Salvador Laurel

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Salvador Laurel
Salvador laurel.jpg
10th Vice President of the Philippines
In office
February 25, 1986 – June 30, 1992
President Corazon Aquino
Preceded by Arturo Tolentino
Succeeded by Joseph Estrada
5th Prime Minister of the Philippines
In office
February 25, 1986 – March 25, 1986
President Corazon Aquino
Preceded by Cesar Virata
Succeeded by Position abolished
Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines
In office
March 25, 1986 – February 2, 1987
President Corazon Aquino
Preceded by Pacifico Castro (Acting)
Succeeded by Manuel Yan
Member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa from Region IV-A
In office
June 12, 1978 – June 5, 1984
Senator of the Philippines
In office
December 30, 1967 – September 23, 1972[1]
Personal details
Born Salvador Roman Hidalgo Laurel
(1928-11-18)November 18, 1928
Paco, Manila, Philippines
Died January 27, 2004(2004-01-27) (aged 75)
Atherton, California, United States
Political party Nacionalista Party
Other political
UNIDO (1984–1989)
Spouse(s) Celia Diaz
(1950–2004) (his death)
Alma mater University of the Philippines College of Law
Yale University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Salvador Roman Hidalgo Laurel[2] (November 18, 1928 – January 27, 2004), also known as Doy Laurel, was Vice-President of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992 under Corazon Aquino, and briefly Aquino's only Prime Minister from February 25–March 25, 1986. He was a foremost leader of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), the political party that helped topple the Marcos dictatorship through the 1986 People Power Revolution that restored democracy to the Philippines.

Early life[edit]

Laurel is the fifth son of President José P. Laurel, president of the second Philippine Republic. He was born to a family whose illustrious lineage spans generations of nationalists who distinguished themselves as public servants. His grandfather, Judge Sotero Remoquillo Laurel was a delegate to the Malolos Congress and Secretary of the Interior in the first Philippine Revolutionary government under President Emilio Aguinaldo.

He first enrolled at Centro Escolar de Señoritas (1933–35) then Paco Elementary School (1935–36) followed by Justo Lukban Elementary School (1936–1937) and he graduated from elementary at Ateneo de Manila in 1941. He graduated from high school at De La Salle College High School in 1946.

Doy’s father wanted him to experience a public school education so he enrolled him first in the Paco Elementary School (1935–36) and then the Justo Lukban Elementary School (1936–37). In June 1937 he was admitted to the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila Grade School. During the Japanese occupation Ateneo de Manila was closed down by the Japanese for the reason that it was run by Americans. This prompted Laurel to enroll in De La Salle High School also located in Manila. On September 27, 1941, on his first year in high school, he received 2nd honors with a general average of 93.4. Barely three months later his studies came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of World War II on December 8, 1941.

Stay in Japan[edit]

Towards the end of World War II, the Japanese Supreme Council of War issued an order to have officials of the Philippine Government flown to Japan. President Laurel volunteered to go alone in order to spare his Cabinet members the ordeal of being separated from their families. His wife, Paciencia and 7 of his children went with him. Among the officials who accompanied him were Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr., Minister of Education and Mrs. Camilo Osias and General Mateo Capinpin. On Tuesday, March 21, 1945 began a long and perilous journey by land to Tuguegarao where a Japanese navy plane would fly the group to Japan. The odyssey ended in Nara, Japan, where they were confined until November 10, 1945.

The long confinement in Nara was providential in honing and enriching the character of Doy Laurel.[citation needed] It gave the romantic and impressionable 15 year old the luxury of time to write poetry and prose and satisfy his insatiable thirst for books. Whenever he was lucky to find an English book he would read it voraciously and discuss it animatedly with his mentor, Education Minister Camilo Osias. But his most treasured moments in Nara were those spent with his father. He enjoyed their daily morning walks, in the Park. During those intimate moments his father would invariably talk to him about his views on life, the value of moral character, impressing upon him the importance of intellectual honesty and integrity.

On September 12, 1945 his father was arrested by a group of Americans headed by Col. Turner and was taken to Sugamo Prison. The family was flown to Manila two months later on November 10, 1945.

Return to Manila[edit]

Christmas of 1945 was bleakest for Laurel, since their family was left with almost nothing. Their Peñafrancia home was looted and emptied of its furniture, while his father was placed in solitary confinement in Sugamo Prison in Japan. He wrote a poem dedicated to him to lift up his spirits and sent it as his Christmas present:


Trudge on, noble leader And with thy dauntless Courage Swerve not in thy glorious, tho’ thankless path, And heed not their threats and wrath; Forgive them who are nescient And With their perennial Discontent Thy goals impend; Assuage thy bitter struggle and with thy Sapient calm, O Sage! The glorious and the great Have always been exalted late And in the midst of great work condemned.

