FFE Magazine

Elpidio Quirino

Image from the Presidential Museum & Library

6th President of the Philippines

Term of Office: April 18, 1948 – December 30, 1953

Vice President: Fernando Lopez

Birth: November 16, 1890

Place: Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Death: February 29, 1956

Spouse: Alicia Syquia

Children: Tomas Quirino, Armando Quirino, Norma Victoria Quirino Delgado, Fe Angela Quirino

Political leader and second president of the Independence Republic of the Philippines.

He was born on November 16, 1890 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

After obtaining a law degree from the University of the Philippines in 1915, Quirino practiced law until he was elected as member of Philippine House of Representative in 1919-25 and as senator in 1925-1931. In 1934 he was a member of the Philippine Independence mission to Washington D.C., headed by Manuel Quezon, which secured the passage in Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, setting the date for Philippine independence as July 4, 1946. He was also elected to the convention that drafted a constitution for the new Philippine Commonwealth. Subsequently he served as secretary of finance and secretary of the interior in the Commonwealth government.

After World War II, Quirino serve as secretary of state and vice president under the first president of the independence Philippines, Manuel Roxas. When Roxas died on April 15, 1948, Quirino suceeded to the presidency. The following years, he was elected president for a four-year term on the Liberal Party ticket, defeating the Nacionalista candidiate.

President Quirino’s administration faced a serious threat in the form of the Communist led Hukbalahap (Huk) movement. Though the Huks originally had been an anti-Japanese guerrilla army in Luzon, the Communists steadily gained control over the leadership, and when Quirino’s negotiation with Huk commander Luis Taruc broke down in 1948, Taruc openly declared himself a Communist and called for the overthrow of the government. By 1950 the Huks had gained control over a considerable portion of national defense to suppress the insurrection.

Quirino’s six years as president were marked by notable postwar reconstruction, general economic gains, and increased economic aid from the United States. Basic social problems, however, particularly in the rural areas, remained unsolved; Quirino’s administration was tainted by widespread graft and corruption. The 1949 election, which he had won, were among the most dishonest in the country’s history. Magsaysay, who had been largely successful in eliminating the threat of the Huk insurgents, broke with Quirino on the issue of corruption, campaigning for clean elections and defeating Quirino as the Nacionalista candidate in the presidential election of 1953. Subsequently, Quirino retired to private life, in his new country home in Novaliches where he died of heart attack on February 28, 1956. His bereaved wife Alicia Syguia and children Tomas, Victoria and victims of Massacre of World War II: Armando, Norma and Fe. His wife Alicia also died during World War II and already dead when Quirino become president. Of their children only Victoria is alive and re-married to Paco Delgado.

Quirino died at the age of 66.

(By Charles Keng / The Presidents, Republic of the Philippines by Rheno A. Velasco. 1996)

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