9th President of the Philippines

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Diosdado Macapagal (September 28, 1910 -- April 21, 1997)

Early life and career:

Diosdado Macapagal was born on September 28, 1910 in Lubao, Pampanga, the second of four children in a poor family.His father, Urbano Macapagal, was a poet who wrote in the local dialect, and his mother, Romana Pangan Macapagal, was a schoolteacher who taught catechism.The family earned extra income by raising pigs and accommodating boarders in their home.

Macapagal excelled in his studies at local public schools, graduating valedictorian at Lubao Elementary School, and salutatorianPampanga High School. He finished his pre-law course at the University of the Philippines, then enrolled at Philippine Law School in 1932, studying on a scholarship and supporting himself with a part-time job as an accountant. While in law school, he gained prominence as an orator and debater. However, he was forced to quit schooling after two years due to poor health and a lack of money.

Returning to Pampanga, he joined boyhood friend Rogelio de la Rosa in producing and starring in Tagalog operettas patterned after classic Spanish zarzuelas. It was during this period that he married his friend's sister, Purita de la Rosa. He had two children with De la Rosa, Cielo and Arturo.

Macapagal raised enough money to continue his studies at the University of Santo Tomas. He also gained the assistance of philanthropist Honorio Ventura, the Secretary of the Interior at the time, who financed his education. After receiving his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1936, he was admitted to the bar, topping the 1936 bar examination with a score of 89.95%. He later returned to his alma mater to take up graduate studies and earn a Master of Laws degree in 1941, a Doctor of Civil Law Due to his roots in poverty, Macapagal would later become affectionately known as the "Poor boy from Lubao". at degree in 1947, and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1957.


Early career:


After passing the bar examination, Macapagal was invited to join an American law firm as a practicing attorney, a particular honor for a Filipino at the time. He was assigned as a legal assistant to President Manuel L. Quezon in Malacañang Palace. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II, Macapagal continued working in Malacañang Palace as an assistant to President Jose P. Laurel, while secretly aiding the anti-Japanese resistance.

In 1943, Macapagal lost his first wife, Purita de la Rosa, to malnutrition due to the deprivations of the war. In 1946 he married Evangelina Macaraeg, with whom he had two children, Gloria and Diosdado Jr.

After the war, Macapagal worked as an assistant attorney with the one of the largest law firms in the country, Ross, Lawrence, Selph and Carrascoso. With the establishment of the independent Republic of the Philippines in 1946, he rejoined government service when President Manuel Roxas appointed him to the Department of Foreign Affairs as the head of its legal division. In 1948, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Macapagal as chief negotiator in the successful transfer of the Turtle Islands in the Sulu Sea from the United Kingdom to the Philippines. That same year, he was assigned as second secretary to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 1949, he was elevated to the position of Counselor on Legal Affairs and Treaties, at the time the fourth highest post in the Philippine Foreign Office.


House of Representatives:

On the urging of local political leaders of Pampanga province, President Quirino recalled Macapagal from his position in Washington to run for a seat in the House of Representatives representing the 1st District of Pampanga. The district's incumbent Representative, Amado Yuzon, was a friend of Macapagal, but was opposed by the administration due to his support by communist groups. After a campaign which Macapagal described as cordial and free of personal attacks, he won a landslide victory in the 1949 election. He also won re-election in the 1953 election, and served as Representative in the 2nd and 3rd Congress.

At the start of legislative sessions in 1950, the members of the House of Representatives elected Macapagal as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and he was given several important foreign assignments. He was a Philippine delegate to the United Nations General Assembly multiple times, notably distinguishing himself in debates over Communist aggression with Andrei Vishinsky and Jacob Malik of the Soviet Union. He took part in negotiations for the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty, the Laurel-Langley Agreement, and the Japanese Peace Treaty. He also authored the Foreign Service Act, which reorganized and strengthened the Philippine foreign service.

As a Representative, Macapagal authored and sponsored several laws of socio-economic importance, particularly aimed at benefiting the rural areas and the poor. Among the pieces of legislation which Macapagal promoted were the Minimum Wage Law, Rural Health Law, Rural Bank Law, the Law on Barrio Councils, the Barrio Industrialization Law, and a law nationalizing the rice and corn industries. He was consistently selected by the Congressional Press Club as one of the Ten Outstanding Congressmen during his tenure. In his second term, he was named Most Outstanding lawmaker of the 3rd Congress.


