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State of the Nation Address 1940: Manuel Quezon

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State of the Nation Address 1940: Manuel Quezon

01:41 PM July 09, 2015

State of the Nation Address 1940: Manuel Quezon

1940 State of the Nation Address
Sixth SONA of President Manuel Quezon
Legislative Building, Manila | January 22, 1940
6th SONA since its first inclusion in the 1935 Constitution

Gentlemen of the National Assembly:

ADVERTISEMENT

You are convened at a time when many countries of the world are in the throes of war. The agonies which the nations involved in the conflict are suffering can­not but touch our hearts deeply. We sympathize with their sad fate and we pray to God that the tragic ordeal may soon come to an end. No nation, however far removed from the struggle, can escape its disturbing effects. Even we are experiencing the inevitable consequences of this war in the way of reduced trade with the warring nations and their neighbors, in­creased transportation and insurance rates, depressed prices for export commodities, and other intangible effects which result from a stoppage or a drastic limi­tation of world trade. Withal, we are fortunate that we are at peace and that it is the policy of the United States to stay out of the war. With that policy we are in full accord.

The United States Congress, in its last session, passed a neutrality law defining the obligations of the United a States towards the belligerent nations and prescribing, limitations upon commercial intercourse between them and the peoples living under the American flag. The Philippines is bound by that Neutrality Act, and our Government and people are fully cooperating with the United States Government in its strict enforcement. It is our good fortune to have in these very critical times, His Excellency, Francis B. Sayre, as United States High Commissioner to the Philippines. He is a scholar, a diplomat and a statesman. [Applause.] During the last three years he has been engaged in the study and consideration of our problems as Chairman of the United States Inter-Departmental Committee and of the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs. No one has labored more than he did in securing the approval by the Congress of the United States of the Economic Adjustment Act. He merits our gratitude for that signal service.

All the requirements prescribed by Congress for the effectiveness of the Economic Adjustment Act have been fulfilled. The Act, therefore, is now in full effect and all the agencies necessary for its en­forcement have been set up. The quotas for different products provided in the Act have been allocated. It is my purpose to submit to you at an early date a definite proposal to permit the Government to lay the groundwork for the economic conference that is to be held at least, two years before the establishment of the Philippine Republic.

In your last special session, you approved laws to protect the people against profiteering during these war times, and to insure for the country a steady and sufficient supply of prime necessities and the continued operation of farms and factories. To accomplish the first aim, maximum prices for the most important commodities have been fixed and are being enforced. To attain the second purpose, the National Trading Corporation with a capital stock of P5,000,000 has been organized. A detailed report on these matters will be submitted to the National Assembly as required by law.

The United States Congress, in its last session, passed a neutrality law defining the obligations of the United a States towards the belligerent nations and prescribing, limitations upon commercial intercourse between them and the peoples living under the American flag. The Philippines is bound by that Neutrality Act, and our Government and people are fully cooperating with the United States Government in its strict enforcement.

Pursuant to the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 453, I have effected a reorganization of the De­partments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and Labor. The National Information Board was abolished as a separate entity and converted into a division of the Department of the Interior. The activities of the various bureaus and offices under the Department of Agriculture and Commerce were properly coordinated, thus avoiding the overlapping of functions. The Bureau of Labor was abolished, and its work distributed among the various divisions of the Department, performing identical functions. The Division of Immigration was reorganized and its personnel increased with funds appropriated under Commonwealth Act No. 501.

We are making progress, however slowly, in our determination to raise the masses of our people to a position of relative ease. But our task is an ex­tremely difficult one. Capital in the Philippines does not as yet seem to fully realize its obligations to labor and to society, and it will be necessary for you to enact after due investigation further labor legislations that will secure for the underpaid laborers higher wages and better living conditions, especially in the mining and sugar industries. [Applause]

I regret that there are some labor leaders who insist upon resorting to strikes as the proper and best means of obtaining recognition of labor rights. Where, as in the Philippines today, the Government is earnestly endeavoring to help labor in its just claims, strikes are unnecessary and unjustified. Although the right to strike is recognized by law, strikes are, by their nature, a form of coercion, and once coercion is used by one party in, a conflict, it pro­vokes retaliation by the other party. Hence, strikes often result in physical violence, sabotage, and public disorder. When such a situation arises, the Gov­ernment is compelled to intervene, and when the Government intervenes to suppress violence and restore public order, it has to act swiftly under circumstances that often inflict loss or injury upon in­nocent parties.

