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Monthly Archives: April 1948

Sunset. Editorial for April 24, 1948

April 24, 1948

INTO the setting sun, merging into the shades of night, goes the spirit of President Manuel Roxas, bound for “the undiscovered country from whose born no traveler returns,” leaving behind a sad and sorrowful and anguished people. For him no more the breaking of the dawn, the call to the day’s pressing duties, the cares and burdens of the State, the sleepless hours in the silent watches of the night, or the occasional happy mingling with the thousands whom he served.

And tomorrow (Sunday), “in memoriam,” his people will do him homage, a nation will mourn his loss. In Manila, the cerements of woe, the solemn tolling of the bells, the slow passing of the caisson and the long cortege, with the family of the late President and high officialdom, from the Malacañang to the Hall of Congress, the hushed throngs lining the route of passage, the eloquent and soul-stirring eulogies in honor of the departed, then the procession to the North Cemetery under military escort with the US Army and the British Navy participating, and at the Cemetery the last sad obsequies, the lowering of the bier, the three volleys, the bugle blowing the mournful notes of the soldier’s requiem, “taps,” and all the impressive and somber ritual that marks the interment of the illustrious and soldier dead.

Likewise throughout the provinces will there be general observance. There also the bells will toll and by means of the radio and loud speaker the last solemn rites be heard. And there, doubtless, as here in Manila, there will be many a sigh and mayhap even a tear from those who knew him well, or perchance even from those who had only heard him speak or had the pleasure of greeting him and clasping his hand.

Yes, Manuel Roxas, President Roxas, is dead, and a nation bows its head in grief. Less than four years ago it was robbed of its beloved son, Manuel L. Quezon, and now again it is sorely afflicted, the hand of Death is laid heavily upon it. It bears its cross, but:

No more for him life’s stormy conflicts,
Nor victory, nor defeat—no more time’s dark events,
Charging like ceaseless clouds across the sky.

They Saw Manoling for the Last Time, April 24, 1948

They Saw Manoling for the Last Time

by Leon O. Ty

April 24, 1948–THE general public was allowed to view the body of the late President Manuel Roxas beginning Friday afternoon, April 16. As soon as the notice to that effect became known an endless procession of silent, sad-faced people—Filipinos and foreigners, old and young, from all walks of life—made a bee line for the Palace to take one last look at their departed leader.

The wealthy drove to the Palace grounds in their expensive limousines, properly attired for the occasion. The men wore immaculate de hilo or sharkskin suits with black arm bands, black ties and black shoes to match. The women were in shiny, ebony dresses. The less opulent went to the Palace in taxis while the majority of the mourners took jeepneys and buses.

Most striking among those who paid Roxas their last homage were poor people of Manila who walked all the way from their homes in different sections of the city to the Palace, some in slippers and wooden clogs. Others were barefooted.

Without uttering a word, the people lined up, ascended to the second floor of the Palace, mounted the low platform where the body lay in a black casket, cast one fleeting look at the dead Chief Executive, then walked out of the wealth-filled room—still mute.

Not until the departing mourners reached the lovely Palace garden did they find their voices to talk to their companions.

Late last Saturday afternoon, the writer stood a few meters away from the illumined bier for almost one hour and watched intently the outward reactions of those who viewed the President’s remains.

President Bienvenido Gonzales of the University of the Philippines was one of those that saw Roxas’ body last Saturday. He simply could not conceal his sadness as he looked at the lifeless body of his friend who, a couple of days ago, had been with him at the state university graduation program.

The veins on Gonzales’s forehead bulged prominently as he tried to suppress the tears which reddened his eyes. As he and Mrs. Gonzales emerged from the room where the casket lay, he looked like one in a trance. Not a word was spoken between him and his wife.

Presently a solemn-faced woman, about 60, in a chocolate-colored dress (San Antonio), and wearing wooden clogs, mounted the platform and kissed the casket. The soldiers on guard at once led her out as she was blocking the passage of the other mourners. But this woman was not to be denied a moment’s prayer. As soon as she had descended the platform, she knelt reverently in front of the coffin—about a meter away—bowed her head and prayed for a couple of minutes. Then she made the sign of the cross, stood up, and quietly walked out, without minding in the least the many people staring at her.

“I wonder who she is?” asked a man standing beside the writer. “She must be an admirer of Manoling.”

A man, his wife, and two young boys followed. Since the younger child was not tall enough to see the President’s face, his father lifted him up by the waist and the tot was thus able to see—perhaps for the first time—the face of the dead leader.

Hundreds of university and secondary students as well as elementary school pupils flocked to the Palace to take a glimpse of the man who had earned the love of and inspired the youth of his country—as much as and perhaps more than any other Filipino leader.

