His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
At the 79th Independence Day celebration
[Delivered on June 12, 1977]
One Nation, One Spirit
ON THIS OCCASION marking the 79th anniversary of our independence we join once again in thanksgiving and prayer for the continued vitality and strength of our republic.
Though many of you will probably find our observance today too simple and austere, there is nothing to dim our sense of pride and achievement as we enter our 80th year.
Seventy-nine years is but a brief interlude in the life of a nation. But for us, each of those years has mirrored much more than our trials, the courage; resourcefulness and indomitable spirit with which we have faced the most exacting challenge to the nation. With these qualities we have overcome the painful experience of colonization, the nightmare of war and occupation, the frustrations of post-war reconstruction.
It took all for Our government and our people to sense finally, in 1972,that the Society was beginning to break up as the political will had begun to breakdown. Our response to this peril was to arrest the drift to decay and anarchy. Regaining the political will, we launched our nation on a program of development and reform so unlike any program we ever had the means of the imagination to launch before. Today, we stand on the threshold of a new peril in our history, in which everything seems so different in quality from was once before.
After 79 years of dedicated labor, our sovereignty is no longer an illusion but a fact. Without forgetting our own limitations, our external relations today stretch across all the centers of power, communication, commerce and trade the globe, which means that we have begun to play the game of nation in a multipolar world, a fact that we must attribute to the increasing vigor of our domestic policy. For after an interval of a quarter century since the second world war, the complexion of global affairs profoundly changed and there came with it a new challenge to the nations of Asia and Africa — the challenge of self-reliance, the challenge to examine and nurse afresh die meaning of national independence as the guide towards the future.
On this principle of self-reliance, we anchored our bid for national regeneration.
From it has issued the will to transform our political system and to strengthen our government; to plan and set priorities for the national economy; to institute basic social and economic reform; and to change the entire pattern of our relations with the rest of the world.
Progress towards these goals for national transformation has been steady and continuing, and it finds its fullest measure in the tone and substance we have attained in our social life, the purpose and leadership of our government today, the new vigor and productivity of the national economy, and the thrust of our social and welfare programs. These internal changes are also reflected in the new ties of friendship we have built with all nations as witness our active role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, our new perspectives on the United States, Western Europe and Japan, our newly established ties with the socialist countries, and our vigorous participation in the policies and pursuits of the Third World.
Yet we cannot look upon these gains as having exhausted the limits of our capacities nor do they constitute a full response to the challenges and the perils that lie ahead.
It is imperative that we realize this, for the years ahead will continue to be years of crisis. There are too many uncertainties for over-confident projections.
For the dangers that confronted our country five years ago are still with us although their manifestations are less intense. And the economic energy and Environmental crisis are now urgent problems of survival to meet them adequately, the country needs the cooperation of every man, woman and child.
The continuing need to husband our resources harden our will and sharpen our competence to unite and endure in the face of varied problems still looming, large, urges us to be sober and austere in our celebration of independence day today.
In the area of security, for instance, there may clearly be no immediate danger of external aggression upon our country. But we continue to be beset by insurgency.
We must continue to seek effective arrangements to stabilize the work of individual governments and regional undertaking in Asia.
And we must persist in the intensive effort at maintaining the sovereignty and authority of the republic as well as assuring its territorial integrity. The coming year will be crucial to our survival.
Peace in our view can best be fostered by the development of closer relations among all nations regardless of ideology and social systems, and by the maintenance of a stable equilibrium of influence among the major powers of Asia.
It is in keeping with this view that we have sought to renegotiate our defense arrangements with the United States. The US decision to reduce its troops in Korea while maintaining its presence in Asia conforms fully with the new realities, and we foresee other adjustments being made in other parts of Asia. Whatever direction American policy finally takes in the area of regional security and defense, we are anxious that it does not find us too ill-prepared to assume our own burdens. And this is the time to prepare.
