Manuel Roxas

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This article is about the Filipino president. For grandson, see Mar Roxas. For the municipality, see Pres. Manuel A. Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte. For other places that now bear his name, see Roxas (disambiguation).
Manuel A. Roxas
Manuel A Roxas.jpg
5th President of the Philippines
3rd President of the Commonwealth
1st president of the Third Republic
In office
May 28, 1946 – April 15, 1948
Vice President Elpidio Quirino
Preceded by Sergio Osmeña
Succeeded by Elpidio Quirino
2nd President of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
July 9, 1945 – May 25, 1946
President Sergio Osmeña
Preceded by Manuel L. Quezon
Succeeded by José Avelino
Senator of the Philippines
In office
July 9, 1945 – May 25, 1946
Secretary of Finance
In office
August 21, 1941 – December 29, 1941
President Manuel L. Quezon
Preceded by Antonio de Las Alas
Succeeded by Serafin Marabut
2nd Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by Sergio Osmeña
Succeeded by Quintin Paredes
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Capiz' 1st District
In office
Preceded by Antonio Habana
Succeeded by Ramon A. Arnaldo
Governor of Capiz
In office
Personal details
Born Manuel Acuña Roxas
(1892-01-01)January 1, 1892
Capiz (now Roxas City), Capiz Province, Spanish East Indies (present-day Philippines)
Died April 15, 1948(1948-04-15) (aged 56)
Clark Air Base, Philippines
Resting place Manila North Cemetery, Santa Cruz, Manila, Philippines
Political party Liberal Party (1945–1948)
Other political
Nacionalista Party (Before 1945)
Spouse(s) Trinidad de Leon
Children Gerardo Roxas
Ruby Roxas
Alma mater University of Manila
University of the Philippines College of Law
Profession Lawyer, Soldier
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Allegiance  Philippines
Service/branch Philippine Commonwealth Army
Years of service 1941–1945
Battles/wars World War II
* Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945)
* Philippines Campaign (1944–1945)

Manuel Acuña Roxas (January 1, 1892 – April 15, 1948) was the fifth President of the Philippines, the last of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the first of the sovereign Third Philippine Republic. He ruled as President from the Philippines' independence from the United States of America on July 4, 1946 until his abrupt death in 1948.

Early life and career[edit]

Róxas, child of Gerardo Róxas, Sr. and Rosario Acuña was born on New Year's Day 1892 in Capiz (present-day Roxas City). He was a posthumous child, as his father Gerardo had died after having been mortally wounded by Spanish guardias civiles the year before. He and his older brother, Mamerto, to be raised by their mother and her father, Don Eleuterio Acuña.

The young Manuel received his early education in the public schools of Capiz, and at age twelve attended St. Joseph's Academy[disambiguation needed] in Taiwan, but due to homesickness, he went back to Capiz. He eventually transferred to Manila High School (later named Araullo High School), graduating with honours in 1909.

Roxas began his law studies at a private law school established by George A. Malcolm, the first dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law. On his second year, he enrolled at University of the Philippines, where he was elected president of both his class and the student council. In 1913, Roxas obtained his law degree, graduated class valedictorian, and subsequently topped the bar examinations with a grade of 92% on the same year.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Róxas was married to Trinidad de Leon at Our Lady of Remedies Church located at Barangay Sibul, San Miguel, Bulacan in 1921. The couple had two children, Ma. Rosario ("Ruby"), who married Vicente Róxas (no relation) and Gerardo Manuel ("Gerry"), who married Judy Araneta.

His son, Gerry, became a member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a leader of Liberal Party of the Philippines. Gerry's sons, Gerardo, Jr. ("Dinggoy") and Manuel II ("Mar"), served as representatives from Capiz. In 2004, Mar became a Senator and was also elected president of the Liberal Party. His daughter-in-law, Judy, continues to be a prominent and driving force of the Liberal Party.

Daughter Ruby has an only son, named Manuel ("Manolo").


