February 27, 1945
Department of Information and Public Relations of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
This is an historic event in an historic city. From the time our Malay ancestors founded it more than eight centuries ago, colonial powers have fought for its conquest and domination. The Spaniards, the Dutch, the English, a Chinese pirate, our revolutionary fathers, have all vied with each other and shed blood for its possession; because its conquest has always meant the ultimate control of the entire archipelago. But today's event is different from any of the previous conquests and victories. The present victory of American arms is not a victory for power, control or domination, but a victory for freedom, democracy and independence.
In sharing with you today the exultation over the triumph of American arms, let us bow our heads in reverent memory of our sacred dead and the dead of our Allies, whose lives are the forfeit that these, our liberties, might be restored. We mourn the destruction of our once beautiful capital city of Manila and the murder of thousands of innocent people by the Japanese vandals, but this latest dastardly act of a savage enemy which has aroused the conscience of an outraged world should steel us to the firm resolve to continue the fight with every ounce of our strength until he shall have been completely vanquished.
To President Roosevelt who, in our grim days in Corregidor and Bataan, solemnly pledged to us in the name of the American people, the men and resources of the United States for our liberation, this day must be also a day of happiness over a pledge fulfilled. We shall be forever grateful to him and to the American people.
To General MacArthur, this campaign has been a crusade. Friend and defender of our race, he never lost faith in the spiritual strength of our people. In this crusade, he is finishing the noble work begun by his illustrious father, General Arthur MacArthur who, on August 13, 1898, successfully led another American Army to free Manila from a European power. General Douglas MacArthur will go down in history not only for his signal military successes but also for consistently following truly democratic methods in dealing with Philippine civil affairs in areas retaken from the enemy. Instead of taking advantage of military operations to maintain military government over territories already recaptured, he has been faithful in his role as liberator in the truest American tradition. Thus, forty-eight hours after the occupation of Tacloban by the American forces, he turned over the functions of government to our Commonwealth. And now, in this City of Manila, he is following the same procedure.
To all the gallant members of the United States Forces, I bespeak the immeasurable indebtedness, the highest admiration, and the eternal gratitude of our people for their victorious accomplishments. They have come as brothers-in-arms enlisted in and dedicated to the sacred cause of restoring our liberties.
The time has come when the world should know that when our forces surrender in Bataan and Corregidor, resistance to the enemy was taken up by the people itself-resistance which was inarticulate and disorganized at its inception but which grew from day to day and from island to island, until it broke out into an open warfare against the enemy.
The fight against the enemy was truly a people's war because it counted with the wholehearted support of the masses. From the humble peasant to the barrio school teacher, from the volunteer guard to the women's auxiliary service units, from the loyal local official to the barrio folk-each and every one of these contributed his share in the great crusade for liberation.
The guerrillas knew that without the support of the civilian population, they could not survive. Whole towns and villages dared enemy reprisal to oppose the hated invader openly or give assistance to the underground movement. It is thus that the Filipino people drew the ire of the Japanese who has never followed the rules of civilized warfare. And now his conduct towards the civilian population has become more cruel and brutal, embittered as he is by his failure to enlist the support of the people. For this reason, it is imperative that the war against him be prosecuted all over the country relentlessly and with dispatch in order that the people's agony may not be prolonged and precious human life may be salvaged.
As I take over the civil functions of the Commonwealth Government in our country, I cannot but pause in all humility, for guidance and inspiration before the figures of Josť Rizal for his patriotism, Andres Bonifacio for his indomitable courage, Apolinario Mabini for his farsighted statesmanship, and Manuel L. Quezon for his devotion to the cause of independence.
That no time may be lost in the complete restoration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the Executive and Judicial branches will be re-established with utmost vigor and dispatch and I now call upon all the duly elected members of our Congress who have remained steadfast in their allegiance to our Government during the period of enemy occupation, to be in readiness to meet in Manila as soon as conditions permit for the re-establishment of the Legislative branch.
I am fully cognizant that problems of great national significance must be faced immediately. The re-establishment of law and order in areas already liberated, the reopening of schools, the reorganization of the Government, both national and local, are among the complicated problems that have arisen as a consequence of enemy occupation. Foremost among these problems is that of relief and rehabilitation, the urgency of which cannot be overemphasized.
This war has not only caused untold misery and suffering to the individual; it has also brought about wanton destruction, economic dislocation and financial bankruptcy to the nation at large. Farms and industries have to be rehabilitated; banks and credit institutions have to be reopened; roads and bridges have to be repaired; schools and hospitals have to be rebuilt; destroyed and damaged properties, both public and private, have either to be rehabilitated or indemnified. The legitimate claim of the common laborer and of the small farmer who has lost his only work animal and nipa hut must be given preferential attention.
So that these manifold problems may be faced with promptness and energy, I shall enlist the assistance of all those possessing not only proven ability and loyalty but also the confidence and trust of the people. In Leyte, as a recognition of the guerrillas who so valiantly fought the Japanese, I appointed Colonel Ruperto Kangleon as the Acting Governor of that province. Today I have the pleasure to announce that, as a tribute to the civilian elements of our country who resisted the enemy with courage and fortitude, I have chosen Governor Tomas Confesor as the ranking member of my Cabinet, appointing him Secretary of the Interior, and in charge of the reorganization of the City of Manila.
Our independence is a settled question. Our five decades of consistent struggles, in peace and war, have come to a definite, successful end. Our Government, when in exile, was considered as possessing the attributes of an independent nation. It is a member of the United Nations. We have President Roosevelt's word that when normal conditions have returned, law and order re-established, and democratic processes restored, our request for the advancement of the date of independence will be granted. I hope this can be accomplished on August 13, 1945, the forty-seventh anniversary of the landing of the American forces in Manila. Thus Occupation Day will become Philippine Independence Day.
The gravity of our new problems demands the collective effort of all the people. The Government cannot undertake to solve them alone. It needs the support of the people a united people. More than ever before, now that the rapid advance of our forces is widening its field of action, the Government needs a united popular support to enable it to undertake successfully its tremendous tasks. Not by dissension and bickerings, not by resort to violence and lawlessness can we serve the national interest. It would be tragic indeed if at this last state of our crucial struggle for nationhood, we should fall apart and be divided against ourselves. We have had enough misfortunes and sufferings in this war; we cannot bear any more. To plunge ourselves into the abyss of disunion would be suicidal.
As the head of your duly constituted Government, I therefore appeal to you, my people, to remain united. I urge you to forget petty political differences, to bury the hatreds and animosities engendered by the struggle, to obey the rule of law, justice and reason, and to remember that we all belong to one common country, our beloved Philippines. United we will continue assisting effectively in the successful prosecution of the war and in the rehabilitation of our country. United we can speedily achieve the full restoration of the constitutional processes of our Government, disrupted by the enemy. United and in close co-operation with the United States, we can win for ourselves and our children all the blessings of democracy, freedom and security for which we have sacrificed so much in this titanic struggle against the brutal forces of tyranny and oppression.