January 6, 1971
Delivered one of my best speeches tonight at the Federation of Provincial Press Clubs in the Winter Garden at the Manila Hotel. If I say so myself I felt that it was witty, sharp and incisive but humble and profound.
It was witty when I said I might now be identified with the New People’s Army or the CP, the Communist Party of the Philippines because I accepted the invitation of Mr. Isidro Roman. “You see Mr. Isidro Roman is from Cabuyao, Ilocos Sur the hometown of Jose Maria Sison the Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines. (Laughter) But it is worse because you see Mr. Roman is really from Tarlac, the seat of the CCP and PA. That complicates the whole matter.”
“I was stunned this morning to see the four principal metropolitan dailies – now that should be fine because the Star is one of the metropolitan dailies – or is it? – carry the headlines that another PMA graduate, a Lt. Santiago whose father is in Laoag, llocos Norte, my home province, had absconded and joined Lt. Victor Corpus with NPA. called up Gen. Yan, Sec. Ponce Enrile and Gen. Ugalde of the PMA. They definitely told me that Lt. Santiago was right there in the PMA with Gen. Ugalde.”
“I answered: ‘But that must be wrong because the newspapers are always right!” (Tumultuous laughter)
“So I decided to stick to the Provincial Press!”
Then I spelled out my fighting faith that I believe democracy will outlast and survive all other ideologies but that it must be a Philippine democracy that is attuned to our ideals, traditions and dreams. We shall adopt such of socialism and communism as may redound to our welfare. We should not close our eyes to the merits of other ideologies.
Democracy will be able to protect itself. It carries within it the seed of self-preservation. For it is vital and can withstand any test and crisis.
I believe in peaceful reform. I believe in giving the people the right to choose options open to them freely. We should encourage the full and free ventilation of ideas no matter how hurting they may be to the man in power. Evolution, swift or slow, must be brought about but never by violence.
As President I will tolerate indecorous language, boorishness, insult and even libel. I have been libeled and slandered licentiously. So has my family. I will not retaliate. We may differ and differ bitterly. But never will you see me use my powers in spiteful vindictiveness.
I will suffer in silence and allow the searching light of time to bear me out. Slow but inexorable. Even if it means loss of pride and humiliation, I shall adhere to this principle.
But once violence is used by a small minority to force a change or coerce and intimidate government or to take over the powers of government, I will use all the powers of government to repel it.
This is the dividing line – violence.
I informed Ambassador Byroade and Admiral McCain that I expect massive sabotage, terrorism and assassination, even mortar attack because of the reports that the radicals have been given eight million dollars (possibly Hongkong) by someone from Hongkong, and there have been purchases of plastic explosives and jelly in Vietnam. One of the machine shops reports that a base plate for a mortar had been ordered.
I asked if I would be supported if I used sterner measures like the use of the extraordinary powers of the President. I referred to the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus and martial law. They assured me of support and Amb. Byroade said he would also get the assurance of Pres. Nixon.
I told him that we would soon have trade with Russia and asked him if our recognition of Russia would strain Phil-U.S. relations. He answered in the negative.
He, however, promised that he would send word from Pres. Nixon on this in three days.
I asked for mortar and gun locators, the immediate delivery of the 3,000 Armalites we have bought from U.S. suppliers and the helicopters that are a part of MAP.
But more than this I pointedly stated that we do not expect any American soldier to help us but we do expect the Americans at the least not to intervene in this purely domestic problem in accordance with basic American policy.
Admiral McCain was instant in his assurances of support within their means.
Amb. Byroade agreed to take up with Pres. Nixon the long range program of the training and equipment of our AFP to take over any part of their bases they may give up.
He said that he and Adm. McCain believe that they would need the Subic and Clark Air Force Base for the foreseeable future.
I asked that we discuss the trade agreement and the military problems next June (I am planning the negotiations on the possibility of violence and military take over by March so there will be time to decide what options to take).