Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ramon Magsaysay

On November 10, 1953, Ramon Magsaysay was elected as the third President of the Third Republic of the Philippines. The Candidate from the Nacionalista Party had beat out the incumbent Elpidio Quirino from the Liberal Party with a decisive victory of winning almost 69 percent of the vote of the Filipino people. He prove to be the “man of the people” as during his term he made assure that Communism will not take over and that the common man had a voice in Philippine politics. Unfortunately on March 17, 1957 he died in a plane crash after speaking in the provinces of Cebu.

On April 23, 1946, he was elected as Congressman of Zamables because of concerns that his predecessor is forming ties with the Hukbalahap, a militia group form under the Communist Party of the Philippines. The first President of the Third Republic, Manuel Roxas, chose Magsaysay to Washington D.C. to pass the Rogers Bill which would give benefits to Philippine Veterans. This led to a successful mission and he even formed friendships within the United States making him more popular. Appointed by the second President, Quirino named Magsaysay as the new Secretary of National Defense on August 31, 1950. As Secretary, his main concern was to reform his guerilla army to suppress the rebellion of Huks. His main plan was to convince the rebel Huks and common people that reform was coming. As many changed sides, the Huk leaders surrendered. This also maid Magsaysay popular as the common people hoped for him to run in the next election. As a result of his popularity, Ramon Magsaysay became the President from the elections of 1953.

During his presidency, Magsaysay focused on the common people and the suppression of Communist Party. Soon after, he started reconstructing rural areas as roads were rebuilt. With the support of the United States, loans were made to rural banks to help tenants reduce their debt under moneylenders who charged with ridiculous interest. In 1955, his administration passed the Agricultural Tenancy Act, which established a democratic agricultural economy to regulate the size of estates so that it can be sold in the form of smallholdings to tenants. This helped by restricting illegal evictions. Magagsay’s reign of two years dealt with reform to bring a major change of the living standards in the Philippines so that both the rich and the common people will soon have equal power.

In his honor, a Ramon Magsaysay Award is given to individuals of Asia who have portrayed their works of humanity by performing courageous service in the in their society by promoting the ideals behind democracy. The Award is given in six categories: government service, public service, community leadership, journalism, literature and creative communication arts, peace and international understanding, and emergent leadership.

-R. Andal

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