At La Salle he joined a group of young men who planned to go to Indonesia to join Sukarno in his struggle for independence from the Dutch, but local authorities stopped them at the pier.

After completing his high school at the De La Salle College in March 1946. Although all his older brothers were lawyers he enrolled at the University of the Philippines as a pre-med student where he obtained his AA (Pre-Medicine) and was admitted to Medicine proper but after two years decided to shift to Law. He was admitted to the Law school while working to complete his (AA Pre-Law). He received his LLB (Bachelor of Laws), degree in UP in March, 1952.

He was acclaimed the University Champion Orator after he won first prize in three consecutive inter-university oratorical contests: the 1949 Inter-University Oratorical contest sponsored by the Civil Liberties Union (CLU); the Student Councils Association of the Philippines (SCAP) and the Inter-University Symposium on Japanese Peace Treaty in 1951.

Without waiting for the results of the bar exams, he left for Connecticut to study at Yale University, his father’s alma mater, where he earned his Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) in 1953. He earned the title Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) also Yale University in 1960.

Of his studies and scholastic endeavors at Yale University, Myres S. McDougal, a Sterling Professor of Law, Emeritus of the Yale Law School, wrote:

"Salvador H. Laurel was a superb scholar at Yale. Like his father in an earlier day, he came to us in the vital formative years of his intellectual development, and remained to earn his master of laws degree (LLM) and doctorate in juridical science (J.S.D.) with highest standing. I have taught so many brilliant students from other countries at Yale Law School. Doy was one of the very best and has always been one of my favorites. His papers and comments were always informed, perceptive, wise, creative and deeply dedicated to the public and common interest. His deepest loyalty and devotion is to his own country, but he is aware of a larger interdependent world."

He married Celia Díaz, a society debutante.

Legal career[edit]

In Manila, Doy joined his brothers in the Laurel Law Offices in Intramuros. During his early years as a barrister he became deeply involved with legal aid. He was appalled to discover that 94% of the cases filed by indigents in the fiscal’s office were dismissed for lack of counsel. This led him to found the CLASP – Citizen’s Legal Aid Society of the Philippines.

He campaigned throughout the country convincing lawyers to join him in his quest for justice for the poor. His ardor inspired many so that at the end of the first year 750 lawyers had joined him in the CLASP. In 1976 the International Bar Association honored him with the “Most Outstanding Legal Aid Lawyer of the World” award in Stockholm, Sweden.

In 1960 he edited the papers of the Constitutional Convention of 1935. He succeeded in compressing 24 tomes of papers into seven compact volumes. It was a promise he had made to his father who was originally supposed to collaborate with him in the project but who had died of cerebral hemorrhage in 1959.

Early Political Career[edit]


It was not until 1967, a decade after his father’s death, that he seriously entered politics when he ran and won a Senate seat. He became the youngest Nacionalista senator. Laurel was named the most outstanding senator from 1968 to 1971. He was the author of five “Justice for the Poor” laws, also called “Laurel Laws,” nine laws on judicial reforms, the Government Reorganization Act, and the amendment to the Land Reform Code.

In 1967 Doy ran for the Senate where he hoped to continue his crusade for justice for the poor. He emerged victorious as the youngest Nacionalista elected senator. Thus began a distinguished public service career that spanned nearly 37 years

On his first year as Senator he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice, Committee on Economic Affairs, Committee on Government Reorganization, and Committee on Community Development. Senator Salvador H. Laurel authored five "Justice for the Poor Laws" known as the “Laurel Laws”, nine laws on Judicial Reforms (1968–1970); Government Reorganization Act (1968–1970) and Amendments to the Land Reform Code (1971). He also wrote a book on penal reforms and another on Land Reform entitled “This Land Is Mine”. He was consistently voted “Most Outstanding Senator of the Year” 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971. In 1972 Doy was the first Philippine government official to visit Mainland China then under Chairman Mao Tse Tung. He was met by Premier Zhou En Lai and Vice Premier Li Xinnian and other high officials of the Chinese government. Upon his return he submitted an extensive report to the Senate on his China visit. He strongly advocated for the resumption of friendly ties with the PROC and the adoption of a one-China policy (which eventually became the official stand of the Philippines).

Martial Law Years[edit]

When Marcos declared martial law Doy was in the United States. He was saddened to know that his childhood friend, Benigno Aquino, Jr. was incarcerated and that arrests were going on everyday. He consulted his professors in Yale regarding the legal aspect of martial law.