Vice presidency:

In the 1957 general election, the Liberal Party drafted Representative Macapagal to run for Vice President as the running-mate of Jose Yulo, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Macapagal's nomination was particularly boosted by Liberal Party President Eugenio Perez, who insisted that the party's vice presidential nominee have a clean record of integrity and honesty. While Yulo was defeated by Carlos P. Garcia of the Nacionalista Party, Macapagal was elected Vice President in an upset victory, defeating the Nacionalista candidate, Jose Laurel, Jr., by over 8 percentage points. A month after the election, he was also chosen as the head of the Liberal Party.

As the first ever Philippine vice president to be elected from a rival party of the president, Macapagal served out his four-year vice presidential term as a leader of the opposition. The ruling party refused to give him a Cabinet position in the Garcia administration, which was a break from tradition. He was offered a position in the Cabinet only on the condition that he switch allegiance to the ruling Nationalista Party, but he declined the offer and instead played the role of critic to the administration's policies and performance. This allowed him to capitalize on the increasing unpopularity of the Garcia administration. Assigned to performing only ceremonial duties as vice president, he spent his time making frequent trips to the countryside to acquaint himself with voters and to promote the image of the Liberal Party.


Presidency:

In the 1961 presidential election, Macapagal ran against Garcia's re-election bid, promising an end to corruption and appealing to the electorate as a common man from humble beginnings. He defeated the incumbent president with a 55% to 45% margin. His inauguration as the president of the Phillipines took place on December 30, 1961.

Macapagal's speeches:


Major legislations signed:

  • Republic Act No. 3512 - An Act Creating A Fisheries Commission Defining Its Powers, Duties and Functions, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.
  • Republic Act No. 3518 - An Act Creating The Philippine Veterans' Bank, and For Other Purposes.
  • Republic Act No. 3844 - An Act To Ordain The Agricultural Land Reform Code and To Institute Land Reforms In The Philippines, Including The Abolition of Tenancy and The Channeling of Capital Into Industry, Provide For The Necessary Implementing Agencies, Appropriate Funds Therefor and For Other Purposes.
  • Republic Act No. 4166 - An Act Changing The Date Of Philippine Independence Day From July Four To June Twelve, And Declaring July Four As Philippine Republic Day, Further Amending For The Purpose Section Twenty-Nine Of The Revised Administrative Code.
  • Republic Act No. 4180 - An Act Amending Republic Act Numbered Six Hundred Two, Otherwise Known As The Minimum Wage Law, By Raising The Minimum Wage For Certain Workers, And For Other Purposes.

Economy:

In his inaugural address, Macapagal promised a socio-economic program anchored on "a return to free and private enterprise", placing economic development in the hands of private entrepreneurs with minimal government interference.

Twenty days after the inauguration, exchange controls were lifted and the Philippine peso was allowed to float on the free currency exchange market. The currency controls were initially adopted by the administration of Elpidio Quirino as a temporary measure, but continued to be adopted by succeeding administrations. The peso devalued from P2.64 to the US dollar, and stabilized at P3.80 to the dollar, supported by a $300 million stabilization fund from the International Monetary Fund.

To achieve the national goal of economic and social progress with prosperity reaching down to the masses, there existed a choice of methods. First, there was the choice between the democratic and dictatorial systems, the latter prevailing in Communist countries. On this, the choice was easy as Filipinos had long been committed to the democratic method. With the democratic mechanism, however, the next choice was between free enterprise and the controls system. Macapagal stated the essence of free enterprise in layman parlance in declaring before Congress on January 22, 1962 that "the task of economic development belongs principally to private enterprise and not to the government.

Before independence there was free enterprise in the Philippines under Presidents Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas. In 1950 President Elpidio Quirino deviated from free enterprise launching as a temporary emergency measure the system of exchange and import controls. The controls system was carried on by President Magsaysay and Garcia.

