Official Week in Review: August 8 – August 14, 1965

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August 8.—PRESIDENT Macapagal receives a report from Public Works Secretary Jorge Abad that before the year is over, the long-dreamed-of Pan-Philippine Highways will be on the way to reality.

As projected, the Highway stretches 2,079 kilometers from Aparri in Cagayan to Davao City in Mindanao. It will tunnel across mountains, skirt crowded cities through complex interchanges and hop across channels via bridges and ferries. Only 36 kilometers of new roads will be built in addition to four major strait crossings. Already operational are 2,043 kilometers of existing roads which will form part of the Pan-Philippine Highway.

The classification of these roads by surface-type is as follows:

1. Paved with asphalt and concrete 842 kms.
2. Macadam 1,185 kms
3. Earth roads 16 kms.
Total 2,043 kms.

Public Works Secretary Abad reported these existing roads are now being improved.

This improvement program calls for concreting and widening of the main national roads, cutting of diversion routes on circuituous portions and replacement of temporary bridges with permanent ones all the way.

In the interim, 24 vital portions which will eventually connect the Highway through Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, will be built by private contractors as provided for by Republic Act 3741, otherwise known as the Private Financing Law.

These portions represent bridges, exchanges, ferry services and stretches of roads. Bids for their construction will be advertised starting October and the latest deadline will be on March 4, 1966.

Under the law, private contractors will get back their investments plus interest through a system of tolls sanctioned by the government. The law also provides that maintenance and repair of these projects will be undertaken by the private contractors and that these expenses will be deducted from the income of the project.

It is further provided by law that the net will first be applied to the interest of 12 per cent per annum and then to the capital until the project is fully paid for.

Secretary Abad’s optimism over the early completion of the highway is based on the fact that numerous contractors and financing groups—Filipinos and foreigners—have sent in written inquiries.

The President, together with the First Lady, Mrs. Evangelina M. Macapagal, motors to Camp Crame, Quezon City to attend the celebration of the 64th anniversary of the Philippine Constabulary.

He delivers the main address at the end of the morning celebration, while Mrs. Macapagal officiates at the corner-stone laying for a proposed PC station Hospital and at the unveiling of the monument of Brig. Gen. Rafael Crame, first Filipino chief of constabulary.

Leaving the Palace at 9 a.m., the President is greeted with a 21-gun salute on entering the PC headquarters compound. A company of the PC and contingents of ROTC cadets render military honors to the Commander-in-Chief in front of the imposing PC headquarters building.

Following the military honors, the President and the First Lady proceed to the site of the proposed P150,000 PC station hospital where, after the invocation and blessing by Lt. Col. Dominador de Vera, chief of the PC chaplains; Mrs. Macapagal places a canister of documents into the cornerstone and then covers it, with the President assisting.

From the unveiling ceremony, the First Couple proceeds to the grandstand where an epic presentation of the PC’s development was staged, and where the President delivers an extemporaneous speech.

Mainly a kaleidoscope of PC activities, particularly in the anti-smuggling campaign, the show also candidly portrayed the PC’s failings which had been caused most often by irresistible material temptations and by the organization’s lack of logistics.

In his speech, the President urges the Philippine Constabulary “to give everything of your efforts and endeavors for the faithful execution of your duty to enforce the majesty of the law.”

He says that the PC soldier should be firm and, referring to the “glorious armor and shield of the PC,” he enjoins every soldier never to taint it.

The Chief Executive singles out smuggling as the “newest enemy of law and order, which has brought so much dishonor to the Filipino people.”

The President states that he was reminded of the campaign against bootlegged liquor in the State of Illinois during the time of notorious Al Capone when state authorities had to relent in the liquor ban.

To effectively counteract smuggling here, the President stresses, he had recommended to Congress the lessening of specific taxes on tobacco products, but the lawmakers had not acted on the measures.

The President points out that he realized his Administration, and the PC too for that matter, must labor under too many handicaps occasioned by the inescapable situation in a democracy whereby different political parties control the executive and the legislative branches of the government.

Realizing such handicaps, the President concludes that he still looked forward, with the devotion to duty of the Constabulary, to carry on the fight against all enemies of social and economic order in the country.

During the program, the President presents medals and citations to 21 awardees.

The First Couple returns to Malacañang from Camp Crame shortly before noon.

In the evening, the President hears Sunday Mass at the Palace Chapel.

