Official Month in Review: March 1949

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PRESIDENT Elpidio Quirino’s increasing interest in the promotion of cordial relations between labor and management gained renewed impetus on March 1 when he asked the Cabinet to move swiftly to provide funds to cover the special budget of the Labor-Management Advisory Board. The amount of ₱25,000, representing the expenses of the Board from January 1 to June 30, 1949, was forthwith approved by the Cabinet, the sum to be pro-rated among the income-producing entities affiliated with the Government Enterprises Council.

IN behalf of the Filipino nation, the President on March 1 complimented Syngman Rhee, President of the Korean Republic, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Korea’s struggle for independence. The President extended the Philippines’ sincerest wishes for the continued success of the New Republic.”

IN the presence of ranking Department of Education officials, President Quirino on March 1 signed the deed of sale transferring the site occupied by the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, to the U.P. Board of Regents. The property turned over comprises eight parcels of land in the Mariquina estate, aggregating 4,930,981.3 square meters. A token sum of P1.00 was paid by the state university to the Republic of the Philippines.

THROUGH the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Government on March 1 congratulated the Siamese Government for the choice of Bangkok as the seat of the International Rice Commission Conference scheduled to open there on March 7. The Philippine delegation to the IRC meet, headed by Undersecretary Jose S. Camus of Agriculture and Natural Resources, had previously been instructed by the President to convey to the Government of Siam this manifestation of goodwill by the Philippines.

THE Philippine Government on March 2 accepted the Italian invitation to participate in the 13th Levant Fair (Fiera del Levante) to be held in Bari, Rome, next September. The invitation was extended through the Philippine Legation in Rome by Dr. V. A. Atlante, vice-president of the fair.

PRESIDENT Quirino on March 2 assured Dr. Y. T. Pyun, head of the Korean goodwill mission to the Philippines, that the Philippine Government would extend de jure recognition (as it subsequently did) to the UN-sponsored Republic of Korea.

THE policy of using Philippine Naval Patrol ships in carrying strictly Government interisland cargo was upheld by the Cabinet on March 2. This question was decided in view of a petition by the Philippine Shipowners’ Association that such practice amounts to unfair competition. The Cabinet’s position was taken primarily as an economy and rehabilitation measure. The Cabinet, however, underscored its policy prohibiting Government officials and employees from making use of PNP vessels in transporting personal or private cargoes.

THE sum of ₱20,000,000 was approved by the Cabinet on March 2 as an overdraft from any available Government funds to meet the expenses for elementary classes throughout the Philippines in order to assure their continuance until the ₱33,689,988 Deficiency Appropriation Bill pending in the current session of Congress is approved. The Budget Commissioner and the Secretary of Finance were understood to have wired instructions to authorities concerned in the provinces to proceed with the payment of salaries of teachers covered by this fund.

PRESIDENT Quirino’s determination to sweep the Government clean of graft and corruption, which he reiterated in the wake of the Senate rumpus, elicited popular commendation and drew spontaneous support from all sections of the country in the form of telegraphic messages which started pouring into Malacañan early this month. The President’s well-wishers assured him of their solid support in his crusade and expressed their renewed confidence in his leadership.

THE Cabinet on March 3 launched a large-scale agricultural and industrial project designed to make all the penal colonies in the country self-supporting. As approved, the project calls for the exploitation and development of the natural resources of these penal institutions, and the utilization of the immense manpower at the disposal of the Bureau of Prisons.

IN formally bidding goodbye to his military adviser, Maj. Gen. Albert M. Jones, outgoing Chief of the Joint U. S. Military Advisory Group in the Philippines, at a farewell luncheon in Malacañan on March 4, President Quirino expressed confidence that Gen. Jones will exert all efforts to obtain adequate American military assistance for the Philippines. Responding, General Jones expressed his gratitude to the Filipino people and pledged to do everything he can for the Philippines in the future.

ADDRESSING Rotarians gathered at the Manila Hotel on March 4 in connection with the Sixth Conference of the 81st District of Rotary International, President Quirino emphasized the total economic mobilization program of the Government, underscoring the need for more alien capital, especially American, to come here to assist in this endeavor. (See HISTORICAL PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS for the complete texts of this and other speeches and pronouncements of the President in March 1949.)

ANOTHER knot was tied in PI-Spanish relationship with the signing of two treaties between the Philippines and Spain on March 4; namely, the Treaty on Academic Degress and the Exercise of Professions, and the Cultural Treaty. President Quirino, in his capacity as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Spanish Minister Teodomiro de Aguilar y Salas signed for their respective Governments. The ceremony took place in the Council of State room, Malacañan.

