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José Locsin was a Filipino senator.
Dr. José Corteza Locsin was born on August 27, 1891 in Silay, Negros Occidental. He was the third child among the five siblings of Domingo Locsin and Enriqueta Corteza. His family, who was originally from Molo, Iloilo, was among the most prominent when they settled in Silay. They acquired lands and engaged in sugarcane farming. They were devout Roman Catholics.
He married Salvacion Montelibano and had eighteen children. One of his sons died of typhoid at the age of four. He experienced another loss in 1959 when his wife died of cardiac arrest at the age of 61. In 1962, at the age of 70, he remarried. His second wife, Delia Ediltrudes Santiago, a social worker from Bacolod, bore him a son and a daughter.
José C. Locsin finished his primary education in Silay. Thereafter, his parents sent him to Manila to study, first at Liceo de Manila and afterwards at the Universidad de Santo Tomas, where he graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine, receiving the honor “Meritissimus.”
He started his medical profession in Silay, where he established the Maternity and Children’s Hospital which later became the Silay General Hospital. He was also responsible for the establishment of a Rest and Resettlement Center for Tuberculosis in Patag, Silay’s mountain barangay. He also organized several women's clubs to run puericulture centers. Apart from his initiatives in Silay, he was also responsible for the establishment of the Negros Occidental Provincial Hospital and later its School of Nursing.
Although Dr. Locsin was a medical practitioner, he had an inclination for politics. Because of his service to the people of Silay, he was elected as Municipal Councilor when he first decided to run for public office. After that, he was elected Provincial Board Member of Negros Occidental. In 1925, he became Governor of the Province of Negros Occidental. In his three years as governor, his focused on building roads and bridges throughout the province as well as establishing a waterworks system. Together with the Provincial Board, he initiated the construction of the Provincial Capitol building. He also placed a high priority in improving the province’s educational system and was responsible for having had more schools built during his term than all the governors before him combined.
After his term as governor, he ran for Congress and was elected Representative of the 1st District of Negros Occidental in 1928. As a representative of a district whose primary means of livelihood rely on the sugar industry, he worked for the modernization of sugar centrals, increasing the share of sugarcane planters in the sugar produced, and raising the wages of farm laborers. As Chairman of the Committee on Public Instruction, he worked on the establishment of schools in remote barrios and well as plazas in towns to promote cultural events.
In 1935, he became a delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention. One of his outstanding contribution as a delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention was the inclusion of social justice in the Constitution’s declaration of principles. Dr. Locsin was a member of the Nacionalista Party, and a dedicated advocate of its principles and a loyal supporter of its members. When Ferdinand Marcos switched allegiance and ran for President in 1965 under the Nationalista Party, Dr. Locsin supported Marcos’ candidacy, being members of the same Party. But when Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, he was disheartened and regretted having given his support to Marcos’ presidency. Although he was no longer active in politics during the time of Martial Law, Dr. Locsin wore a black ribbon as a sign of protest against Marcos. Even on his deathbed, he wore with him the black ribbon symbolizing his mourning of the death of democracy.
At the Senate
Dr. Locsin was the first post-war cabinet member under President Sergio Osmena in 1945 to 1946, serving as Secretary of the Department of Health and Public Welfare to help people recuperate from the ravages of World War II. From 1951 to 1957, he served the country as a senator and dedicated himself to addressing a wide range of issues. As Chairman of the Health Committee, he worked for the approval of various measures to ensure and promote the health and safety of people through the establishment of Rural Health Units, the standardization of hospital services, and the National Campaign Against Tuberculosis. In addition, he also secured appropriations for the construction of new hospitals, health centers, clinics and other health care facilities. At the same time, he also worked for the improvement of salary levels of public health care personnel, especially doctors. As Chairman of the Committee on Accounts, he strived to maintain the annual appropriation in order to prevent any deficiency during his term. His other achievements as a Senator include sponsorship of the Rural Banks Act; authorship of the Flag Ceremony Law which gave importance to recognizing and respecting the Philippine flag; increase of the salary of public school teachers; and passage of a measure to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Dr. Jose Rizal in an appropriate manner. Senator Locsin was a member of the Philippine economic mission headed by Senator Laurel which worked for the Laurel-Langley Trade Agreement of 1945.
