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My predecessor set aside democracy to save it from a communist insurgency thatnumbered less than 500. Unhampered by respect for human rights, he went at ithammer and tongs. By the time he fled, that insurgency had grown to more than 16,000.I think there is a lesson here to be learned about trying to stifle a thing with the meansby which it grows. I don’t think anybody, in or outside our country, concerned for a democratic and openPhilippines, doubts what must be done. Through political initiatives and localreintegration programs, we must seek to bring the insurgents down from the hills and,53
by economic progress and justice, show them that for which the best intentioned amongthem fight. As President, I will not betray the cause of peace by which I came to power. Yet equally,and again no friend of Filipino democracy will challenge this, I will not stand by andallow an insurgent leadership to spurn our offer of peace and kill our young soldiers,and threaten our new freedom. Yet, I must explore the path of peace to the utmost for at its end, whateverdisappointment I meet there, is the moral basis for laying down the olive branch ofpeace and taking up the sword of war. Still, should it come to that, I will not waver fromthe course laid down by your great liberator: “With malice towards none, with charity forall, with firmness in the rights as God gives us to see the rights, let us finish the work weare in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle,and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a justand lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Like Lincoln, I understand that force may be necessary before mercy. Like Lincoln, I don’t relish it. Yet, I will do whatever it takes to defend the integrity and freedom of my country. Finally, may I turn to that other slavery: our $26 billion foreign debt. I have said that weshall honor it. Yet must the means by which we shall be able to do so be kept from us?Many conditions imposed on the previous government that stole this debt continue to beimposed on us who never benefited from it. And no assistance or liberalitycommensurate with the calamity that was visited on us has been extended. Yet oursmust have been the cheapest revolution ever. With little help from others, we Filipinos54
fulfilled the first and most difficult conditions of the debt negotiation the full restoration ofdemocracy and responsible government. Elsewhere, and in other times of morestringent world economic conditions, Marshall plans and their like were felt to benecessary companions of returning democracy. When I met with President Reagan yesterday, we began an important dialogue aboutcooperation and the strengthening of the friendship between our two countries. Thatmeeting was both a confirmation and a new beginning and should lead to positiveresults in all areas of common concern.