This is one of the big question marks of our future. But barring outright war among the great powers or massive infiltration into our country, we should be able to maintain our security.
The development of our ties with our Asian neighbors as well as with the communist countries and the rest of the Third World has an important bearing on our efforts for peace, just as much as it has on the future of economic cooperation.
In the last two years, our celebration of Independence Day coincided with the conclusion of major initiatives on our part to strengthen the pattern of our foreign relations. In June 1975, we established diplomatic relations with thePeople’s Republic of China; and in June 1976, we formalized ties with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This effort to build links with the communist countries has today been strengthened by the opening of ties with the new communist regime of mainland Southeast Asia.
These fully complement and enhance the high objectives of our ASEAN community, which in February 1976 in Bali issued a dramatic declaration for ASEAN cooperation. Both its recent landmark declarations and its map of cooperative projects that are on the way to implementation, make of ASEAN potentially the strongest force for stability and progress in Southeast Asia.
This is so because the ASEAN effort is directed at the principal source of tension and conflict in our region — the continued poverty and deprivation of Southeast Asian peoples.
On the domestic front, this outlook finds its clearest expression in the thrust of our development programs towards the rural areas. The case of Mindanao provides a vivid example because it provides both an instance of civil strife arising from social and economic causes, and an example of how effectively the problem of rebellion can be met by development programs.
It is also in Mindanao that the sense of unity, which is fundamental to survival and growth, is being tested and its value dramatized. The essentialoneness of our people, dimmed at times by circumstances and events in our history, must now be fully integrated into the national subconscious.
The rest of the nation must identify itself with our southern communities, so that our southern communities in turn will more easily now identify themselves with the rest. Towards this goal of lasting and deeply ingrained harmony, we have committed an unprecedented amount of resources to Mindanao, in a wide number of programs ranging from infrastructure to industrial development and social services.
Over the four-year period from 1972 to 1976, a total of P2.128 billion was committed to the development of infrastructure and utilities alone with yearly allocations substantially increasing every year.
More revealing than government expenditures in this sector is the extent of lending for Mindanao development. As of the end of 1976, total DBP loans amounted to P583.78 million and PNB loans reached P444.843 million.
Occupying similar priority in our national program are social services and community development; housing and resettlement; health care and education.
As important as peace in Mindanao is our second crucial domestic concern — energy, which has become today the most pivotal factor in the development effort of almost all countries.
As in other sectors of the national life, the motive force in our efforts to confront the energy problem is self-reliance.
Ninety-five percent of our total energy requirements is supplied by imported crude oil, while hydropower accounts for the balance of five percent. To pay for these imported resources, for the imported crude oil, we commit and pay 800 million to one billion US dollars of national funds annually.
Our present dependence on other countries in this field — the Middle East for 75 percent of our energy needs, and China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei for the remaining 25 percent (probably we should add there Iran and Iraq) — will be aggravated day by day as our populations grows and our national development program is accelerated. By 1987, our total energy requirement is expected to reach 190.0 MMB, of oil, representing more than a two-fold increase over present levels.
Our response to this problem has been to develop a national energy program directed towards two main objectives: the reduction of national dependence on foreign sources of energy through the accelerated development of indigenous oil and non-oil energy resources, and second, the reduction of energy consumption through energy conservation measures.
The ten year program for the development of alternative energy sources projects that by 1987 we shall achieve a much needed redistribution of our energy supply structure cutting down the share of oil to only 69 percent with thebalance of 31 percent being accounted for by hydropower, coal, geothermal nuclear and non-conventional resources.
This total effort to achieve national self-reliance is fully matched by an intensive energy conservation campaign. This campaign has effectively tempered growth in demand from a historical average of 7.5 percent to only 2.5 percent. Current actual consumption level of 194.6 thousand barrels per day of petroleum products represents 10,000 barrels less than forecast, a saving of $44 million dollars in foreign exchange for one whole year.
In line with this crucial national objective I announce today the creation of a Department of Energy to take charge of implementing and overseeing the national energy program.
