Manuel Roxas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Manuel Roxas
Manuel Roxas 2.jpg
5th President of the Philippines
In office
May 28, 1946 – April 15, 1948
Vice PresidentElpidio Quirino
Preceded bySergio Osmeña
Succeeded byElpidio Quirino
2nd President of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
July 9, 1945 – May 25, 1946
Preceded byManuel L. Quezon
Succeeded byJosé Avelino
Senator of the Philippines
In office
July 9, 1945 – May 25, 1946
Executive Secretary
In office
December 24, 1941 – March 26, 1942
PresidentManuel L. Quezon
Preceded byJorge B. Vargas
Succeeded byArturo Rotor
Secretary of Finance
In office
August 21, 1941 – December 29, 1941
PresidentManuel L. Quezon
Preceded byAntonio de las Alas
Succeeded bySerafin Marabut
2nd Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives
In office
Preceded bySergio Osmeña
Succeeded byQuintin Paredes
Member of the
Philippine House of Representatives
from Capiz's 1st district
Member of the National Assembly (1935–1938)
In office
Preceded byAntonio Habana
Succeeded byRamon Arnaldo
Governor of Capiz
In office
Member of the
Capiz Municipal Council
In office
Personal details
Manuel Roxas y Acuña

(1892-01-01)January 1, 1892
Capiz, Capiz, Captaincy General of the Philippines, Spanish Empire
DiedApril 15, 1948(1948-04-15) (aged 56)
Clark Air Base, Pampanga, Philippines
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeManila North Cemetery, Santa Cruz, Manila, Philippines
Political partyLiberal (1946–1948)
Other political
Nacionalista (before 1946)
(m. 1921)
ChildrenGerardo Manuel Roxas
Ruby Roxas
Alma materUniversity of Manila
University of the Philippines College of Law
ProfessionLawyer, soldier
Military service
Branch/servicePhilippine Commonwealth Army
Years of service1941–1945
Battles/warsWorld War II
* Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942–1945)
* Philippines Campaign (1944–1945)

Manuel Acuña Roxas (Tagalog: [aˈkuɲa ˈɾohas]; born Manuel Roxas y Acuña; January 1, 1892 – April 15, 1948) was the fifth President of the Philippines who served from 1946 until his death in 1948. He briefly served as the third and last President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from May 28, 1946 to July 4, 1946 and then became the first President of the independent Third Philippine Republic after the United States ceded its sovereignty over the Philippines.

Early life and career[edit]

Manuel Roxas was born on January 1, 1892 in Capiz (present-day Roxas City) to Gerardo Arroyo Roxas and Rosario Villaruz Acuña. He was a posthumous child, as his father died after being mortally wounded by the Spanish Guardia Civil the year before. He and his older brother, Mamerto, are raised by their mother and her father, Don Eleuterio Acuña. His other siblings from his father include Leopoldo and Margarita while he also had half siblings which consist of Consuelo, Leopoldo, Ines and Evaristo Picazo after his mother remarried.

Roxas received his early education in the public schools of Capiz, and at age twelve he attended St. Joseph's College in Hong Kong, but due to homesickness, he went back to Capiz. He eventually transferred to Manila High School graduating with honors 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. He served as secretary to Judge Cayetano Arellano of the Supreme Court.[citation needed]

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.[1] He then became the youngest governor of Capiz 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 a member of the Constitutional Convention from 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. Roxas became one of the leaders of the Nacionalista party, which was dominated by the hacendado class who owned the vast hacienda estates that made up most of the cultivated land in the Philippines.[2] The same hacendado elite who dominated the Philippines under Spanish rule continued to be the dominant social element under American rule.[2] Roxas himself was a hacendado whose used his wealth to further his political ambitions.[2] The politics of the Philippines were characterized by a clientistic system under which politicians would use their offices to create patronage networks, and personal differences between politicians were far greater than any ideological differences.[2]

With the Great Depression, the Philippines started to be seen as a liability in the United States as demands were made to end Filipino immigration to the United States and end the tariff free importation of Filipino agriculture into the American market as many American farmers complained that they could not compete with Filipino farmers.[3] In order to end Filipino immigration and access to the American market, many Congressional leaders favored granting immediate independence to the Philippines.[3] At the same time that Congress was debating granting the independence to the Philippines, many Filipino leaders were worried by the increasing assertive claims being made by Japan that all of the East Asia was its sphere of influence.[4] In a role reversal, it was the Filipinos were opposed to immediate independence, which was proposed in the Hawes-Cutting Bill being debated within the halls of Congress.[3]