Moreover, experience shows that the cost of strikes both to capital and labor in terms of financial losses, physical and moral suffering, and otherwise is enor­mous. Such loss, directly or indirectly, is shared by the whole community. Strikes should not, therefore, be used except as a last resort, for the settlement of industrial and agrarian disputes or for securing recognition of the rights of labor. Arbitration or adjudication by the Court of Industrial Relations has been found to be less wasteful and more expedient procedure for securing substantial justice. In any event, when a strike is declared, the use of violence or sabotage, by either side, will not be countenanced by the Government.

ADVERTISEMENT

We are making progress, however slowly, in our determination to raise the masses of our people to a position of relative ease. But our task is an ex­tremely difficult one. Capital in the Philippines does not as yet seem to fully realize its obligations to labor and to society, and it will be necessary for you to enact after due investigation further labor legislations that will secure for the underpaid laborers higher wages and better living conditions, especially in the mining and sugar industries.

Our policy to acquire large haciendas with a view to their sale in small parcels to the peasants who work them and to purchase urban land to provide homes for the poor on easy terms is being effectuated. But here again we are met with serious difficulties in some instances, coming either from selfish and greedy land­owners or from irresponsible and dishonest agitators. In the Hacienda de Buenavista in Bulacan, for a long time a focus of unrest and disturbances, some of the tenants who have been made to believe that they could become the owners of the land without paying fur it, are as yet not fully convinced that they have been deceived, and instead of welcoming the help of the Government, are either refusing to agree to the plan devised for the ultimate transfer to them of their landholdings, or in some other way trying to frustrate the plan. The management of the Hacienda, although carrying out the plan with firm determination, is showing extreme patience, because it is believed that these misguided people will sooner or later realize that we are seeking only their best interests and will then lend their full cooperation to the plan.

The Government has already purchased large parcels of land for homesites in Marikina, Rizal; San Pedro Tunasan, Laguna; and Dinalupihan, Bataan. Steps are being taken to expropriate the homesites in Malabon, Rizal. These purchases comprise lands owned by some corporations where people in large numbers have built their houses. We are trying to free these communities from the grip of absentee landlordism and to help them become owners of their homes, under terms and conditions that they can bear.

Although the right to strike is recognized by law, strikes are, by their nature, a form of coercion, and once coercion is used by one party in, a conflict, it pro­vokes retaliation by the other party. Hence, strikes often result in physical violence, sabotage, and public disorder [… When] a strike is declared, the use of violence or sabotage, by either side, will not be countenanced by the Government.

It is in the City of Manila where we are confronted with the most serious situation. Here the largest number of industrial workers live. Here, too, unem­ployment is at its worst. Individuals with no stable occupation but who can find work only occasionally, abound. The result is that in several sections of the city—Intramuros, Tondo, Sampaloc—there are many slums where the poor live under conditions totally unfit for human beings, crowded together in small quarters without sufficient ventilation or sanitary facilities.

In an effort to relieve Manila of a part of its congested population that can conveniently go to live in Quezon City, we have purchased a large parcel of land, known as the Hacienda de Diliman, with an area of about 1,600 hectares. The plan is to offer to government officials, especially the small salaried employees and laborers, for sale or rent, lots where they can build, or have the Government build, their homes. In the subdivision of this land there will be portions which may be acquired by private individuals, both the rich and those of moderate means. There will also be sections set aside for industrial establishments. This project which we have placed under a most capable management, at no cost to the Government, is in process of execu­tion. Roads are being constructed and lots subdi­vided; model houses are being built and in due time the lots and the houses will be ready for sale. But this project cannot by any means solve the problem of the slums, nor provide decent homes for all line poor living in the City of Manila and its vicinity. In the first place, Diliman is too far for those laborers who work in or around Intramuros and Tondo. In the second place, if all the people residing in the overcrowded districts were to go to Diliman, there would not be sufficient room for them. From the reclaimed area in the North Fort, fifty hectares or 500,000 square meters will be reserved for the fishermen of Tondo, Pasay, and Baclaran, as well as for laborers in the water-front. But even with this plan, which will be in the course of execution next year, we shall not be able completely to do away with the slums or to have all the residents of this city live under proper sanitary conditions.

