The Plight of the Displaced Population
By Federico Y. Ayson
As usual it is the innocent bystander that gets hurt
February 22, 1947–THE decision of President Roxas to wipe out vestiges of lawlessness and banditry in Central Luzon and adjacent provinces carries more social and agrarian import than meets the eye. The extermination of these roving, elusive lawless elements would go a long way, so it is hoped, towards the early establishment of normalcy in these areas. But the top government brass should also know that it will bring to an end a condition that is undermining the confidence and faith of hundreds of rural families now evacuated to towns in the troubled zones.
In Tarlac province—or in any other province harrassed by these lawless groups for that matter—many farm people have been forced to evacuate to town suburbs and poblaciones. From barrios and sitios where encounters between government agents and the dissidents were anticipated, the populace was ordered to move into safer areas of refuge. These migrations started as early as last October after the palagad (early crop) was harvested. From then on up to as late this week, (February 7) they have continued in anticipation of a full scale operation to be pursued with relentless, volcanic fury until the very last bandit is rounded up. For so it was rumored.
To obtain a comprehensive, realistic view of the overall situation that led to this exodus of farmers, we need to focus our observation on the barrios and remote sitios of La Paz, Concepcion, Victoria, Capas, Bamban, and Tarlac. Barrio populations of these towns bordering the Tarlac-Nueva Ecija-Pampanga boundaries have sought sanctuary along national highways, provincial roads and in the poblaciones, carting their harvest, scanty essential personal belongings, poultry, etc., with them.
Huddled close together, the evacues have thrown together make-shift bamboo and cogon dwellings they call their homes. Clusters of these thatched affairs dot both sides of highways and provincial roads. The congestion, the abject poverty and filth cannot escape attention. Practice of sanitary measures in general, is nil. Added to the squalor is the food problem of Mr. and Mrs. Barrio Farmer. Food reserves which they expected to tide them over to the rainy season have been seriously depleted.
The problem of these people goes deeper than the congestion in housing; it transcends questions of hygienic and sanitary ways of living. They are looking forward to the fulfilment of promises to restore peace and order. They know that in the vast rehabilitation plans of President Roxas, their contribution can best be made on their home farms. They dream of peace—the genuine, lasting kind of peace that will enable them to return home and till the soil and produce.
To them, the issue is no longer one of social or agrarian progress. From their experiences it is wholly a matter of plain banditry—robbers spreading terror, plundering and murdering with innocent farmers and their families bearing the brunt. They know that the administration is instituting colossal agricultural reforms. They interpret the promulgation of the 70-30 crop sharing measure, among others, as an example of an enlightened, progressive agrarian policy.
The plight of this displaced farm population seems to be ignored at present because the recent harvest has pushed aside the spectre of famine. In addition, the administrations attention is concentrated on the March 11 plebiscite. So the problems of these “little giants of the farm” are temporarily relegated to the background. However, if we are to restore normal agricultural production, their desires must be attended to, before it’s too late. We cannot guarantee national stability if the farms do not meet the food needs of the people. We must not expect self-sufficiency in sustenance from the soil if our farmers are huddling for protection in the suburbs of towns.
That is why these displaced farm people are restless. They rejoice that the government has progressed from parleying and temporizing to a firm, tenacious and determined policy. The sooner the whole mess is cleaned up, the earlier they can go back to their farms. For only them will there be security of life and property, so they can work and produce. On them—these displaced farm people—depends to an appreciable degree the success or failure of our economic progress. Let us attend to them.
ROXAS AND THE PRESS
News giants of pre-war days now in government service
By Inocencio V. Ferrer
President, Negros Press Club
February 22, 1947–NOWADAYS when newspapermen meet, they usually talk with nostalgia about Malacañan press conferences when Manuel L. Quezon was the “Big Chief”; others of the days when Sergio Osmeña hardly gave press conferences and reporters depended mainly on Malacañan press releases to satisfy the hunger for news of the then newly liberated readers of the Philippines; but their tete-a-tete often ends with a wise-crack at the expense of the so-called liberal administration! But whether or not one looks back at those days with longing and remembrance,—those days will never come back, and President Manuel A. Roxas is at Malacañan to stay and to perform the acts and deliver the sttements which are the daily headlines of the newspapers of the nation.
It is worthy of note that many newspapermen do not seem to see eye to eye with the President on matters of national concern. Many a post-liberation columnist has made and continues to make a name for himself and circulation for his paper by discoursing on the alleged sins of the present administration, or the frailties of the New Leader. Nevertheless the cold, naked truth is that, under the Roxas administration, members of the press are winning recognition and honors never before accorded them under any other president of the Philippines.
