February 29 marks the 60th death anniversary of the Philippines’ sixth Philippine President Elpidio Quirino. Today, his remains were reinterred from the South Cemetery in Makati City to the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig City.
Quirino is now the third Philippine president to be buried at the Heroes Cemetery, joining Presidents Carlos Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal. In case you are wondering, the Libingan ng mga Bayani was created only during the administration of President Ramon Magsaysay, who succeeded Quirino in office in 1953. The process of the transfer was also recently granted through the help of the National Historical Commission and the Office of the President.
Industrialization of the Philippines
Historically, Quirino is among the least popular former Philippine presidents. This is because during his presidency, there were allegations of corruption, which he was not able to really clear. He was also noted as the first Filipino president who was subjected to an impeachment trial due to allegations that he bought an expensive bed and a supposed golden orinola (urinal or chamber pot) when he was in Malacañang.
When he assumed the presidency after the untimely death of President Manuel Roxas, he announced the main objectives of his administration. First, he intended to reconstruct the country post World War II. Second, he aimed to restore the faith and confidence of Filipinos in the national government.
During his term (two years continuing the presidency of his successor and the following four years when he was elected to the post), several industrial plants and projects strategically located nationwide were established, paving the way then to the mobilization of the country’s economic resources and to an era of industrialization. Thus, he was recognized as the “Father of Philippine Industrialization.”
Based on the gross domestic product (GDP) from the Philippine Statistical Authority from 1946 to 2014, Quirino’s administration had the second best economic performance when it comes to average annual real GDP growth rates at 9%, after the administration of Roxas (his predecessor) that hit a record 34% growth.
Establishing the Central Bank of the Philippines
Conceptualization of a formal central bank for the country started as early as 1933. But the idea failed to materialize during the Commonwealth and the Japanese occupation. In 1946, under Roxas’ term, a charter for the proposed central bank was drafted. But due to his untimely death, it was during Quirino’s term in 1948 that the Central Bank Act was finally signed.
In June 1993, under the administration of President Fidel Ramos, the New Central Bank Act was signed, leading to the establishment of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, an independent monetary authority.
Enacting first Minimum Wage Law
Quirino enacted Republic Act No. 602 in 1951, making it the first ever Minimum Wage Law implemented in the country.
This version of the law is considered by many economic analysts as the best one since wages were set based on approximated and prevailing market conditions. Data used for setting up wages were industry-specific, making the law more labor-friendly and more economically sound compared to the succeeding versions of the law.
Pro-social welfare and development
In an effort to counteract the growing social unrest during his time, Quirino created the Presidential Action Committee on Social Amelioration (PACSA) in 1948. In 1951, it was combined with the Social Welfare Commission, resulting in the establishment of the Social Welfare Administration (SWA), which is known today as the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
SWA was mandated to implement laws and regulations that pertained to relief efforts; carried out administration of charitable and relief agencies, which included institutions for the elderly, disabled people, and delinquent children.
Founding a social security system
Quirino created the Social Security Commission in 1948 as his first official act as president. The commission drafted the Social Security Act that paved the way for what we now know as the Social Security System.
The goal was to cover the employed segment of the labor force primarily in the private sector. However, the Social Security Act was only implemented in 1957, four years after his term ended.
James is the managing editor of entrepreneur.com.ph. Follow him on Twitter, @james_humarang.