Our policy to acquire large haciendas with a view to their sale in small parcels to the peasants who work them and to purchase urban land to provide homes for the poor on easy terms is being effectuated. But here again we are met with serious difficulties in some instances, coming either from selfish and greedy land­owners or from irresponsible and dishonest agitators.

We must expropriate more land. Fortunately, there is more than enough unoccupied land within the radius of the city itself and its immediate sur­roundings that can be used for this purpose. But the prices of these lands have been unjustly boosted by their owners. The increase of population and the public improvements made by the Government are being taken advantage of by these land profiteers to exploit the public. These lands have been held unimproved all these many years. Their owners have valued them for purposes of taxation at incomprehensively low prices, and now for lands that are assessed at four centavos per square meter, the owners are exacting from the Government or private indi­viduals a price of three, four and even more pesos per square meter. This should not be tolerated.

While it is our purpose to maintain inviolate the right, of private property, we must not pay more than what is just compensation therefore, taking into con­sideration the value at which the property has been assessed upon the owner’s own declaration or with his consent. I recommend, therefore, that the Assessment Law be amended by providing that whenever an as­sessment is made for the purpose of imposing the real properly tax and the same is not protested by the owner thereof, within a specified period after receiving notice of the assessment, said owner will be deemed to have agreed and accepted the valuation as the just and fair value of his property, and that, in case of expropriation proceedings by the Government or its instrumentalities, the assessment shall be taken as prima facie evidence of the value of the property. I likewise desire to submit to your consideration the need of imposing special assessment tax upon real property that have greatly appreciated in value as a result of the construction by the National Government of roads or other public improvements. The owners of such properties have no right to enjoy the extra­ordinary rise in value or the increase in the income, without contributing proportionately to the cost of said improvements.

In an effort to relieve Manila of a part of its congested population that can conveniently go to live in Quezon City, we have purchased a large parcel of land, known as the Hacienda de Diliman, with an area of about 1,600 hectares. The plan is to offer to government officials, especially the small salaried employees and laborers, for sale or rent, lots where they can build, or have the Government build, their homes.

There are many cases involving the ejectment of poor people who have built small houses on unim­proved lands with the consent of the owners thereof. Because of the construction of public improvements, the value of these lands has risen suddenly and the owners are demanding prices which are far beyond the ability of their tenants to pay. It is cruel to permit the ejection of these poor people and to have their houses destroyed, thus leaving them without shelter. The National Assembly should consider the advisability of amending the existing law regulating ejectment proceedings so as to protect such tenants by pro­hibiting their ejectment until the Government has had opportunity to take care of them.

Unemployment continues to be one of the main problems of the Government, and that problem, in all likelihood, will confront us for some time to come. For the purpose of assisting the Secretary of Labor in the study of this matter, I have created an Advisory Board on Unemployment; and, as an aid to the solu­tion of the problem, or at least to prevent its aggra­vation, I recommend the enactment of immigration laws that will place limitations upon foreign immigration thus protecting Filipino labor from alien competition. We should, however, do away with the existing discrimination against Orientals, it being unjust and unfair to close our door to races which are akin to ours.

The fiscal operations of the Government during the past year have been satisfactory. Revenues have exceeded ordinary expenditures during the last fiscal period by P6,928,977.45, although this excess and a part of the accumulated surplus were used to cover extraordinary or nonrecurring expenses amounting to P23,927,909.43. Actual collections exceeded budgetary estimates in the amount of P5,323,573.66. The condition of the excise tax fund will be reported to you in a separate message. The public debt has been reduced as required by law and is now only P79,582,982.84, as compared to P95,076,798.27 in 1935. This public debt will be more than amply covered from the proceeds of export taxes provided in the Independence Act, accruing before 1946. In addition to this public debt, however, the Manila Railroad Company has an outstanding obligation in the amount of P26,472,000 for which no sinking funds are being provided. In order to protect the credit of one of our most im­portant enterprises, the Government will have to as­sume the payment of this debt maturing in 1956. I recommend that the National Assembly consider a plan establishing a sinking fund for these obliga­tions from the proceeds of the excise tax in the event the Manila Railroad Company is unable to provide therefore.

The business corporations of the Government have been operated efficiently and in the public interest. While the National Food Products Corporation is still operating at a loss, the Cebu Portland Cement Company, the Insular Refining Company, the Manila Port Terminal, and the National Bank have ail made substantial profits during the past year. The National Development Company has also made a profit from its own operations as well as from its operations as a holding company.