PRESIDENT Quirino on March 5 enplaned for the Cagayan Valley on a three-day fact-finding tour of the area. This was in line with his policy of bringing the Government closer to the people and of finding out for himself actual conditions in remote areas of the country. That afternoon, before what was described as the largest crowd ever to assemble in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, the President formally opened the 1949 national interscholastic games. The President said he travelled a long distance to open the meet because he considers athletic competition conducive to the development of unity, oneness of purpose and sportsmanship in the national character.

THE National Economic Council on March 7 whipped into final form the draft resolution implementing the Administration’s ₱200,000,000 development plan, which the committee on priorities had previously submitted to that body. The resolution will subsequently be submitted to President Quirino for final approval.

ADDRESSING a big crowd in Ilagan, Isabela, on March 7, President Quirino urged the people to maintain calm during these troubled days. He emphasized that emotions should not be permitted to confuse the real issue of clean, honest and efficient government which he described as the primary aim of his Administration.

IN his wind-up speech at the Ilagan (Isabela) airstrip the morning of March 8, the President declared that he did not make the trip to ask for votes “but merely to seek inspiration and encouragement and to assure myself that the people are behind me in my crusade for a clean, honest and dignified government.”

IMMEDIATELY after landing in Manila on March 8, President Quirino met his A Cabinet and informed them of conditions as he saw them in the places he visited. The President said he found the people up North vigorously devoting full time to agricultural production, adding that he was very much impressed by the high civic spirit and cooperative attitude of the Cagayan people toward the Government. As a result of his trip, the President said, he was now better prepared to take immediate steps to expand major valley industries in line with his ₱200,000,000 economic development program.

AMERICAN Ambassador Myron Cowen, in a cable from Camberra, Australia, on March 8, expressed his gratitude for the felicitation which Ambassador. Manuel V. Gallego had sent him on the occasion of the confirmation of his appointment as head of the U.S. Embassy here. On the same day, the Department of Foreign Affairs transmitted to the President a cablegram from the Government of the Republic of Korea, expressing its gratitude and deepest appreciation for the de jure recognition of its independent nationhood extended it by the Philippine Government.

THE authority of the United States Maritime Commission to charter vessels and to extend the chartering rights to Filipino citizens is extended up to June 20, this year, by virtue of Public Law No. 12 passed by the U. S. Congress and signed by President Truman. This was the information transmitted on March 8 to Malacañan, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, by the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

THE President on March 9 took up with Maj. Gen. Hugh Casey, chief engineer of SCAP and former adviser of the National Power Corporation, the vital aspects of the Government’s power development program, including the hydroelectric power plants in Itogon, Ambuklaw, Lumot and Maria Cristina. Gen. Casey has been requested by the NPC to assist its engineers and consultants in reviewing and whipping into form the Government’s overall power development program.

PRESIDENT Quirino on March 9 addressed an urgent letter to the Philippine Senate requesting immediate action on House Bill No. 2313 appropriating more than ₱33,000,000 to cover the operation and maintenance of about 6,000 additional elementary classes, and which likewise provides for the adjustment of salaries of school teachers. In his letter, the President said it is “imperative” that action on the Deficiency Bill be expedited because “the national interest requires that the orderly conduct of these classes be undisturbed.”

MALACAÑAN on March 9 turned over to the Secretary of Justice for appropriate action the report of the Alvendia committee recommending criminal action against persons involved in allegedly anomalous surplus property transactions at the Cebu base involving over ₱1,000,000.

THE wholesale exploitation of the ramie industry in the Philippines, including the manufacture of ramie fiber into finished products both for local use and for export, was recommended to the President on March 10 by Dr. Ariston J. Hermano, chief chemist of the National Development Company. Dr. Hermano, who had just concluded a study of ramie manufacture in Japan, called on the President in a ramie suit which, he said, was manufactured in Japan “out of ramie fibers imported from the Philippines.”

JEWELRY belonging to the Laurel and Osias families, which had been confiscated by SCAP at the Philippine Embassy Building in Tokyo, Japan, were formally restituted to their owners at a brief ceremony in Malacañan on March 10. President Quirino, acting for the Government, conveyed the Laurel property to Mrs. Jose P. Laurel and two other members of the Laurel family, while Mrs. Camilo Osias received the Osias property.

