementing a land swap scheme which would involve the purchase by the Land Bank of private agricultural lands in heavily tenanted areas and the concomitant sale of raw public agricultural lands through public bidding, the bidders to include those who voluntarily sold their land to the Land Bank. In effect, the proposed scheme would involve the exchange of developed private agricultural land with public agricultural lands value-for-value. Hence, the program of land acquisition for eventual resale to tenants and leaseholders could be pursued, while at the same time, unproductive public lands could be developed.
In line with the conservation of our natural resources, I am considering the creation of a National Coordinating Council charged with the task of reviewing land utility policies with the end of minimizing land conflicts altogether.
Our present land policy countenances possession by a few persons and entities of vast idle lands. This defect in our land policy must now be corrected. A new land policy, designed to force development of all idle lands, public or private, is now in order.
I shall seek—through legislation or, if necessary, through constitutional amendment— the cancellation of titles and awards on public lands which have remained idle over the years. Private enterprises which are willing and able to develop such idle lands shall receive government support and encouragement. If private enterprise is unwilling, then the government shall undertake their development.
I also propose to impose confiscatory tax rates on idle private lands in order to compel their owners either to develop them or sell them to the government or to persons who are in a better position to develop them.
I therefore ask the owners of idle lands to start developing their lands. Otherwise, they will face the prospect of the cancellation of their titles or awards in the case of public land or the imposition of confiscatory taxes in the case of private lands.
VII. POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS
The election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention last year gave us the opportunity to introduce major electoral innovations. These innovations applied only to the election of delegates last November, but the experience gained gave us a basis for introducing permanent amendments to the Revised Election Code which governs all other elections.
Except for irregularities in some provinces, the last election was generally hailed as peaceful and orderly.
The following reforms, already successfully tried out in the election of delegates, should now be introduced permanently into our electoral system:
- The elimination of party representation in the Board of Election Inspectors, with public school teachers composing its entire membership of three.
- The elimination of elective public officials from Provincial and City Boards of Canvassers and their replacement by career public officials such as the Provincial or City Fiscal, the Division Superintendent of Schools, the Provincial or City Treasurer, the Provincial or City Auditor, and the District Highway or City Engineer.
- The regulation of media as well as propaganda. While there were some complaints about the restriction on the use of radio, TV, and newspaper facilities for political propaganda in the last election, I feel that by and large, and with certain modifications, we must prevent a recurrence of the abuses of the past when in some cases affluent candidates simply monopolized these information outlets, thereby placing poorer candidates at a disadvantage.
- The grounding of personnel of the Armed Forces 30 days before and 30 days after the election, except when expressly authorized by the President or the COMELEC.
- The retention of the list of prohibited acts, such as political coercion of subordinates of members of religious, fraternal, or civic organizations.
- The prohibition of releases and expenditures of public funds during the 45-day period before the election.
- A limitation on the total expenditures of a candidate and the political party. I feel that the uniform limit of expenditures to an amount equivalent to one year’s salary corresponding to the office sought is arbitrary and impractical. Thus, in a congressional election a candidate in Batanes with 5,000 votes more or less would be allowed to spend P32,000.00 for his campaign and a congressional candidate in the first district of Rizal with over 200,000 votes would also be limited to P32,000.00. It would be more equitable to limit expenditures on a per capita basis in proportion to the number of registered voters in political units. Similarly, political parties, as to whose expenditures there is no ceiling at present, should be limited to an amount equivalent to so much per registered voter throughout the country, if it is a national party, or within the local unit, if it is a local party.
I also recommend that the following provisions be incorporated into our Election Code:
- The shortening of the time of voting from 7 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon, so that the counting and tallying of votes can take place in the afternoon and completed much earlier than under the present system.
- Fix the last day of registration to 120 days before election day, or one month before any candidate for local office is officially known.
- The transmission of the election returns should be left to the COMELEC. Any obstruction or interference with the transmission of the election returns should be made a serious offense.
The administrative machinery of government must be restructured and revitalized to meet the challenge of change and development.
Within the next 40 days, I shall submit to Congress an integrated reorganization plan to make our governmental administration more economical, efficient, and effective. This plan, prepared by the Commission on Reorganization after 18 months of intensive work, will enable us to pursue with greater vigor and success our programs for accelerated social and economic advancement.