The Agricultural and Industrial Bank has been organized and is now in operation. The main purpose of this bank is to help agriculture and industry, chiefly in the establishment of new industries, the production of new crops and the extension of cultivation and diversification of products in farm areas.

Unemployment continues to be one of the main problems of the Government, and that problem, in all likelihood, will confront us for some time to come. For the purpose of assisting the Secretary of Labor in the study of this matter, I have created an Advisory Board on Unemployment; and, as an aid to the solu­tion of the problem, or at least to prevent its aggra­vation, I recommend the enactment of immigration laws that will place limitations upon foreign immigration thus protecting Filipino labor from alien competition. We should, however, do away with the existing discrimination against Orientals, it being unjust and unfair to close our door to races which are akin to ours.

The National Power Corporation has decided to undertake the development of the Caliraya water project. The construction of this project is under way. The bonds issued by the corporation to finance this enterprise were oversubscribed.

The exploration of our oil resources is being pushed forward as rapidly as possible and within a few months the geological survey will be completed. As soon as the result of the survey is available, it will be time to decide whether drilling operations should be under­taken by the Government or by responsible private companies.

The Government has been giving impetus to the organization of cooperatives for consumers, producers, and small merchants to eliminate middlemen and need­less entrepreneurs. This form of economic organiza­tion has been successful in other countries, and I can see no reason why it will not meet with the same success in the Philippines. It will probably take time to educate our people on the value of cooperative effort, with the discipline and intelligent collaboration required by that method of economic endeavor. We have to contend with the apathy prevailing in cer­tain groups as well as with old practices and tradi­tions which are both uneconomic and otherwise unde­sirable. But I have faith that these difficulties will be overcome. The successful operation of these co­operatives will aid in a great measure in the solution of our economic problems and in the ultimate stab­ilization of our national economy.

Retailers’ cooperatives are being organized in Ma­nila and in the provinces. The Buenavista Coopera­tive is in operation. The shoemakers of Marikina and neighboring municipalities have likewise been organized into a cooperative association to permit them to own and operate the industry themselves. It is my opinion that the same thing might be done with regard to hat-makers. The Hemp Corporation is undertaking the organization of cooperatives among hemp producers. The same thing will be done with respect to coconut producers.

The coconut industry has long been suffering from depressed prices. This is partly due to inefficient methods of curing copra, lack of credit facilities, and faulty system of marketing. It is also attributable to the failure to utilize the by-products of the coconut. In view of the authorization granted in the Economic Adjustment Act, permitting the use of this excise tax on coconut oil for the purpose of improving the curing of copra and the granting of crop loans to coconut producers, I recommend that the National Assembly pass a law allowing the organization of a corporation for these purposes. [Applause]

The Government has been giving impetus to the organization of cooperatives for consumers, producers, and small merchants to eliminate middlemen and need­less entrepreneurs. This form of economic organiza­tion has been successful in other countries, and I can see no reason why it will not meet with the same success in the Philippines.

The tobacco industry is going through a most critical period; booth in the factories and in the fields. Prices for leaf tobacco are even now not sufficient to insure reasonable returns to farmers, and with the gradual loss of foreign markets, the situation will aggravate. Cigar makers are suffering from low wages, partly because we have not been able to find enough markets for our high-priced cigars.

The Government is undertaking a serious study looking to a solution of the problems confronting this industry, and I recommend that you consider the advisability of authorizing the creation of a tobacco corporation that will provide credit to farmers, aid in the proper curing of leaf tobacco, improve the quality of tobacco and cigars, and stimulate the production of cigarette tobacco. This corporation, when organized, could take over the duties assigned to the To­bacco Board in the investment and disposition of the funds collected from inspection fees. The Warehousing Corporation has under construc­tion eleven warehouses for rice, copra, hemp, and tobacco, and others are being planned. The purpose of these warehouses is to provide storing facilities for producers, meantime permitting them to obtain credit on the security of their crops.

The Koronadal land settlement project in Mindanao has been started. There are now approximately 2,000 men in that territory. More are going at the rate of 250 every month. An irrigation system has been built and experiments have been conducted covering dif­ferent crops. The results thus far have been most encouraging, and the program for this year is to place, under cultivation in that area, no less than 3,009 hec­tares. Everything is being done to safeguard the health and well-being of the settlers.

