Speech for the Philippine Region during the Provincial Convention
Speech delivered by Secretary Ruperto K. Kangleon before the Leyte Chapter of the Philippine Region during a Provincial Convention on August 1st, 1947.
Mr. Chairman, Fellow Veterans of the Leyte Chapter of the Philippine Region
It gives me extreme pride and honor to be invited to address this congregation of veterans who, by their practical deeds and accomplishments on the battlefield, have deserved the highest destination as a group, having honorably defended the ideals on which our way of life has been founded. The veterans represent that distinguished group which can always be depended upon in a time of emergency. Their past record of service has made them a caste distinct from the slackers and "fence-sitters" who, during the enemy occupation, made full use of opportunities that gave them personal and material benefits at the expense of the country. I am extremely proud of being classified among you, and I feel that every veteran in this congregation rightfully feels the same honor in becoming a member of this chapter.
For it is highly fitting and proper that men with the same aspirations and problems, and who have suffered side by side in the past for a common cause, should associate together for mutual consultation and friendly discussion of their common problems, so that these can be easily solved by their united effort for the interest of the group as a whole rather than the divided interests of the individuals. We have learned in the past to work as members of a big team and to subordinate our personal interests and feelings so that the mission of the organization may be satisfactorily accomplished. We should continue to work as a team for efficiency, teamwork, and the strength that results from united action.
The veteran’s problem does not only consist of attaining security for veterans and other direct benefits to veterans alone. This is, of course, our immediate concern because we feel that we are entitled to our claims. But apart from this, there are problems of greater severity that merit the attention of the entire group. We fought for the principles of our government and our country in the last bloody conflict. A large number of our comrades paid with their blood and their lives for the victory which we are now enjoying. Their widows and orphans have been left destitute of the care which they need and would be receiving had their deceased husbands and fathers been fortunate enough to live through the night and to see the light of victory we now enjoy. We cannot dodge the responsibility we owe to our dead comrades, to help the orphans and the widows whom they have left behind. This, indeed, I consider a more important matter for consideration than the problem of backpay immediately confronting us.
But what I consider the most important problem for the Veterans' Legion in the Philippines is the proper development of our country. We fought and our comrades died on the battlefield so that this nation might continue to be the best spot-on earth to live in, not only for the present generation but for the generations to come. We cannot suffer to see the deterioration of the basic ideals for which we fought. We have to see that the whole country progresses in the pursuit of these ideals, and it is our bounden duty as veterans to see that the affairs of our government are entrusted to those who have the same attitude and aspiration as we do have in the principles of government that we have dedicated our lives to defending. We cannot entrust the management of our government affairs to those who, in the past, have shown selfish motives because of the danger that they may again use their influence for self-aggrandizement at the expense of the present generation and the future.
The vets have a right to lay claim to the leadership of the country they have helped to save. No other group of individuals has undergone so much sacrifice for this country. There are those who worked for and helped the enemy so that they themselves might acquire wealth during the enemy's occupation. These have no claim to the same right to leadership as the men who actually risked so much to help attain final victory. Some of our people have enjoyed comfort and prestige with the enemy while our soldiers were on the battlefield and in the mountains continuing the fight against the enemy. Is it right that they now be given better consideration than veterans? If we have had the strength of conviction and the sense of patriotism to continue the fight against the enemy in spite of the sufferings in the field during the war, we should have the same strength and the same sense of patriotism to save this country from the influence of individuals who, we believe, should no longer deserve the confidence of our people.
The Veteran’s Legion is not a political organization and should abstain from partisan politics. Divergence of political affiliation should not hamper the attainment of the objectives of the legion, which are by far our greatest obligation to our country and people.
The Veterans' Legion was a glorious beacon, lighting the way for all freedom-loving citizens in the night of oppression. The ideals and lefty aspirations of an unconquered people were irradiated from that solitary light to keep good men great then.It summoned the best in every man to cling with fierce tenacity to the principles of freedom and democracy. The laurel of victory was but a fitting recompense for the valor and loyalty so fittingly displayed in our own province; Leyte, our own Leyte, has become a symbol of victory, just as Bataan is a symbol of courage in the face of enormous odds.
It is not, therefore, presumptuous to assure you that that same renown in times of war, in times of peace, can and will still command the same admiration not only from our fellow countrymen, but from all the world as well.
In that same spirit of determination, therefore, our country lays its problems at your feet, imploring each and every loyal son of hers to uphold the principles of democracy as staunchly today as you have done in the past. Your conscience is clear because you have fought against everything that stood for disloyalty, pusillanimity, and tyrannical oppression. Let us fight back against these degrading influences. Let it never be said that in this, our own glorious territory, the powers that upheld the enemy have taken root like poisonous parasites in a celestial paradise.
Let us therefore devote our best efforts to the worthy cause of utilizing the Philippine veteran's legion for the noble goal of developing this country.Let's make a promise to keep fighting for the ideals and principles of government for which we fought and for which so many of our friends gave their lives.
This welcomed privilege of addressing you tonight has been afforded to me through the invitation of the chairman of the Philippine Veterans Board, General Macario Peralta, Jr. It is my earnest desire to keep all the veterans informed of the steps being taken by our government and that of the United States in the furtherance of the interests of Filipino veterans in the last world war and of any benefits accruing to them in recognition of their sacrifices in the interest of both governments. For this very reason, I was greatly prompted to accept the invitation of General Peralta to speak over the radio tonight.
I shall first attempt to tell you what our government has done to take care of the Filipino veterans. Republic Act No. 65, known as the Philippine Veterans Bill of Rights, which was passed by the Congress of the Philippines, has given rise to the existence of the Philippine Veterans Board, a government entity which is specifically charged with the veteran’s problems. This board is now functioning under the supervision of the Department of National Defense. During its brief existence, it has already disposed of thousands of claims of war widows for pensions and benefits; of claims of veterans for physical disability pension; of claims of veterans for educational benefits; of acting as an employment agency for veterans; and of claims of veterans for rehabilitation and agricultural loan benefits. Although handicapped by limited personnel, facilities, and budgetary support, it has already accomplished the most that can be expected within the capabilities of our government to finance this organization. Both the president of the Philippines and myself have the interests of the Filipino veterans at heart, and the request or recommendations of the board for increased personnel, facilities, and funds have been approved within the financial limitations of our government. In cabinet meetings, I have always stressed the appeal to give preference to veterans in the matter of employment, and this appeal has always been given sympathetic consideration by the other members of the cabinet. The Department of Public Works and Communications readily responded by issuing a circular to their subordinate officers to give priority to veterans in giving employment in their respective offices. My appeal has also found support in the Department of Health and Public Welfare, as evidenced by the free hospitalization of sick veterans all over the country. In connection with the hospitalization of Filipino veterans, I would like to call attention to the fact that in the Victoriano Luna General Hospital of the Philippine Army, there are approximately 3,000 veterans receiving medical treatment free of charge. There are also about the same number of veteran patients in other army hospitals throughout the Philippines. While it is not the normal function of the Army to take care of disabled veterans, this function ordinarily being the duty of the Veterans Administration, yet, for the time being that the Veterans Administration has not been well established in this country, the Army is assuming the greater part of the responsibility of taking care of the disabled veterans who have already been discharged from active service.