A RECORD crowd of some 15,000 Philippine veterans, war widows and orphans lustily cheered on March 10 when the Chief Executive declared that “I am with you 100 per cent in all your demands.” The occasion was the demonstration on the Malacañan grounds by the Philippine veterans.

A PROPOSAL to hold a conference of representatives of weather services from Japan, China, Hongkong, Siam, Indo-China and the Philippines, to discuss means of improving existing systems of typhoon warnings to ports, shipping and aircraft, was approved by the Cabinet on March 11. The conference is scheduled to be held in Manila on or before April 1, 1949.

NORRIS E. Dodd, Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, on March 11 assured President Quirino that the FAO will give its full support to any venture calculated to speed up the economic rehabilitation of the Philippines. The President, on the other hand, reiterated his desire to see foreign capital invested in the Philippines as a measure to speed up its rehabilitation.

THE first financial outlay under the Government’s ₱200,000,000 economic development program was released by the Central Bank of the Philippines on March 11. This initial investment in income-producing projects, amounting to ₱469,200, was advanced by the Central Bank to the Treasurer of the Philippines who in turn will advance the sum to the National Development Company, The NDC will then use the money as first payment for the construction of three 10,000-ton ocean-going vessels to be built in Japan under the supervision of SCAP.

COMMENTING on the statement made in the Senate on March 11 by Senator Camilo Osias that the Government corporations are losing ₱1,000,000 a month Finance Secretary Pio Pedrosa stated that the fiscal year 1948 operations of 13 corporations yielded profits of 23.6 million (excluding net proceeds of ₱33.9 million of fund-raising agencies—Surplus Property Commission, Shipping Administration and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes), while 7 corporations incurred losses amounting to ₱9.9 million, leaving a net gain of 13.7 million, thus discounting the gravity of the Osias allegation.

SPEAKING before a large group of provincial and city delegates to the annual convention of the League of District and City Health Officers on March 12 at the Malacañan Social Hall, President Quirino lauded the delegates’ fine work in conserving the health of the nation, and urged them to “keep up with the good work.” The delegates presented a memorial to the President congratulating him for his achievements and reaffirming their loyalty to him and support of his administration.

PRESIDENT Quirino on March 13 received assurance from the Philippine Contractors Association that all efforts will be exerted by the contractors to hasten the completion of the Administration’s rehabilitation and reconstruction program. The occasion was a cocktail party given by the Chief Executive in the Palace during the concluding day of the contractors’ convention.

PRONOUNCING a major policy decision, President Quirino on March 14 invited private enterprise to take over the money-making industrial projects of the Government as a measure designed to give incentive to private capital and to prevent Government competition with private enterprise. This far-reaching pronouncement was made by the Chief Executive at the meeting of the National Economic Council on that date.

IN his fifth monthly radio chat on March 15, the President commented lengthily on recent major developments, including the Supreme Court decision on the Senate row, over which he expressed elation stating that the matter was solved through peaceful processes and the due course of law. Blasting at his critics, the President answered the current attacks on his Administration, including the charges of dictatorship, fascism, lawlessness, school crisis and the allegations that he is a vindictive official. He wound up his radio chat by calling upon the Filipino people to unit together and work and meet the challenge for national sobriety and sense of proportion.

THE Administration’s economic development program took another decided step forward on March 15 when President Quirino formally approved the resolution of the National Economic Council outlining the schedule of priorities of the income-producing industries that will receive immediate financial support from the ₱200,000,000 development fund. The President likewise approved the short-term development blueprint of the NEC immediately making available to the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation funds for financing private or Government projects with top priority.

PRESIDENT Quirino condoled with the family of Director of Prisons Eriberto B. Misa who passed away on March 15, a victim of heart disease. Director Misa, who was 59 at the time of his death, had been in the public service for 25 years and had been responsible for many penal reforms in the country, particularly in the Muntinlupa Prisons.

REAR Admirals Francis P. Old and Ralph W. Christie, incoming and outgoing commander of the United States Naval Forces in the Philippines, respectively, formally paid their respects to the President on March 17. Both were honored at luncheon by the Chief Executive on March 19.

MEMBERS of the Capital City Planning Commission on March 17 were congratulated by President Quirino for their speed in finishing the master plan of the Capital City. The President and other high Government officials had a “preview” of the Capital City when the Council of State room in Malacañan was converted into a display room for 16 illustrative maps and five clay models depicting various aspects of the project.

THE Cabinet on March 18 approved the proposal to send a delegation of Philippine educators to the International Educational Conference scheduled to be held in the United States in April. The following were designated members of the Philippine delegation upon recommendation of Secretary of Education Prudencio Langcauon: Antonio A. Maceda, Abdon Javier and Isaac Decena.