I wish to invite attention to the economic adjustment projects recommended in the report of the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs. Some of these projects are in process of execution; others are still in an experimental stage or under study. In order to properly carry out the plan to promote new crops and greater diversification of products, it is necessary, as recommended by the Joint Preparatory Committee, that we establish, as soon as possible, adequate agricultural, experimental and demonstration stations. The existing stations, maintained entirely with funds contributed by provinces and municipalities, are inade­quate. It is not possible to conduct experiments in so many stations which are insufficiently financed. Moreover, the necessary trained men for the opera­tions of these stations are not available. I recommend that the National Government assume full respon­sibility of establishing and operating experimental and demonstration stations in carefully selected places in order that the experiments and demonstrations may be conducted on a more scientific and systematic basis.

Closely allied with the problem of economic ad­justment is the question of scientific research. I de­sire to reiterate my recommendation in a previous message to the National Assembly to consolidate all the agencies of the Government engaged in scientific research into one scientific research institute, using the Bureau of Science as a nucleus for the purpose. The expenses for its operation may be covered with the funds appropriated for the Bureau of Science and the other agencies of the Government dealing in re­search. This project has been strongly recommended both by the Department of Agriculture and Commerce and by the National Economic Council in view of the report submitted by Dr. Raymond Bacon who was employed by the Government to study this matter.

It is necessary to expand the activities of the Bureau of Commerce to enable it to cope with the increasing demands of our growing trade. Division for the promotion of exports and for the stimulation of local trade should be organized in that bureau. To protect the rights of inventors and manufacturers, a patent office should be established.

One of the most important but neglected industries is our fishing industry. To enable the Government effectively to promote this industry and to exercise the necessary supervision and control over the same, I propose the conversion of the present Fish and Game Administration Division into a bureau under the Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

It is hardly necessary to emphasize the importance of organizing an office to collect and compile statis­tical data for the use of the Government and the public. The Census Commission, after it has completed its work, should be converted into a per­manent bureau to render that service.

Closely allied with the problem of economic ad­justment is the question of scientific research. I de­sire to reiterate my recommendation in a previous message to the National Assembly to consolidate all the agencies of the Government engaged in scientific research into one scientific research institute, using the Bureau of Science as a nucleus for the purpose.

Many public improvements authorized by the Na­tional Assembly were accomplished during the year that has just ended. First-class roads were increased by 208 kilometers, second-class roads by 878 kilometers, and third-class roads by 854 kilo­meters, thus making a total of 21,166.1 kilometers for all classes of roads, of which 10,310.4 are national roads and 10,805,7 provincial roads. Many public buildings were erected, including 386 school houses.

Our system of transportation has been greatly improved and extended. The railroad to the Bicol prov­inces has been completed and opened to traffic. Many bridges and port facilities have been built, and new boats have been added to the coastwise and interisland shipping. The number of ships under Philippine reg­istry engaged in overseas trade has increased, and three new ocean-going steamers are now in the service. This fact should be a source of satisfaction and benefit for our country, not only because it will permit the carrying of the Filipino flag to distant lands, but also because it will help in insuring sufficient bottoms to carry our exports to foreign markets, particularly during the present emergency. The Government, however, is not contemplating the acquisition or operation at least during the next few years, of ocean-going steamers.

The Department of National Defense, created by Commonwealth Act No. 432, was organized, effective November 1, 1939. This new department has execu­tive supervision over the Philippine Army, the Bureau of Aeronautics, the Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Philippine Nautical School and over the establishment and operation of all radio stations other than those maintained by the Bureau of Posts. As the appropriation used by this new Department for the current fiscal year was taken from the forced savings in salaries and wages and sundry expenses of bureaus and offices under the Office of the President, it is recommended that adequate appropriation be provided for this Department for the coming fiscal year.

It is hardly necessary to emphasize the importance of organizing an office to collect and compile statis­tical data for the use of the Government and the public. The Census Commission, after it has completed its work, should be converted into a per­manent bureau to render that service.

There are at present 363 officers and 3,735 men in the regular army and 4,829 officers and 104,412 men in the reserve. This shows that the youth of the land have responded patriotically to the call of duty and indicates how much has been accomplished in the execution of the National Defense Program.

Substantial progress is being made in public sanitation and in providing the poor with medical service. But there are still a number of provinces that do not count with proper hospital facilities. With the aid of the National Government, a more generalized pro­gram of hospital construction is being gradually carried out.

