His Excellency Ramon Magsaysay
President of the Philippines
[Delivered at the Independence Grandstand, Manila, on December 30, 1953]
You have called upon me to assume the highest office within our gift. I accept the trust humbly and gratefully. My sole determination is to be President for the people.
The office of President is the highest in the land. It can be the humblest also, if we regard it – as we must – in the light of basic democratic principles. The first of these principles is the declaration of the Constitution that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates form them.” This simply means that all of us in public office are but servants of the people.
As I see it, your mandate in the past election was not a license for the selfish enjoyment of power by any man or group of men. On the contrary, it was an endorsement of the principle – at times forgotten – that the general welfare is the only justification for the exercise of governmental power and authority.
Your mandate was a clear and urgent command to establish for our people a government based upon honesty and morality; a government sensitive to your needs, dedicated to your best interests, and inspired by our highest ideals of man’s liberty.
We have a glorious past. Now we must build a future worthy of that past.
It is significant that we begin on this day and on this ground hallowed by the supreme sacrifice of Jose Rizal. We can find no finer example of dedication to country to light our way.
All too often, however, we speak of Rizal – and of Del Pilar, Bonifacio, Mabini, and our host of heroes – as if their work were done, as if today their spirit had ceased to have any meaning or value to our people. The truth is that we need their spirit now more than ever. We need it to complete the work which they began.
We need men of integrity and faith like Rizal and Del Pilar; men of action like Bonifacio; men of inflexible patriotism like Mabini. We need their zeal, their self‑reliance, their capacity for work, their devotion to service, their ability to lose themselves in the common cause of building a nation.
I will have such men. From this day, the members of my administration, beginning with myself, shall cease to belong to our parties, to our families, even to ourselves. We shall belong only to the people.
In the administration of public affairs, all men entrusted with authority must adhere firmly to the ideals and principles of the Constitution.
I will render – and demand – uncompromising loyalty to the basic tenet of our Constitution; that you, the people, are sovereign. The rule of government must be service to you.
Accordingly, I pledge my administration to your service. I pledge that we shall extend the protection of the law to everyone, fairly and impartially – to the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlettered – recognizing no party but the nation, no family but the great family of our race, no interest save the common welfare.
The Bill of Rights shall be for me and the members of my administration, a bill of duties. We shall be guardians of the freedom and dignity of the individual.
More than this, we shall strive to give meaning and substance to the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution – by helping our citizens to attain the economic well‑being so essential to the enjoyment of civil and political rights.
The separation of powers ordained by our Constitution – as an effective safeguard against tyranny – shall be preserved zealously. Mutual respect for the rights and prerogative of each of the three great departments of government must be observed.
The legislative power vested by the Constitution, in the elected representatives of the people will, I trust, operate vigorously to prosecute our common program of honest, efficient and constructive government. As Executive, I look forward to intimate cooperation with the members of Congress, particularly with those statesmen who have stood guard over the rights and liberties of our people.
The independence of the judiciary shall be strengthened. Our courts must be freed from political and other baneful influences, so that they may function with the same integrity and impartially which have made our Supreme Court the fortress of law and justice.
Heretofore, social justice has raised fervent but frustrated hopes in the hearts of our less fortunate citizens. We must not permit social justice to be an empty phrase in our Constitution. We must bring it to life – for all.
In consonance with this purpose, my administration shall take positive, energetic measures to improve the living conditions of our fellow citizens in the barrios and neglected rural areas and of laborers in our urban and industrial centers.
The land tenure system of our country shall be reexamined, to purge it of injustice and oppression.
“Land for the landless” shall be more than just a catch‑phrase. We will translate it into actuality. We will clear and open for settlement our vast and fertile public lands which, under the coaxing of willing hearts and industrious hands, are waiting to yield substance to millions of our countrymen.
Democracy becomes meaningless if it fails to satisfy the primary needs of the common man, if it cannot give him freedom from fear and on which a strong republic can be built. His happiness and security are the only foundations on which a strong republic can be built. His happiness and security shall be foremost among the goals of my administration.
We must develop the national economy so that it may better satisfy the material needs of our people. The benefits of any economic or industrial development program shall be channeled first to our common people, so that their living standards shall be raised.
While I shall give priority to our domestic problems, my administration will not neglect our international responsibilities. We cannot escape the fact that, today, the destinies of nations are closely linked. It is in this spirit that we regard the goodwill and assistance extended to us through the various programs of international economic cooperation with the more developed nations, chiefly the United States. Considering this aid to be primarily a means of speeding up our progress toward self‑reliance, I pledge that every peso worth of assistance will be spent honestly and to the best advantage.
It is to our common interest that this Republic, a monument to mutual goodwill and common labor, should prove to the world the vitality of the democracy by which we live.
We shall continue to cooperate with the United Nations in seeking collective security and a just world peace.
No effect will be spared, no element of cooperation will be withheld in strengthening and safeguarding our physical security. We are prepared to live up to all our obligations under our Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.
To our Asian brothers, we send our fraternal greetings. They are beset by problems of the same nature and complexity as those that confront us. We invite them to share our experience in finding solutions to those problems through democratic means. It is my hope that we can exchange experiences and information on methods that each of us has found most effective in subduing illiteracy, poverty, disease, under-productivity, and other common evils which have afflicted our countries of past generations.
The problems and opportunities ahead of us set the measure of the effort we must exert in the years to come. We must have unity to solve our problems, cooperation to exploit our opportunities. I urge you to forego partisan differences whenever the national interest clearly demands united action. We must not be distracted from our work. We have no time for petty strife.
Certainly we cannot temporize with armed dissidence. I therefore call upon the remnants of the Huk uprising still hiding in the hills to lay down their arms – and rejoin the rest of the nation in the ways of peace. I say to the rank and file of the Huks – who have been misled by the lies of the Kremlin – that they can win the economic security and social justice they desire only within the framework of our democracy. We shall welcome back the truly repentant with understanding and with sympathy.
But, to the leaders of the Communist conspiracy who would deliver this country and its people to a foreign power, this I say: I shall use all the forces at my command to the end that the sovereign authority of this government shall be respected and maintained. There can be no compromise with disloyalty.
I have been warned that too much is expected of this administration, that our people expect the impossible. For this young and vigorous nation of ours, nothing is really impossible!
Let us have faith in ourselves, the same faith that fired the heroic generation of revolution. They waged and won their struggle with nothing but bolos in their hands and courage in their hearts. Without political training and experience, they wrote a constitution comparable with the best, and established the first republic in Asia. Our own generation was told by doubters and enemies that we would never have independence from the United States. We live today under a free and sovereign Republic. Our faith was fulfilled.
Today, we are told anew that it is impossible to do what must be done. But our people, sustained by God, under whose protection we have placed our destiny and happiness, and strengthened by an abiding faith in His goodness and mercy – our people, united and free, shall shape a future worthy of our noble heritage if we but act; act together; act wisely; act with courage; and act unselfishly, in a spirit of patriotic dedication.