Crucial to the success of our strivings to generate more power on the basis of self-reliance will be our ability to utilize all available water resources to produce power, or electric energy to control floods and serve the needs of irrigation, and potable water. Failure in this respect is not permissible, for the survival of our whole nation in the years to come will depend upon our ability, and the speed of our efforts to convert our water resources into electrical energy.
We must at the same time, with equal diligence and constancy of purpose strive to preserve and rehabilitate our portion of mankind’s only habitat, the earth and its resources.
The drive to develop can, and must, harmonize with the requirements of a habitable natural environment. The program of modernization must be imbued with a sense of harmony and balance between the need to harness our vast natural resources in order to create wealth, and the need to protect and sustain our natural environment so that it will continue to nourish all forms of life including man.
It was the realization of this need that prompted, only recently, the passage of a number of major decrees. One of these defined as environmental policy built upon the fundamental right of our people to a healthy environment, Another, the Environment Code, promulgated quality standards and policy, guidelines for every area of environmental concern— from resources use and management to environmental education. To accelerate application of these standards upon day-to-day life, I also issued a letter of instruction requiring the installation of anti-pollution devices within three months in public utility and government vehicles as well as in factories and, within one year, in private, vehicles.
To oversee and manage this vastly expanded program of action, we shall soon create a Department of Environment.
To find these new program, as well as to meet the growing requirements of our national development program, we have embarked upon major reforms of the national tax system. Underlying this reform is the need to administertaxation more and more on the basis of the taxpayer’s ability to pay. A number of the other new tax laws specifically raise certain taxes, while lowering others.
The new National International Revenue Code of 1977, which is the first codification of our tax laws since 1939, consolidates all new revenue laws, as well as amendatory laws and decrees, and harmonizes their provisions not only for the proper guidance of the taxpayer but also for the efficient administration of such revenue laws.
We have also written new tax decrees designed to increase government revenues, principally through the improvement of tax collection methods.
In the last few days since I announced the new tax measures, certain statements have been made in the business sector to me effect that the measures would be inflationary. There is now also some reported confusion as to the effectivity of certain measures. Particularly the tax on money market operations.
This tax on the money market is not inflationary because it taxes the high profits of idle capital. That is one. Two, it is not as high as the corporate income tax which could reach 40 percent. For the individual income tax, which at the level of an income of P32,000 to P36.000, is 36 percent, the individual pays 36 percent on a P32,000 to 36,000 income. And it could reach 70 percent, which is the highest percentage that is paid by an individual as income tax. Three, the law imposes the tax on the earnings of the money market because in the past, before June 3rd, very few of the people who made money on money market operations paid income tax on the income in the money market. We have a list of most of those who made money. But as a matter of compromise I decided that instead of filing criminal cases we imposed this compromise tax of 35 percent.
There is some fear that the tax on the money market operations will increase the interest on loans on the money market. This is not so because the interest that is paid includes the tax to be paid, and the amount of 35 percent which is merely withheld by the borrower from the interest that he would pay to the tender.
To obviate further confusion as to the effectivity of this law, I hereby announce that the law is effective as of the date I signed the decree which is June 3rd of this year.
Now to continue on revenue laws, none of our laws adds new burdens on the low-income families, whether in the form of direct or indirect taxes. Where the tax burden has been raised to conform to income — as in the case of the affluent — the increase has been reasonable.
We retain today the lowest tax ratio to gross national product in all of Southeast Asia. The per capita tax burden is likewise the lowest in the region.
At the other side of the ledger, national government expenditures have been definitely directed more and more to servicing the national economy. From a 33:3 percent share of total expenditures in 1972, expenditures for economic services had risen to 55.69 percent by 1975 or P10.22 billion. In 1976, it rose further, and this year, we expect the percentage share to rise to about 60 percent.