More funds should be appropriated for the care and protection of the underprivileged—the aged and infirm, the dependent and the destitute, as well as the neglected and the delinquent, the physically and the mentally handicapped children.

The extension of opportunities for public educa­tion to all children of school age continues to be one of the major problems of the Government. De­spite the opening of 3,600 extension classes and the construction of new buildings, there are still many children of school age out of school. The difficulty of the problem lies not so much in the shortage of funds as in the insufficiency of professionally-trained teachers. I have appointed a Joint Educational Sur­vey Committee for the purpose of studying and rec­ommending a solution for the recurring school crisis.

Greater importance is being given to character and civic education and the fostering of patriotism among the children and the youth. For this purpose, a code of citizenship and ethics has been promulgated and courses of study on character and civic education are being revised.

There is a growing popular response to the work of the Office of Adult Education as shown by the fact that there are How over 4,000 schools for adult citizens.

The survey conducted by the Board of Regents with the advice of two outstanding educators from the United States on the needs and problems of the University of the Philippines has been completed, and many of the recommendations are being put into effect. The transfer of the institution to the new site in Quezon City will proceed as rapidly as cir­cumstances will permit.

In order to meet the need of our industries for technological service, it is advisable that we increase the number of government scholarships abroad. From the appropriation at our disposal, we are able to grant only twenty scholarships every year. The better to carry out our program of economic development, this number should be increased.

More funds should be appropriated for the care and protection of the underprivileged—the aged and infirm, the dependent and the destitute, as well as the neglected and the delinquent, the physically and the mentally handicapped children.

For the first time in our judicial history the Su­preme Court has brought its docket up to date, while the Court of Appeals is fast moving to clear its own calendar of cases. The Supreme Court has not only decided many important questions but also enun­ciated constitutional doctrines that have far-reaching effect. In addition to this noteworthy accomplishment, the Court has recently promulgated the Rules of Court, which constitutes a revision of our procedural laws designed to expedite litigation and to render less expensive but more efficient the administration of justice.

As a consequence of the enactment of Common­wealth Act No. 177, carrying out the Constitutional mandate to extend the merit system to all branches and subdivisions of the Government, the selection of employees, not only in the national but also in the local governments, has been based on the merit sys­tem and practically all government employees are new in the classified civil service. All positions in the Government have been classified and salaries standardized as required by the Salary Law.

The volume of work in the Office of our Resident Commissioner at Washington is continually increasing as a result of the supervision of that Office of the various interests and activities of the Commonwealth Government in the United States. Whereas in the past the work of the Resident Commissioner was lim­ited to his congressional duties, it has become nec­essary since the establishment of the Commonwealth to entrust him with other duties as the representative of our Government in America. He has to supervise the work of the insular purchasing agent and the tobacco agent, take charge of matters relative to government pensionados, disseminate accurate information about the Philippines, promote Philippine trade, and look after the interests of Filipinos residing in the United States and territories. It is recommended that the appropriation for the Office of the Resident Commissioner be increased sufficiently to enable it to discharge efficiently these new duties and responsibil­ities.

The Supreme Court has not only decided many important questions but also enun­ciated constitutional doctrines that have far-reaching effect. In addition to this noteworthy accomplishment, the Court has recently promulgated the Rules of Court, which constitutes a revision of our procedural laws designed to expedite litigation and to render less expensive but more efficient the administration of justice.

The provinces, cities, and municipalities have maintained a sound financial position. The revenue laws recently passed by the National Assembly will increase their income by approximately P10,000,000 which will be twice as much as they used to receive from the cedula tax. The municipalities, however, are meeting Serious difficulties m balancing their school budget. The total estimated deficit of municipalities for current expenditures in the school fund is around P500,000. This deficit could be met by the repeal of the pro­vision of the new Real Property Assessment Law reducing to 50 per cent the valuation of coconut, hemp and other similar improvements. There is no justification for such a provision, considering that there is now being undertaken a revision of prop­erty values which is the best means for a proper assessment. This conclusion becomes more evident when it is considered that some provinces have only recently reduced the assessment of such improve­ments adjusting it to present conditions, as in the case of the Provinces of Tayabas and Laguna. I urgently recommend that the National Assembly take early action repealing that provision.