The first fundamental decision Macapagal had to make was whether to continue the system of exchange controls of Quirino, Magsaysay and Garcia or to return to the free enterprise of Quezon, Osmena and Roxas. It had been his view since he was a Congressman for eight years that the suitable economic system for Filipinos was free enterprise. So on January 21, 1962 after working for 20 straight hours he signed a Central Bank decree abolishing exchange controls and returning the country to free enterprise.

During the 20 days available to make a decision on choice between controls and free enterprise, between his inauguration as President and before the opening of Congress, Macapagal's main adviser was Governor Andres Castillo of the Central Bank.

Further reform efforts by Macapagal were blocked by the Nacionalistas, who dominated the House of Representatives and the Senate at that time. Nonetheless, Macapagal was able to achieve steady economic progress, and annual GDP growth averaged at 5.15% for 1962-65.


Socio-economic program:


The removal of controls and the restoration of free enterprise was intended to provide only the fundamental setting in which Macapagal could work out economic and social progress. A specific and periodic program for the guidance of both the private sector and the government was an essential instrument to attain the economic and social development that constituted the goal of his labors.

Such a program for his administration was formulated under his authority and direction by a group of able and reputable economic and business leaders the most active and effective of which was Sixto Roxas III. From an examination of the planned targets and requirements of the Five-Year program - formally known as the Five-Year Socio-Economic Integrated Development Program - it could be seen that it aimed at the following objectives.


  • alleviating the plight of the common man; and
  • establishing a dynamic basic for future growth.

Free enterprise ws restored with decontrol. The Five-Year Economic Program had been prescribed. Land reform abolishing tenancy had been launched. These were essential foundations for economic and social progress for the greatest number.

The essential foundations having been laid, attention must then be turned to the equally difficult task of building the main edifice by implementing the economic program. Although the success of Macapagal's Socio-Economic Program in free enterprise inherently depended on the private sector, it would be helpful and necessary for the government to render active assistance in its implementation by the citizens.

Such role of the government in free enterprise, in the view of Macapagal, required it (1) to provide the social overhead like roads, airfields and ports that directly or proximately promote economic growth, (2) to adopt fiscal and monetary policies salutary to investments, and most importantly (3) to serve as an entrepreneur or promote of basic and key private industries, particularly those that require capital too large for businessmen to put up by themselves. Among the enterprises he selected for active government promotion were integrated steel, fertilizer, pulp[disambiguation needed], meat canning and tourism.


Land reform:

Like Ramon Magsaysay, President Diosdado Macapagal came from the masses. He savored to call himself the "Poor boy from Lubao".Ironically, he had little popularity among the masses. This could be attributed to an absence of charismatic appeal of his stiff personality. But despite this, Macapagal had certain achievements. Foremost of these was the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963 (Republic Act No. 3844) which provided for the purchase of private farmlands with the intention of distributing them in small lots to the landless tenants on easy term of payment.

In comparison with the previous agrarian legislation, the law lowered the retention limit to 75 hectares, whether owned by individuals or corporations. It removed the term "contiguous" and established the leasehold system. The share-tenancy or the kasama system was prohibited. It formulated a bill of rights that assured agricultural workers the right to self organization and to a minimum wage. It also created an office that acquired and distributed farmlands and a financing institution for this purpose. The major flaw of this law was, however, that it had several exemptions, such as lands producing for export (big capital plantations established during the Spanish and American periods); fishponds, saltbeds, and lands primarily planted to citrus, coconuts, cacao, coffee, durian, and other similar permanent trees; landholdings converted to residential, commercial, industrial, or other similar non-agricultural purposes.

It was viewed that the 75-hectare retention limit was just too high for the growing population density. Moreover, this law merely allowed the transfer of the landlordism This was because landlords were paid in bonds, which he could use to purchase agricultural lands. Likewise, the farmer was free to choose to be excluded from the leasehold arrangements if he volunteered to give up the landholdings to the landlord.

