His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
Before the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan
[Delivered on February 16, 1978]
A New Generation of Leaders
TODAY IS THE 16th of February. Since December of last year, we have been moving towards this period which marks the more significant step towards the attainment of the original objective of the New Society — the recovery, restructuring, and reestablishment of our freedom and democracy.
Democracy is often symbolized by elections. In almost every democratic country, when one speaks of democracy one speaks of elections—the exercise by the people of their right to choose the men and women who will pass and implement the laws which bind every resident of a country to the government and to each other.
We are all aware that under martial law, there have been all kinds of speculations as to what the future holds for us. Of course from the very beginning, I announced that this was a transitory step. It was an interregnum. It was a step which was necessitated by the reality of the situation.
Today, we move to accomplish what we have always looked forward to — the choosing of candidates in order that they may seek the mandate of the people by popular franchise, by elections. The elections set for April 7, 1978 will choose the members of the interim Batasang Pambansa. After these elections, there will be the local elections.
I have no doubt, therefore, that all those who are now engaged in this political exercise realize that the steps are calculated to bring about the choice of all those who are in power, whether in the executive or legislative branches of our government.
The choice of candidates under a parliamentary form of government is left to the political parties that are registered with the duly constituted authorities. In our case, we come under the umbrella of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. I have already mentioned during the inauguration of the KBL headquarters the men who, constituting the pillars of the Liberal Party, have joined us. Since then, there have been others who have come to join us.
And so the question is often asked: What seems to be the single predominant guideline utilized by the hierarchy of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan? What is the President and his advisers and his companions in leadership trying to accomplish?
And the answer is simple: We are trying to organize and train a new generation of leaders in the Philippines. This new generation of leaders will ultimately take over from those who are now in power. For life is so transitory that the leadership must continually be renewed with new elements. This is the very essence of freedom and democracy. The volatility of the elements in a democracy should lead to a change of the generation of leaders.
My generation, the generation that fought the last World War, is slowly giving way to the young. It is one of the tragedies of leadership in almost every country, whether dictatorial or democratic, when leadership does not recognize its own temporal limitations and instead claims infallibility to its dying breath.
I need not go far. China is one example. Spain is a contemporary example. I ascribe this deficiency on the part of a leadership to provide for a new generation of leaders to either a feeling of insecurity or a state of political instability which does not allow the deliberate and rational training of younger leaders to follow.
I gather that Franco, after 25 years in power, thought of finally bringing about an ultimate conclusion to his regime. And so he sought to train a successor. Notwithstanding all his efforts, you can see some of the dislocations arising from the fact that the training of a single man is not sufficient to meet the requirements of a change of leadership. It becomes necessary for the political leadership to deliberately, rationally, and systematically go out of its way to choose from the ranks, whether with the government or against the government, and from them determine which of these classic elements will ultimately be able to run the government and the country.
This is our historic mission today. This historic mission, irrespective of irreconcilable conflicts among us, if it can be seen as a vision by those who are in power, should easily guide the political hierarchy and leadership into a deliberate effort to bring about under an umbrella, like the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, all the younger elements who could possibly constitute the new corps and the new generation of leadership. And the candidates for the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan are the new corps and the new generation of leaders in the Philippines.
That is not to say that we have forgotten the older generation. There are still many of us who symbolize and represent the slow and deliberate, instead of the spontaneous and sometimes precipitate ideas. But here, in the effort to choose the candidates of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, you see an effort to reconcile, coordinate, and synchronize the general growth of such a leadership drawing from, perhaps, the lawyers, the medical practitioners, the business executives. the farmers, the labor leaders.
This is why we have a sectoral type of representation. For it is our hope, it is my hopes, that whatever deficiencies there may be in the general elections to be conducted on March 7, 1978 — by deficiencies, I mean that should any substantial or outstanding sector of our population not be represented in the choice of the winning candidates by our people — at least there will later be a sectoral representation where perhaps the least noticed or least noticeable segment of our population will then be represented. Thus, you have the young, the planters, the farmers, the labor groups. But when I say that we have here in this listing of candidates the dreams and hopes of our entire people, I also say that here in this listing of candidates, you have all my personal hopes and dreams and visions.
