Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

July 28, 1942

The legislative machinery of the official administration has become very prolific. Laws are being promulgated daily. Almost all laws have a second, third, fourth, or even a fifth interpretation. The words are clear, the meaning subtle.

A new military order has placed the purchase and sale of prime commodities under the administration of an association attached to the Army. The wordings of the law appear as clean handed, altruistic and beneficial as could be desired. Article 1 of Military Order No. 15 provides:

“For the purpose of regulating the supply and demand of prime commodities in the Philippines, controlling the consumption of the same, and maintaining their prices at adequate levels, the following regulations of control by the Army are hereby promulgated for the present.”

The appearances are laudable. The trouble is that the law is establishing an enormous monopoly of prime commodities. At the same time that the Army tries to curb abuses, it is killing business and enterprise, transforming the buying and selling functions into a government activity. With this monopoly, the Army stands to gain two benefits: it procures all the goods it needs for use in the Philippines or elsewhere without the need to confiscate them, and it obtains more profit in the transactions.

The members of the association, appointed by the accountable to the military authorities, are Japanese for the most part. They occupy responsible positions as managers, auditors, treasurers. The capital has to be 50% Filipino, 40% Japanese, and 10% Chinese. Nationals of other countries are excluded from domestic business.

A law was further promulgated creating another agency to handle import and export. As of now, this law is ineffective since there are no commercial ships. But when the time comes, the import-export business will also be given to the Army.