August 9.—PRESIDENT Macapagal approves a special Cabinet committee recommendation to lower NAMARCO prices on prime commodities by 30 per cent and orders its immediate implementation.

The President’s move to lower prices of prime commodities, specifically of canned milk, canned meat and canned fish, dovetails with his efforts to import rice and sell the grain at P1.

At the same time, Namarco General Manager Jose Calderon bares that orders received by his agency starting today will be 30 per cent down in prices.

Calderon states that the recommendation of the special Cabinet committee on prices headed by Finance Secretary Rufino G. Hechanova, would in effect resume the Namarco consumers subsidy program which was first authorized in 1962 by a bipartisan technical committee on prices.

In approving the Cabinet committee recommendation, the President points out “it has been the continuing effort of the Administration to stabilize prices even in the face of difficult conditions, some created intentionally by the opposition forces and others by circumstances beyond human control.

The Chief Executive likewise administers the oath of office to six ranking officials of the government.

Inducted are:

1. Pedro M. Pascasio, division superintendent of schools, as Undersecretary of Education who will be acting secretary pending the appointment of a new secretary;

2. Alberto de Joya, customs commissioner, as PAGCOM chairman;

3. Wilfredo Ponce de Leon as acting president of the Palawan Agricultural College;

4. Dominador de Asis, general manager of the Philippine National Railways, as Reparations Commissioner;

5. General Alfredo M. Santos, retired AFP chief of staff, as PNR general manager, vice De Asis; and

6. Chairman Teodoro C. de Vera of the Abaca Development Board, as Assistant Executive Secretary.

In the evening, the President receives U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. William McCormick Blair, Jr. who call to say goodbye prior to their departure for a vacation in Europe and the United States. The Blairs inform the President they would be away for six weeks.

Then the President holds a lengthy conference with Budget Commissioner Faustino Sy-Changco on the budget. The conference is slated to be resumed the following morning at Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union.

This morning, the President do not receive any callers instead he spends his time in his study clearing his desk of pending papers preparatory to his departure for the North to distribute lands and land titles in connection with the “Land for the Masses” program recently launched by his administration.

Earmarked for distribution are 60,030 hectares in Ilocos Sur, 78,896 hectares in La Union and 56,405 hectares in Cagayan. At three hectares per occupant, some 65,751 landless families stand to benefit from the distribution.

Titles will also be distributed to 225 vendees of the Filicidad Intal Estate in Baggao and 65 vendees of the Roma Estate in Enrile, both in Cagayan province.

The release and distribution of lands forms the second and third phases in the implementation of the Administration’s land reform program through:

1. Awarding of lands to tenants under the Land Reform Code;

2. Awarding of public, forest and hitherto alien lands to settlers; and

3. Speedy subdivision of lands and issuance of titles to these lands under the Land Authority and the defunct Land Tenure Administration.

The “Land for the Masses” program covers some 4,516,000 hectares of forest, public and hitherto alien lands, the release and distribution of which has been authorized by the President to 1,288,000 heads of families all over the country.

August 10.—ARRIVING in San Gabriel, La Union, President Macapagal assures tobacco farmers of the North that he will always have the interest of the tobacco industry at heart.

Leaving Malacañang at 6:10 a.m., the President together with the First Lady, Mrs. Evangelina M. Macapagal, arrives San Gabriel at 10 a.m.

Speaking in fluent Ilocano before a huge crowd there which turns out to give him and the First Lady a rousing welcome, the President bares that he has directed the Central Bank to release payments for the 1963 tobacco crop.

The President stresses that the government will spare no effort to help out tobacco farmers because “they are part of the overall strategy in the all-out war against poverty

Following his speech, the President inducts Pedro G. de Peralta as acting Undersecretary of Commerce and Industry.

After lunch, the President proceeds to Barrio Corrooy in Santol, La Union for another rally.

At the same time, the President sends congratulatory messages to the officers and men of the Philippine Navy who apprehended 10 vessels in southern waters and confiscated an estimated P2.1 million worth of blue seal cigarettes on August 6.

This is the biggest single haul thus far in the government’s continuing drive against smuggling.

Cmdr. Gil Fernandez, commander of Task Force 31 in Sulu, and Lt. Cmdr. Augusto Borja of Task Force 41 in the Visayas are commended for their “able personal direction” which netted approximately 3,740 cases of blue seal cigarettes.