DRASTIC measures to stamp out reported abuses by tax collectors and other Government officials who are said to be victimizing certain business establishments, especially in the Manila area, were ordered taken immediately by President Quirino during the Cabinet meeting on March 18. The President called for an intensified campaign to curb such abuses which, he said, tend to undermine the confidence of the people in the Government.

THE Department of Foreign Affairs on March 18 took a hand in the much-publicized case of Lorenzo Gamboa, an American citizen and U. S. Army enlisted man of Filipino parentage, who had been refused permission by Australian authorities to visit his wife and two children in Australia. Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Felino Neri wired inquiries to the Philippine Mission in Tokyo and to the Consul General in Sydney, Australia, requesting verification on the matter.

DECLARING that teaching “is certainly not a profession but an apostleship,” President Quirino on March 18 reaffirmed his “great faith in the spirit of service” of the country’s school officials and teachers. The occasion was the signing by the Chief Executive of two bills appropriating an aggregate sum of ₱45,698,988 to cover the deficiency in the current appropriation for the operation and maintenance of existing elementary classes and for the adjustment of the salaries of public school officials, teachers and other personnel of the Bureau of Public Schools.

UPON representation of Senator Lorenzo Tañada and Baler Mayor Pedro V. Guerrero, President Quirino on March 19 directed the Department of Public Works and Communications to see to the immediate erection of a fitting memorial to the late President Quezon in his hometown, Baler, Quezon.

THE National Economic Council on March 19 set into motion the machinery for the intensification of rice production by approving the recommendations of the committee on agricultural policy for hastening the completion of the Government’s various rice projects. The Council also voted an initial sum of ₱1,000,000 to the National Power Corporation for the Lumot project.

HOUSE Bill No. 1209 (now Republic Act No. 344), which eliminates the specific tax on skimmed milk (milk from which the fatty part has been removed), was signed by the President on March 21. The law will benefit the great mass of the population who are deficient in nutrition because skimmed milk in sufficient quantities can be reconstituted into full cream milk by the addition of the proper amount of cream.

A PACIFIC Defense Pact, more or less patterned after the now famous North Atlantic Pact, with the United States taking the initiative, was advocated by President Quirino in an exclusive interview with the United Press on March 21. Prominently played up by the press throughout the world, the President’s proposal for a defense pact for all Pacific countries, drew widespread and for the most part favorable reaction. Typical reaction abroad was reported by Minister Narciso Ramos in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who said that Latin-American newspapers, including the influential La Prenza, prominently featured the Quirino proposal. Minister Ramos congratulated the President for the initiative in advocating the proposed pact.

A CALL for economic statesmanship coupled with moral leadership in order to achieve a society in the Philippines in which the humblest man may live under conditions of freedom, dignity and equal opportunity, was sounded by President Quirino during his commencement address at the Philippine Women’s University on March 22.

IMMEDIATE suspension of the exportation of scrap iron was ordered by Cabinet on March 22 in a move designed to conserve scrap metal for use in steel plant which the Government plans to establish in the near future. The decision was made upon recommendation of Secretary of Public Works and Communication Ricardo Nepomuceno.

A BILL fathered by Congressman Zosa of Cebu, appropriating ₱100,000 for the publication in book form of the speeches, messages and other writings of the late President Manuel Roxas, was signed by President Quirino on March 23.

PRESIDENT Quirino on March 23 reiterated his policy of “distributing men in the fields in which they are best qualified,” after administering the oath of office to Eustaquio Balagtas as Director of Prisons. On the same day, the Chief Executive issued urgent instructions to Secretary of Justice Sabino Padilla and Secretary of Public Works and Communications Nepomuceno to take immediate criminal and administrative action against postmasters and other municipal officials in Lanao and Cotabato reported to have been racketeering in war damage payments.

PRELIMINARY steps for the proposed ale of the Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Company, a semi-Government entity, were started on March 23, following representations made with President Quirino by the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters for the purchase of the company. A committee of five was appointed by the President to assess the value of the sugar firm.

A 4-MAN delegation to represent the Philippines at the Conference of the Committee on the Whole, Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), which was scheduled to open on March 28 in Bangkok, Siam, was appointed by the Cabinet on March 23. Those named were PRATRA General Manager Ildefonso Coscolluela, Director of Commerce Saturnino Mendinueto, Bias Gomez and Jose E. Velmonte.