The Filipino First Policy
Perhaps the greatest contribution of Dr. Locsin to the upliftment of the Filipino people is his authorship of the bill popularly known as the “Filipino First Policy” during his term as Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC, now the National Economic and Development Authority, or NEDA) from 1958 to 1961. As an effect of the Filipino First Policy, agro-industrial development was given impetus and encouragement. This resulted in the establishment of more cement factories, flour mills, and FILOIL–the first of the Filipino-owned gasoline companies. It also led to the banning of importation of plywood, the financing of irrigation and fertilizer programs, and the construction of artesian wells and hydro-electric power plants in different parts of the Philippines. Another major result was the development of new industries through the Industrial Dispersal Program, and the program for social and economic development of the Mindanao Region.
At the same time that he was Chairman of NEC, he headed the National Productivity Board of the Philippines. As such, he contributed to the establishment of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) of which he was unanimously elected its first Chairman in May 1961 during its inaugural meeting in Tokyo, Japan, an honour not only to himself but to the Philippines which he represented. When his term as NEC Chairman ended in 1961, he was appointed as Acting Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. During this short assignment, he had the licensing of forest concessions investigated which led to a marked reduction in the granting of such licenses and the filing of legal cases against illegal logging in the country.
In 1974, Dr. Locsin suffered a stroke which some people say was brought about by his frustration with notbeing able to directly do anything about abolishing Martial Law. From then on, he underwent several surgical procedures due to problems with his gallbladder and prostate. Because of complications brought about by old age and his illnesses, he became bedridden in 1976. On May 1, 1977, he died at the age of 88. He left a legacy of dedicated and principled public service. Before his death, it was proposed that the city of Silay be renamed after him, but he refused. After his death, the hospital in Silay was renamed after him in honor and gratitude for his service to the Silaynons. The Rizal Cultural and Civic Center in his hometown, Silay was also built in his honor and named after him. However, in spite of these recognitions, many of the younger Silaynons do not know who he really was and what he had accomplished. Recently, the Dr. Jose C. Locsin Memorial Provincial Hospital, which he had established, was closed down and all its services were transferred to the new Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital. It is sad to see that the recognition given to him, little compared to what he deserves, has been taken away.
Jose C. Locsin was a man of many talents. While trained as a medical doctor who started out with a community medical practice, he was primarily a public servant by heart. Throughout his career–from a medical practitioner serving his hometown to a Senator with countrywide responsibilities–his focus had always been to serve people especially those who he believed were in need of support regardless of their status in life. The beneficiaries of his initiatives included sugarcane planters as well as plantation workers, Filipino industrialists as well as ordinary factory employees, public school teachers as well as farmers.
His accomplishments demonstrate what a hard-working and dedicated public servant can achieve not only for his fellow-Silaynons, but also for Negrenses and the Filipino people. He knew how to bring to bear, quietly but formidably, the fruits of everyday life upon the task of improving people’s quality of life and pride of being Filipinos. The rural health centers he established, the schools he had constructed, the large family he raised, the standards he imposed on himself as a student, medical doctor, and politician, would be drawn upon to heal a country that was reeling from the ravages of war and the humiliation of foreign domination.
Perhaps nothing would have mattered so much as the perception of his integrity combined with his continuing self-education at so many levels, and expecting so much of himself at a period of what, for him, was no time of indulgence–but the supreme act of service, the essence of servant leadership in contemporary management literature. He was, as the French say, un home serieux, a man of substance and direction. And, as his fellow Ilonggos would say of him, dungganon nga Silaynon – a true son of Silay worthy of praise and emulation.
He had 19 children and one called Lordes Locsin Bueaventura (m. Jose Buenaventura) and their children are Leah, Ana and Partrica Buenaventura and their grandchildren are Benjamin, Matthew, Isabella, Sarah, Henry and Sophia (Miller/Nichol)