A man, of course, is egoistic enough to think that his ideas, whatever he has started, may be continued beyond his lifetime, beyond his temporal state in this world. And when he thinks of all these, the effort therefore is not just current achievement but future vision and future attainment of objectives. To do this, one must have many sons, not just one son. Therefore, it behooves the leader and the leadership to do what perhaps a natural father cannot do. I cannot bear 200 sons, but I can choose 200 sons who shall bear the message of the New Society to the age beyond my generation. And that is you.
This is the entire purpose of this exercise. (I beg your pardon, my wife says: sons and daughters). As the soldier always tells himself when the goes to battle: Yes, I may fall in combat. But as the national anthem says: I have sons and daughters who, too, can suffer, who, too, can die. The old rhythm of the old dying away and the young coming up is something which cannot be left to change though. And if man is indeed rational, then he must —utilizing his fore sight, his wisdom, his experience, while he is still capable, while he is still in possession of his God-given talents — move towards a choice which would encourage what he is dreaming of.
This is my way of saying that if you have been chosen by the regional task forces as candidates, presumably with my blessing and authority, rest assured it is not merely because of any selfish interest. We have tried the regional leaders. I, of course, have tried within the limits of our capabilities as human beings to do away with the selfish, partisan, and weakening instinct for thinking of one’s self alone, and instead Have expanded this interest for the national welfare.
What is the national welfare? This has been the overriding thought whenever we choose candidates. This is not to say that those who were bypassed are not possible weapons or instruments for the welfare of our country as the revolutionaries and propagandists of 1896 did write about. No. It is just that in balancing these factors, we find that these candidates are those who should be able to bring about this dream of a new corps of leaders. Of course, there will always be the question: But who should lead this new corps of leaders? And the answer to that is left to the days ahead. For as Alexander said when he was dying: Who shall be my successor? The strongest among them shall be my successor. Who shall be the commander of that regiment that had lost all its officers? And the answer of Napoleon was: Whoever comes out to command the regiment shall be its commander. And this is what it should be.
We see, for instance, the deliberate bringing together of what otherwise would be irreconcilable elements in our society. And again the question is asked: Why is Marcos doing this? Why is he trying to reconcile and bring them under one umbrella? Ah, he is just trying to show what a great leader he is. But they miss the point completely. They miss the efforts of one who has a dream to bring about under one umbrella the sons and daughters who will imbibe the principles of the New Society; who will carry the standard of the New Society forward, beyond this generation and to the other generations ahead of us. This is what you are.
I say this because from here we move into political battle. And as I have always said, whether in actual war or in peace, it is best that every soldier knows what the objective is. That every man, woman, and child engaged in hostilities know exactly who the enemy is. Our enemy is not another party. Our enemy is not the opposition party, whoever or whatever that may be. Our enemy is ourselves. Our enemy is the long legacy of frustration, weakness, defeat, and disillusionment of our people dating to as far back as we can remember. Our enemy is the belief that we cannot achieve anything. The belief that we cannot unite. The belief that the Filipino people is degraded for all time.
Our aggrupation, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, is dominant. And when our generation leaves the leadership, it will transmit to you, the younger leaders of our aggrupation, a legacy of achievement, of nobility, and of dignity of which you can be proud. Your responsibility is to see to it that that legacy is improved by your generation. For I can foresee that our present achievements will be exceeded by the younger generation. If they do not, then we shall have failed in this effort. This is the purpose, too, of bringing together all these clashing elements. It is proper that the dominant aggrupation realize that it cannot on its own achieve unity of our people which is the basic for the achievement of our people. If it is true, as alleged by many, that the choice by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan of a candidate is actually a choice of membership and actual election to the interim Batasang Pambansa, then it behooves the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan to be meticulous in the choice of its candidates for the interim Batasang Pambansa.
