Official Week in Review: December 22 – December 28, 1972

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December 22—

PRESIDENT MARCOS reiterated his pledge to pursue the land reform program at all costs regardless of the obstacles placed in its path. The President renewed his pledge in a speech before tiller-tenants at the Maharlika hall of Malacañang before distributing individual certificates of land transfer to 431 former tenants representing the first batch to be emancipated, from their bondage to the soil they tilled, barely two months after the President issued his Decree No. 27 last October 21. Of the 431 new tiller-land owners, 14 came from Plaridel, Bulacan; 270 from Guimba and 63 from Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija; 65 from Tigaon, Camarines Sur; and 14 from Dingle and five from Pototan, Iloilo. Some of the tenants from, Zaragoza were former tenants of the President’s mother, Mrs. Josefa Edralin Marcos, whom he knew by their first names.

PRIVATE INSURANCE companies continued to be one of the major sources of funds for economic development as they invested the total amount of P4, 154,986.30 in development projects in November this year. The total investments of private insurance firms from January to November 1972 amounted to P111,504,507.56 in government and private economic development projects. Reliance Surety and Insurance Company, Inc. topped the investments for the month with a total of P630,000 in Central Bank certificates of indebtedness notes, while the rest were placed in DBP progress bonds and in commercial papers of manufacturing and public utilities firms.

MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT pledging their equipment, skills, logistics and manpower in rehabilitating and protecting denuded forest areas all over the country was forged by the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Department of National Defense. Signed by Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Arturo R. Tanco Jr. and Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile, the agreement provides for the restoration and protection of forest cover at the Mt. Arayat National Park and other areas that may be designated by the Bureau of Forest Development.

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY Alejandro Melchor Jr. led Malacañang officials and employes in bringing Christmas cheer to residents of barrio San Antonio in Bay, Laguna. Mr. Melchor was accompanied by Assistant Executive Secretary Roberto V. Reyes, Ronaldo B. Zamora, Flores Bayot and Ramon Cardenas, and about 600 division chiefs and employes from the Executive Office. Since Mr. Melchor became Executive Secretary, lie has led Palace personnel in bringing Christmas gifts to poor families in depressed areas of the country, under the Maligayang Pasko Project. In 1970, the objects of the employes’ goodwill were the typhoon victims in Casiguran and Infanta, Quezon, and some towns in Bicol; and the refugees in Marawi City and Iligan last year.

SOME 500 GOVERNMENT Farm Management technicians will undergo a four-month intensive training on new rice technology at the International Rice Research Institute, Laguna early next year. To be held January 8 to April 13, 1973, the training is in preparation for a massive package program for increasing rice production in the country. The trainees will come mostly from the Bureau of Agricultural Extension and Bureau of Plant Industry who are working under coordinated supervision of the National Food and Agriculture Council, These agricultural agencies will launch will launch the “Masagana 99” in 18 provinces covering a total rice area of 58,901 hectares of irrigated and 25,241 hectares of non-irrigated farms during crop year 1973-74. Provinces covered by the rice production program are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Leyte and Bohol.

December 23—

PRESIDENT MARCOS said that ethical transformation is as important to the New Society as social and economic transformation, “for it touches the soul of our nation.” In a message to the Knights of Columbus of Tagbilaran, Bohol on the occasion of its silver anniversary, the President observed: “But in building the New Society, we do not intend—as the communists have done and still do—to destroy everything, to raze the building, as it were, to the ground and build an entirely new structure. This is not only wasteful, it is unnecessarily traumatic.” He added: “Development in itself is difficult enough. We do not intend to destroy or discard for the sake of destroying or discarding. We will save, conserve and nurture those institutions and beliefs that are still viable and that contribute to the strengthening of our nation.”

PUBLIC INFORMATION Secretary Francisco S. Tatad, in defining the role of his department in the New Society, said it aims “to impart to the nation a distilled philosophy of our way of life, the way of life we intend to achieve for our people.” The basic raw material of the department is information, which Mr. Tatad described as a “commodity that moves people to do certain things in favor of other choices that endows them with habits, attitudes and values, so that they will ultimately be have in a particular way rather than in another way.” The secretary brought this message to the concluding session of a seminar on the New Society sponsored by the National Media Production Center, and attended by chief training officers and chief information officers in the government. “We give to information the duty of improving the quality of human life,” the secretary in his speech said. “Its role, therefore, is to carry the message of the policy-making authorities of our government and the civic leadership. Its integral role is to convey to the policy-making organs of the society the views, attitudes, habits and values relevant to the making of a public policy and such views, attitudes, habits and values from which a public philosophy may be distilled.”

