FFE Magazine

Manuel A. Roxas

Image from the Presidential Museum & Library

5th President of the Philippines

Term of Office: May 28, 1946 – April 15, 1948

Vice President: Elpidio Quirino

Birth: January 1, 1892

Place: Roxas City, Capiz

Death: April 15, 1948

Spouse: Trinidad de Leon

Children: Gerardo Roxas, Ruby R. Roxas

Political leader and first president of the independence republic of the Philippines.

The silver tongued genius- for a genius indeed, was born on January 1, 1892, in Capiz (renamed Roxas City (1949), in his honor).

His parents were Gerardo Roxas Sr. and Rosario Acuna. After graduating his early education in the public school of Capiz. He went to Hong Kong to study for sometime, later he transferred to Manila High School to finish his secondary course. He took up law at University of the Philippines and graduated in 1913.

In 1913 to 1916, after his bar exam whom he got 1st placer, he then became professor at the Philippine Law School and National University. Upon learning the excellent records of Roxas former chief justice Cayetano S. Arellano, offered him to be his secretary of the Supreme Court.

Roxas began his political career in 1917 as a member of the municipal council of his hometown Capiz in Panay Island. He was governor of the province of Capiz in 1919-1921 and was then elected to the Philippine House of Representative, subsequently serving as Speaker of the House and a member of the Council of State. In 1923 he and Manuel Quezon, the president of the senate, resigned in protest from the Council of State when the U.S. governor-general (Leonard Wood), began vetoing bills passed by the Philippine legislature. In 1932 Roxas and Sergio Osmeña, the Nacionalista Party leader, led the Philippine independence mission to Washington D.C., where they influenced the passage of teh Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act. Roxas was later opposed by Quezon, who held that the act compromised future Philippine independence; the Nacionalista Party was split between them on this issue. In 1934, however, Roxas was a member of the convention that drew up a constitution under the revised Philippine Independence and Commonwealth Act (Tydings McDuffie Act). Roxas also served as Secretary of Finance in the Commonwealth government (1938-1940).

During World War II Roxas served in the pro-Japanese government of Jose Laurel by acquiring supplies of rice for the Japanese Army. Although a court was established after the war to try collaborators, Roxas was defended by his friend General Douglas McArthur. Roxas was elected president of the commonwealth in 1946 as the nominee of the liberal wing of the Nacionalista Party (which became the Liberal Party), and when independence was declared on July 4 he became the first president of the new republic.

Although Roxas was successful in getting rehabilitation funds from the United States after independence, he was forced to concede military bases (23 of which were leased for 99 years), trade restriction for the Philippine citizens, and special privileges for U.S. property owner and investor. His administration was marred by graft and corruption; moreover, the abuses of the provincial military police contributed to the rise of the left-wing Hukbalahap (Huk) movement in the countryside. His heavy-handed attempts to crush the Huks led to widespread peasant disaffection.

Roxas did not stay long in office because of heart attack upon a speech in an occassion in the Clark Air Base in April 15, 1948 and was succeeded by his vice president Elpidio Quirino.

Manuel Roxas bereaved wife Doña Trinidad de Leon and children Ruby and Gerardo Roxas who became congressman, senator, and a leader of Liberal Party.

He died at the age of 44.

Married to Doña Trinidad de Leon Roxas. Who is very active in the Philippine society. Their two children Ruby, who is active and involved in functions commemorating the memory of her late father and former senator Gerry Roxas, their only son, died several years ago.

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

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