The Republic of Philippines

The Republic of Philippines, which since July 1948 also includes the Turtle Islands, a small group on the extreme north-eastern coasts of Borneo, sold by the British North Borneo Company, has a population, according to the October 1948 census, of 19,234.182 pop. (dens. 64.6) and, according to the February 1960 census, of 23,612,000 residents (dens. 80), including (in 1954) 300,000 Chinese, 10,000 Spaniards and 10,000 Americans. Divided into 53 provinces in 1957, including Manila, administratively separated, it saw a noticeable increase in the number of cities, increased to 21 in 1948 and to 29 in 1959. For political reasons, in fact, large areas, including small towns, they were elected to the rank of cities and thus passed from the administrative control of the provincial governors to the direct control of the president. The economy of the town, which remains mainly agricultural, is growing significantly. For all products, with the exception of hemp, there has been a strong increase in recent years. In 1957 the production of rice had risen to 32 million q, that of maize to 8.5 million q, that of sugar cane to 12.44 million q and that of coconut palm, of which backwardness is complained of the cultivation method, to 13.2 million q of copra. Even the production of tobacco, after a period of crisis, determined by the invasion in the US tobacco market of Cuba and other Latin American countries, is increasing (481,000 q in 1957) and the livestock, halved by the war, it was completely reconstituted (in 1957: buffaloes 3,584,000, cattle 883,000, pigs 6,026,000). Mining production is constantly increasing (in 1958: 13,152 kg of gold and 15,500 of silver; in 1957: 750,000 t of iron and 326,500 of chromite) while industry, despite the elaboration since 1954 of five-year plans which absorb 50 % of the amounts granted by America, remains at a very modest level and is still mainly linked to the processing of agricultural products (tobacco, sugar cane, coconuts, hemp). The fertilizer (Maria Cristina plant) and cement industries have started up. There is also an automotive industry, but only an assembly industry, and an oil refinery is operating in Batangas Bay. A hydroelectric power plant was completed at Ambulaklao in 1956. Basically, agricultural and industrial production has reached and exceeded the level of the pre-war one, but it is always inadequate and gives a very low income. Furthermore, it should be noted that this development is mainly due to aid from the United States, to which the exploitation of local resources was opened by agreement of 4 July 1946, ratified on 11 March 1948, expiring in 1974, and that the trade balance is not yet in balance (in 1957: 1,229.2 million pesos in imports and 857.9 million in exports).

Finances. – The Central Bank of Philippines was created with the banking law of June 1948 and began to operate from the beginning of 1949. It is the exclusive property of the State and is endowed with the privilege of issuance. In December 1946, parity with gold was established in grams or, 444335 of fine per one peso. With the aforementioned banking law, the obligation to cover total circulation in dollars was abolished. One peso is equal to 50 US cents. From 1951 to 1955 a 17% surcharge on the official exchange rate was applied; but this increase was not applied to imports of essential products.

History. – Elpidio Quirino, who succeeded Manuel Roxas on April 17, 1948, and like him a liberal, continued his policy, based on close collaboration with the United States. Between 1946 and 1949 they donated over two billion dollars to the Philippines; but the Bell Act of 30 April 1946, guaranteeing the Americans freedom of trade and movement in the cities, hindered the industrialization of the country and prevented an organic development, helping to keep the colonial-type economic-social structures unaltered. In the elections of 1949, the victory of the liberals was overshadowed by accusations of fraud and corruption. In the countryside the insurrection of the Huk was gaining increasing popularity, which arose as a resistance movement under the Japanese occupation, and then revolted against the regime established with independence, advocating an anti-feudal agrarian reform, inspired by the Chinese communists. In the cities, opposition to the Liberal Party was of nationalistic origin. In the partial elections of 1951, which took place, also following American grievances, in a climate of greater honesty and freedom, the nationalist party won all the seats in the Senate up for grabs and the majority of the provincial administrations. In the subsequent presidential elections of 1953 the anti-liberal opposition rallied around Ramon Magsaysay.

The latter, as Minister of War with Quirino, had gained wide popularity for his personal honesty and for the decision with which he had led the fight against the Huk. He had almost succeeded in stifling the rebellion when Quirino ordered the campaign to end, promulgating an amnesty. Magsaysay resigned and ran as a nationalist candidate in the presidential election. Aided by the withdrawal of Carlos Romulo, candidate of the new democratic party he founded, and supported by the Americans, disgusted by the inefficiency of the Quirino government, Magsaysay managed to largely beat the opponent, obtaining 2,390,401 votes against 1,292,125 votes collected from Quirino.

Having become president, Magsaysay obtained the surrender of the leader of the Huk Luis Taruc in May 1954; launched a campaign against corruption; he set up an agrarian reform tending to break up the large estates, and also obtained a revision, albeit partial, of the Bell Act. But before his policy could show concrete fruit, he died in a plane crash on March 17, 1957. He was succeeded by vice president C. Garcia, also a nationalist, exponent of the traditional Filipino political class, who was reconfirmed in the elections held that same year.

In foreign policy, the Republic of the Philippines has followed a constant line that has made it the forefront of the Asian anti-communist alignment. SEATO, of which Quirino had been one of the first supporters, taking repeated initiatives for a pact for the Pacific, was in fact established in the capital of the Philippines, Manila, on 6 September 1954.

The Republic of Philippines