Among the thousands of mourners were women who had just finished their marketing. They carried paper bags loaded with groceries as they passed alongside the casket.

A hunchback caught the writer’s attention. The man was middle-aged. He had a little difficulty in mounting the low platform, but he managed somehow to take a good look at the dead man. It was not easy for him to go down from the platform, either. Garbed in wrinkled, yellowish abaca short-sleeved shift and khaki trousers, his old, white shoes needed a good, thorough cleaning.

A lady known to the writer, was one of last Saturday’s mourners. After she had viewed the dark face of Roxas, I greeted her with a handshake. I noticed that her hands were unusually cold.

“Are you ill?” I asked.

She couldn’t talk for a few seconds. Later, she answered in a low, quivering voice:

“I can’t believe that he is dead. I can’t.”

After standing in front of the casket quietly for a few moments, she turned around and headed for the door.

A little boy, about seven years old, was perhaps not content with just a fleeting glimpse of the President’s face. Scarcely had he descended the platform when he turned back and took another look at the corpse.

A very old man with a cane made his last token of reverence for Roxas. He had a hard time climbing the stairs to the second floor of the Palace and he had also a difficult time mounting the platform. But with shaking legs, he managed to view the President’s body.

There was a newsboy who joined the throng of mourners. The lad was dressed in soiled, short khaki pants and striped T-shirt. In his left hand was a bundle of newspapers.

A stout, elderly woman walked past the casket biting her rouged lips. Her eyes were red with unshed tears. An old Spaniard followed her. His face was grave. He might have been a friend or an admirer of the departed leader.

Then there was a husky man with a .45 caliber automatic pistol sticking out of his belt. Briskly, he mounted the platform, tilted his head to take a look at the corpse, then walked away without revealing any trace of emotion on his rugged face. He looked like a tough character.

The writer was informed by a Palace employee that an American old-timer in the Philippines burst into weeping beside the casket last week.

“I’m weeping not for Roxas alone,” the American told Colonel Jose Tando, chief of the presidential guards, who led him out of the room, “but for the Philippines because she is bereft of a great leader.”

This American was a great friend of Roxas and had known Manoling since he was a mere stripling in Capiz.

Varied were the people’s comments after they had seen the lifeless body of the President.

Said a tall, young man in white suit and black, bow tie:

“A great man has passed away.”

A young lady whose voice was choked with emotion was heard to say in the Palace garden:

“I had no chance to see him in life. I should have seen him while he was still living. They say he was a wonderful speaker.”

“He reached the end of the road,” declared a lady to her male companion.

A man who must have been an oppositionist, judging from the way he talked, said:

“I wanted to see him defeated in the coming elections, but I didn’t want him to die before his term was over.”

“He was a very loving and patient husband,” stated an elderly lady, as she was entering the Palace garden. “I wonder if Mrs. Roxas can find another husband like him. That is, if she ever marries again.”

From an eloquent man carrying a briefcase, came this intriguing remark:

“Was Roxas really guilty of the charges made against him by his political enemies? I’ve heard and I believe that many of his friends and leaders became rich because they used his (Roxas) name in surplus and other transactions. But I have not heard of Roxas himself getting rich.”

“He was too good to fire even the men who besmirched his administration,” commented an elderly man who looked like a government employee.

A slim, morose-looking man in brown pants and a short-sleeved shirt said:

“Is it not queer that Roxas died in American territory—in Clark Field, a US military reservation? In the home of an American at that. Quezon, too, died on American soil. Our greatest leaders always die on American soil. Why?”

A Philippine Constabulary soldier queried as if in a soliloquy:

“Why did God take President Roxas away before his term was over?”

For more than a week the mourners passed silently one by one beside the lifeless body of Manuel Acuña Roxas. Nobody could tell what thoughts were in their minds or how profound might be the grief in their hearts. One thing could, however, be ascertained: They all felt bereft by the passing away of one of the most brilliant of their countrymen that ever lived. —L. O. Ty

The hand of the government, April 10, 1948

April 10, 1948

By Teodoro M. Locsin
Staff Member

HOW far should the government go into business? It depends, of course, on the kind of government. If the government is socialist, it should go into business up to its neck. That is what socialism means. Production for consumption instead of private profit. But if the government is that of capitalist democracy, then the government should stay out of business as much as possible. It should leave business in private hands.

The hand of the government, April 10, 1948


April 10, 1948

By Teodoro M. Locsin

Staff Member

HOW far should the government go into business? It depends, of course, on the kind of government. If the government is socialist, it should go into business up to its neck. That is what socialism means. Production for consumption instead of private profit. But if the government is that of capitalist democracy, then the government should stay out of business as much as possible. It should leave business in private hands.