IN ORDER TO GIVE the people ample time for an open and free debate on the proposed Constitution, President Marcos decided to post pone the holding of the plebiscite which was originally scheduled for January 15. Accordingly, the President directed: 1) the secretaries of justice, defense and public information to meet with Comelec officials in order to determine which of the two proposed dates—February 19 or March 5—should be chosen for the plebiscite; 2) the extension of the registration period for new voters which was to end December 23; and 3) the printing and distribution of copies of the proposed Constitution in eight major dialects. The decision to postpone the plebiscite was arrived at following a series of meetings between the President and leaders of various sectors of society.

JUSTICE SECRETARY Vicente Abad Santos issued Circular No 97 to all district and circuit criminal court judges, provincial and “city fiscals to give effect to the Presidential directive allowing free and open debate on the new Constitution proposed for ratification. ”The President has directed me,” the secretary said in the circular, ‘”to inform you that any person who might be arrested and detained in connection there with is entitled to prompt judicial remedies, including the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in case his arrest and detention are in connection with the plebiscite on the proposed Constitution. Accordingly, you are hereby directed to act on such cases with deliberate haste, reporting to me the action you have taken.” The President in a previous letter addressed to the secretaries of national defense, public information and justice, suspended the effects of martial law for purposes of the free and open debate on the proposed Constitution.

December 24—

PHASE TWO OF THE Operation Land Transfer launched a month ago by the Department of Agrarian Reform in the nine pilot municipalities almost crossed the finish line with 95 per cent of the tenant-tillers interviewed and 75 per cent of the barrios surveyed. A report submitted to the President stated that 11,467 out of 12,000 tenant-farmers were identified while 259 out of 344 barrios have been surveyed. Five of the nine pilot projects have passed through the parcellary mapping phase totalling 4,179 sketches made. Topping the list for the complete identification of tenants were San Mateo, Isabela; Plaridel, Bulacan; Biñan and Calamba, Laguna; while capping the list for the complete survey of barrios were Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija; San Mateo, Isabela; Plaridel, Bulacan; Biñan and Calamba, Laguna.

WITH PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 27, President Marcos placed in proper focus and perspective the vital role that land reform plays in the building of a new social order. The decree releases the tenant-farmers from the straight-jacket of feudal relations, transfers to them the ownership of the land they till and provides the instruments and mechanism with which they could carry out their complete emancipation. Needless to state, emancipation is not conferred. It is not a matter of fiats or pronouncements. It involves a process of struggle by which the tenants, given the necessary “instruments and mechanism,” translate their aspirations into reality. Thus, the decree emphasizes the importance of agricultural cooperatives, making these the basis for tenant- farmers to become eventually the owners of the lands they till.

TEN MORE OUTLAWS who participated in the aborted uprising in Marawi City last October 21 and 22 surrendered with their firearms to PC Chief Brig. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos at the Mindanao State University compound in Marawi. A total of 8,505 assorted firearms, including high power automatic weapons, collected in the two Lanao provinces, were also presented to Brig. Gen. Ramos.

CAMARINES NORTE will produce some 120,000 cavans more of rice this season despite sporadic attacks of pests and diseases on crops. Barring typhoons or floods, the province will easily realize this increase over its previous rice production. The average yield of rice in the province is now 70 cavans per hectare.

December 25—

PRESIDENT MARCOS on Christmas Day issued Decree No. 85 creating the Agrarian Reform Fund to support the financing requirements of agrarian reform provided for in Presidential Decree No. 27 and for other purposes.

THREE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN prisoners were granted executive clemency by President Marcos on Christmas Day. Assistant Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora submitted the list in three batches: First batch—absolute pardon, 14; conditional pardon with parole conditions, 124; commutation of sentence, 68; or a total of 206. Second batch—absolute pardon, 6; special absolute pardon, 2; conditional pardon with parole conditions, 63; commutation of sentence, 14; or a total of 85. Third batch—absolute pardon, 2 special absolute pardon, 4; conditional pardon with parole conditions, 27 commutation of sentence, 3; or a total of 36.

