3rd of 3 parts
Series of raids
Also on May 03, the Huks became very hostile towards President Roxas who had started the campaign against them. The Huks fought back with ferocity in the wake of these punitive expeditions of the military. As a result, killings perpetrated by both sides became daily occurences. The countryside became sort of a no-man’s land. A big portion of Pampanga was left uncultivated and hundreds of families evacuated to safer places or the town center areas.
The military police (MPs), for their part, were given license to indiscriminately shoot and machine-gun men and women suspected of being Huks. The most notorious of MP abuse was the “Masico Affair” in Laguna, wherein a group of men and women were machine-gunned without any warning or investigation. It appeared later that the murdered men and women were not real dissidents but innocent peaceful citizens.
The same wanton disregard for civil rights was exhibited by the MPs in Barrio Maliwalu, Bacolor, Pampanga, where a group of men and women was holding a night party and for no apparent reason were fired upon and killed by the MPs. Yet the criminals in “MP uniforms” were not punished for their crimes.
These incidents explain why the Huks refused to come to terms with the Roxas goverment. Instead, they defied all duly-constituted authorities.
Before leaving for the United States on a special mission, President-elect Manuel Roxas took time to consult with his political task force to examine the list of the new officials appointed to various positions in the provinces and municipalities. He was apparently not pleased with the results of the recent purge he initiated. He wanted his task force to review and change the list if needed and have it ready by the time he returns from his US trip.
The folowing day, May 08, exactly 20 days prior to his inauguration as new Philippine President, Manuel Roxas and his delegation left for the United States. They were accompanied by American High Comissioner Paul V. McNutt. Roxas was scheduled to meet with American President Harry Truman and discuss the details of the Tydings Rehabilitation Act and the Bell Trade Relations Act.
On May 09, US President Harry Truman opened the consultative meeting with President-elect Manuel Roxas and his delegation. The meeting was held at the US Congress Trade Department. President Roxas stayed with his Filipino delagation during the two-day discussion with their American counterparts where they talked about the various features of the Tydings Rehabilitation Act and the Bell Trade Relations Act.
During breaks, Roxas held talks with numerous American investors who were willing to put money in the Philippines and be part of the on-going rehabilitation in the country.
Roxas and his party also met with Filipino nationals currently residing in Washington D.C., Maryland. On Sunday, he visited the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticutt. Everywhere they went, they were treated to a fiesta-like reception by their countrymen living the good life in America.
President Manuel Roxas and his delegation returned to Manila on May 19, after 11 days of stay in the eastern seaboard, USA.
On May 20, 1946 President Manuel Roxas met with General Douglas MacArthur and the two discussed the salient features of theTydings Rehabilitation Act and the Bell Trade Relations Act. In the end, the general said he would have done it differently if he was the President of the United States.
As early as May 13, Congressman Bonifacio Camacho, representative of Bataan in Congress, had completed the documents for the establishment of the P16-million NASSCO shipyard in Mariveles, the biggest infrastructure project planned to be established in Bataan, and which he planned to submit in Congress for approval.
He was also planning to file a separate bill for the construction of four central rooms of the Bataan High School (Arelano Memoral High School in Balanga) and the establishment of several barrio schools and puericulture centers in the province.
Ramon Magsaysay, upon arrival in Manila on May 22, was immediately wooed by leaders of the two contenders for the speakership of the Lower House: incumbent Speaker Jose Zulueta and erstwhile Majority floor leader Eugenio Perez of Pangasinan.
Handsome and wealthy Speaker Zulueta was from Iloilo. He was favored to be the speaker by President Manuel Roxas who was a native of Capiz, a neighboring province of Iloilo. Short and amiable Eugenio Perez was from Pangasinan, northern neighbor of Zambales. Like most Pangasinenses, Perez spoke Ilocano.
Considering where the greater advantage lay, Magsaysay decided that Eugenio Perez was the natural choice. Perez was also a good gamble, for he was reputedly edging out his Visayan rival.
