Alejo Santos

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Alejo Santos
AlejoSantos.jpg
Secretary of National Defense of the Philippines
In office
June 11, 1959 – December 30, 1961
President Carlos P. Garcia
Preceded by Macario Peralta, Jr.
Succeeded by Jesus M. Vargas
Governor of Bulacan
In office
1951–1957
Preceded by Fortunato Halili
Succeeded by Tomas Martin
Member of the House of Representatives from Bulacan's Second District
In office
1946–1946
Preceded by Antonio Villarama
Succeeded by Vacant[1]
In office
December 30, 1949 – December 30, 1951
Preceded by Vacant
Succeeded by Rogaciano M. Mercado
Personal details
Born (1911-07-17)July 17, 1911
Bustos, Bulacan
Died February 18, 1984(1984-02-18) (aged 72)
Quezon City, Philippines
Political party Nacionalista Party (1949-1984)
Democratic Alliance (1946-1949)
Military service
Allegiance Commonwealth of the Philippines
Service/branch United States Armed Forces in the Far East
Philippine Commonwealth Army
Rank Brigadier GeneralBrigadier General
Commands Bulacan Military Area
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Bataan
*Liberation of the Philippines

Alejo S. Santos (July 17, 1911 — February 18, 1984) was a Filipino soldier and World War II hero who parlayed his fame into a political career. His prestige was somewhat marred in later life when he agreed to run as the only major candidate opposing Ferdinand Marcos in the widely suspect 1981 Philippine presidential election.

Early life and guerrilla hero[edit]

Imprenta Press (1860) V John Sherwin (Casa Real Shrine-Museum, Malolos City) printing machine used by the First Philippine Republic (now the Case Real Shrine), where the newspapers La Independencia, El Heraldo de la Revolucion, Kalayaan, and Kaibingan ng Bayan were printed. During the Japanese occupation, the "Bulacan Military Area", under Capt. Alejo Santos, used this machine, against the Japanese.

Santos was born in Bustos, Bulacan, the son of a farmer. He graduated from the University of Manila with an education degree.[2] He first served as Prison Guard with the Bureau of Prisons from 1933 to 1934. Santos married Juanita Garcia in 1934 and they had eight children: Reynaldo, Edgardo, Ravenal, Lamberto, Alexis, Liberty, Daisy, and Nenita.[3] At the outbreak of World War II, he was a captain of the USAFFE. He was among the USAFFE soldiers who retreated to Bataan to make the last stand against the invading Japanese Imperial Army. However, he evaded capture by the Japanese when Bataan fell, escaping instead to his hometown. Santos then agreed to join the fledgling anti-Japanese guerrilla warfare movement under Bernard Anderson.[4]:26 He became one of the founders of the Bulacan Military Area, the main guerrilla movement in Bulacan which had 23,000 men under its command. The BMA attracted many patriotic Filipinos chafing under Japanese rule, and was soon organized into eight divisions. For his World War II activities, Santos received numerous citations and awards from the Philippine and American governments. He was the only Filipino conferred the rank of brigadier general by the American government.

Political career[edit]

After the liberation of Bulacan by joint Filipino and American ground troops in 1945, Santos was named as its military governor. He was elected as to the House of Representatives in 1946, representing the 2nd District of Bulacan under the banner of the leftist Democratic Alliance, but was almost immediately unseated together with several of his party-mates in a controversial maneuver believed to be related with the looming congressional vote on the approval of the Bell Trade Act with the United States. Nonetheless, Santos was again elected to the House in 1949, and he served in the 2nd Congress until his election as governor of Bulacan in 1951. By then, Santos had affiliated with the Nacionalista Party. Santos would serve as governor until 1957, wherein 705 public works projects were constructed in Bulacan and the national government released Php 1.9 Million for these. From 1959 to 1961, Santos served as Secretary of National Defense in the cabinet of President Carlos P. Garcia. In 1967 he was appointed by President Marcos to head the prison bureau, a post he held until 1971.

Candidate against Marcos[edit]

By 1981, Santos had mostly retired from political life, devoting his activity to veterans affairs; thus, it came as a surprise when he agreed to run for President against Ferdinand Marcos in the 1981 elections. The elections were called shortly after Marcos lifted the nine-year old declaration of martial law while retaining authoritarian powers at the same time, and were seen as a means of maintaining the veneer of democracy, especially in the international community. However, the anti-Marcos political opposition, which felt it was cheated out of victory in the 1978 parliamentary elections, refused to participate in the presidential elections and successfully called for a boycott. Santos' candidacy, ostensibly under the banner of the then-moribund Nacionalista Party, provided Marcos with at least one other "major" candidate he could run against. Santos, though the sole widely-known opponent of Marcos, did not offer a vigorous campaign, and he was trounced in the election, garnering only 8% of the vote as against Marcos's 88%.

Gravesite of Santos and his wife Juanita.

Santos died just three years later and was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. A camp of the Philippine National Police in Bulacan is named after Santos.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Santos was unseated together with several of his party-mates in the leftist Democratic Alliance in a controversial maneuver believed to be related with the looming congressional vote on the approval of the Bell Trade Act with the United States.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Alejo S. Santos : CV". Dnd.gov.ph. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  4. ^ Lapham, R., and Norling, B., 1996, Lapham's Raiders, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0813119499

Bibliography[edit]

Filipinos in History: Volume IV, National Historical Institute (Manila, 1994)

Government offices
Preceded by
Fortunato Halili
Governor of Bulacan
1951–1957
Succeeded by
Tomas Martin
Political offices
Preceded by
Macario Peralta, Jr.
Philippine Secretary of National Defense
1959–1961
Succeeded by
Jesus M. Vargas