Róxas was a descendant of Antonio Róxas y Ureta, brother of Domingo Róxas y Ureta (a progenitor of the Róxas-Zobel de Ayala clan).

Antonio Róxas y Ureta married Lucina Arroyo and would have a son named Juan Pablo Róxas y Arroyo, who in turn had a son named Caetano Róxas, the father of Antonio Róxas, who in turn became the grandfather of Manuel Róxas.

Prominent relatives from the line of Antonio Róxas:

  • Felix Róxas y Arroyo (1820–?) - son of Antonio Róxas and father of Felix Róxas y Fernandez, the first Filipino qualified architect.
  • Felipe Róxas y Arroyo (1840–1899) - son of Antonio Róxas and brother of Felix Róxas y Arroyo, the painter who emigrated to Paris.
  • Felix Róxas y Fernandez (1864–1936) - son of Felix Róxas y Arroyo, mayor of Manila from 1905 to 1917.
  • Margarita Moran-Floirendo, (born Maria Margarita Róxas-Moran), former Miss Universe of 1973.

Political career[edit]

Roxas occupied more important positions in the Philippine government than any other Filipino had ever held before him.[citation needed] Starting in 1917 he was a member of the municipal council of Capiz. He became the youngest governor of his province and served in this capacity from 1919 to 1922.

He was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 1922, and for twelve consecutive years was Speaker of the House. He was member of the Constitutional Convention 1934 to 1935, Secretary of Finance, Chairman of the National Economic Council, Chairman of the National Development Company and many other government corporations and agencies, Brigadier General in the USAFFE, Recognized Guerilla leader and Military leader of the Philippine Commonwealth Army.


Former diplomatic residence of Manuel Roxas in Washington, D.C.

After the amendments to the 1935 Philippine Constitution were approved in 1941, he was elected (1941) to the Philippine Senate, but was unable to serve until 1945 because of the outbreak of World War II.

Having enrolled prior to World War II as an officer in the reserves, he was made liaison officer between the Commonwealth government and the United States Army Forces in the Far East headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur. He accompanied President Quezon to Corregidor where he supervised the destruction of Philippine currency to prevent its capture by the Japanese. When Quezon left Corregidor, Roxas went to Mindanao to direct the resistance there. It was prior to Quezon's departure that he was made Executive Secretary and designated as successor to the presidency in case Quezon or Vice-President Sergio Osmeña were captured or killed. Roxas was captured in 1942 by the Japanese invasion forces. Roxas became chief advisor to Jose P. Laurel, but secretly sympathetic to the guerrilla movement,[2]:208–209 he passed information via Ramona (Mona) Snyder to Edwin Ramsey.[3]:57–58[discuss] He was returned by the military service of the Philippine Commonwealth Army joining the troops and military officers of men was beginning the liberation against the Japanese forces.

When the Congress of the Philippines was convened in 1945, the legislators elected in 1941 chose Roxas as Senate President.

Presidential election of 1946[edit]

Presidential styles of
Manuel A. Roxas
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Mister President

Prior to the Philippine national elections of 1946, at the height of the last Commonwealth elections, Senate President Roxas and his friends left from the Nacionalista Party and formed the Liberal Party. Roxas became their candidate for President and Elpidio Quirino for Vice-President. The Nacionalistas, on the other hand, had Osmeña for President and Senator Eulogio Rodriguez for Vice-President. Roxas had the staunch support of General MacArthur. Osmeña refused to campaign, saying that the Filipino people knew his reputation. On April 23, 1946, Roxas won 54 percent of the vote, and the Liberal Party won a majority in the legislature.[4]

Last President of the Commonwealth[edit]

President Manuel Roxas was inaugurated as the 5th President of the Philippines and the first president of the Third Republic on July 4, 1946 at the Independence Grandstand (now Quirino Grandstand), Manila.

Roxas served as the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in a brief period, from May 28, 1946 to July 4, 1946 during which time Roxas helped prepared the groundwork for an independent Philippines.