In return for Magsaysay’s vote, Mrs. Eugenio Perez and Mrs. Raul Leuterio (wife of Perez’ campaign manager) promised Magsaysay the chairmanship of the committee on national defense on which he had his eye on. It was expected of him because at age 39, he was one of more than 20 ex-guerrilla freshmen in the lower house who had served as military governor of his province.
On May 24, on the eve of the showdown for the speakership between Jose Zulueta and Eugenio Perez, exactly on the day before Congress convened, Zulueta accepted the post of Secretary of the Interior offered by President Roxas. The said compomise automatically freed Mrs. Eugenio Perez of her promise to Magsaysay to get the defense committee chairmanship in the lower House.
Although a novice in the House, Magsaysay started right by being an early ally of the new speaker, with whom he shared a common region and dialect. After the election and defection and realignments, Magsaysay had 75 Liberal colleagues, 16 Nacionalistas, three Democratic Alliance, one Popular Front and one independent solon. Most of them were political neophytes since only 26 of the 55 reelectionists pre-war congressmen had won at the polls.
Congress in session
The Second Congress of the Philippine Commonwealth held its first regular session on May 25 (which lasted till July 3, 1946). President Manuel Roxas was invited as special guest. The session was presided by Speaker Eugenio P. Perez of the Liberal Party from the 2nd District of Pangasinan. The Speaker Pro-Tempore was Francisco Ortega (LP, 1st District La Union); Majority Floor Leader Raúl Leuterio (LP, lone district of Mindoro); and Minority Floor Leader Cipriano P. Primicias, Sr. (NP, 4th District Pangasinan).
Erstwhile Senate Floor Leader Melencio Arranz became President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Many other members of the First Commonwealth Congress held top positions in the soon-to-be-born new republic.
Congressman Ramon Magsaysay of Zambales and Atty. Bonifacio Camacho of Bataan were in the company of political greats in Congress, the likes of Quintin Paredes of Abra, Jose B. Laurel Jr. of Batangas, Alejo Santos of Bulacan, Cornelio T. Villareal of Capiz, Justiniano Montano of Cavite, Oscar Ledesma of Iloilo, Lorenzo Teves of Negros Oriental, Luis M. Taruc of Pampanga, Lorenzo Sumulong of Rizal, Tomas B. Morato of Tayabas, and many others.
Mrs. Luz Magsaysay, just like the other wives and/or husbands of the members of Congress, was present during the opening day of the First Congress (1946-1949).
Among other things, the solons immediately passed a resolution congratulating President-elect Manuel Roxas for winning the April 23, 1946 presidential polls. They also promised to attend Roxas’ inauguration rites to be held in three days (May 28).
Back to the city
Right after the opening day ceremonies, Congressman Ramon and wife Luz went home to their old bungalow on Arellano Street where their three children were already staying. They occupied the bungalow five days earlier. It was their first time to live in that house since it was built and leased in 1939, just before they left Manila for San Antonio where Ramon was assigned as TRY-TRAN branch manager.
Luckily, they inherited some household utensils from the GIs to whom Ramon had offered the house during the liberation. Thus, neither the acute housing problem in the city and the scarcity of household goods bothered the Magsaysays. They were ready to receive many guests and callers in that house from then on.
Roxas oathtaking ceremony
On May 28, 1946 newly-elected Philippine President Manuel A. Roxas took his oath of office, together with Vice President Elpidio Quirino, before Supreme Court Chief Justice Manuel Moran. The ceremony was held at the Club Filipino in Roxas Boulevard, in Manila. It was witnessed by about 200,000 people, including some American officials.
Roxas was sworn in at 9:10 in the morning, received a 19-gun salute, and delivered an address in which he contrasted the prosperity and happiness of the country before the war with the present tragic situation. He declared that during the years of the Japanese Occupation, Philippine hearts and convictions had never faltered.
Roxas outlined the main policies of his administration, mainly: closer ties with the United States; adherence to the newly-created United Nations; national reconstruction; relief for the masses; social justice for the working class; the maintenance of peace and order; the preservation of individual rights and liberties of the citizenry; and honesty and efficiency in government.
