Official Month in Review: February 1 – February 28, 1977

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February 1

THE PRESIDENT was congratulated by Datu Senu Abdul Rahman of Malaysia for the success of the peaceful settlement of the Mindanao conflict exchanged views on the threat of subversion and insurgency in both Malaysia and the Philippines. Datu Rahman is the secretary general of the United Malaysia National Organization (U.M.N.O ) of which Prime Minister Hussein Onn is the president. He was accompanied by Ambassador Abdul Hamid bin Pawanchee at Malacañang.

THE PRESIDENT referred to the board of trustees of the Marcos Foundation a proposal to set up a chair at the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Medford, Mass., US. The proposal was submitted to the President by Nihal W. Goonewardene, a Sri-Lankan who is directing the school’s Asia Pacific teaching fellowship program based in Manila.

SIR Lenox Hewitt, who headed the Qantas officials who called on the President, took occasion to congratulate the President for the rapid progress of the country, and informed him of the heavy influx of Australian tourists to the Philippines this year. He paid that he was in Manila four years ago and that he was impressed by the building boom and economic development after the short period of four years.

THE PRESIDENT was informed that the Amoco-Salen group, in joint venture with a number of Filipino companies, will drill two more wells at the Reed Bank west of Palawan, at a total estimated cost of $12 million. Encouraged by the results of Sampaguita I well which had yielded oil condensates and gas shows during the third quarter of last year, the group intends to start drilling operations as soon as possible, probably on the first week of April.

February 2

THE PRESIDENT permanently placed the administration, maintenance and development of national shrines under the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) of the Department of National Defense. He also abolished three offices and integrated them into the PVAO. Abolished were the Veterans Claims Settlement Staff and the National Shrines Commission of the DND, and the Philippine Veterans Administration under the Office of the President. The President’s actions, effected through Presidential Decree No. 1076, amend Part XII on Education and Part XIX on National Security of the Integrated Reorganization Plan.

BASA Air Base Community College was transformed by the President into the Philippines Air Force College of Aeronautics (PAFCA), and widened its curriculum to include post graduate courses. The move, through Presidential Decree No. 1078, was in line with the Constitutional Policy to “establish and maintain a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to national development goals.”

THE PRESIDENT conferred the Order of Sikatuna, rank of datu, on outgoing Ambassador Sri Bima Ariotedjo of Indonesia. The award was conferred on the Indonesian envoy in recognition of his outstanding service in the field of international relations during his three and one-half years tour of duty in the Philippines.

THE PRESIDENT welcomed the 25-man mission from the Centre European de Cooperation Internationale (CECI) as a vital step in promoting relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Economic Community (EEC). In receiving the members of the mission, headed by Diomede Catroux of France, vice president of the CECI, the President said the ASEAN, in their attempt to disperse sources of investment, look toward the FEC. with which official negotiations have been started, as well as with the respective member governments.

THE PRESIDENT received a pledge for a donation of 100 schoolbuildings from the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce. In accepting the donation, the President said he will ask the Department of Education and Culture and the Department of Public Works, Transportations and Communications for recommendations but that priority will be given to the distressed, areas, particularly in Mindanao, in selecting the sites for the schools. The donation was pledged by the new officers of the Federation, led by Leonardo Ty, president, during their call at Malacañang to pledge support and loyalty to the goals and programs of the New Society, particularly in the development of trade, commerce, industry and tourism.

February 3

THE PRESIDENT called on media to discard its adversary role and to assume a complementary, role to government in the general effort at national development. He sounded this call when he addressed about 100 provincial publishers and editors ending their first three-day seminar sponsored by the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PAPI). He pointed out that “while the government and media used to play competitive roles that belonged to the past they must now be principally complementary as, partners in national development.”

THE PRESIDENT praised the country’s youth, saying that the nation is constantly nurtured by their achievements and that every year more of them are serving with even greater distinction. In a Malacañang ceremony honoring the “Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM),” a yearly selection made by the Philippine Jaycces, the President cited the achievements of the young as a testament of a time in national history which he called ‘a period of change and challenge’and a “time to build and to grow as a nation.”

February 4

THE PRESIDENT called attention to the country’s trade deficit with the Hungarian People’s Republic and, called on Hungry to increase imports from the Philippines to correct imbalance. He spoke during the presentation of credentials of the new Hungarian ambassador to the Philippines, Peter Kos, in a ceremony at Malacañang. From January to November 1976, the two countries had a total trade volume of $53,044 with Philippine exports totaling $3,883 against imports of $48,161, leaving the Philippine with a trade deficit of $44,278.

