Pedro Abad Santos

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Pedro Abad Santos
Born Pedro Abad Santos y Basco
January 31, 1876
San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
Died January 15, 1945(1945-01-15) (aged 68)
Minalin, Pampanga, Philippines
Occupation Politician
Relatives José Abad Santos (brother)

Pedro Abad Santos y Basco (31 January 1876 – 15 January 1945) was a Filipino politician. He founded the Partido Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PSP) of Philippine Socialist Party in 1929. He ran for several local elections but never won. Luis Taruc of the Hukbalahap Rebellion was under his tutelage and was his right hand man.

Early years[edit]

Abad Santos was born to a wealthy family in the town of San Fernando (now City of San Fernando, Pampanga). He was the eldest of the 10 children of Vicente Abad Santos and Toribia Basco. He is a brother of José Abad Santos, who would become chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He was also the uncle of another Vicente Abad Santos, who would become an associate justice of the Philippine Supreme Court.

Pedro, or Perico as he was known, completed his secondary education at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He later enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas where he received his Doctor of Medicine. He later took and topped the medical board examinations.

After several years, he studied law by himself and took the bar examinations (this was allowed at the time), which he topped.

Freedom fighter[edit]

There are no extant evidence of his activities during the Philippine Revolution of 1896 but he was already a major in the revolutionary forces, under Gen. Maximino Hizon, during the Philippine–American War. He was eventually captured by the Americans and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for his guerrilla activities. But his family, who hired the prominent American lawyer John Haussermann to defend him during his trial, was apparently able to secure a pardon.

Lawyer and politician[edit]

In 1906, Pedro was admitted to the bar and began a legal career that followed the career paths of politicians of his generation. From 1907 to 1909, he served as justice of the peace in his hometown. He served as councilor of his hometown from January 1910 to March 1912. From 1916 to 1922, he represented the second district of Pampanga in the Philippine Assembly for two terms. In 1922, he was also a member of the Philippine Independence Mission to the United States, headed by Sergio Osmeña.

But in 1926, when his younger brother Jose was already an undersecretary in the Department of Justice of the American colonial government, Pedro lost the election for governor of Pampanga. He would never again serve in any official capacity in the colonial or Philippine governments.

Pioneer Filipino Marxist[edit]

Instead Pedro, who was already 50 years old, joined his friends Crisanto Evangelista, Antonio de Ora and Cirilo Bognot to study at the Lenin Institute in Moscow, Russia.

Pedro's protégé, Luis Taruc, described Pedro as a Marxist but not a Bolshevist. Marxist principles found fertile ground in Pampanga and the other provinces of the Central Luzon region because of the poverty which farmers blamed on the land tenancy system prevalent at that time. Although the government repeatedly promised relief, land reform in the Philippines would not take off until the 1960s.

On 26 October 1932, Pedro founded the Socialist Party of the Philippines. The following year Pedro established the Aguman Ding Maldang Talapagobra (Kapampangan for 'Union of the Toiling Masses') which espoused land reform and mutual protection from landlord abuses.

In the 1930s, Filipino farmers frequently came to bloody encounters with their landlords that the government had to send several units of the Philippine Constabulary to keep the peace.

On the anniversary celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution on November 7, 1938, Filipino socialists and communists gathered at the Manila Grand Opera House and agreed to merge their organizations. They called the merged group Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (Tagalog for Communist Party of the Philippines). They also elected the following as their officers: Crisanto Evangelista as president, Pedro Abad Santos as vice president and Guillermo Capadocia as secretary-general.

The following year, the administration of President Manuel Luis Quezon formulated a reform program that was meant to address social problems in the Philippines. Quezon decided to launch it in Pampanga and Pedro's group organized a gathering of farmers and workers at San Fernando in February for the purpose.

Pedro's brother Jose, who was already justice secretary, pleaded with Pedro not to embarrass Quezon when Pedro introduced the President. Dutifully, Pedro introduced the President as a 'friend of the masses and the poor'. But before Quezon spoke, Pedro enumerated farmers' grievances and criticized the legal system that, he said, landlords used against the poor. He challenged his brother, who was sitting beside Quezon, to clean up the courts and sarcastically remarked that the 'secretary cannot help us if he just sits in his office.'

Last years[edit]

On 25 January 1942, the Japanese occupation forces arrested Pedro and other Filipino leaders. He was still incarcerated at Fort Santiago when his brother Jose, who was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in December of the previous year, was executed by the Japanese.

Pedro, who was then 66 years old, would stay in prison for two years, but he was released to his family because of a stomach ailment in 1944. After a few months of recuperation, he reported to President José Laurel, who refused to return him to Japanese custody.

A bachelor, he joined his protégé Luis Taruc, who had founded the guerilla force Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) (Tagalog for People's Army Against the Japanese). On 15 January 1945, Pedro succumbed to complications of his stomach ailment at a guerilla base in Minalin, Pampanga 16 days before he turned 69.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • National Historical Institute, Filipinos in History Volume 1 (Manila: National Historical Institute, 1995)