The President urges them to “continue the relentless drive to maintain pressure against economic saboteurs.”

In another message, the President cites Cmdr. Rolando Kagaoan and the officers and men of the RPS “Leyte” for apprehending four vessels west of Balabac, Palawan, with a total load of 1,590 cases of blue seals.

The Chief Executive also signs Bureau of Lands Special Patent No. 532 setting aside 3,356 hectares of land spread out in Paete, Longos, and Pakil in Laguna for the proposed Dairy Research and Training Institute of the U.P. College of Agriculture.

“Considering the importance of developing our own dairy industry, I am fully optimistic that with the setting up of this Institute, we shall be able to make considerable headway in our efforts to achieve national self-sufficiency in milk and milk products,” the President states.

Republic Act No. 3990, enacted June 18, 1964, authorizes the U.P. to establish a central experiment station in connection with its research and extension functions.

The proposed Dairy Research and Training Institute will be used for research and production studies.

August 11.—PRESIDENT Macapagal, vetoes a total of P22.4 million which is considered to be sources of the so-called “excessive” congressional allowances in the 1965–1966 national budget.

The budget appropriations totaling P1.7 billion for this new fiscal year is approved by the President in Poro Point, San Fernando, La Union. Items which the President slashes includes P18.4 million from the House and P2.6 million from the Senate.

These slashes in the budget represents the controversial allowances for senators and congressmen which had been the object of public criticism.

The reduction in the senate budget includes P30,000 for the Senate electoral tribunal. While the other reduction of P1.5 million includes P800,000 for the Commission on Appointments and the remainder for the Joint Legislative-Executive Tax Commission.

The total vetoed amount of P22,420,180 is more than the amount the Philippine Constitution Association and Sen. Gaudencio Antonino, who led the fight against the lawmakers’ allowances, had sought to be slashed in their petition to the President.

The Philconsa had earlier urged the President to veto only P17.5 million, of which P15 million is intended for the House.

Sen. Antonino, who had filibustered against the budgetary measure on the Senate floor, had asked the President to veto P7,838,800–P15,560,000 from the House outlay and P2,278,800 from the Senate budget.

In his message to Congress explaining his veto of congressional items, the President points out that he wanted to economize.

“This was especially so because of the continuing deficiency in the general fund due to the failure of the Nacionalista-controlled Senate to enact revenue measures,” the President explains.

The P22.4-million veto is the biggest reduction the President ever made throughout his administration.

Last year, the Chief Executive slashed the House outlay by P11 million. In 1963, he reduced the congressional budget by P2.5 million.

Later in the day, the President addresses rallies in Baguin, Naguilian and Sudipen, all in La Union.

The Chief Executive winds up his La Union tour with visits to the towns of Santo Tomas and Agoo in the afternoon, topped off by a dinner at the residence of Rep. Cases in the evening.

Meantime, President Macapagal calls on the members of the Philippine FOA Fellows Association to make public service more responsive to the needs of the community and the nation.

The Association is made up of technical experts who have trained abroad under the NEC–AID technical assistance program.

In a speech read for him by NEC Chairman Hilarion C. Henares at the opening of the association’s three-day-convention at the Manila Hotel, the President stresses that public service must include three ingredients—labor, assistance and kindness.

“All three,” he emphasizes, “must be directed, unstintingly and unreservedly to the people.”

At the same time, the President assails those who regard government service as a way to make a living and nothing more.

“These people consider themselves, not as servants of the public, but as masters of the people,” he states.

He also appeals to the members of the Association to lend their leadership, superior knowledge and truer perspective towards the improvement of public service.

“And while you are doing all these things, while you are demonstrating the true meaning of public service, remember that it is the people whom you are pledged to serve, it is their interests you must protect and look after,” the President said.

August 12.—STILL in Poro Point, La Union, President Macapagal directs the Philippine Constabulary to take immediate action on a report that pirates had sacked a whole settlement in Palawan, bringing with them two young girls and about P50,000 worth of loot.

The President acts on the strength of an information transmitted to him by Ramon V. Mitra, confirming a report received by PC headquarters on the raid which took place last August 9 in a southernmost sitio of Palawan.

Mitra wired the President asking for early action in tracking down the pirates who, according to PC reports, have been identified.