Two opposing theories of government divided the leaders of the new American republic. There were the “Maximarchists,” who wanted to increase the powers and functions of the government, and the “Minimarchists,” who regarded government as at best a necessary evil, in theory a servant, in practice usually a despot. Alexander Hamilton, spokesman of the “Maximarchists,” called for a powerful centralized government, distrusted the common people, whom he called, if memory serves, “a great beast.” He denied them the right or ability to govern themselves, “regarded democracy as the dream of demagogues or visionaries.”

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, fought Hamilton, called for less government and more individual freedom, was twice elected presidency, opposed as dangerous his party’s plan to nominate him for a third term. He was a democrat, pure and simple. He saw the government as a wise man of China saw it: a tiger that must be tamed.

The issue of more government or less did not die when Aaron Burr shot Hamilton dead in a duel. England is trying more government, Russia has total government, while the United States, during the New Deal, went in for enterprises usually left to private initiative. The United States was faced with the problem of over-production, of a market glutted with surplus goods that could not be sold. Those goods had somehow to be disposed of, if the wheels of industry were once more to turn and unemployment to end. So, the government, since capital could not do it, went out and put people to work—or not to work, as the critics charged. The purpose was to create jobs, increase purchasing power, get rid of the surplus produce and open the doors of factories again.

The Philippines is not socialist, heaven knows, and it is certainly not communist, at the same time it is far from faced with the problem of over-production, of having more than can be sold. Of its present condition it may be said that the Philippines has not enough of anything—unless it be politicians. Yet the government is in business—and in business, apparently, to stay.

“The finger of the government is—in every pie,” complains a businessman. “It is difficult these days to go into any enterprise unless you are in the good graces of the government. You have to play ball with the politicians—or go broke.”

An exaggeration, we daresay, but not without some truth in it. The list of government corporations is impressive. The government does seem to be in everything. It is in the transportation business (Manila Railroad Co.), in the hotel business (Manila Hotel), in the shipping business (Shipping Administration), in banking (Philippine National Bank, Rehabilitation Finance Corporation), in real estate (National Land Settlement Administration, People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation, Rural Progress Administration), in abaca (National Abaca and Other Fibers Corporation), in coconut (National Coconut Corporation), in cement (Cebu Portland Cement Co.), in sugar (Insular Sugar Refining Corporation, Binalbagan Sugar Central), in tobacco (National Tobacco Corporation). It has the Metropolitan Water District, the National Power Corporation, the Surplus Property Commission, the Government Service Insurance System, and it is in the wholesale and retail trade via the PRATRA and the National Cooperatives and Small Business Corporations. It is even in gambling—the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Some of these government enterprises can be justified: Manila Railroad, Government Service Insurance, Metropolitan Water District, etc. All are being justified—on one ground or another. The usual excuse is that the government entered into these enterprises because of the timidity of private capital. It went in to pioneer and pave the way for private investment and initiative. All very nice—but the government has not gone out yet. When will it go out?

Today the Government Enterprises Council is considering the creation of a great holding company to coordinate the activities of the various government corporations. Meanwhile government planned to enter into the lumber industry, only to retreat—this must be said in its favor—in the face of objections by private lumbermen. In this connection private capital was reassured by President Roxas that it need not fear government competition—because government businesses are always more costly to operate, their costs of production are always higher.

A revealing admission of government inefficiency—and graft? In each government corporation or enterprise the government must maintain what one official termed “internal check.”

“What’s that?” we asked.

“Well, in a private business, as you know, the businessman tries his best to make money, if he cheats, he only cheats himself, if he loafs, his business suffers and he sustains the loss. That is not true of the government corporation. We must maintain the internal check I have mentioned: an auditor, etc., to see to it that the business is being run properly, that nobody…”

“Is trying to run away with the government’s money, is that it?” we said.

“Well, if you put it that way.”

And of course a government business is not run the way a private one is, he admitted. In a private business, inefficiency is punished by ruin, so the employee who idles and loafs is canned. The manager must know his business—or else. It is not so in a government corporation.

In a government corporation, appointment to the most responsible position is dictated first by politics, secondly and incidentally by qualifications. A government corporation is the natural home of lame-ducks. The dumber you are, the better. Independent thought is subversive, imaginative planning is the quality of a man who can think for himself—a dangerous man, one to get quickly rid of. The dumber you are, the better. You may yet be the president of a bank—a government bank.