Manuel Roxas was to serve as the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines only for a brief period, from May 28, 1946 to July 4, 1946, during which time he helped prepare the groundwork for an independent Philippines.
Elpidio Quirino of Ilocos Sur, who was inducted as Vice President on this same day, was appointed by President Roxas as Secretary of Finance (and then Secretary of Foreign Affairs on July 6, 1946).
Present, absent solons
Congressman Ramon Magsaysay of Zambales was present at the said oathtaking ceremony of President Manuel Roxas. Luz decided to stay at home and listened over the radio. Bataan Congressman Bonifacio Camacho, however, did not attend the oathtaking of President Roxas and Vice-president Elpidio Quirino. He was in the company of former President Sergio Osmeña who left before the start of the ceremony. Later in the afternoon, Osmeña administered a separate oathtaking ceremony of all Nacionalista Party candidates who won at the polls.
First official meeting
The following day, President Roxas started accepting nominees for various positions in government: new Cabinet members, department secretaries/assistant secretaries, bureau chiefs and even military and police positions. He also organized an elite task force who will make a list of former President Sergio Osmeña’s appointed government officials in the provinces and municipalities. He wanted them to make a study on who among the incumbent officials were to be dismissed and who were to be retained regardless of their previous party affiliation.
Roxas also ordered the immediate repatriation of former President Jose Laurel, Benigno Aquino Sr., Camilo Osias, Jorge Vargas and General Mateo Capinpin from Japan and have them face the “collaboration charges” filed against them. He coursed the said order through General Douglas MacArthur for immediate implementation.
Later in the week, on Friday to be exact, Roxas issued an Executive Order effecting the replacement of all appointed provincial and municipal officials all over the country. He had decided that the new local officials must belong to the Liberal Party.
Repairs of bridges
Starting in early June, Congressman Ramon Magsaysay was informed that the newly-rehabilitated Layac Bridge, located at the boundary between Dinalupihan and Hermosa, was designated as a “toll bridge” by the provincial government of Bataan. He immediately inquired from acting Bataan Governor Ramon Santos why motorists from Zambales also had to pay such toll. Santos explained that the toll was based on a newly-approved ordinance passed by the provincial council. He also said that aside from Layac Bridge, the Colbo Bridge in the Parang area in Bagac town was likewise designated as a “toll bridge.”
State of the Nation Address
On June 03, 1946. President Manuel Roxas appeared for the first time before a joint session of Congress to deliver his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Among other things, Roxas told the members of Congress of the grave problems and difficulties the Philippines was facing. He also reported on his special trip to the United States to discuss the approval for the country’s independence.
He also made mention that starting July 10, 1946 all Japanese-and President Sergio Osmeña-appointed local government officials will have to step down and give way to the newly-appointed provincial and municipal administrators.
Pampanga Congressman Luis Taruc and other peasant leaders, in their desire to make the countryside safe, started cooperating with President Manuel Roxas in the pacification campaign starting on the first week of June. Taruc, Juan Feleo and Mateo del Castillo went from barrio to barrio to explain to their followers the importance of peace and order in national rehabilitation and reconstruction.
It was during this “pacification campaign” that Taruc and Del Castillo received an intelligence report that they would be liquidated by their enemies, among whom were allegedly “high goverment officials.” The two leaders suddenly stopped their scheduled trips to the barrios.
On August 26, 1946, Juan Feleo, the peasant leader from Nueva Ecija, who did not receive his warning on time, was kidnapped right under the noses of his MP guards who were supposed to protect him in his pacification campaign. Feleo was killed after the abduction.
New Bataan governor
On June 10, 1946. former Bataan Governor Joaquin J. Linao (1938-1941), a political supporter of President Manuel Roxas during the April 23, 1946 presidential election, replaced erstwhile acting Governor Ramon L. Santos.
Lorenzo dela Fuente, former mayor of Abucay (1943-1945) remained in his post as provincial board member, together with Emil V. Reyes of Dinalupihan.