Doy returned to Manila on December 10, 1972. Undersecretary Manny Salientes who met him at the airport informed him that President Marcos wished to see him as soon as possible. Doy went to Malacañang the following day. President Marcos greeted him cordially addressing him as “brod” since they both belonged to the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity of UP. “Let me get to the point, Brod” the President said, “Please don’t rock the boat. I cannot turn back anymore. I have burned my bridges.” Doy replied, “Mr. President, I have learned that martial law is a double-bladed weapon. It can be used to cut for good or for evil. Use it only for good, Mr. President, and you don’t have to worry about me.”

In 1978, at a meeting in Malacañang, Marcos announced that he had created the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) to replace the two-party system. The proposal met the ire of Speaker Jose B. Laurel, Jr. who saw in it a calculated plan to annihilate the Nacionalista Party. After expressing his indignation in a scathing speech then stormed out of Malacañang. To placate him Marcos amended his proposal and made the KBL an umbrella organization instead with all political parties under it.

On December 22, 1979, however, Marcos again summoned Batasan members to the palace. He gave each one a copy of the rules of KBL as a political party. Doy immediately objected asking Marcos, “Since when did the KBL become a political party?” Marcos retorted, “As far as I am concerned the KBL has always been a political party.” Doy reminded Marcos that the Supreme Court, in two decisions, declared that the KBL was not a political party. He further reminded President Marcos that in 1978 the Nacionalista Party had to “adopt” the KBL because it was not accredited by the Comelec as a political party. Exasperated, Marcos said, “If the Nacionalista Party does not wish to become part of the KBL, then let it play the role of the opposition.” Piqued, Doy snapped back, ”So be it, Mr. President, so be it!” and walked out.

During the dark days of martial law Marcos’ power was absolute. No one dared oppose him. Those who could have were either jailed or dead or had sought asylum abroad and from that safe and comfortable distance – chose to be silent. But not Doy – he went forth risking his life and with his fiery speeches he exhorted the people not to be afraid to come out from the dark and join him in the fight to restore democracy.

Believing that “courage is contagious” he went to every part of the country where he could gather a crowd. At times, armed with only a bullhorn and emergency lights in case of intentional “power failure” and standing on whatever platform was available he would speak—his booming voice reaching out to the people with his impassioned entreaty for them to pledge with him “eternal hostility against all forms of oppression and tyranny in our country.”

In no time the people came out of the shadows and joined the ranks of the brave opposition

He founded United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO) that became the main voice of opposition in the 1980s. Laurel was unanimously nominated standard bearer of the opposition in 1985. Laurel decided to run for president of the Philippines against Marcos. However after long negotiations with Corazon Aquino, the widow of Laurel ally Ninoy Aquino, at the last minute he withdrew his candidacy in favor of her and decided instead to run for vice president. Aquino and Laurel became president and vice president respectively in February 1986. Through his charismatic leadership he succeeded in organizing the UNIDO (The United Nationalist Democratic Organization), drawing within its ambit, courageous leaders like Cesar Climaco, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Gerry Roxas, Dominador Aytona, Eva Estrada Kalaw, Rene Espina, Mamintal Tamano, Domocao Alonto and his nephew Abul Khayr, Raul Gonzalez, Homobono Adaza and Abe Sarmiento and all significant political parties who were opposed to the dictatorship. The UNIDO was the political party that ended the dictatorship.

Doy and Ninoy Aquino were like brothers. Their friendship which began during World War II when Doy’s father was President of the Republic and Ninoy’s father, Benigno Aquino, Sr. was Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In Nick Joaquin’s book, “The Aquinos of Tarlac” he quotes Ninoy as having said, “In 1947 when my father died I thought my world had ended. Except for Doy Laurel I don’t recall having any friends then.”

Both ran for the Senate In 1967. Doy under the Nacionalista banner and Ninoy under the Liberal party. They had an unwritten agreement that each would support the other in their own bailiwicks. Both emerged victorious.

During the martial law years when Ninoy was imprisoned he would often send messages to Doy through his wife, Cory. When Ninoy was arraigned before the military tribunal, Doy was there to give moral support to his young friend. On February, 1979, Doy wrote a letter to President Marcos asking him to release Ninoy to help unify the people.

When Ninoy planned to return to the Philippines he asked Doy to organize his arrival at the airport. Ninoy wanted an impressive crowd at the airport to prevent any attempts on his life. Ninoy said he would bring with him a group of Foreign press to record his homecoming. Doy spent weeks feverishly contacting his UNIDO leaders in Southern Tagalog as well as his fraternity brothers (Ninoy was also an Upsilonian), to help him.