ALL PERSONS AND GROUPS were warned against exerting any undue influence or employing threats or other forms of coercion so that voters would vote for or against the proposed Constitution. The warning was sounded by the Comelec which ruled that these acts prohibited by Secs. 53 and 59 of the 1971 Election Code are also banned in the coming plebiscite. In support of their ruling, the Comelec commissioners said the aim of these provisions is “to secure to the voters maximum freedom in voting, uninfluenced by any threat, coercion or fraud or by any consideration other than the voters’ own judgment” so that any election or plebiscite would reflect their intelligent and unbiased decision.

December 26—

PRESIDENT MARCOS sent a message for “Day of Peace” to His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, through the Philippine ambassador to the Vatican in Rome. The message reads:

“My countrymen and I join in the laudable personal crusade of Your Holiness on behalf of world peace. Peace is possible—but not until the terrible race for military supremacy is permanently halted, and not until justice is conferred on the third of humanity which continues to be deprived of their just share in the bounty of the world.

“Our task today is two-fold: first, to help create the institutions through which all men of goodwill could collaborate in solving the ills which afflict mankind; and second, to undergo the necessary purification of spirit in order to combat the pessimism which beclouds our efforts to complete man’s programs for peace.

“To this two-fold task, of which Your Holiness is the acknowledged prime mover, the Filipino people extends its warm-hearted support. May the Lord in this Holy Season bless the efforts of your Holiness to establish a universal peace based on justice and may these efforts find a willing response in the hearts of men everywhere.”

AS OF DECEMBER 19, 1972 a total of 67,432 members of the GSIS and the SSS have availed themselves of the medicare benefits, Chairman Pacifico E. Marcos of the Medical Care Commission announced. Dr. Marcos said that the GSIS and the SSS medicare departments paid a total of P15, 170,511 for services rendered to medicare patients—P5, 320,783 by the GSIS and P9, 849,728 by the SSS. The average claim per patient was P227.48. Payments were made to hospitals, doctors and drugstores. Collection of contributions for the health insurance funds or medicare funds for Program I beneficiaries (GSIS and SSS members and their dependents) was started in January, this year. Total collection as of December 19 amounted to P88,159,811. Dr. Marcos said “this is a good indication that perhaps within 1973. Phase One or Program I can be expanded to include all legal dependents of SSS and GSIS members.”

STUDIES ON THE feasibility of transferring the domestic shipping port from North Harbor in Manila to an alternative site in Southern Luzon was directed by President Marcos. An alternative port for domestic shipping is being considered in view of the increasingly felt need to decongest the port facilities in the Greater Manila area.

FINANCE SECRETARY Cesar E. A. Virata announced that there are now a total of 9,294 defective scales and other instruments of weights and measures either confiscated or sealed in public markets by provincial, city and municipal treasurers and BIR men. The latest report on the number of defective instruments of weights and measures confiscated or sealed was reported to Secretary Virata by 18 provincial treasurers and 23 city treasurers who confirmed the rampant use of such defective weighing instruments and measures in public markets and other places of trade and commerce in their respective localities. Section 289 of the National Internal Revenue Code penalizes any person who uses such defective instruments of weights and measures by a line of not less than P200 nor more than P4,000 or by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than two years, or both, at the discretion of the court.

BRIG GEN. Jose L. Rancudo, Philippine Air Force commander, ordered the immediate airlifting of all information materials on the proposed Constitution for distribution to places which cannot be reached by land transportation. The PAF chief said that information pamphlets, and brochures on the forthcoming plebiscite were given priority so that the people would be informed before they make their final decision on Plebiscite Day.

LIBERAL PARTY congressmen, mayors and other local leaders were commended for joining the national campaign for ratification of the proposed Constitution, “thereby subordinating their political interests to the larger demands of duty to their people.” The commendation came from Dr Guillermo C. De Vega, chairman of the National Ratification Coordinating Council Secretariat, who added: “Only by the explicit identification of our political action with the national interest can we lay aside bitter partisan strifes and bring our country out of the divisive tendencies of the past.” The other day, nine LP congressmen and almost all LP governors, mayors and councilmen endorsed the approval of the proposed charter, declaring it to be “good for the general welfare.”