The settlement raided was sitio Lambogan on Monkey Island, 40 miles southeast of Balabac proper. The raid started at 5 a.m. and ended at 7:30 a.m.

The President accepts philosophically a Supreme Court verdict voiding the new voters’ list of the Commission on Elections.

“In our democracy, the Supreme Court has the last say in all legal issues,” the President states.

The President leaves the Guest House in Poro Point at 9:30 a.m. for Banayoyo, Ilocos Sur.

From there he transfers to a jeep for the trip to Lidlidda where he addressed a rally. From Lidlidda, the President proceeds to Candon also in Ilocos Sur for another rally.

August 13.—TOPPING off his two-day visit of Ilocos Sur by distributing land titles to farmers in Suyo and in the town of Galimuyod, President Macapagal assures farmers of these mountain towns that he would continue his “Land for the Masses” program as part of the administration’s fight-poverty campaign.

The President’s award of 46 titles to agricultural lands to their occupants brings to 236 the total number of land titles distributed in this area over the past few months.

Continuous rains which have been falling all afternoon failed to dampen the warm welcome prepared by the towns-people for the President. Using every available means to shield themselves from the pouring rain, the people stood their ground and listened to the President speak on the progress of his program for the common man and the attempts of the Opposition to frustrate it.

People express amazement over the President’s mastery of the Ilocano dialect. The crowds interrupt his speeches with loud cheers of “Agbiag ni Apo Macapagal” (Long live Macapagal) and “Ilayon ni Apo Macapagal” (Let’s reelect Macapagal).

Recipients of titles are profuse in their thanks to the President. As they descend the stage, the recipients proudly wave their titles for all their friends and members of their families to see.

Meantime, the President is informed that messages of congratulations from provincial, city, municipal and barrio officials; heads of business, civic and religious organizations, and private individuals from all over the country, started pouring in Malacañang for his veto of the so-called “excessive” congressional allowances.

Some of the messages saw the Presidential veto as “another determined step towards the realization of the moral regeneration drive,” as a show of “patriotism of the highest order,” and as “hitting a new high in statesmanship and courage.”

Other messages regarded the decision to veto as one made in “a moment of greatness,” “ushering in a new era in Philippine politics and as an “unprecedented use of Presidential powers for the welfare of the entire country.”

A citygram from Manuel L. Quezon Jr., simply signed “Nonong” stated: “I join our people in congratulating you on your veto. May it foreshadow further great decisions. God bless you for it.”

In the evening, back at Poro Point, La Union, the President issues a statement upon learning of the death of former Premier Hayato Ikeda of Japan. The statement:

“Mrs. Macapagal and I join our countrymen in mourning the death of Premier Ikeda. He will be remembered here not only as the leader who put Japan back on its economic feet after the chaos of World War II but also as a man whose knowledge and sympathy for our problems merits the highest praise.”

August 14.—BACK at Malacañang, the President directs the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration to institute, starting Sept. 1, a system of direct payments to tobacco farmers for the 1965 purchases to enable them to receive the full value of their crops under the tobacco subsidy.

The President’s directive was pursuant to his basic policy “of ensuring that tobacco farmers get what they deserve without any of the benefits due them going to middlemen and other exploiters.”

The new payments method was recommended by Defense Secretary Macario Peralta Jr., acting PVTA chairman, who reported that the PVTA office in Quezon City had been receiving numerous complaints about farmers receiving only a fraction of the true value of their produce.

Sec. Peralta said that for years necessity had forced tobacco farmers to sell their purchase invoice vouchers to speculators and traders for as low as 50 per cent of their face value. The invoice voucher is the receipt issued by FACOMA to a farmer upon delivery of his stock of flue-cured tobacco.

Under the new payments plan, farmers will receive their payments directly, thus eliminating middlemen. Offices will be established in tobacco-producing regions to handle direct payments. The new manner of payment is a modification of the present method of issuing checks to authorized representatives of farmers, usually a FACOMA official, upon presentation of proper credentials.

With the new payments plan, the President expresses confidence the small tobacco growers will be freed from the clutches of loan sharks and middlemen who take advantage of the farmers’ need for ready money.

“A bright and prosperous future is in store for tobacco farmers and their families with the operation of this payment system,” the President says.

Source: National Library of the Philippines

Office of the President of the Philippines. (1965). Official Week in Review. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 61(35), cclxxix-cclxxxv.

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