On May 8, 1946, prior to his inauguration, President-elect Roxas, accompanied by US High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, left for the United States.

On May 28, 1946, Roxas was inaugurated as the last President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The inaugural ceremonies were held in the ruins of the Legislative Building (now part of the National Museum of the Philippines) and were witnessed by about 200,000 people.[citation needed] In his address, he outlined the main policies of his administration, mainly: closer ties with the United States; adherence to the newly created United Nations; national reconstruction; relief for the masses; social justice for the working class; the maintenance of peace and order; the preservation of individual rights and liberties of the citizenry; and honesty and efficiency of government.

On June 3, 1946, Roxas appeared for the first time before a joint session of Congress to deliver his first State of the Nation Address. Among other things, he told the members of the Congress the grave problems and difficulties the Philippines face and reported on his special trip to the United States to discuss the approval for independence.[5]

On June 21, he reappeared in front of another joint session of the Congress and urged the acceptance of two laws passed by the Congress of the United States on April 30, 1946—the Tydings–McDuffie Act, of Philippine Rehabilitation Act, and the Bell Trade Act or Philippine Trade Act.[6] Both recommendations were accepted by the Congress.

First President of the Third Republic (1946–1948)[edit]

Short American newsreel of Philippine independence ceremonies on July 4, 1946 with brief footage of Roxas taking the Oath of Office.

Manuel Roxas' term as the President of the Commonwealth ended on the morning of July 4, 1946, when the Third Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated and independence from the United States proclaimed. The occasion, attended by some 300,000 people, was marked by the simultaneous lowering of the Stars and Stripes and raising of the National Flag, a 21-gun salute, and the pealing of church bells. Roxas then swore the Oath of Office as the first President of the new Republic.

The inaugural ceremonies took place at Luneta Park in the City of Manila. On the Grandstand alone were around 3,000 dignitaries and guests, consisting of President Roxas, Vice-President Quirino, their respective parties and the Cabinet; the last High Commissioner to the Philippines and first Ambassador to the Philippines Paul McNutt; General Douglas MacArthur (coming from Tokyo); United States Postmaster General Robert E. Hannegan; a delegation from the United States Congress led by Maryland Senator Millard Tydings (author of the Tydings–McDuffie Act) and Missouri Representative C. Jasper Bell (author of the Bell Trade Act); and former Civil Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison.


Administration and cabinet[edit]

Domestic policies[edit]

Economy of the Philippines under
President Manuel Roxas
1948 \approx 19.23 million
Gross Domestic Product
1947 Increase Php 85, 269 million
Growth rate, 1947–48 39.5%
Per capita income
1947 Increase Php 4,434
Total exports
1947 Increase Php 24, 824 million
Exchange rates
1 US$ = Php 2.00
1 Php = US$ 0.50
Sources: Philippine Presidency Project
Malaya, Jonathan; Eduardo Malaya. So Help Us God... The Inaugurals of the Presidents of the Philippines. Anvil Publishing, Inc. 

No sooner had the fanfare of the independence festivities ended that the government and the people quickly put all hands to work in the tasks of rescuing the country from its dire economic straits. Reputed to be the most bombed and destroyed country in the world, the Philippines was in a sorry mess. Only Stalingrad and Warsaw, for instance, could compare with Manila in point of destruction. All over the country more than a million people were unaccounted for. The war casualties as such could very well reach the two million mark. Conservative estimates had it that the Philippines had lost about two thirds of her material wealth.[7]

The country was facing near bankruptcy.[7] There was no national economy, no export trade. Indeed, production for exports had not been restored. On the other hand, imports were to reach the amount of three million dollars. There was need of immediate aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Something along this line was obtained. Again, loans for the United States, as well as some increase in the national revenues, were to help the new Republic.[7]

President Roxas, with bold steps, met the situation with the same confidence he exuded in his inaugural address, when he said: "The system of free but guided enterprise is our system". Among the main remedies proposed was the establishment of the Philippine Rehabilitation Finance Corporation. This entity would be responsible for the construction of twelve thousand houses and for the grant of easy-term loans in the amount of 177,000,000 pesos. Another proposal was the creation of the Central Bank of the Philippines to help stabilize the Philippine dollar reserves and coordinate and the nations banking activities gearing them to the economic progress.

