Editor’s note: We are publishing in full the inaugural addresses of Philippines’ past presidents as Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is inaugurated president.
[Delivered at Luneta, December 30, 1957]
MY FELLOW COUNTRYMEN:
IN the sober exercise of your constitutional prerogative as a free people, you have elected me President of the Philippines. With humility and deep gratitude, I accept your mandate, and God helping, I shall not fail you.
With my oath of office goes my solemn pledge of dedicated service to the nation. Invoking the guidance of Divine Providence and the memory of my illustrious predecessors, I take upon myself the tremendous responsibilities of national leadership with the courage and fervor inspired by the warm national unity in dedication and devotion to country. But I must confess in all candor that the best and the utmost I can give in the service of the people will avail us little unless I receive the understanding, faith, and support of my countrymen. In every momentous time of our history our people have given their full measure of support to our leaders. As I assume national leadership in answer to your summons on a day consecrated by the supreme sacrifice of Rizal, I pray for one gift—the heart of the Filipino people. In return I give you mine.
In the spirit, therefore, of that covenant of the hearts between the people and their chosen leader, I face the future aglow with hope and confidence. Together we will meet our common problems and difficulties. With the singleness of purpose together we will overcome them.
Self-Sufficiency in Food.—As a people we prize highly the moral and spiritual values of life. But the realities of the moment have made us more preoccupied with economic problems chiefly concerning the material values of national life.
It is a strange paradox that while the basic articles in our fundamental economy are rice and fish, we are not self-sufficient in both from time immemorial. We, have gone into extensive plans and schemes in industrialization, foreign trade, foreign exchange, and similar matters, but we have not given sufficient thought or incentives, nor have we done enough to provide for the fundamental need of national life—foodstuff. In the midst of abundant natural resources for rice culture and fish production, we still have to import from abroad a substantial part of the supply to meet these absolute and irreducible necessities of life. Thus, in case of a blockade as dramatically shown in the last world war, this fact can be aserious weakness in our national defense. What happened in the last world war with tragic consequences to our army and our people should spur us to the high resolve never again to neglect this essential side of our economy.
It is, therefore, imperative that we lose no time and spare no effort in reorienting our national economic policies towards doing first things first. We must produce here, by and for ourselves, enough to provide for the fundamental needs of life—food, shelter, and clothing. The country now has the natural resources, the means, and the modern know-how to do it. We only lack the will to do it. Let us summon then from the spiritual reservoir of the nation the collective will and determination tomake our country self-sufficient in foodstuffs, shelter, and clothing. Our freedom must be nourished from the wealth of our own soil and by the labor of our own manhood. This is the key policy of this administration in the field of economics. To this I give my heart and hand.
International Reserves.—There has developed of late some apprehension arising out of the austerity measures adopted by the Administration to arrest further deterioration of our international reserves. I hasten to tell the nation that while the present financial situation calls for sober and realistic reappraisal of our policies and actions, there is no real cause for alarm. There has been no dissipation of our dollar reserves. But in our over-eagerness and enthusiasm to push forward our industrialization program, we transgressed the eternal laws of measure and proportion. As a retribution reality now constrains us to restore the correct proportion between dollar reserves and industrialization and also between these reserves and bond issues and other forms of public borrowing. To achieve this end, it behooves us to submit temporarily to measures of austerity, self-discipline, and self-denial. We have to sacrifice for the larger good of the greatest number. Nonetheless, we must continue our industrialization program with daring and courage. Let us not forget, however, that discretion is still the better part of valor. Our mistakes should not make us weaker in spirit. Rather, recognition of these should inspire us to strengthen our dedication and with the proper rectifications made, we shall carry on stronger in faith and confidence, and with clearer vision.
Agro-Industrial Economy.—In the light of our experience it has been dramatically pointed out that a well-balanced agro4ndustrial economy is the best for the country. Rice is still the center of gravity of our agricultural economy as steel is of our industrial economy. On these two basic factors, we build our agro-industrial economy. We have to step up the tempo of establishing the agricultural industries to utilize with the least delay the abundant natural resources which a bountiful Divine Providence has endowed us. We have the land, the climate, and other favorable natural conditions to produce ramie, cotton, and other fibers to feed our textile industries with raw materials. We have the land and natural conditions to produce raw rubber to provide steady supply of raw materials to our rubber and tire industries that minister to a nation on wheels. We have abundant flora and fauna for supplying the materials of drug and chemical industries.