A NEW set of currency in the Philippines was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on March 25. In accordance with the recommendation of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank, the face of the notes will bear the photographs of dead Filipino heroes and the reverse side will bear attractive vignettes of some historically famous Philippine scene, building or monument, or an allegorical design.

THE overall situation of three of the principal industries of the Philippines, sugar, coconut and abaca, was extensively discussed by Government experts and private businessmen in three successive meetings held on March 25 in the Council of State room in Malacañan, in the presence of William Gilmartin and Eric Beecroft, World Bank officials who were commissioned to conduct a survey of these and other industries here, particularly the progress made to date and the rehabilitation projects connected with them.

SPEAKING extemporaneously on the occasion of the formal opening of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks clubhouse on the Luneta on March 26, President Quirino declared that the Unites States cannot afford to neglect the Pacific Basin which he described as “the richest and most important area in the world today.” He took occasion to amplify on his previous statement regarding the need for a Pacific Defense Pact by saying: “With the North Atlantic Pact, you are guarding your front door. But, you need to guard your backdoor, too.” His audience was predominantly American.

FOUR top brass of the Siamese Army, who are on a tour of study in the Philippines, the United States and Europe, were among the Presidential callers on March 28. They were Maj. Gen. D. Dejpradiyudl, chief of the General Staff of the Siamese Army; Maj. Gen. Vichien Sutan, director of arsenal; Maj. Gen. Chamnong Bhumivet, director of welfare; and Col. T. Upathambananda, deputy surgeon-general. They were accompanied by E. A. Perkins, consul-general for Siam.

THE establishment of an Applied Science Laboratory under the National Development Company “to coordinate the research and investigational work of Government-owned or controlled corporations” was approved in principle by the National Economic Council on March 28. The Council also considered a proposal to amend Commonwealth Act No. 138, otherwise known as the Flag Law, so as to allow increased participation of foreign capital in local investment.

AN ambitious 10-year program for rice production in the Philippines, designed to make the country not only rice sufficient after the tenth year but able to produce sizable surplus quantities for export, was revealed on March 28 by Felipe Buencamino, Jr., newly-appointed overall director of the rice production program of the Government.

PRESIDENT Quirino’s radio address in the national language, which he gave in conjunction with the National Language Week celebrations which started on May 27, proved to be the much-needed shot for the propagation of the national language here. Speaking in Tagalog, the President declared that “it will not be long before the national language shall be used by all in our conversations with one another, in our dealings with the Government, in education and learning, in commerce and industry, and on all occasions to prove that we have one race, one tongue, one country.”

ASSURANCE that the Government does not authorize landlords to eject tenants who refuse to sign contracts giving them shares below the 70-30 minimum provided for in the present Tenancy Law, was made by President Quirino before a big delegation of some 500 tenants from Central Luzon who called on him at Malacañan on March 30. The delegation came to protest about alleged abuses of certain Central Luzon landlords who reportedly have been forcing their tenants to sign contracts providing for sharing systems unacceptable to the latter.

IMPROVED passenger service of the Manila Railroad Company has been assured as a result of the approval by the President of a loan amounting to ₱1,900,000 for the purchase by the Government rail firm of 40 coaches. This was the third in a series of recent rehabilitation measures taken by the MUR to replenish its units lost during the war.

THE Philippine position of leadership in the Far East today was emphasized during the exchange of greetings between President Quirino and Dr. John R. Mott, 85-year-old honorary president of the World’s Alliance of YMCA’s, during the luncheon given by the President for Dr. Mott at Malacañan on March 31.

IN the presence of high ranking Government officials, Col. Amado N. Bautista was sworn into office as General Manager of the National Development Company by President Quirino on March 31. Bautista was appointed to replace Vicente Sabalvaro. Other important Presidential appointments during the month included those of Eustaquio Balagtas as Director of Prisons, Felipe Buencamino, Jr., as overall director of the rice production program of the Government, Pablo J. Noroña as manager of the NDC rice production project in Mindoro, former Governor Leoncio Imperial of Albay as Technical Assistant at Malacañan, former Press Secretary Vicente Albano Pacis as Foreign Affairs Officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs, and of Juan J. Carlos of the Philippine Contractors Association as board member, People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation.

THE President wound up his official acts for the month by signing Executive Order No. 209, amending the Import Control Law, to provide further inducement to Filipino importers to participate in the import trade by awarding them exclusive quota rights under certain conditions.

Source: University of the Philippines, College of Law Library

Office of the President of the Philippines. (1949). The Official Month in Review. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 45(3), 1121-1127.