On September 15, 1939, the National Assembly adopted a resolution proposing important amendments to the Constitution. I refer to the amendments es­tablishing a bicameral legislature, changing the tenure of office of the President and the Vice-President, creating an independent Commission on Elections, and fixing a compensation for Senators and Representatives higher than that now received by the members of the National Assembly. By Commonwealth Act No. 492, it is provided that these amendments shall he submitted to the people for their ratification at the next general election for local officials. After hearing the views of provincial and municipal officials and the members of the Council of State, as well as other persons who have no partisan interest, I deem it my duty to recommend that the law be amended so as to authorize the holding of a plebiscite on these amendments on a date different from that fixed for the election of provincial and municipal officials. While this may entail more expenses for the Government, I believe that the change is imperative from the stand­point of public interest.

The proposed constitutional amendments are in effect a revision of the present Constitution, and the resolution proposing the same clearly contemplates that they should be submitted to the people in an integrated form. The amendments so affect the entire document and in this sense are so interrelated as to preclude any manner of having them voted upon separately or severally.

The importance of these amendments requires that they be submitted to the people for ratification or re­jection squarely and without the introduction of extraneous and irrelevant issues, and this would be impossible if the plebiscite were held on the same date as that set for the next regular election of local officers. The proposed amendments affect only the national Government and should be acted upon by the voters independently of local political interests or considerations.

The conquest and subjugation of formerly independent nations, the invasion by strong powers of insufficiently defended territories, the not infrequent disregard of international covenants and laws have of late caused great anxiety in the minds of many people both in the United States and in the Philippines, and not a few of them are raising the question whether it is the part of wisdom to carry out the plan already agreed upon of establishing the Philippine Republic in 1946.

No one can feel more keenly than I do the responsibility for the future of our people. The sacred duty of leading our Government through these first years of preparation for an independent national existence has fallen to my lot, and I have tried to discover by every means at my disposal if there be any compelling reason why the plan as decreed by the Congress of the United States and accepted by us should not be put through. I am of the opinion that the international situation has not developed to a point where anyone can predict what the fate of small nations will be in the years to come.

In the discussion of a possible change in the program of independence embodied in the Independence Act, it is important to bear in mind the following considerations:

  1. First. That the Government of the United States will not consider favorably any proposal merely to post­pone the granting of independence beyond 1946, meanwhile continuing the present political and economic set-up in the relations between America and the Philippines.
  2. Second. That if the Filipino people are unwilling or afraid to assume the responsibilities of independent nationhood by 1946, their only alternative is to petition Congress to declare the Philippines permanently as American territory.
  3. Third. That America will not assume the obligation to protect the independence and territorial in­tegrity of the Philippines against foreign aggression.

In the face of these considerations, the question for us to decide is whether because of the uncertainty of the future of small nations, we should abandon the idea of becoming independent.

I am unalterably opposed to the prolongation of the present political set-up beyond 1946 [Applause], because I believe that it is not conducive to our best interests. On the other hand, we cannot consider permanent political relationship with America except on the basis that the Philippines would at least have full and complete power over immigration, imports, exports, currency and related financial subjects, as well as the right to conclude commercial treaties with other nations, without being subjected to the super­vision and control of the United Slates. [Applause.] This, I am quite certain, is not feasible, considering the present state of public opinion in America.

I am unalterably opposed to the prolongation of the present political set-up beyond 1946 [Applause], because I believe that it is not conducive to our best interests. On the other hand, we cannot consider permanent political relationship with America except on the basis that the Philippines would at least have full and complete power over immigration, imports, exports, currency and related financial subjects, as well as the right to conclude commercial treaties with other nations, without being subjected to the super­vision and control of the United Slates.

It would be utopian to believe confidently that the Philippines would not be exposed to foreign aggres­sion, once we cease to be under the protection of the American flag. But, if we want to have the untram­meled right to govern ourselves as we think best for our own welfare, we must assume the responsibilities that go hand in hand with that right. [Applause.] That means that we shall have to depend upon our­selves and take our chance exactly as every inde­pendent nation had to do.

We hope for the best. We shall promote friendly relations with other nations and be mindful of their rights. We shall endeavor to protect and defend our national integrity and independence to the limit of our means. We know not what the future has in store for us, but we have faith in a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who alone holds our fate. [Applause.] We cannot falter in the at­tainment of our long-cherished Ideal. We must secure a place, however modest, in the concert of free nations. [Applause]

[Source: Gov.ph]

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TAGS: 1940, Legislative Building, Manuel Quezon, SONA, State of the Nation Address
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