Consider the following facts, for instance. Recently a leading political commentator in the United States hailed the Philippines as the recognized leader of dependent nations and oppressed peoples of the world and as ranking sixth among more than fifty signatory nations of the United Nations. These honors came to the Republic largely because of General Carlos P. Romulo, permanent Philippine delegate to the UN, who is one of the most versatile editors the Philippines has ever produced and, in pre-Pearl-Harbor days, was publisher and editor-in-chief of the now defunct DMHM newspapers of Manila. Another DMHM newsman who has been the recipient of the bounty of our Liberal administration is former Press Secretary Modesto Farolan, the first Philippine Consul-General to Hawaii. Farolan was formerly general manager of the DMHM.
A check-up of the roster of diplomatic and consular offices established by the Republic reveals the amazing but gratifying fact that, as a general rule, a former Manila newspaperman is on the payroll. The Philippine press is ably represented on the staff of the Philippine Embassy at Washington, D.C. by former Pangasinan Congressman Narciso Ramos, a former Manila reporters; A. L. Valencia, president of the potent Manila Press Club and former Bulletin star reporter; and Pilar N. Ravelo-Guerrero, also formerly of the pre-Tojo Bulletin. Newsman Ramos is minister-counsellor, while Associated Press Correspondent Valencia is Ambassador Elizalde’s public relations spokesman.
And who does not remember Salvador P. Lopez who used to preach to newspaper readers via the Herald’s “So It Seems” column? Well, if you do not know, Lopez is in New York City now; a member of Ambassador Romulo’s staff. Also with Romulo in America is former Manila reporter Renato Constantino.
Felixberto G. Bustos, free lance journalist and author of the book that helped Roxas to the presidency, is on the staff of the Philippine consulate in New York City and his boss is former Justice Jose P. Melencio, himself a writer of some distinction.
With Other Bureaus
When the Philippines sent Senator Salipada K. Pendatun and others to the UNESCO conference at paris, a newspaperman was in the entourage in the person of United Press correspondent Rodolfo L. Nazareno. J. C. Dionisio, short story writer and West Coast journalist, is at present with Consul-General Roberto Regala in San Francisco.
Not all writers and reporters are as gifted as Carlos Peña Romulo or as lucky as those who have landed sinecures abroad. Other have to stay at home and keep the printing presses rolling. There are, however, some who are doling praiseworthy work in the government service. Outstanding among them is personable, veteran Bulletin reporter Johnny C. Orendain, who, as President Roxas’ Press Secretary, is the official Malacañan spokesman. Private secretary to the President is Federico Mangahas, he who wrote the perfect prose of the “Maybe” column of the Tribune of yesteryears. Then there is D. L. Francisco, ace FREE PRESS feature writer, whose exposes and “unsolved mystery” articles were arresting the attention of the nation when FREE PRESS Staffman Leon O. Ty and I were still trying to find our journalistic souls by writing poetic trash for campus magazines. Francisco is the PRO (public relations officer, to you) of the Manila police department. Another writer with the police department is Delfin Flandez Batacan who, before his promotion as technical assistant to Malacañan Police Adviser Angel Tuazon, was in the legal section of the Manila police.
I am sure many FREE PRESS readers have been wondering what has happened to Leon Ma. Guerrero, Jr., who, as Totoy, used to thrill them with “Times in Rhymes” and, as himself, gave them those spicy and meaty stories and articles of the pre-war FREE PRESS. I have been told that Leonie is alive but he is busy with protocols and diplomacy now at the department of foreign affairs. Also at the foreign affairs office is former newsman Carlos Quirino; while Manila columnist Teodoro L. Valencia is the secretary of the Philippine board of censorship for motion pictures.
I understand Ligaya Victorio Reyes and Leopoldo Y. Yabes are now members of the present bureaucracy; and that Poet Fred Ruiz Castro is now a colonel and head of the judge advocate general service of the Philippine army, while his chum and co-worker on the Collegian staff, Macario Peralta, Jr., is now a retired one-star general and the chairman of the Philippine veterans’ board. Writer Nicolas V. Villaruz is now special prosecutor of the People’s Court; while former College Editors’ Guild vice-president Arturo M. Olarga is justice of the peace of Manapla, Negros Occidental.
Even provincial journalists and editors have not been overlooked, so it seems, by the President. Publisher Fernando Lopez of the Times of Iloilo is the present mayor of Iloilo City, while former Commoner editor Vicente T. Remitio is the mayor of Bacolod City. Former News Clipper editor Melanio O. Lalisan, of Bacolod City, is assistant provincial fiscal of Negros Occidental and with him are assistant provincial fiscal Jose. T. Libo-on and Special Counsel Joaquin Sola who have been active in Negros journalism and still are as members of the Negros Press Club, an association of editors and writers of Negros Occidental.
But the highest honor ever paid by President Roxas to a reporter was that given to the late Benito M. Sakdalan, veteran metropolitan newspaperman who figured in a sensational case a year ago. The President personally and officially lamented his death and Executive Secretary Emilio Abello and Press Secretary Johnny C. Orendain paid him tribute and joined in his final rites.
And when one calls to mind that everytime the President goes on a junket trip he inevitably takes with him a retinue of reporters and newsphotographers, verily it can be said that under Roxas the press and the writing fraternity are having a Roman holiday.