Within two years after the law was implemented, no land was being purchased under its term and conditions caused by the peasant's inability to purchase the land. Besides, the government seemed lacking of strong political will, as shown by the Congress' allotment of only one million pesos for the implementation of this code. At least Php200 million was needed within a year from the enactment and implementation of the code, and Php300 million in the next three years for the program to be successful. However, by 1972, the code had benefited only 4,500 peasants covering 68 estates, at the cost of Php57 million to the government. Consequently, by the 1970s, the farmers ended up tilling less land, with their share in the farm also being less. They incurred more debts, depending on the landlord, creditors, and palay buyers. Indeed, during the administration of Macapagal, the productivity of the farmers further declined.


Anti-corruption drive:


One of Macapagal's major campaign pledges had been to clean out the government corruption that had proliferated under former President Garcia.

The administration's campaign against corruption was tested by Harry Stonehill, an American expatriate with a $50-million business empire in the Philippines.Stonehill was accused of tax evasion, smuggling, misdeclaration of imports, and corruption of public officials. Three months into his presidency, Macapagal filed deportation proceedings against Stonehill, though rumors persisted that Stonehill was connected to members of Macapagal's own cabinet. Two cabinet members submitted their resignation due to their association with Stonehill, even though they had not been accused of any particular wrongdoing. In August 1961, Macapagal ordered Stonehill's immediate deportation from the country and had him declared persona non grata, despite an ongoing congressional investigation into his activities.

The administration also openly feuded with Filipino businessmen Fernando Lopez and Eugenio Lopez, brothers who had controlling interests in several large businesses. The administration alluded to the brothers as "Filipino Stonehills who build and maintain business empires through political power, including the corruption of politicians and other officials". In the 1965 election, the Lopezes threw their support behind Macapagal's rival, Ferdinand Marcos, with Fernando as Marcos' running mate.


Independence Day:


Macapagal appealed to nationalist sentiments by shifting the commemoration of Philippine independence day. On May 12, 1962, he signed a proclamation which moved the observation of the nation's independence from July 4, the date when the country was granted independence from the United States in 1946, to June 12, the date when Filipino patriots declared independence from Spain in 1898. The change became permanent in 1964 with the signing of Republic Act No. 4166. Years later, Macapagal told journalist Stanley Karnow the real reason for the change: "When I was in the diplomatic corps, I noticed that nobody came to our receptions on the Fourth of July, but went to the American Embassy instead. So, to compete, I decided we needed a different holiday."


Sabah claim:

On September 12, 1962, during President Diosdado Macapagal's administration, the territory of North Borneo, and the full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory were ceded by the then reigning Sultan of Sulu, HM Sultan Muhammad Esmail E. Kiram I, to the Republic of the Philippines. The cession effectively gave the Philippine government the full authority to pursue their claim in international courts. The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the federation had included Sabah in 1963. It was revoked in 1989 because succeeding Philippine administrations have placed the claim in the back burner in the interest of pursuing cordial economic and security relations with Kuala Lumpur. To date, Malaysia continues to consistently reject Philippine calls to resolve the matter of Sabah's jurisdiction to the International Court of Justice. Sabah sees the claim made by the Philippines' Moro leader Nur Misuari to take Sabah to International Court of Justice (ICJ) as a non-issue and thus dismissed the claim.

Maphilindo:


In July 1963, President Diosdado Macapagal convened a summit meeting in Manila. Maphilindo was proposed as a realization of Jose Rizal's dream of bringing together the Malay peoples, seen as artificially divided by colonial frontiers.

Maphilindo was described as a regional association that would approach issues of common concern in the spirit of consensus. However, it was also perceived as a tactic on the parts of Jakarta and Manila to delay, or even prevent, the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Manila had its own claim to Sabah (formerly British North Borneo), and Jakarta protested the formation of Malaysia as a British imperialist plot. The plan failed when Sukarno adopted his plan of konfrontasi with Malaysia. The Konfrontasi, or Confrontation basically aims at preventing Malaysia to attain independence. The idea was inspired onto President Sukarno by the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), or literally the Indonesian Communist Party. The party convinced President Sukarno that the Formation of Malaysia is a form of neo-colonization and will later affect tranquility in Indonesia. The subsequent development of ASEAN almost certainly excludes any possibility of the project ever being revived.


Vietnam War:

Before the end of his term in 1965, President Diosdado Macapagal persuaded Congress to send troops to South Vietnam. However this proposal was blocked by the opposition led by Senate President Ferdinand Marcos who deserted Macapagal's Liberal Party and defected to the Nacionalista Party.