In early 1930, Roxas was dispatched together with Sergio Osmeña by Manuel L. Quezon to lobby Congress to go slow on granting independence in the Hawes-Cutting Bill.[3] Besides for the fear of Japan, many Filipinos were deeply worried about the plans to impose heavy tariffs on Filipino agriculture after independence, which provided another reason to go slowly with independence.[3] In Washington, Roxas lobbied leaders such as the Secretary of State Henry Stimson, the War Secretary Patrick Hurley and Senator Bingham.[5] Roxas testified before Congress that he favored Filipino independence, saying the Filipinos had fulfilled the "stable government" provision of the Jones Act, which mandated independence be granted when the Filipinos proved that had a "stable government".[6] However, with Roxas went on to testify that "with the granting of tariff autonomy, serious difficulties may arise".[6] In common with the rest of the Filipino elite, Roxas saw the plans of Congress to impose tariffs on Filipino goods after independence as an economic disaster for the Philippines.[6]

In May 1930, Roxas reported to Quezon that both Hurly and Stimson had testified before Congress saying that the Philippines were not ready for independence nor would be for anytime in the foreseeable future, which he thought had a major impact on Congress.[7] Roxas advised that Quezon should now try to appease Senator Hawes and Congressman Cutting by sending them a message saying he wanted immediate independence, which Roxas felt was not likely at present.[7] On 24 May 1930, Quezon followed his advice with a public telegrams sent to both Hawes and Cutting saying the Filipinos "crave their national freedom".[7] In a compromise, the Senate Insular Committee advised on 2 June 1930 that the Philippines should be given more autonomy to prepare for the Philippines for independence within the next 19 years.[7] In the summer of 1930, Roxas returned to the Philippines.[8] Upon his return, he founded a new pro-independence group called Ang Bagong Katipunan ("The New Association") that proposed disbanding all political parties under its fold and the unification of national culture in order to negotiate better with the Americans..[8] The plans for Ang Bagong Katipunan created widespread opposition, as the group was seen as too authoritarian and as a vehicle for Roxas to challenge Quezon for the leadership of the Nacionalista party.[8] Ang Bagong Katipunan group was soon disbanded.[8]

In the summer of 1931, Hurley visited the Philippines to assess its readiness for independence.[9] In talks with Quezon, Osmeña and Roxas, it was agreed the Philippines should become an autonomous Commonwealth under ultimate American rule and it would be allowed to keep exporting sugar and coconut oil to the United States at the present rate.[9] Roxas became seen as one of the less radical independence leaders who favored "go slow" on independence in order to keep access to the American market.[10] At the time, Roxas cynically stated he and the other Nacionalista leaders had to make "radical statements for immediate, complete and absolute independence to maintain hold of the people".[11] Filipino politics tended to be based more on personal loyalties to a politician who would reward his followers via patronage rather than ideological issues, and despite criticism of the Democratas that the Nacionalistas had abandoned their platform, the Nacionalistas triumphed in the election of 13 July 1931.[11] In the election, Roxas was reelected and returned to his position as Speaker of Filipino House of Representatives.[11] In September 1931, Japan seized the Manchuria region of China.[11] After the Mukden incident, the leaders of both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy started to argue in Washington that the Philippines occupied a strategical position in Asia as naval and air bases located in the Philippines would allow any power that controlled them to dominate the South China Sea, the key sea that linked the markets of Southeast Asia to China.[11] The prevailing opinion within the U.S. military was that the United States needed its Filipino bases to deter Japan from trying to seize control of all of East Asia.[11]

In 1933, he was one of the two Filipino leaders along with Osmeña who went to Washington to negotiate Filipino independence from the United States.[12] The Americans agreed to grant the Filipinos independence, but only on the condition that the United States be allowed to retain military bases in the Philippines, a condition that led for the act to be rejected by the Filipino congress.[12] Manuel L. Quezon was late to state the allow the United States to retain its bases in the Philippines would make Filipino independence no different from the independence of the Japanese sham state of Manchukuo.[13]


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. The United States was scheduled to grant the Philippines independence in 1945 while Japan started to make claims for a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere from 1940 onward. In common with other members of the Filipino elite, Roxas started to cultivate ties with Japan as it was unclear whatever the Philippines would remain in the American sphere of influence after independence or fall into the Japanese sphere of influence.[14] However, as the United States was planning on granting independence, ending more than 400 years of foreign rule, Filipino public opinion was hostile to the idea of the Philippines joining the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.[14]