He wrote Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos informing them of Ninoy’s arrival and requesting their assurance for his safety. He made arrangements with airport manager Louie Tabuena to allow him to meet Ninoy in the arrival tube.

On the morning of August 21, 1983 Doy led the welcome party which included Doña Aurora Aquino, Ninoy’s mother, Senators Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Lorenzo Tañada, Eva Estrada Kalaw and others. The airport was surrounded by a huge throng of welcomers. Ninoy had asked Doy to assemble 10,000 people at the airport but the turnout was about 28,000. As the plane was about to touchdown Doy headed for the tube to meet Ninoy but all the doors leading to it were locked. He banged and kicked the doors but could not go through. He called the guards through the glass windows but they were motionless and unresponsive. He went back to the VIP room where Dona Aurora was waiting with Senators Tanada and Rodrigo. Suddenly, Ken Kashiwahara, Ninoy’s brother-in-law who was with him on the plane dashed in looking ashen as he announced that Ninoy was shot.

A tidal wave of public indignation swept the nation. And the ranks of the opposition to President Marcos swelled beyond expectation.

Doy’s unquestioned and courageous leadership earned him the unanimous endorsement of his party, the UNIDO. During the UNIDO national convention at the Araneta Coliseum on June 12, 1985 nearly 25,000 delegates attended and proclaimed him the party standard-bearer in the snap election against President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Corazon Aquino, widow of Ninoy Aquino, spoke before the huge assembly endorsing Doy’s candidacy. Five months later, however, she declared her own candidacy causing a major crisis in the opposition – a rift that could cause its downfall and ensure a Marcos victory.

A series of meetings were arranged between the two opposition candidates to iron out their differences but up to the third meeting the impasse could not be broken. Cory, backed by the Convenors group, was determined to run for president. Finally, Doy said he would agree to run as her vice president provided she ran under the UNIDO banner but Cory refused. Doy immediately filed his certificate of candidacy as President at the Comelec.

But Cory sent Ninoy’s sister, Lupita Kashiwahara to inform Doy that she had changed her mind—she was willing to run under the UNIDO. True to his word and anxious to keep the opposition united in order to win the snap elections, Doy made the supreme sacrifice of giving up his lifetimes work and presidential ambition to give way to Corazon C. Aquino.

Vice-Presidency and[edit]

For a brief period in March 1986, Laurel became the only man in Philippine history to concurrently hold the positions of Foreign Minister, Prime Minister of the Philippines and Vice-President of the Philippines. The Premiership was abolished in March 1986, and Laurel was replaced as Secretary of Foreign Affairs by Raul Manglapus in 1987.

He ran for President in the 1992 elections as the head of the Nacionalista Party. However, he failed to gain Aquino's support and lost to her favoured successor, Fidel V. Ramos.

Post Vice-Presidency[edit]

Laurel's cremains are interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

In 1996, he was appointed by President Fidel V. Ramos as the chairman of the Philippine National Centennial Commission. Through his unwavering leadership, he revived Filipino nationalism by promoting the Filipino heritage and culture using heavy advertising. The Philippines celebrated its Independence Day centennial on June 12, 1998.

He was supposed to resign after the centennial celebrations, but President Joseph Estrada extended his term. Estrada abolished the commission in 1999. A few months after, he was charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan (Anti-graft court) for misappropriation of funds in constructing the regarding the controversial construction of a P1.165-billion Centennial Expo in Clarkfield, Angeles City, Pampanga. Laurel, whose family has never been tainted with corruption vehemently denied the allegation and chose to stand as his own defense counsel.

He returned to private life and spent most of his retirement in the United States. He died from lymphoma on January 27, 2004 at Atherton, California. His remains were cremated days after and were buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.


He died of lymphoma on January 27, 2004 in Atherton, California.

On January 29, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation No. 544 declaring the period of mourning over the death of Salvador H. Laurel Former Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.


  1. ^ Original term ends until December 30, 1973 but was cut short pursuant to the Declaration of Martial Law by President Ferdinand Marcos on September 23, 1972.
  2. ^ Jose P. Laurel Memorial Foundation


  • Zaide, Sonia M. (1999). The Philippines: A Unique Nation. All Nations Publishing. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Arturo Tolentino
Vice President of the Philippines
February 25, 1986 – June 30, 1992
Succeeded by
Joseph Estrada
Preceded by
Cesar Virata
Prime Minister of the Philippines
Office abolished
Preceded by
Pacifico Castro
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Manuel Yan