Bataan also got new municipal mayors through the order of President Roxas. The new municipal officials include Major Anastacio Valencia, a former guerrilla leader of Abucay town. Zoilo Gutierrez of Bagac; Jose N. Gonzales who merely continued his reign as municipal mayor of Balanga; Jose Payumo Sr. of Dinalupihan; Roman Jaring of Hermosa; Francisco B. Reyes of Limay; Silvestre Yraola of Mariveles; Buenaventura S. Linao of Morong; Raymundo Galicia of Orani; Agustin I. Angeles of Orion; Joaquin Banzon of Pilar; and Bartolome Oconer of Samal.
On June 12, 1946, the American soldiers based at the Quarantine Station in Mariveles started packing their bags in time for the scheduled turnover of the facility to the provincial government of Bataan. Earlier, they allowed the residents of Poblacion to get their water supply from the existing water reservoir of the station.
On the second week of June, Governor Joaquin J. Linao (1946-1947) ordered the rehabilitation of the damaged portions of the Pilar-Bagac-Morong Road up to Poblacion, Morong.The governor alloted a big portion of the fund from the Economic Civilian Administration (ECA) to complete the road project.
By June 17, the repair of the Pilar-Bagac-Morong road was only half-complete so Governor Joaquin J. Linao extended the deadline for the completion of the project up to the end of the month.
The Economic Civilian Administration (ECA) replaced the Philippine Civil Affairs Unit in June 1946. The agency was also tasked to initiate the rehabilitation and reconstruction of all public buildings and schools in Bataan and Zambales.
Later on, ECA was also replaced by the Philippine Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (PRRA) and replaced again in 1947 by the Philippine War Damage Commission (PWDC).
The construction of the Subic Naval Supply Depot was completed at Maquinaya, inside the Subic Naval Base, some five (5) kilometers from Olongapo City on June 18, 1946. It was scheduled to open on July 1, 1946.The rehabilitation of Olongapo town whose buildings and residences were burned by the retreating Japanese was also completed to provide housing for Filipino civilians employed at the base. Olongapo and its 9,000 Filipino residents remained under the United States Navy administration.
Subic Bay Naval Base, it turned out, had been designated as Naval Advance Unit No. 6, and became a submarine and motor torpedo boat base shortly after the Philippines was liberated from the Japanese. The submarine USS Fulton was the first to arrive at Subic on February 11, 1945,
The Marines assignned at the US base found Subic Bay as “…a primitive, humid, unhealthy, desolate Siberia far from the pleasant climate, facilities, and girls of Australia” until they were proven wrong. It took them 45 more years before they finally left the base, thanks to Mount Pinatubo.
On June 19, Congressman Luis Taruc of Pampanga and his companions, all members of the Democratic Alliance Party including war-time hero and Congressman Alejo Santos of Bulacan were charged with poll frauds in Pampanga, Bulaan and Nueva Ecija. Although the charges of poll fraud against them were still inconclusive, they were immediately unseated the following day. Taruc called the incident an “injustice committed against the peasants.” To top it all, the parity amendment was suddenly pushed in Congress.
Two new US laws
On June 21, President Manuel Roxas presented to a joint session of Congress the two laws passed by US Congress on April 30,1946. He claimed they were important to the country. The laws include the Philippine Rehabilitation Act (Tydings–McDuffie Act) and Philippine Trade Act (Bell Act). Copies of the two US laws were given to the members to read and examine.
On June 23, the Balanga Power Plant completed its rehabilitation program and immediately resumed its distribution of electricity to the residents of Balanga, Pilar and Abucay. The Dinalupihan municipal electric plant started its operation on June 25. It distributed electric power supply to residences located in the town proper area only.
The Bagac municipal government, meanwhile estimated that it will take two more months to operate the Bagac power station that was granted a franchise by Governor Joaquin J. Linao to operate in the western coastal town.
On the fourth week of June, the telegraph offices in Balanga and Olongapo were completed and scheduled to open on July 1, 1946.