Thus, even the Nacionalista Party hierarchy has participated in the effort. And we have called upon the hierarchy of the Liberal Party to join in this effort. It is a solidified effort for and on behalf of our country.
Yes, we are going into political combat. And in political combat, there will be sniping, fighting, and disagreement. But just remember that whatever might be said, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan is still the dominant group. Thus, we have been very careful, prudent, and cautious in the choice of the candidates. When you are chosen as a candidate for the interim Batasang Pambansa by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, you have been chosen by a most select group with wise and prudent care for the destiny of our country and our people.
These are the thoughts that I want to transmit to you before you proceed to your respective missions and assignments in the field. For after today or tomorrow, We may not meet again in such exclusive gathering. This, to me, is the most exclusive club because you are all candidates. There are 179 candidates who will be chosen. Fourteen for the sectoral. Actually, we have 174. But, this is certainly one of the most exclusive gatherings. For as one wise observer, an old politician, told me over the telephone: I have been watching from the sidelines what is happening. And I gathered that you are going to meet the candidates today. I said: Yes, we have called for them to find out if they have any problems. He said: Do you know that that meeting will actually be the first meeting of the interim Batasang Pambansa? And, of course, he was correct. Perhaps, we flatter ourselves in thinking that he is correct. This wise old man sees through the pretexts, the ceremonials, and the protocol. So I suppose that those who will be in the meeting are not going to be your problems. Your problems should be those who were not invited to attend the meeting.
Of course, Metro Manila is not yet included here. They are holding their primaries tomorrow. The Metro Manila primaries are an unusual exercise. For the first time in the history of our country, there will be conducted a true and actual primary where 1,600,000 men who are authorized delegates will vote, by secret ballot, in about 24 gatherings, to choose the official candidates of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. The voting and the counting of the ballots, will be followed by an announcement in a public rally of the results.
Well, this will require a little management. However, our problem is to convince those who have not been chosen that they have a share in the responsibility for the destiny of our country. And there are many. For how many have been chosen out of the thousands who aspired? There is more than ten times the number that we have here. So, it shall be the role of the Central Committee — if you think your job is finished, you are mistaken, you have just started your work — it shall be the role of the Central Committee to placate those who aspired but were not chosen.
We must call upon each and every citizen of the nation. We must work to solve and cure all the wounds that will be inflicted in this battle. We must bring together those who would be enemies and utilize their talents for the good and welfare of our people. This, I see, is our immediate problem. And I am certain that the Central Committee and the leadership of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan will attend to this immediately. Certainly, the Central Committee will not be able to perform this function alone. I call upon those who are privileged to have been chosen to become the official candidates of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan to participate in this general effort.
I need not say that in this effort, the entire membership of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan will help where help is needed most. As I see it today, the center of attack will be Metropolitan Manila. Therefore, those who have no opponents, more or less, better move to Metropolitan Manila where the lightning rod is. And I do not know what the decision is as to whether the governor is running or not. My personal choice is that she does not run. But if she is needed. like a good soldier, she will obey orders.
I would like to say that we are supposed to be meeting today to confirm as a body the official listing of candidates of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. I will therefore call upon each and every regional head or vice chairman to submit to the body the names of the candidates that have been chosen in their regions.
We now have a complete listing of the official candidates for elective positions of the interim Batasang Pambansa for our political aggrupation, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, except for the sectoral representation. As you are well aware, the sectoral representation will be nominated and certificates of candidacy submitted not later than March 7th, instead of February 17th.
To round out our affair this afternoon, I now submit to the body, to the entire hierarchy as well as the membership of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan the entire listing for final approval. If there are any who wish to object, you still have the chance to do so. Is there any objection to this entire listing? The chair here has none. The entire listing of official candidates for the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan and, possibly, the new membership of the interim Batasang Pambansa is hereby approved.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library
Marcos, F. E. (1980). Presidential speeches (Vol. 8). [Manila : Office of the President of the Philippines].