In the last five years, we have gained an increasing awareness of the interdependence of nations. Under present circumstances, this is perhaps truer in the economic field than in any other. Thus our economy, in the national perception of the world economy, continues to depend upon its alterations and changes on such a world economy. Consequently, we have come to sense the pessimism, the malaise of the world beyond our shores as well as its own interludes of hope and confidence.
For our part, our growth has been vigorous and unless there is a serious dislocation of our economy, we will attain our objectives.
However, we must now realize the erratic behavior of the present world economic order.
The heavy stress on economic development in the pattern of national expenditures is to be judged by the vigor of the national economy today.
From a gross national product of P56.4 billion in 1972, we attained a GNP of P72.6 billion in 1976. Measured at constant 1972 prices, this is an average growth rate of 7 percent annually. This year, the national product is expected to reach P77.7 billion.
It goes without saying that we must align our sights to higher targets. To attain these for this year and beyond, new policies and measures are required in addition to those that have already been enshrined in the national development.
Especially, we must fully attend to the crucial problems of Philippine transportation, which today is hardly able to keep up with the demands of the growing economy.
I intend to create a Department of Transportation and Communication, which shall implement our national transportation program.
Along with this, we are taking the following measures to provide incentives for public transportation companies to reduce operating costs:
First, we shall now require Petrophil and all Petron outlets to sell to public transportation companies that belong to cooperatives or the consortia that are being organized in the Metro Manila area, rubber tires and batteries at barely the cost of procurement abroad or locally.
Second, we are directing truck manufacturers to keep an inventory of spare parts and to sell such spare parts at lower costs, even as we ensure that they get reasonable profits.
Third, we shall ease financing burdens by requiring Petrophil to give a 180-day grace period for the payment of rubber tires and batteries and other products to transport companies that are members of the cooperative and consortia to be created among the bus operators of Metro Manila.
In the food sector, we must now turn our attention from production to the distribution system in the country. We have already begun a sweeping review of the entire marketing situation for producers’ cooperatives, market cooperatives and the food terminal market itself.
It is the human person that is finally the object of all our efforts to achieve national development.
We have enshrined this principle in our laws and national policies, we must continue to reaffirm it in everything we do to improve the citizen’s personal well-being, his opportunities for work, for education, for a life of dignity.
To be sure, we have not achieved for all of our citizens a life of comfort and abundance, but he who would judge our lives today must take into consideration his own personal and social circumstances of half a decade ago.
Today, we have the laws and the programs, and what is more the relentless purpose, to really make unrelenting war on human poverty and income inequalities. Never so total a commitment to the cause of human welfare. It was not until 1972 that we dared to storm the feudal land system in this country. It was not until 1972 that we dare to dismantle the network of privilege and exploitation in our society, And it was not until 1972 that we dared to undertake a nationwide program to improve the real living conditions of every depressed community in the country.
Accordingly, we have initiated the most forward-looking measures to improve the social and economic capability of the individual, particularly the farmer and the working man. In our effort to feed him better, we have given him title to his land; to clothe him and provide for the needs of his children, we have seen to a just and progressive increase of his wages and social security; and to shelter him against the elements and the blight of modern living, we have launched a program of low-cost Housing for the poor. This program has made some advances, but has equally been set back by the economics of housing; local producers of construction materials as well as importers and middlemen have progressively increased their prices, making it unduly difficult for government and even the private sector to proceed with their plans for low-cost housing.
Because of this, I intend to authorize the National Housing Authority to import directly all the construction materials and heavy equipment required to carry out the massive low-cost building program of the government. If necessary, a new procurement office will be organized solely for the purpose of importing heavy equipment as well as construction materials. We should ultimately liberalize the importation of such heavy equipment and construction materials, not; only by private sector so as to be able to bring down costs.
Our sugar industry is threatened with annihilation by continued low prices of sugar in the world market. The efforts, in Geneva for an international sugar agreement have just failed notwithstanding the participation for the first time in such an international conference of the United States of America, Our government this year stands to lose about P700 million in the handling of sugar. Our government however, has continued to subsidize domestic sugar at prices below the cost of production. It is now necessary to reverse the policy and eliminate the subsidy, increase the price paid to the producer and reduce the tax paid to the government. This may save the sugar industry.
It is my intention to take these steps immediately.
In the area of political reform, it bears nothing that we have in four and a half years, laid the basis for citizens participating in political life, not merely in seasonal expression of opinion, but in the daily exercise of power and initiative.
We have enfranchised not only those who have been traditionally allowed the vote, but also the members of our rising young generations.
From organization at village and district level by means of the barangay, we have steadily pushed for more effective forms of organizing the power of the citizenry all the way up to the level of national life in our Batasang Bayan These are the essential prerequisites of political order. We are moving decisively towards a genuine and effective representative democracy.
It is my intention to call elections for the Batasang Pambansa as soon as possible.
But as a further step to afford the citizenry greater control over their government, I intend to activate the Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan, both of which are provided for in our Constitution.
In keeping with the constitutional provisions, the Tanodbayan shall serve as an office to receive and investigate complaints relative to public office, including those in government-owned and-controlled corporations, and make appropriate recommendation for the filing and prosecution of the corresponding criminal civil or administrative cases before the proper courts or bodies.
The Sandiganbayan shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases, involving graft and corrupt practices and other offenses committed by public officers and employees, including those in government corporations in relation to their office as may be determined by law.
The spirit behind the creation of these two bodies is that public office is a public trust. All public officials and employees must be finally accountable to the people.
In all these initiatives that we have taken — in foreign policy, in national security, in Mindanao, in energy, in the economy, in environmental protection, in fiscal reform, in human development, and in political reform — the real testis our ability to organize to provide leadership, and to act as one people, one nation.
In a sense we have never lacked ideals — native or borrowed alike.
What we have often lacked is the energy of will — the will to work steadfastly together, to bring a task from a united start to a shared end.
Chroniclers of important events in our history have remarked upon this sorrowful lack of unison among our people in their labors, in their pursuits.
To quote Casimiro Diaz once more, whose lament is inscribed on the title page of my history book Tadhana:
“Some of them could not unite with others, and, although all desired liberty, they did not work together to secure the means for attaining it, and therefore they experienced a heavier (yoke of) subjection.”
This disunity would recur in other periods of the nation’s life through the era of Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, at the very height of national awakening, and afterwards in the death of Gen. Antonio Luna, throughout the American period when nationalists and pro-Americans battled for political ascendency and on to the period after our independence was regained, when our national leaders quibbled on what had to be done to raise a war-stricken nation. So it has been in our own time, until we took the supreme decision of taking the road of crisis government.
Historians and anthropologists have traditionally explained this tendency of the Filipinos as deriving from a past that had always seen them as fragmented societies and communities. And our ancestors were always pictured as capable only of the most rudimentary type of political integration.
Fortunately for our own future new discoveries about our past may yet prove that assumption false. Only this year, megalithic structures have been verified in an area in Zamboanga del Sur that may suggest a clearer picture of our beginnings.
Preliminary findings in Canunan, Balungating, Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, date these megaliths or these stones prior, to the period of contact with the introduction of Islam into the Philippines. The nature of the stones, their great number and their distribution, suggest a large population concentrated in one area, and a tremendous effort at organization for construction.
Whatever be the final message of these stones, the meaning is clear that even in pre-history, the earliest figures on our landscape were capable of a complex and integrated type of organization. This is an image that reinforces our vision of the Filipino future, and strengthens our conviction that instances of factionalism and disunity in our history are lapses that are far from irremediable.
And today, at this celebration of the 79th year of national independence, let it be a pledge of our generation to mold, to balance and to integrate all the variant energies and aspirations of our communities into a single nation.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library
Marcos, F. E. (1979). Presidential speeches (Vol. 7). [Manila : Office of the President of the Philippines].