Concentrating on the sugar industry, President Roxas would exert such efforts as to succeed in increasing production from 13,000 tons at the time of the Philippine liberation to an all-high of one million tons.[7]

Reconstruction after the war[edit]

The postwar Philippines had burned cities and towns, ruined farms and factories, blasted roads and bridges, shattered industries and commerce, and thousands of massacred victims. The war had paralyzed the educational system, where 80% of the school buildings, their equipment, laboratories and furniture were destroyed.[8] Numberless books, invaluable documents and works of art, irreplaceable historical relics and family heirlooms, hundreds of churches and temples were burned. The reconstruction of the damaged school buildings alone cost more than Php 126,000,000,000.

The new Republic began to function on an annual deficit of over Php 200,000,000 with little prospect of a balanced budget for some years to come.[9] Manila and other cities then were infested with criminal gangs which used techniques of American gangsters in some activities–bank holdups, kidnapping and burglaries. In rural regions, especially the provinces of Central Luzon and the Southern Tagalog regions, the Hukbalahaps and brigands terrorized towns and barrios.

Agrarian reform[edit]

In 1946, shortly after his induction to Presidency, Manuel Roxas proclaimed the Rice Share Tenancy Act of 1933 effective throughout the country.[10] However problems of land tenure continued. In fact these became worse in certain areas.[10] Among the remedial measures enacted was Republic Act No. 1946 likewise known as the Tenant Act which provided for a 70–30 sharing arrangements and regulated share-tenancy contracts.[10] It was passed to resolve the ongoing peasant unrest in Central Luzon.[10]

Amnesty proclamation[edit]

President Roxas, on January 28, 1948, granted full amnesty to all so-called Philippine collaborators, many of whom were on trial or awaiting to be tried, particularly former President José P. Laurel (1943–1945).[7] The Amnesty Proclamation did not apply to those "collaborators", who were charged with the commission of common crimes, such as murder, rape, and arson. The presidential decision did much[7] to heal a standing wound that somehow threatened to divide the people's sentiments. It was a much-called for measure to bring about a closer unity in the trying times when such was most needed for the progress of the nation.[7]

Huks outlawed[edit]

Disgusted with the crimes being committed by Hukbó ng Bayan Laban sa Hapón (Nation's Army Against the Japanese, also called "the Huks") and possessing evidence of their subversion, Roxas issued a proclamation outlawing the Huk movement on March 6, 1948.[7] It had become an imperative in view of the resurgence of Huk depredations, following the unseating of the seven Communists, led by Huk Supremo Luis Taruc through acts of terrorism.[7]

Foreign policy[edit]

Treaty of General Relations[edit]

On August 5, 1946, the Congress of the Philippines ratified the Treaty of General Relations that had been entered into by and between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States on July 4, 1946.[7] Aside from withdrawing her sovereignty from the Philippines and recognizing her independence, the Treaty reserved for the United States some bases for the mutual protection of both countries; consented that the United States represent the Philippines in countries where the latter had not yet established diplomatic representation; made the Philippines assume all debts and obligations of the former government in the Philippines; and provided for the settlement of property rights of the citizens of both countries.[7]

United States military bases[edit]
One of the last pictures of President Manuel Roxas.

Although Roxas was successful in getting rehabilitation funds from the United States after independence, he was forced[according to whom?] 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.[citation needed]

Party Rights Amendment[edit]

On March 11, 1947, Philippine voters, agreeing with Roxas, ratified in a nationwide plebiscite the "parity amendment" to the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines, granting United States citizens the right to dispose of and utilize Philippine natural resources, or parity rights.

