Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress:
For the third time, I have the honor to appear before you and to present to you a report on the state of our nation. Two dramatic and eventful years have passed: this Administration now begins its third year in office. It is the projection of the past two years upon the future welfare and security of the nation which I would like to discuss with you on this occasion.
The welfare of our people has, without doubt, been substantially advanced. Not all improvements are immediately recognizable or easily detected, but there can be no question that our rate of growth as shown by all valid indicators points to continued expansion and development.
Unfortunately, political partisanship has caused some delay in the progress which this Administration endeavoured to achieve during the past two years. Partisan bickering among the political parties not only retarded progress and slowed the pace of development but also rendered impossible the full achievement of our objectives. However, we are a young nation and a bright future lies ahead of us. The past years of frustration must make way for future years of fulfilment. This must be done if we are to tip the scales against the disappointments of the past in favour of the hopes of the future.
While we have advanced in nearly all fields, our progress has not been as rapid or adequate as this Administration had desired. During the past two years, this Congress found itself unable to cooperate fully with the aims and purposes of the Administration owing mainly to the fact that the opposition held political control, first over both and then later over one of the Houses of Congress. It is my unhappy duty to report to our people that, as a result of bitter political conflict, the welfare of the people has often been overlooked, cast aside, or completely ignored. Members and leaders of all parties—all of us—have been guilty of playing too much politics, of leaving the work to those whose ability, no matter how outstanding, must prove unavailing unless they have the support of those in all the parties who have thus far placed politics above service to the people.
This is a different Congress. Both Houses of this Congress are now composed of a majority of Senators and Congressmen belonging to the party of the Administration. We now have a situation which better conforms to the accepted norm of representative government. It gives full scope to the system of political parties. While encouraging cooperation among the parties in the larger national interest it pinpoints party responsibility for the conduct of national affairs. Thus, the passage of new laws and the revision of old laws in the public interest can now be more easily undertaken. This must be done in order to enable this nation to achieve further progress toward the social and economic goals which we have envisioned for our people and for future generations to come.
Before this Congress stands you President himself tempered by the fire of honest self-appraisal. After two years of searching and endeavour, of sowing the seeds for better things, we may look forward to a bountiful harvest that will give greater hope to our people, as well as a destiny full of bright and exciting challenges.
Let us lay aside our political differences and work for the common goal: the good of our people. I hasten to assure you that the best interest of the people has been and will continue to be the prime consideration in all my acts and in all my deeds. We have passed through two years—a million moments filled with happiness as well as anxiety, with the thrill of success as well as the horror of failure. They have been moments of frustration and discouragement, of misunderstanding and regret, of hope and achievement. These are the million moments of the past two years which have been shared by us all: the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the haves and the have-nots.
Our phrase, the “New Era,” has been both acclaimed and derided. Our honest desire is to create out of this land the kind of country our people deserve—a country able to satisfy the needs and serve the welfare of all its inhabitants, and to guarantee the protection and the security of this generation and of all generations to come. We have all been guilty of some neglect—some of us to a greater degree than others. I am aware that we have not as yet been able to satisfy in just measure the hopes and aspirations of our people which we envisioned two years ago. Since we share the same hopes of achievement for our glorious land and our heroic people, can we not now all join together to give them those things which they so justly deserve? Can we not now forsake our own narrow self-interest and devote our whole strength to the realization of greater progress and happiness throughout the land?
With the help of this Congress, we shall achieve our national goals far beyond our fondest dreams. With courage and honesty of conviction, with force and power of determination to move steadily forward, we can overcome the plagues and corrupting diseases which have weakened the national fiber and so restore the health of the body politic that we may accomplish without further delay the tasks that need urgently to be done.
All this requires courage, determination, understanding, trust and cooperation. We are one nation of Filipinos, brothers one unto the other, with God-given aims and purposes, and God-given means and abilities to achieve those aims and purposes.