A government corporation needs, like any other business, competent employees and skilled hands. It must employ lazy and useless ones. It must accommodate as many as possible of the boys who brought the party in power a fair number of votes. Its aim, at least in practice, is not to produce but to provide the boys with a place in which to read their morning papers. What does it care about profits and losses? The losses can always be passed on to the people. The politician does not go broke, the people are the ones who hold the bag.

The Metran was an awful loss, the Nacoco has taken a terrific financial beating under the otherwise competent hands of Maximo Kalaw, PRATRA burned badly-needed milk, and it would be interesting to put the NBI really to work to dig into and make an over-all report on the Surplus Commission. The National Cooperatives and Small Business Corporation lost a lot of money last year, the National Tobacco Corporation is in a pretty bad fix, NARIC did not exactly make a name for efficient administration, and the Philippine National Bank will be lucky if it got back half, or even a fourth, of its crop loans, whose exact amount it is afraid to tell the people for the people might die of shock.

And nobody gets fired.

A government spokesman justifies the existence of these government corporations. You will find the “reason” for their existence in the charters of the respective corporations. Persuasively set forth. The fact remains that the government is in business, and we have a presidential secretary (Emilio Abello) chairman of the board of directors of a hotel, the secretary of labor (Pedro Magsalin) as chairman of the board of governors of cooperatives, the secretary of justice as chairman of the board of directors of a bank, a secretary of education (Manuel Gallego) as chairman of an agricultural settlement, a budget commissioner (Pio Pedrosa) as president of a railroad company, a carnival man (Arsenio Luz) as administrator of public property valued in tens of millions, and others we can enumerate ad nauseam.

Over them all presides the Honorable Placido Mapa, vice-chairman of the Government Enterprises Council, and over him sits His Excellency, Manuel Roxas, President of the Philippines, ruling a business and industrial empire that may yet, in the possible future, rival Ford’s or Rockefeller’s.

Such powers as these few men wield must shake a democratic heart. Power, no matter held by whom, corrupts, we know, and the philosophy of democratic government is to withhold as much power as possible from the few lest they oppress the many. In a supposedly democratic Philippines, however, the philosophy of government seems to run the other way. One recalls the cry of the Bolsheviks: “All powers to the Soviet!”

The Philippines, we have said, is not socialist, it is not communist, nor is it a mature capitalist society like the United States, harassed by the problem of over-production. What then is the Philippines? What kind of a government will it have if present tendencies are unchecked? We do not like the word, but there seems no way of evading it: fascist.


The Surplus bonanza, April 10, 1948

The Surplus Bonanza
April 10, 1948

By Silvestre Songco
Guagua, Pampanga

THE word SURPLUS, according to Daniel Webster, means “excess” or “more than sufficient.”

To night clubs, restaurants, gambling houses and other business quarters where “money makes the man,” surplus means more than that. It means “big money,” so to speak.

In Angeles, Pampanga as well as in Manila and other places in the country where surplus depots are found, there is a literal flood of money. So called “surplus guys” (post war parlance) have more money to burn than anybody else, hacenderos and occupation buy-and-sell tycoons included.

In night clubs, restaurants, haberdasheries and other places where “money talks” the best customers are the surplus folk. If a night club owner or a haberdasher gets four or five surplus customers, his business enjoys a real boom.

Hunt for Huks, April 10, 1948

April 10, 1948

Grown-up Males In Pampanga Are Being Screened For Possible Connection With Taruc’s Organization. Governor Lingad’s Slogan: “Peace At Any Cost.”

By Leon O. Ty
Staff Member

THE check-up of civilians in central and southern Luzon for possible connection with the Huks and PKMs has begun.

In Pampanga -birthplace and hotbed of communism in the Philippines- €”the youthful, fighting provincial governor, Jose B. Lingad, lost no time in carrying out President Manuel Roxas€’s executive order outlawing the Huk and PKM organizations which was subsequently implemented by a lengthy, 14-point directive drafted by Secretary of the Interior Jose Zulueta.

Three FREE PRESS staffers went to Pampanga last week to gather first-hand information of the process. Their observations disclosed this one inescapable fact: that Huk Supremo Luis Taruc’s organizations is still strong with the Pampanga peasants. It is the belief of this writer that it may be a long time before the working class of that province can completely extricate itself, so to speak, from Huk control. This control may be based on mortal fear of Taruc’s “Gestapo,” or on the peasant’€™s  honest belief that Taruc is a Redeemer, a Messiah, who will some day lead them out of a wilderness of economic misery to a land of plenty. That it exists cannot be doubted.

Governor Lingad did not follow strictly Secretary Zulueta’€™s impractical “screening” instructions. As a matter of fact, he practically discarded them and adopted a much simpler method of his own.