December 27—

GOVERNMENT AGRICULTURAL extension officers are now campaigning for the planting of vegetables which can be canned or preserved. This move is aimed at averting the possible oversupply of certain kinds of vegetables causing the lowering of prices to an unprofitable level. Prod by the Green Revolution project of the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, thousands of housewives, youths, employes and other people have turned backyards into lush vegetable gardens. These amateur gardeners have planted almost the same kind of vegetable—the fast growing leafy type like pechay, cabbage, lettuce and others, which do not last long. To keep the enthusiasm of the new vegetable raisers alive, government fieldmen are helping gardeners to switch from leafy to fruit vegetables which can be preserved for future use. Among such vegetables are ampalaya, eggplant, cucumber and others which can be made into pickles, as well as mungo and some beans which can be kept without preservatives until they are needed.

CONGRESS SHOULD CONVENE in regular session on January 22 as provided for by the present Constitution, according to Speaker Cornelio T. Villareal. Section 9, Article VI of the present Constitution provides that the “Congress shall convene in regular session once every year on the fourth Monday of January, unless a different date is fixed by law . . . . ” Speaker Villareal suggested that with the postponement of the plebiscite, Congress should convene. However, the House leader said that since the country is in a state of emergency and under Martial Law, “there should be sincere cooperation and coordination between Congress and the Executive Department. “I would suggest, Mr. Villareal said, “that Congress act in consonance with present circum stances and may pass measures certified by the President, which would strengthen the ability of our government to cope with the present emergency and to develop a New Society.”

SOME 17 POLLING places located in the barrios of Isabela were ordered transferred to the poblaciones by the Comelec upon recommendation of local election registrars who reported that most of the inhabitants m these barrios had moved out to the poblaciones as a result of military operations launched by the government against rebel groups. Chairman Jaime N. Ferrer said the Comelec may make similar moves with respect to polling places in several barrios in Cotabato, Sulu, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte where resurgence of unrest were also recently reported.

SOME 118 insurgents and sympathizers reaffirmed their loyalty to the government before military and municipal officials in a ceremony held near the Death March monument in Capas, Tarlac. The surrenderors who came from seven barrios in the formerly insurgent dominated towns of Concepcion and Capas, Tarlac, took their oath of loyalty before Brig. Gen. Tomas Diaz, 1st PC zone commander. Their surrender was arranged by Capas Mayor Gerardo David and Bamban Mayor Pedro Mendiola. Their surrender brought to 415 the total number of surrenderors in four weeks in Tarlac alone.

IMPORTANCE OF FARMERS, dairy men and rural broadcasters in bringing about the success of the New Society, was cited by Secretary of Public Information Francisco S. Tatad. “We need to produce more and we can do this by disseminating scientific methods of farming and production to make our economy more viable and more stable,” Secretary Tatad said in an extemporaneous speech before the Rural Broadcasters Council which conducts daily programs for farmers from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on scientific farming and production methods. Mr. Tatad was in ducting official of the new set of officers of the council.

PRESIDENT MARCOS sent a message of condolence to the widow of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman who died after a long illness. The message: “The Filipino people join me in extending to you our deepest sympathy in your hour of grief. President Truman served not only the American people during his years in the presidency; he also stood for the rest of the world as a worker for peace among- peoples and among nations. Even in time of war, he never allowed the aggression of others to diminish his concern for peace and justice. His passing has deprived all of us of a great leader and a good man. We will always remember him as a sincere and devoted friend.”

December 28—

PRESIDENT MARCOS underscored the role of religion in the drive for reformation under the New Society. Speaking before thousands at the Ilocos Norte mini-expo which was held simultaneously with the celebration of the Fourth Centennial of the Christianization of Ilocandia, the President said that the symbol of Christianity which has guided the lives of generations of Filipinos have a vital role in the drive for reformation because the principal aim of the program for change is change in the heart, change in the mind, and change in the spirit of man. Among the countries represented in the fair held in Laoag City were Australia, India, Egypt, Spain, Japan, United Kingdom, Indonesia United States, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Canada, Ghana, France, Germany, Korea, Sri Lanka and South Vietnam.

THROUGH THE EXPANDED fish production program under the New Society, the Bureau of Fisheries initially stocked 29,500 bangus finger-lings in Lake Lanao last December 8 to 10. The initial stocking was the first release of the 1.5 million bangus fingerlings targeted for dispersal in the lake. It is expected to replenish the stock of Lake Lanao and to boost the sustenance fishing of all fishing towns bordering the lake and to rehabilitate the means of livelihood of the Muslims in Lanao del Sur.

SOME 200 UNITS of irrigation pumps worth P1.2 million acquired by the Presidential Arm on Community Development from reparations will be turned over to the National Irrigation Administration to centralize the irrigation development program of the country. For the past four years, 2,600 units of irrigation pumps valued at P30 million were made available by the PACD to as many farmers and farmers’ associations. Since 1968 the PACD has been distributing low-cost irrigation pumps to farmers in various parts of the country to increase their production.

UNDERSECRETARY Rosendo R. Marquez of the Department of Local Government and Community Development also revealed that some 54,590 assorted community projects have been completed the past several years with the use of some P116 million from the Rural Improvement and Community Development Fund (RICDF). “More RICDF-funded projects numbering 12,016 are still under implementation,” Mr. Marquez said. “The completion of some 24,001 projects has yet to be reported.”

EXTENSION OF MEDICARE benefits to some 30,000 government employes who originally were not considered eligible to membership under Medicare Program I or the medicare plan for members of the Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System and their dependents—was announced by the Philippine Medicare Commission. These employes, most of whom have temporary appointments, constitute the optional members of the GSIS who were deemed as not embraced in the definition of an employe under the Medicare Law. Their insurance policy numbers are prefixed either with the letter “M” or “G”.

ONE OF THE PRIORITY projects of the government is a 130-kilometer highway which would relieve congestion in the Metropolitan Manila area by opening up vast lands in the eastern region. Named the “Marcos East-West Road,” the project will start in Marikina, Rizal and end in Infanta, Quezon. It will traverse the Sierra Madre mountains. This road is considered important as it will disperse eastward population and industry now congesting the Manila area and thus help solve the twin problems of traffic and pollution. It also traverses developing commercial and residential areas and vast agricultural lands, aside from the Sierra Madre mountain range which is rich in mineral deposits.

STARTING JANUARY 1, 1973, all persons applying for residence tax certificate “A” will be required to attach their identification photographs on the original copy of their residence tax certificates. Certificate “A” will be issued in a new form and in duplicate, the original of which will be issued to the taxpayer. It will be issued by the city and municipal treasurers instead of by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as it was done in the past. Other requirements are correct name, taxpayer account number, address, place of birth, date of birth, sex, weight, civil status, occupation and/or profession, GSIS or SSS policy number. It shall be the duty of every individual who takes the oath of office, receives any license, certificate or permit from any public authority, pays any tax or fee, receives any money from any public fund, or transacts other official business, or receives any salary or wage from any person or corporation, to exhibit his residence tax certificate.

NEW MORALITY NOW pervades among the officer and employes in all the bureaus and agencies of the Department of Finance. This is the year-end report of Secretary Cesar E. A. Virata who observed that Proclamation 1081 brought about an abrupt decrease in the number of reports on alleged harassment, extortion and other highly irregular activities in all bureaus and agencies of the department. “The employes are now courteous where there used to be arrogance. There is office discipline and sincere efforts to serve the public where there used to be “indifference.” Secretary Virata also said that since the proclamation of Martial Law, 1,005 officials and employees of the department and its bureaus and agencies were either dismissed or separated from the service.

EFFECTIVE LAST DECEMBER 12, foreign technicians were no longer allowed to come into the Philippines to work in a wholly or partly nationalized trade, business or industry without previous approval by the Office of the President or the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. The economic fields covered by the restriction are retail trade, mining, oil exploration, transportation, agriculture, exploitation of natural resources and the specific trades, businesses and industries reserved by law for Filipino citizens.

WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS joined ranks with the Department of Social Welfare to launch a massive Get Out and Vote Campaign for the coming plebiscite. Organized under the Civic Assembly of Women of the Philippines, the women’s organizations; numbering about 60, pledged their support of the campaign which is co-chairmanned by Leticia P. de Guzman, CAWP president, and Social Welfare Secretary Estefania Aldaba Lim who represents the government women’s division. According to Mrs. De Guzman, “women’s civic organizations being what they are and what they stand for cannot ignore this historic event in our country.” Thus, she added, the CAWP recognizes and accepts the challenge to women to take an active part in the plebiscite. The CAWP will emphasize the need for all qualified voters to cast their ballots on plebiscite day regardless of whether they are for or against the proposed Constitution.

Source: National Library of the Philippines

Office of the President of the Philippines. (1973). Official Week in Review. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 69(1), iii-x.