We have all allowed ourselves to become confused and to lose sight of our true objectives. We have been blinded by power politics and its self-serving aims. We have been led into making utterances and performing deeds which have neither serve the present needs of our people nor nourished their hopes for a better life. How amazing and unbelievable it seems that some of those who are called upon to help the people have succumbed to the temptations of personal ambition and the lust for power! As I look back to these past few years utilized but only in part for the fulfilment of our pledges and the hopes of our people, and of which so great a portion has been wasted through misunderstanding, intolerance, selfishness, and luck of trust, I realize that our people can no longer be condemned indefinitely to endure the penalty of self-serving purposes and deeds. We must face the bitter truth that the politicians of our country—and I speak for all of us—have, in fact, given to our people neither all the goodness nor all the ability nor all the love which we pledged to them and which they, in turn, expected from us.
We must work together as one, with respect for one another, with single intent to achieve through cooperation that which is best for all and to help each other do that which is right for the good of all. Not one of us is perfect, but collectively we can pursue and attain our hopes and through mutual confidence show one to the other the error of our ways. The great sin is not in making a mistake but in refusing to recognize the mistake and to correct it.
This is the beginning of our third year in office. I have examined the road we have travelled, a road full of trials and tribulations. I have looked back over these past two years not as a politician with ready excuses nor as a candidate with new promises to make, but as a President with duties and responsibilities to you and to our people.
I have tried in this way to determine honestly in my own mind the success or failure of my efforts as President. In this mood of candid self-appraisal I must say that I am not quite satisfied with the results which have been achieved. I am not happy over the mistakes which could have been avoided. So much more could have been done. So much more must of necessity, be accomplished during the next two years before we can honestly say to ourselves and to our God: “We have done our true and sincere best for our people, within the measure of our abilities according to our lights.”
As we examine ourselves in relation to the state of the nation, what can we, in truth, say of ourselves? I cannot speak for you, but this I will say for myself: Never will I be able to give all that I desire, but with a courage born of the lessons learned in sorrow during the past two years, I must and I shall devote my waking hours, life itself, to the welfare of our people. No difficulty or obstacle, however stubborn or forbidding, shall alter my course or change my will.
We must provide a better life for our people. We must give less comfort to ourselves. We must provide more hope to our nation. We must seek less gratification ourselves.
Where do we go from here—from whence have we come? That which we can do is based solely on that which we have done: “For as ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
This Administration has tried to hasten the nation’s economic growth and improve public morality. We have resolved to attend as well to the problems of health, education, labor, social welfare, national security, cultural and scientific development, the administration of justice, the maintenance of peace and order, and foreign relations. These are the duties of this Administration. These duties are first and paramount.
This Administration has, during the past years, endeavoured to established a high standard of morality and conduct among government officials. This we felt in order to set a basic standard of conduct for the entire citizenry. We feel that we have been able to instill in the minds of the people the fact that as it prosecutes its drive for public morality, the Administration will never, under any circumstance, countenance graft and corruption. Corruption among government officials has to marked degree diminished, but it has not been completely eradicated though eradicated it must be.
We have achieved a decontrolled economy with a stable exchange rate. This no one can deny. We have improved our intentional reserves. We have had favourable balances of trade and favourable balances of payments during the past two years. Our per capita income is on the rise. Our industrial production continues to increase as does our agricultural output. The Land Reform Program is under way. A nationwide housing program for lower income groups has been launched. These are some of the good things which we in the Administration have done in our time.
Our industries have increased their use of local raw materials for the benefit of all, and as a result of our controversial but successful program of decontrol, substantial investments have been realized with the employment of both local and foreign capital so as to help establish the solid economic base for further growth.
Free enterprise has continued to prosper, and the era of stifling control seems now but a bad dream. New gigantic industries to promote the national welfare, such as steel, chemicals, pulp, and fertilizer, are underway. The prospects of employment improve in spite of our population explosion.