And now what resources have we for our industrial economy? We have some of the world’s biggest iron deposits and abundant coal and manganese to provide the raw materials for the basic steel industry rightly called the mother of 101 other industries. To complement this, it is definitely known that the bosom of our earth contains unlimited mineral oil deposits to turn the wheels of industry and the propellers of prosperity. We have the natural hydro-electric resources which can be harnessed as a number of them already are, to supply cheap industrial power. The power-harnessing program will be kept up with increasing momentum to realize our desire for rural electrification.
With all these elements at our command, and with our youth rapidly acquiring the needed industrial technology and with the increasing demand for machineries and other steel products for our industrialization, it has become imperative for us to build soonest the steel industry. Out of the womb of steel industry we hope to generate here the machinery for the entire Philippine agro-industrial structure. Out of steel we will create the sinews of the nation.
Mining Industry.—But fellow countrymen, iron is only one of our principal mineral resources. We have practically all minerals used by present civilization, ferrous, non-ferrous, and mineral oils. The mining industry, therefore, has the potentiality of becoming the premier dollar-earning industry of the Philippines. This administration commits itself to giving all possible incentives and support to private enterprises which may invest and work to make mining the biggest of industries. The broader motivating spirit of modern Filipino industrialists is no longer money profit first, but rather the joy of creativeness and the exultation of the soul derived from the consciousness of having contributed to human happiness. May this spirit forever grow!
This administration is fully aware of the difficulties in financing our ambitious industrialization program. We have realized that our dollar reserves can no longer continue with the double role of providing for the normal requirements of our foreign trade and the tremendous financing of our industrial and economic development. The time has come to provide separate development funds to attend exclusively to the economic development and release our international reserves of this burden. I am fully convinced that we can generate development funds from sources other than taxes and the proceeds of our present exports. Development loans can be liquidated by the same industries they are intended to sustain.
An essential aspect of the program I have outlined, if we are to achieve optimum results, is the role of scientific and industrial research. No industry of any importance in the world today can afford to exist without it. This is our serious deficiency that we must immediately correct through collaboration of government and private enterprise.
My predecessor, the late President Magsaysay, opened not only the halls but the very heart of Malacañang to the people. To the common man, especially the needy, the forsaken and the victims of injustice, Malacañang symbolizes hope, faith, and justice. Under my administration, Malacañang will remain such a symbol. This Government will carry on dispensing social justice and protecting human rights. I expect every department to share in the great task of fortifying the faith of our people in their Government by bringing the Government closer to the people in terms of service and love.
Social Amelioration.—This administration will continue the vigorous prosecution of the social amelioration program. We give a higher premium to this social service program to demonstrate to our masses that in freedom and by democratic processes we can achieve peace, prosperity, and happiness. The Social Security Act, for instance, which gives to non-government wage earners insurance protection against sickness, disability, old age, death, and unemployment, will be fully implemented. Moreover, a large portion of the funds which this Act will generate will be channeled to selected sound investments to promote the general well-being, thus making the people investors and participants in the country’s economic destiny. The individual economic security assured to the beneficiaries of this Act will buttress the collective economic security of the nation. The Social Security System is protection to labor and provision to capital.
The Government will continue its low-cost housing projects and its land redistribution and resettlement program. We shall exert greater efforts so that more of our poor will eventually acquire homes and lands that they can call their very own. Home-and-land-owning citizens possess not only a sense of stability and contentment but also the practical patriotism to live for, and if necessary; to die for home and country. For upon the face of the patriot must have shone first the firelight of home.
We have a high stake in the health, strength, and vitality of our people. So we shall pursue our health development activities, especially in the barrios and other rural areas. Only a vigorous, healthy, educated, and aspiring people can build a strong and enduring Republic.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL DEFENSE
I once more reaffirm the determination of this administration to preserve and enhance our historic relations of friendship with the United States based on equality, mutuality of interests, and community of ideals. Tested in the crucible of war no less than in the sacrifices for peace, our partnership with the noble American people will long live vibrant in the hearts of our two peoples rather than in the pages of our treaties. Of course, it would be naivete to assume that no differences will ever exist between the two peoples. Differences do exist now and others may arise in the future. But in a spirit of fellowship and mutual understanding there can be none that cannot be adjusted on the basis of justice and equality to the satisfaction of each other’s interests.