THE PRESIDENT received the top officials of Hilton International for Pacific and Australia who called on him at Malacañang following the end of their sales meeting in Manila. Kenneth Moss, vice president for East Asia and Australia and head of the group, described Manila as “suddenly” ahead of the times” in terms of hotel accommodation. Although some of the new hotels, said would find business hard and within a couple of years, the idea of building new hotels will prove to be a good one in the long run.

February 5

MEDICARE Commission defended a recent decision to limit its benefit to legally dependent children from age 20 to 17, and to parents who are 60 years old and above. Dr Pacifico E. Marcos, Medicare chairman, said the limitation which took effect February 1 had to be done to save the Medicare program from eventual destruction.” He said that for the past two years, because of the program’s expansion and the rampant abuses committed against the health insurance system by doctors and hospitals, the commission had been dipping into its reserve funds to settle its obligations to claimants.

February 6

THE PRESIDENT received assurances of continued support by Saudi Arabia of efforts toward a peaceful settlement of the Mindanao conflict. The assurances were conveyed to the President by Sheikh Abdul Waha Abdul, Minister of Pilgrimage and Endowments of Saudi Arabia, who paid his respects at Malacañang following his arrival on a four-day visit to the Philippines.

February 7

THE PRESIDENT prodded the Bureau of Customs to continue its “cleansing process” and contribute more to the effort at national development, particularly by supporting the export promotions program. Congratulating the entire customs personnel on the 75th anniversary of the Philippine Customs Service for carrying on the most meaningful reforms and innovations during his years of leadership, the President said “our people owe it a well-deserved tribute for the way in which it has sought to transform itself into a strong and dynamic bureau.”

THE PHILIPPINES his told its ASEAN allies it expects the present negotiations in Tripoli to put a final end to the Mindanao problem. In a letter to Indonesia President Suharto, the President thanked Indonesia for its role in providing a moderating influence within the Islamic Conference, particularly during the early stages of the Mindanao conflict. The President is believed to have sent similar communications to the other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, namely, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

February 8

THE PRESIDENT ordered the preparation of a viable housing program to meet the growing demands for housing among the population. He issued the order at a two-hour board meeting of the National Economic and Development Authority at Malacañang during which various pressing national problems were discussed. He also directed the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) to help finance the housing program, and instructed Brig. Gen. Gaudencio Tobias (ret), chairman of the National Housing Authority, to set up model housing communities and to encourage the private sector to participate in the program.

THE PRESIDENT directed the Professional Regulation Commission to work out the interrogation of the dental profession so that properly organized, it may help government place at the disposal of the “lowest members of our society” the benefit of good dental care. Addressing the opening of the 8th Asian Pacific Dental Congress at the Philippines International Convention Center, the President cited efforts to expand dental services to areas where medical services are more needed.

LOCAL Government Secretary Jose Roño was directed by the President to submit to him the results of the informal consultations with the barangays on the date and the manner of elections for members of the Batasang Pambansa. The results of the survey would serve as a basis for government leaders to work out the schedule and the manner for the elections, the President told newsmen in an interview at the Philippine International Convention Center, shortly after addressing the 8th Asian Pacific Dental Congress.

FIRST Lady and Metro Manila Governor, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, said historical redemption is the task facing the leaders participating in the current training course for the development of Mindanao. She spoke at the opening ceremonies for the course at the Philippine International Convention Center. She told the participants who are described as the “cream” among former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), that they must fight and conquer injustice, backwardness, indifference and ignorance to build a new world, in the spirit of brotherhood between Muslims and Christians.

February 9

THE PRESIDENT created two separate and independent towns in Tawi-Tawi to accelerate the development and rehabilitation of the province. Created through Presidential Decrees No. 1086 and 1087 were the towns of Lañguyan and Sapa-Sapa. Their creation will not affect in any manner the legal existence of Bongao, South Ubian and Tandubas towns.

THE PRESIDENT has formed an. inter-agency committee to evaluate the design and monitor the implementation of the Manila-Bataan Coastal Road Project. Under Letter of Instructions No. 504, the committee shall be composed of the chairman of the Human Settlements Commission (HSC), as chairman, and the secretary of the Department of Public Highways, as co-chairman. The HSC shall also be the project’s coordinating agency. Among the project’s main concerns are to decongest the area, fill up shallow areas of the bay, bring access to fishing grounds and complete the major thoroughfares of Manila.

February 10

THE PRESIDENT took steps to achieve greater economy in government operations by directing all heads of departments, bureaus, offices and agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations to initiate, develop and implement a National Cost Reduction Program. In Letter of Instructions No. 506, the President formed committees to monitor the implementation of the program. These are the National Cost Reduction Committee (NCRC) and the Departmental Cost Reduction Committee (DCRC).

THE PRESIDENT said Saudi Arabia is a country that has been helpful to the Philippines both “in time of crisis as well as in time of plenty ” In an exchange of toasts held at luncheon given at Malacañang in honor of Sheikh Abdul Wahab Abdul Wase, visiting Saudi Arabia master of pilgrimage and endowment, the President recalled that during the difficult days of 1974, Saudi Arabia had accommodated this country in its oil supply and other problems connected with energy crisis In his response, Minister Wase assured the President that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia considers the Philippines with “love and sentiments.”

THE PRESIDENT conferred the ancient Order of Sikatuna, rank of Datu, on Sheikh Abdul Wahab Wase, minister of pilgrimage and endowment of Saudi Arabia for “his invaluable assistance to achieve lasting unity and cooperation among Christian Filipinos and their Muslim brothers.”

THE PRESIDENT conveyed to King Hussein of Jordan his deepest sympathy and those of the Filipino people over the sudden death of his wife Queen Alia. Queen Alia died in a helicopter crash near Tafileh in South Jordan yesterday, while she was on her way to inspect a hospital there. Queen Alia accompanied her husband, King Hussein on a 2-day visit here last February. They were house guests of the President and the First Lady.

February 11

THE PRESIDENT announced the holding of a plebiscite on February 21 in 13 provinces in Mindanao to determine which of them would like to belong to the proposed Southern autonomous region. The announcement was made following a meeting with members of the Cabinet, the joint military council and some civilian leaders at Fort Bonifacio.

BUDGET Commission announced that the deadlines for submission of principal and special supplemental special budgets for the current year are February 23 and July 31, respectively. In a letter circular, Budget Commissioner Jaime C. Laya asked all departments and agencies of the government to submit these budgets on time to accelerate the closing of national accounts.

February 14

THE PRESIDENT presided over the Batasang Bayan in a special session to pave the way for the establishment of regional autonomy throughout the country before the election of members of the Batasang Pambansa. He, therefore, called on the Batasang Bayan and the people, in general, for counsel in framing the vital measures “so crucial to the reform and development of our national life, always guided by what is urgent, what is right and what is proper for our people and for our country.” He declared the session open at about 11 a.m. after a three-hour pre-session caucus with the 127 members of the Batasang Bayan.

THE PRESIDENT has expanded by 400 hectares the land area of Luna town in Kalinga-Apayao to cope with the town’s fast-growing population. Luna has a total area of about 65,540 hectares inhabited by 11,307 people, according to 1975 census statistics. It lies in the northern foothills of the Cordillera Mountains, bounded by rice fields and high mountain ranges. The presidential directive is effected through Presidential Decree No. 1088.

February 15

THE PRESIDENT urged private communities to work hand in hand with government in promoting greater consciousness of the need to develop science and technology. In a speech read for him by Chairman Melecio Magno of the National Science Development Board (NSDB) at the opening of the Asian Training Course for Public Understanding of Science Technology and Environment at the Philippine International Convention Center, the Chief Executive stressed the need for promoting wide public understanding of science, technology and environment to make sensible use of them for human ends. The regional seminar is being hosted by the Philippine government.

DOÑA Josefa Edralin Marcos distributed awards to this year’s exemplary working youths in simple ceremonies at the Maharlika Hall in Malacañang. In her inspirational talk, Doña Josefa told the working youths to consider their awards as challenges towards achieving more significant and better things in life. The awards consisted of a plaque and P1,000 for each awardee.

February 16

THE PRESIDENT moved up from February 21 to March 17 the holding of a plebiscite in the 13 provinces in the South called to ascertain the provinces that will compose the proposed Muslim autonomous region. He made the announcement during a speech before the closing session of the National Conference on Town Planning, Housing and Zoning at the Philippine International Convention Center.

THE PRESIDENT publicly acknowledged the debt of gratitude the Filipino people owe Libya and the Islamic Conference for their initiatives in effecting ceasefire and peaceful negotiations in Mindanao. He expressed the Filipino people’s gratitude in the presence of chiefs mission during the 38th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy aboard the RPS 777, off Pier 15.

THE PRESIDENT called on the Philippine Navy to update and revise its plans for the next 20 years to keep up with the changing political, economic and international climate. During the ceremonies commemorating the 38th anniversary of the Philippine Navy aboard the RPS 777 at Pier 15, the President urged the navy to adopt a three-point plan, as follows: 1) Pursue vigorously the development of surface defense, including acquisition of a modern defensive system capable of deterring aggression; 2) Develop capability in the detection of subsurface and surface intrusions into Philippine territorial waters through medium-range maritime patrols supported by fast surface watercraft; and 3) Prepare plans for a modernized naval logistics system designed to cope with the expanded inventory requirements and plans that include shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance.

February 17

THE PRESIDENT signed a letter of instructions adopting the Pambansang Bagong Nayon as a national project and paved the way for the instruction of a series of housing projects throughout the country. The project will be a nationwide replication of the “Bagong Nayon” project of the First Lady Bo. Kamias, Antipolo, Rizal. The project will be undertaken by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in joint venture with the local governments.

THE PRESIDENT said he would review the appointments of regional directors who have failed to coordinate with local officials in the implementation of government programs. Speaking before the closing session of the Conference on National Planning Housing and Zoning at the Philippine International Convention Center, the President stressed that regional directors should serve as “bridges” between national and local officials.

February 18

THE PRESIDENT received the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines. Air Marshal Soedarmono, at presentation rites held in Malacañang. In his remarks, Ambassador Soedarmono pledged to reinforce the existing treaties of mutual understanding between the two countries and widen their areas of collaboration.

THE PRESIDENT received separately the members of the Danish Gymnastic Team and officers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, who paid their respects at Malacañang.

February 19

THE PRESIDENT approved a new building code designed to “fully conform with the developmental goals and infrastructure program of the government.” In Presidential Decree No. 1096, he said the adoption of the new building code which would embody an “up-to-date and modern technical knowledge on building design, construction use occupancy and maintenance, becomes imperative in the face of the country’s stepped-up economic and physical development, coupled with urbanization and population growth.” The new code, which will be known as “An Act to Ordain and Institute a National Building Code of the Philippines.”

THE PRESIDENT transferred the registration of all mining instruments and documents from the registers of deeds to the regional offices of the Bureau of Mines. The move, contained in Presidential Decree No. 1093, which amends certain sections of PD 513, is to update the proper recording and safekeeping of mining instruments and documents registered under Commonwealth Act No. 137, as amended.

February 20

THE PRESIDENT has issued Presidential Decree No. 1090 designed to help the fruit exporting industry by allowing conditional duty-free importation of ready-man corrugated boxes for fruit exports for 10 years on a declining basis. Heretofore, local box importers had to pay 100 per cent ad valorem duty on all containers, pursuant to Sec. 105 (m) of the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended by PD Nos. 34 and 326. In issuing the decree, which further amends Sec. 10 (m) of the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, the President noted that while the country is now in a position to make and supply on competitive terms and quality a substantial portion of the carton box needs of local fruit growers and exporters, local pulp, paper and box makers are not yet in a position to fully supply these needs.

February 21

THE PRESIDENT said that the City of London Conference can serve as an economic bridge between the developing and the developed nations of the world. Opening the City of London Conference at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati, the President asserted that the intermediary role of the world’s commercial institutions like the City of London Conference “can be a powerful force for the peaceful readjustments of the economic and political relationships of the nations of the world.” The Rt. Hon. the Lord Shepherd, leader of the British delegation expressed in behalf of the British government and the European Economic Community, their “firm support for all the efforts of Southeast Asia to seek strength, peace and prosperity through united action.”

February 22

THE PRESIDENT included all importations in connections with the construction and operation of new sugar mills as among those exempted from taxes until June 30, 1980. In issuing Letter of Instructions No. 508 the President said the move would “further enhance the government policy of providing an incentive and assistance in the production and processing of sugar for the welfare of the national economy.”

THE PRESIDENT welcomed the sending of a select group of Filipinos to London to help promote closer cooperations between the Philippines and the United Kingdom. The sending of the Filipino group was suggested to the President by Lord Shepherd and Lord Denman who called at Malacañang to pay their respects to the President.

February 23

THE PRESIDENT discussed with a group of bankers the proposed Kalayaan hydroelectric project in Laguna. The plan calls for tapping the waters of Laguna de Bay to generate electricity for Metro Manila and surrounding areas. It will involve pumping the water from the lake into Lake Caliraya, which has an elevation of some 1,000 meters. Richard C. Hall, president of Orion Pacific Ltd. and head of the group, called on the President at Malacañang in connection with Orion’s offer to finance the project, estimated cost of which is $60 million.

POWERS of the Philippine Racing Commission (PRC) were broadened by the President by abolishing the Jockeys and Horse Trainers Injury, Disability and Death Compensation Board and transferring its functions to the PRC. Also ordered transferred to the PRC, under Presidential Decree No. 1095, is the Jockeys and Horse Trainers Compensation Fund. The President’s action is in pursuance of PD 420 which gives the PRC exclusive supervision and control over every aspect of the conduct of horse-racing, including the framing and scheduling of races, the construction and safety of racetracks, the allocation of prizes, and the security of racing.

February 24

THE PRESIDENT cited the “dramatic gains” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations a year after the Bali Summit and pointed to the tasks and challenges the organization faces in the years ahead. He made this observation when he addressed a special session of ASEAN foreign ministers marking the first anniversary of the Bali Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center. Later on, he witnessed’ the formal signing of the ASEAN Preferential Trading Agreement by the foreign ministers of the five member-nations of ASEAN.

THE FIRST LADY and Metro Manila Governor, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos urged the media people to be more conscious of their roles to avoid misunderstanding of their opinions. In an address before the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas at the Philippine Plaza Hotel, she pointed out that mediamen have to be conscious of their views, words and thoughts because they influence people. They should “enlighten and not to deceive, to clarify and not to confuse, to guide and not to distort,” the First Lady stressed.

THE PRESIDENT declared the first week of March every year as “Thrift Bank Week” to focus attention on the active and vital role that thrift banks are playing in economic development. Under Proclamation No. 1618, the President designated the Chamber of Thrift Banks to take full charge of the celebration of the occasion and called upon its membership to participate in projecting its meaningful significance.

February 25

THE PRESIDENT tapped 59 former Muslim rebels for positions of leadership and responsibility in order “to speed up the development of Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. At the closing rites of the Second Leadership Training program for the Development of Mindanao held at the Hall of Unity and Brotherhood of Malacañang the President directed: 1) Civil Service Commission Chairman. Jacobo C Clave to take the necessary steps, to grant second grade civil service eligibility to those who had completed the training; 2) Members of the Cabinet to look for positions in their regional offices where the trainees, most of whom are college graduates, may fit in; 3) Local administrators such as the regional commissions, provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and others, to select from the trainees those fitted for positions of responsibility, both administrative and executive; and 4) The secretary of national defense and chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately qualify and commission all the trainees who desire to be commissioned into the AFP, and to require them to undergo the necessary training.

February 26

THE PRESIDENT quieted the fears of the population on the adverse effects of the recent oil price increase on the national economy, saying that this increase can be sufficiently absorbed and is nowhere in the magnitude as the effects of the energy crisis in 1974. Addressing the conference of the Rotary International, District 380, at the Philippine International Convention Center, the President said, “The problem posed by the new price increase is significant, but it is by no means overwhelming. We should be cautious about over-acting.”

February 27

THE PRESIDENT directed the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Army, and the Philippine Constabulary to locate appropriate areas all over the country to be proclaimed as military reservations. Under Letter of Instructions No. 510, the President likewise ordered the Philippine Navy to locate appropriate areas all over the country to be proclaimed as naval reservations, under the administration of either the Philippine Navy or the Philippine Coast Guard. This is in line with the program of improving the national security and increasing administrative efficiency, the President said.

February 28

THE PRESIDENT issued a decree raising the age limit for officers and members of the Kabataang Barangay from 18 to 21 to broaden the age coverage of the organization and to encourage the participation and involvement of a larger number of youth in KB activities. He signed the decree before some 142 delegates to the first constitutional convention of the KB who called at Malacañang to present a copy of a proposed KB constitution approved at their three-day convention in Camp September 21st Movement on Mt. Makiling in Laguna.

Source: Supreme Court Library

Office of the President of the Philippines. (1977). Official Month in Review. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, 73(15), xli-xlix.