The establishment of these and similar enterprises will cause the proliferation of small and vital industries which will then provide the framework for self-sustained economic growth.
This Congress and the Administration have taken steps to abolish the share tenancy system and have given hope to the small farmer to produce for himself on an independent basis. The agricultural land reform code is an impressive and enduring monument to the farsightedness of our lawmakers. It may be difficult to enforce effectively, but enforce it we must if the future of our economic system is to be assured.
Our nation’s conduct in the field of international relations during the past two years has been characterized by a far more active participation in international affairs, particularly in the affairs of Southeast Asia. We have willingly accepted the challenge to carry the democratic message in our part of the world; we have played a prominent role in Maphilindo, the association of peoples of Malay origin; we have made progress on our claim to Sabah (North Borneo); we have assisted in mediating disputes between nations. Relationships of lasting importance have been formed between our country and the United States, as well as a number of Asian countries including Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Republic of China, the Federal Republic of Germany, Spain, Mexico, and the new nations of Africa, particularly Madagascar.
Without diminishing our historic relations with the United States and other Western countries and without weakening our commitment to the cause of democracy and human rights, we have sought to expand our role in Asian affairs and thereby promote the stability and security of our region and enhance mutual understanding between the peoples of Asia and the people of the West.
On matters of foreign policy, the active counsel and cooperation of all parties in Congress will be sought at every opportunity.
All is not glory. Our people suffer from the continuing increase of prices and the short supply of rice. These price increases are the result no longer of decontrol, but of subsequent domestic and external pressures. The rice insufficiency in the country is aggravated by a world shortage of this commodity. To excuse ourselves or to blame others is of no moment now; what is imperative is a resolute approach to the solution of these problems.
For the future, all of us must work together to lay a new, solid foundation which will adequately utilize the natural resources which are our birthright. We must give confidence to our people. You and I must live up to and fulfil the degree of trust and confidence which our people have placed in us.
We must keep up the drive against graft.
We must implement more vigorously our program of economic and social progress and the ascendency of Filipinos in the national economy.
We must continue our active participation in foreign affairs, particularly those that affect our national interest.
We must increase our tax revenues and facilitate public borrowing to finance the various requirements rapid economic development.
We must establish an effective administrative organization for economic development within the context of decentralized government.
We must make credit available to investors within the framework of a stable currency.
We must find a satisfactory solution to the problem of rising prices.
We must insure an adequate rice supply to the people as we seek self-sufficiency through increased production.
We must provide ready employment opportunities while stable jobs are being created under the economic program.
We must attract and give assurances to private investments, both domestic and foreign.
We must increase the minimum wage while assuring a reasonable margin of profit for employers.
We must implement a nationwide housing program for our slum and hut dwellers.
We must intensify the development of tourism as a source of dollar revenue.
We must act together to fight and destroy smuggling.
We must improve further the administration of justice.
We must improve and strengthen the local police forces all over the country.
We must adopt electoral reforms to frustrate frauds and exorbitant spending by candidates.
The hope of our nation lies in our hands. The state of the nation lies in our hearts. I pledge to you for the sake of our country, my fullest cooperation and resolve to rid our nation of the many evils which have in the past plagued our land and sapped our strength and vitality.
The state of our nation ultimately depends upon our true and honest appraisal of ourselves, our understanding, our confidence, and our ability to sacrifice for the good of the mass of our people rather than for the welfare of any particular group. We must cast off the false masks of the image-makers; the time has come to be ourselves so that what we are will shine through our works. Determined to correct the mistakes of the past and to undertake new and more hopeful initiatives for the future. I appeal to you for mutual understanding so that with a mighty will we shall labor and sacrifice together to give our people the good life they desire and deserve, but which has been denied them for so long. Let us cast aside petty personal jealousies and partisan politics from our lives; let us work only for the common good. Bound together in this Alliance for the Common Good, there are no limits to what we can do. With these words of good will towards men of good will and in this solemn act of good will, I honor you and I thank you.