Assassination attempt[edit]

The night before the plebiscite, Roxas narrowly escaped assassination by Julio Guillen, a disgruntled barber from Tondo, Manila, who hurled a grenade at the platform on Plaza Miranda immediately after Roxas had addressed a rally.[11]


His administration was marred by graft and corruption; moreover, the abuses of the provincial military police contributed to the rise of the left-wing (Huk) movement in the countryside. His heavy-handed attempts to crush the Huks led to widespread peasant disaffection.

The good record of Roxas administration was marred by two failures: the failure to curb graft and corruption in the government, as evidenced by the Surplus War Property scandal, the Chinese immigration scandal and the School supplies scandal; and the failure to check and stop the communist Hukbalahap movement.


Gravesite of Manuel Roxas

Roxas did not finish his full four-year term. On the morning of April 15, 1948 Roxas delivered a speech before the United States Thirteenth Air Force. After the speech, he felt dizzy and was brought to the residence of Major General E.L. Eubank at Clark Field, Pampanga. He died later that night of a heart attack.[12][13] Roxas' term as President is thus the third shortest, lasting one year, ten months, and 18 days.

On April 17, 1948, two days after Roxas' death, Vice-President Elpidio Quirino took the oath of office as President of the Philippines.


Philippine 100 peso bill
1992 Two Peso Manuel Roxas Commemorative Coin

In his honour Roxas, Capiz and Roxas, Isabela were named after him. Dewey Boulevard in the City of Manila was renamed in his memory, and he is currently depicted on the 100 Philippine peso bill.


  1. ^ Philippine Bar Examination
  2. ^ Keats, J., 1963, They Fought Alone, New York: J.B. Lippincott Company
  3. ^ Lapham, R., and Norling, B., 1996, Lapham's Raiders, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0813119499
  4. ^ Video: Air Freight by Parachute etc. (1946). Universal Newsreel. 1946. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ Official Gazette (Manila, May 1946) vol. 42 no. 5, pp. 1151–1165
  6. ^ Official Gazette, July 1946, vol. 42 no. 7, pp. 1625–1628
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Molina, Antonio. The Philippines: Through the centuries. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Cooperative, 1961. Print.
  8. ^ Gallego, Manuel V. "The Technique of Japanese Cultural Invasion." Philippine Journal of Education. Manila, November 1946, p. 94
  9. ^ Message of His Excellency Manuel Roxas, President of the Philippines to the Second Congress delivered on June 3, 1946. Manila. Bureau of Printing, 1946, p. 6
  10. ^ a b c d Manapat, Carlos, et al. Economics, Taxation, and Agrarian Reform. Quezon City: C&E Pub., 2010.Print.
  11. ^ Guillen was arrested, tried by the court for attempted assassination, and was sentenced to die. On April 16, 1950, he was executed in an electric chair at Muntinlupa.
  12. ^ Office of the President of the Philippines
  13. ^ Dante C. Simbulan (2005). The Modern Principalia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy. UP Press. p. 228 (note 15). ISBN 978-971-542-496-7. 


  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press. 
  • Zaide, Gregorio (1956). Philippine Political and Cultural History: the Philippines since British Invasion (1957 Revised ed.). Manila, Philippines: McCullough Printing Company. 

External links[edit]

House of Representatives of the Philippines
Preceded by
Antonio Habana
Member of the House of Representatives from Capiz's 1st district
Succeeded by
Ramon Arnaldo
Political offices
Preceded by
Sergio Osmeña
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Quintin Paredes
Preceded by
Antonio de Las Alas
Secretary of Finance
Succeeded by
Serafin Marabut
Preceded by
Jorge B. Vargas
Executive Secretary
Succeeded by
Arturo Rotor
Preceded by
José Yulo
as Speaker of the National Assembly
President of the Senate
Succeeded by
José Avelino
Preceded by
Sergio Osmeña
President of the Philippines

May 28, 1946 – July 4, 1946
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Manuel Roxas
President of the Philippines
May 28, 1946 – April 15, 1948
Succeeded by
Elpidio Quirino
Party political offices
New office Leader of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Elpidio Quirino