In the face of grave threats to world peace and security, it is our solemn duty to strive with other free countries for strengthening the United Nations and make it a more effective instrumentality for peace. We have entered into a number of agreements with America, including a mutual defense treaty, and have associated with other freedom-loving states in the SEATO in an effort to meet those threats on regional level. We know that the United States, as recognized leader of the free world, is resolved with all her might and resources to maintain peace and freedom and democracy. The Philippines will discharge her humble share in the indivisible responsibility of preserving world peace and freedom. I hope that our Western allies in the SEATO will see eye to eye with us on the need for strengthening further the fabric of this regional defense organization and the capability of their Asian allies to meet subversion or open aggression.
We will preserve our friendship with Spain and the Latin-American republics with whom we are tied by indissoluble cultural, spiritual, and historical bonds. To our Asian friends we reiterate the good neighbor policy which we wish would prove mutually fruitful and beneficial.
National Defense.—In this nuclear age we must realistically admit that the defense of small countries like ours, to be effective at all, must be linked with the common defense of the free world. Nevertheless, the primary responsibility for the defense and security of our country and territorial integrity is still burs. It behooves us, therefore, to bring up to modern standards, within the limits of our resources and, we hope, with the assistance of our friends and allies, the major services of our defense organization. Only those can remain free who are worthy of it. Freedom must be constantly deserved. Our heroic heritage consecrated by the blood and sacrifices of our heroes and martyrs assures me that the program for the modernization of our defense will receive your warmest support. On this momentous day let me pay warm tribute to the Filipino soldier whose bravery and patriotism established firmly the Philippine Republic upon the rock of national unity and liberty.
Peace Diplomacy.—But deeper and more enduring than our preparations for defense is our hope and desire for world peace—a just, honorable, and lasting peace. The Philippines stands squarely behind every sincere plea and effort for a stop to the armaments race that is leading the nations of the world to material and moral bankruptcy. World peace based on a “balanced of terror” maintained by a relentless contest in the development of increasingly more devastating nuclear weapons is a danger-fraught situation only one spark away from a cataclysmic explosion leading inevitably to one end—the total destruction of civilization. This administration will therefore tirelessly support any sincere effort towards the removal of all means to wage war through total disarmament of all nations and ultimately towards the removal of all causes of war by channelling the tremendous resources now spent for destructive purposes to fighting misery, poverty, disease, and criminality the world over and bring about the climate and moral regeneration for world peace.
MORAL AND SPIRITUAL STRENGTHENING
The education of the youth, being essential to the progress of the nation and to the preservation of the freedom we have won, will receive increasing attention from this administration. I believe in preparing the youth of the land intellectually and morally for the responsibilities and leadership they have to assume later in life. Since bur economic development is the center of our common effort at this juncture of our national life, the education of our youth should henceforth lay emphasis on science, industrial and agricultural technology.
But with all our preoccupation with the national well-being, we cannot afford to neglect the moral and spiritual aspects of our national life. Together with the increasing material abundance, we need to strengthen our moral fiber. Our spiritual virtues must be constantly fortified. A nation does not live by bread alone, and no profit is gained in strengthening its economy if in doing so it loses its soul. The ruins of once mighty empires now buried under the dust of oblivion constantly remind us that material progress, unless based on a foundation of morality, eventually destroys itself. It is my firm conviction that the character of the nation anchored on the Rock of Ages is still our best answer to the challenge of Communistic ideology.
In this connection, I serve notice that the war against graft and corruption will continue with unabated zeal without fear or favor. Dishonesty and inefficiency in public service will be dealt with firmly but justly. By the same token, honesty and efficiency should be rewarded generously. In dealing with these things I intend to use preventive measures to minimize, not abolish, punitive measures.
These are what I envision for our country during the next four years. For their realization, I invoke once again the united cooperation and support of the Filipino people. Again, I reverently invoke the aid of Divine Creator, Infinite Fountain of all blessings, that we may have unity where we have been divided, that we may have faith and courage where we have faltered and weakened, that we may be given light and vision where we have walked in darkness, that we may have love where we have been selfish, and that we may achieve lasting peace, prosperity, and happiness for our people.