One of the main thrusts in this government reorganization is deconcentration and decentralization. The Office of the President will be freed from administrative detail: It shall concentrate on major policy planning and development. The number of agencies reporting directly to the President will be reduced from some 150 offices to only 25; many matters now requiring Presidential action will be delegated to the department heads. At the same time, more powers and responsibilities will devolve on the regional offices.
The departments, as a rule, will maintain an integrated field service in 10 uniform regions. With administrative decision and action being made at the level closest to the people, we can be assured of less red tape and more speed; less buck-passing and greater responsiveness in the giving of governmental services.
Secondly, the reorganization plan seeks to improve the processes of planning and decision making at all levels; most important is the proposed creation of a national economic development authority, NEDA for short, to compose of the President as chairman and with top congressional and executive officials as members. The NEDA will review and approve the national development plans to govern all socioeconomic policies and programs of the government.
The reorganization plan, moreover, provides for structural and administrative innovations to strengthen the merit system. The present single-headed Civil Service Commission will be converted into a three-man commission to serve primarily as a standard-setting and -enforcing agency, while personnel functions will be decentralized to line agencies and regional offices. The career civil service will be reinvigorated primarily through (1) a single career undersecretary for each department and (2) a career executive service composed of well-selected and development-oriented administrators to provide administrative leadership while serving as catalysts for administrative efficiency, innovation and, development.
Lastly, the department shall be reorganized to increase their capacity to plan and implement programs in accordance with policies set by Congress and the President. Special emphasis will be given to the acceleration of programs related to increased productivity, land reform, full exploitation of natural resources, trade promotion, and manpower development.
To attain simplicity, economy, and efficiency in government operations, the bureaus and offices will be grouped primarily on the basis of major functions, thereby minimizing duplication and overlapping of activities. The number of bureaus, commissions, and boards is expected to be reduced by 20%. Savings in personnel and operating expenditures will be rechanneled to developmental projects.
The Constitutional Convention
It is our fervent hope that the transformation of our society will take place peaceably and legally through the making of a new Constitution. The cynical few would prejudice the Constitutional Convention as a futile exercise even before it has begun. But I am expressing, I believe, the sentiments of the delegates-elect that those few may rest assured that their rights as Filipinos and free citizens will be promoted by the Constitutional Convention.
Still, even before the making of a new fundamental charter, I would like to see immediate rectification of certain inequities in our society. The great Filipino masses, to be sure, have their own responsibilities, but it is they who have had to bear the burden of our nation. I would place the burden of shaping a better society in which they have no place.
For those who have much, much is required. This is not only fair; it is absolutely just.
The thrust of the times is towards social and economic justice. There can no longer be any explanations; there has to be an end to procrastinations. We must begin to change—now.
Grave as our problems might be and though our hopes and our patience may be strained to the limit, we must resolve, as a nation, never to stand divided.
We must resolve to keep united because the alternative to unity is division, and division is fratricide.
The words of a great man and a great friend of the Filipino people, Pope Paul VI, should in this regard be taken to heart:
There are certain situations whose injustice cries to heaven. When whole populations destitute of necessities, live in a state of dependence barring them from initiative and responsibility, and all opportunity to advance culturally and share in social and political life, recourse to violence, as a means to right this wrong to human dignity, is a grave temptation.
But there is an urgent truth we must face unflinchingly. National unity on the old terms—the domination of the many by the few—may no longer be feasible. The supreme challenge to this generation is to redefine the terms of this unity, so that it will rest on enduring foundations of social justice and true fraternity. Only by forging anew our unity on the basis of far-reaching social and economic reforms, motivated by a profound regard for the dignity of the human person, can we defend this unity and preserve it against other claims, especially radical ones.
The unity that I have in mind is large enough to contain all views, ideas, and beliefs so long as they give due regard to law and order. In the end, the task of changing the frame work and redefining the basis of our national unity will be exercised by the Constitutional Convention.
But the task of reshaping this framework should not wait at all for tomorrow, it should not wait for ideal conditions.
We must, without further delay, reexamine the postulates of our society with regard to the ownership of land, particularly public land; the place of the worker in industry, in terms of security and dignity; the recreation of an exploitative society into a cooperative one; the broadening of our horizons in the world community.
I ask that the Congress of the Philippines immediately indicate these proposals on its agenda for this regular session that begins today.
I ask that our people brace themselves for a democratic revolution that will reach to the roots of our institutions. And if it is the nation’s wish that the President himself lead this revolution, then I accept the challenge.