The U.S. government's active interest in bringing other nations into the war had been part of U.S. policy discussions as early as 1961. President Lyndon Johnson first publicly appealed for other countries to come to the aid of South Vietnam on April 23, 1964–in what was called the 'More Flags' program. Chester Cooper, former director of Asian affairs for the White House, explained why the impetus came from the United States instead of from the Republic of South Vietnam: "The 'More Flags' campaign…required the application of considerable pressure for Washington to elicit any meaningful commitments. One of the more exasperating aspects of the search…was the lassitude…of the Saigon government. In part…the South Vietnam leaders were preoccupied with political jockeying….In addition, Saigon appeared to believe that the program was a public relations campaign directed at the American people."


1963 midterm election:


Main article: Philippine general election, 1963

Senatorial elections and local elections were held on November 12, 1963. The 1963 elections were known as the 1963 Philippine midterm election as the election date falls half-way through President Diosdado Macapagal's four-year term. Macapagal's Liberal Party (LP) won four out of the eight seats up for grabs during the election - thereby increasing the LP's senate seats from eight to ten.


1965 presidential campaign:


Main article: Philippine presidential election, 1965

Towards the end of his term, Macapagal decided to seek re-election to continue seeking reforms which he claimed were stifled by a "dominant and uncooperative opposition" in Congress. With Senate President Ferdinand Marcos, a fellow member of the Liberal Party, unable to win his party's nomination due to Macapagal's re-election bid, Marcos switched allegiance to the rival Nacionalista Party to oppose Macapagal.

Among the issues raised against the incumbent administration were graft and corruption, rise in consumer goods, and persisting peace and order issues.Macapagal was defeated by Marcos in the November 1965 polls.


Post-presidency:


Macapagal announced his retirement from politics following his 1965 loss to Marcos. In 1971, he was elected president of the constitutional convention that drafted what became the 1973 constitution. The manner in which the charter was ratified and later modified led him to later question its legitimacy. In 1979, he formed the National Union for Liberation as a political party to oppose the Marcos regime.

Following the restoration of democracy in 1986, Macapagal took on the role of elder statesman, and was a member of the Philippine Council of State. He also served as honorary chairman of the National Centennial Commission, and chairman of the board of CAP Life, among others.

In his retirement, Macapagal devoted much of his time to reading and writing. He published his presidential memoir, authored several books about government and economics, and wrote a weekly column for the Manila Bulletin newspaper.

Diosdado Macapagal died of heart failure, pneumonia and renal complications at the Makati Medical Center on April 21, 1997. He is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Presidential Library and Museum:


On September 28, 2009, Macapagal's daughter, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, inaugurated the President Diosdado Macapagal Museum and Library, located at his home town of Lubao, Pampanga.

Birth centennial:

President Benigno Aquino S. III declared September 28, 2010 as a special non-working holiday in Macapagal's home province of Pampanga to commemorate the centennial of his birth.

Electoral history:

Vice Presidential election, 1957:


Presidential election, 1961:



Presidential election, 1965:


Publications:

  • Speeches of President Diosdado Macapagal. Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1961.
  • New Hope for the Common Man: Speeches and Statements of President Diosdado Macapagal. Manila: Malacanang Press Office, 1962.
  • Five Year Integrated Socio-economic Program for the Philippines. Manila: [s.n.], 1963.
  • Fullness of Freedom: Speeches and Statements of President Diosdado Macapagal. Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1965.
  • An Asian looks at South America. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1966.
  • The Philippines Turns East. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1966.
  • A Stone for the Edifice: Memoirs of a President. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1968.
  • A New Constitution for the Philippines. Quezon City: Mac Publishing House, 1970.
  • Democracy in the Philippines. Manila: [s.n.], 1976.
  • Constitutional Democracy in the World. Manila: Santo Tomas University Press, 1993.
  • From Nipa Hut to Presidential Palace: Autobiography of President Diosdado P. Macapagal. Quezon City: Philippine Academy for Continuing Education and Research, 2002.

See also:
Named after Diosdado Macapagal: