Inaugural Address of President Sergio Osmeña, August 10, 1944

Inaugural Address
His Excellency Sergio Osmeña
President of the Philippines
To the Cabinet-in-exile

 [Delivered at Washington D.C., on August 10, 1944]

Gentlemen of the Cabinet:

Nine days ago, when I performed the painful duty of announcing the passing of our beloved leader, President Manuel L. Quezon, I said in part:

President Quezon’s death is a great loss to the freedom-loving world. No champion of liberty fought for such a noble cause with more determination and against greater odds. His whole life was dedicated to the achievement of his people’s freedom, and it is one of the sad paradoxes of fate that with forces of victory fast approaching the Philippines, he should pass away now and be deprived of seeing the culmination of his labors—the freedom of his people.

President Quezon was a champion of freedom in war and in peace. The plains and hills of Bataan, where the brave Filipino and American soldiers faced with heroism the overwhelming power of the Japanese invader, were also his field of action during the revolutionary days. The city of Washington where his body temporarily rests was the scene of his early appeals and peaceful efforts for Philippine freedom. It was here, almost 30 years ago, where he secured from Congress the promise of independence, which is contained in the preamble of the Jones Law. Here, again, 18 years later, he succeeded in obtaining the passage of the Tydings–McDuffie Act—a reenactment with some slight amendments of the Hawes–Cutting Law which was rejected previously by the Philippine Legislature. Pursuant to the provisions of the Tydings–McDuffie Law, which was accepted by the Filipino people, we drafted our Constitution and established the present Commonwealth of the Philippines, and elected Manuel L. Quezon as first president.

When the war came and it became necessary to evacuate Manila, President Quezon, frail and sick as he was, moved with his Cabinet to Corregidor where he shared with the soldiers the rigors of the tunnel life and from there braved the hazards of a perilous journey to the Visayas, Mindanao, Australia, and America, in order to continue the fight for the freedom of his people. Here, in Washington, with his War Cabinet, he functioned as the legitimate government of the Filipino people and served as the symbol of their redemption.

It was largely through his untiring efforts that the Philippines was made a member of the United Nations and accorded a seat in the Pacific War Council. It was through his initiative that negotiations were held, resulting in the introduction of Senate Joint Resolutions 93 and 94. By the terms of Senate Joint Resolution 93, the advancement of the date of the independence prior to July 4, 1946, was authorized and the pledge given to the Filipino people by President Roosevelt in 1941—that Philippine independence will not only be established but also protected—was sanctioned by Congress. His efforts to secure the rehabilitation of the Philippines from the ravages of war resulted in the enactment of Congress of Senate Joint Resolution 94, which provides for the physical and economic rehabilitation of the Philippines. Even before Congress definitely acted on this resolution, he had already created the Postwar Planning Board, entrusting it, together with his Cabinet, with the task of making studies and submitting recommendations looking toward the formulation of a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the Philippines.

In the last few moments before his martyrdom, the great Rizal lamented that he would not be able to see the dawn of freedom break over his beloved country, but he prophesied that his countrymen would see that day. “I have sown the seeds,” he said, “others are left to reap.” Quezon, more fortunate than Rizal, died with the comforting thought that the freedom of the Philippines was already an incontestable reality, awaiting only the certain defeat of the enemy for its full expression.

The immediate duty, then, of those of us who, under the mandate of the Constitution and the laws of the Philippines, are charged with the mission of continuing President Quezon’s work, is to follow the course he has laid, to maintain and strengthen our partnership with America, and to march forward with the United Nations with unwavering faith and resolute determination until complete victory is won.

The tide of the war which rose high against us in the early stages of the struggle has turned in our favor. The forces of victory are on the march everywhere—in Europe, in India, and China, and in the Pacific Normandy and Britanny have been occupied by the Anglo-American forces. Poland is half reconquered by our Great Russian ally. Two-thirds of the Italian peninsula are in our hands, while thousands and thousands of planes continue to batter and destroy German communication and production centers, bringing the war to the German homeland.

In the Pacific, the progress of the war has been equally impressive. Most of the Japanese strongholds in the Bismarck Archipelago, in New Guinea, in the Gilberts, and in the Marshalls, have fallen. The Japanese bastion of Saipan is in Allied hands; so is Tinian. The reconquest of Guam is almost completed. B-29s, the American super fortresses, are already penetrating the Japanese inner defenses, causing destruction in the enemy’s vital centers of production. Gen. MacArthur’s forces are hammering the enemy’s outposts only 250 miles from the Philippines; while the United States Navy, maintaining mastery in the Central Pacific, is relentlessly attacking Palau, Yap, Ponape, and the Bonin Islands, in its steady advance toward the Philippines, China, and Japan.

The size and strength of the Allied landings in Europe, supported by thousands of planes and using thousands of ships, surpasses the immigration. It is no wonder that before them, the most formidable defenses of the enemy are crumbling. I believe that when our D-Day comes, the same pattern will be followed, and the mighty Allied forces will join our brave loyal countrymen in an epic victory.

But the forces of freedom will not land in the Philippines with guns and tanks alone. They will also bring with them food, medical supplies, and clothing which are so much needed by our suffering people. Thirty million pesos has already been set aside for the requisition of these supplies which will be sent to the front as soon as possible for distribution to our civilian population. As the war progresses and as more troops are landed in the Philippines, increasing quantities of these supplies will be made available. Philippine relief will be prompt and adequate.

As Philippine territory is wrested from the enemy, civil government will promptly follow military occupation so that the orderly processes of self-government may be established under the Constitution. Red Cross units, both Filipino and American, will follow the armies of freedom to help alleviate the suffering of the people. Hospitals, health, and puericulture centers will be reestablished. All schools in operation before the war will be reopened in order to resume an education of patriotism, democracy, and humanitarianism.

The veterans of our wars for independence, and all those who supported our struggle for freedom, will receive for their labors and sacrifices the full recognition expected of a grateful nation. War widows and orphans will be provided for. Ample compensation will be made for the destruction of public and private properties. Roads and bridges destroyed by the enemy will be rebuilt. Disrupted communications by land, sea, and air will be repaired and improved. Towns and cities, which either were destroyed or suffered damages because of the war will be reconstructed under a systematic and scientific town planning program. In this program, the towns of Bataan and Zambales will receive preferential attention. Bataan, the historic battleground where our brave soldiers, Americans and Filipinos, faced the enemy until death, will be made a national shrine.

In providing for the reconstruction of our industries and the rehabilitation of our agriculture, immediate attention will be given to factory workers and farmhands throughout the Philippines, and full and generous assistance will be given to the small farmers who, because of the war, have lost their nipa huts, their work animals, and farm implements.

We are making preparations to meet the manifold problems arising from the closing and insolvency of our banks, insurance, and credit institutions, the adulteration of our currency with unsound enemy issues, the impairment of the basis of taxation, and the initial difficulty of tax collection. Moreover, we are formulating a long-range economic program with a view to securing that sound economic foundation which will give our independence stability and permanence.

In the gigantic task of rehabilitation and reconstruction, we are assured of America’s full assistance and support. The joint Filipino–American Rehabilitation Commission is under the chairmanship of a staunch friend of the Filipino people, Senator Tydings of Maryland. To it is entrusted the task of studying and recommending to the United States and Philippine governments measures calculated to secure the complete physical and economic rehabilitation of the Philippines and the reestablishment as soon as possible of such commercial relations between the two countries, and will assure us a reasonable level of public and private property.

In the preparation and execution of the Filipino rehabilitation program, America’s support and assistance are essential. But there are responsibilities which we as people must undertake ourselves, and which can be assumed only if we are faithful to our ideals, principles, and commitments.

We are a Christian people and the faith that we imbibed sprang from our contacts with nations of Occidental civilization. We embraced Christianity a century before the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth. For more than 400 years we have kept that faith. We cannot now turn back and be a pagan people.

For centuries, we have been a law-abiding people. We believe in and practice democracy. That is the reason why Section III, Article II of our Constitution provides that we renounce war as an instrument of national policy and adopt the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the nation. It is repugnant to our Christian traditions and democratic ideals to be the satellite of a conquering power or to be allied with the masters of brute force, whether in Asia, Europe, or elsewhere.

The mutual relationship between the American and Filipino peoples for half a century has revealed to the Filipinos the high ideals of the American nation and the good faith that has always animated the United States in its dealings with us. Out of this association have arisen mutual understanding and continuous cooperation between the two countries, resulting in great national progress for the Philippine progress that is without parallel in history. In the epic of Bataan, where the American and Filipino soldiers fought together, the enduring friendship of our two peoples was sealed.

In this war between a free world and a slave world, the Philippines has freely and voluntarily taken side with the defenders of liberty and democracy. In the same manner as the enemy is resorting to every means to attain his evil ends, the United Nations are exerting their utmost to achieve complete victory. Pledged in this war to the finish, we will continue doing our best to help the war effort. Every commitment made by us in this respect will be fulfilled.

The Filipino people, with their wisdom in peace and gallantry in war, have established their right to take place in the family of nations as a full and sovereign member. We cannot renounce this right nor its obligations and responsibilities. We shall, as a free and self-respecting nation, fulfill our duties not only to ourselves but also to the entire freedom-loving world by participating in the establishment and preservation of a just peace for the benefit of mankind.

Our path of duty is clear. It is the path of national honor, dignity, and responsibility. It was laid out for us by the great heroes of our race—Rizal, Bonifacio, and Quezon. We shall move forward steadily to reach our goal, maintaining our faith in the United States and fully cooperating with her.

In the fulfillment of my duties as President of the Philippines, I ask in all humility and in all earnestness the cooperation of all my countrymen in the United States, Hawaii, in the homeland and elsewhere in the world. With their full and unstinted cooperation and support, and God helping me, I shall not fail.

Osmeña, S. (1944). Inaugural Address of His Excellency Sergio Osmeña President of the Philippines to the Cabinet-in-exile. Miscellaneous Publications, [pp. 8-9].