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. On 7 December 1941, Japan went to war against the United States, bombing the American naval base at Pearl Harbor while also bombing the American bases in the Philippines.[15] Shortly afterwards, a Japanese invasion force landed on Luzon, the largest and most populous of the islands of the Philippines archipelago.[15] MacArthur had claimed that the American-Filipino forces under his command would stop any Japanese invasion "on the beaches", but instead the Japanese marched on Manila, the capital and largest city of the Philippines.[15] Roxas 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. On 3 January 1942 President Quezon presented General MacArthur with a secret guaranty of $500, 000 U.S dollars.[16] The payment was related to the Filipino concept of utang na loob, where one offers a lavish gift in order to create a reciprocal obligation from the individual who receives the gift.[17] Through the payment was legal, it was questionable from an ethical perspective, and MacArthur always kept the payment secret, which did not become public knowledge until 1979.[17] Later in 1942, Quezon offered an utang na loob payment to General Dwight Eisenhower, which he refused, saying that as an United States Army officer, his first loyalty was to the United States, which made accepting such a payment as morally wrong in his viewpoint.[17] Roxas was one of the few people who did know about Quezon's gift to MacArthur.[18]

Roxas was captured in April 1942 by the Japanese invasion forces. He became chief advisor to the collaborationist government of José P. Laurel.[18] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg wrote that through many claims have been made that Roxas was secretly a member of the Filipino resistance during the Japanese occupation, no evidence has ever emerged to support these claims.[19] The American journalist Richard Rovere wrote that the evidence that Roxas was actually a resistance fighter was "obscure".[20] Rovere described Roxas as typical of the Filipino hacendado class (the wealthy owners of the hacienda estates) who sought to opportunistically ingratiate themselves with whatever power ruled the Philippines.[21] An additional reason for the hacendados to support the Japanese occupation was that the main resistance group, the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon (People's Army against the Japanese), better known as the Huks, was a Communist movement.[22] Besides for opposing the Japanese, the Huks promised land reform, by breaking up the haciendas, which caused the hacendados as a group to support the Japanese.[23] The Manila chapter of the fascist Falange party had a membership of about 10, 000 people, including members of the most prominent hacendado familes such as the Ayalas, Zobels, Elizaldes and Sorianos.[23] By 1945, the Huks had over 70, 000 guerrillas in action, making them into easily the largest resistance group in the Philippines.[24] The American historian Russell Buhite wrote: "Roxas was the Philippine equivalent of the fabled French statesman Charles Maurice de Tallyrand who was able to blend with the wind, able to work with authority wherever he found it".[25] The American historian Richard Bernstein stated: "If Japan had won the war...the top man in the Philippines today would probably have been Manuel Roxas".[21]

During the Japanese occupation, Roxas was in charge of the rice procurement agency for the collaborationist government from 1943 onward, which helped Japan exploit its the Philippines by gathering up the rice harvests to feed the Japanese forces in Southeast Asia.[26] The ruthless policies of confiscating the rice harvests pushed many of the Filipino peasantry to the brink of starvation and made Roxas into one of the most hated men in the Philippines.[26] Roxas served in the Laurel government until April 1945 when he surrendered to American forces at Baguio.[20] After his capture, MacArthur announced that Roxas was really a resistance fighter.[19] It appears that MacArthur was blackmailed by Roxas, who threatened to reveal the guaranty he accepted in 1942.[18] This was especially the case as MacArthur had ambitions to run as the Republican candidate for the presidency after the war.[27] MacArthur's political ambitions were an open secret at the time because in early 1944 letters between MacArthur and the Republican Congressman Albert Miller were leaked to the press.[28] In his letters to Miller, MacArthur expressed his loathing for President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, and dropped broad hints that he would be willing to accept the Republican nomination in a future presidential election after the war.[28] Shortly after his capture, Roxas told the Americans that he wanted the United States to keep its military bases in the Philippines after independence in 1946, and promised to use all of his influence to persuade the Filipino congress to accept independence on those terms.[29] Buhite wrote that by pardoning Roxas, MacArthur "...undermined his ability to treat other collaborators more harshly".[25] Beyond his presidential ambitions, MacArthur had additional reasons to treat Roxas leniently. MacArthur had a low opinion of the average Filipino and believed that the men of the hacendado class were only people capable of providing the Philippines with competent leadership.[25] The general felt that whatever Roxas and the other hacendados had done during the Japanese occupation was irrelevant compared to the need to have the haendados continue as the dominant group as MacArthur believed that the Philippines would descend into anarchy without the leadership of the haendados.[25]

Osmeña was opposed to MacArthur's rehabilitation of Roxas, only to receive the reply that: "I have known General Roxas for over twenty years, and I know that he is no threat to our military security. Therefore we are not detaining here".[20] MacArthur strongly disliked Osmeña, whom he felt was an incompetent leader, and much preferred Roxas to be the first president of the Philippines.[25] The fact that Osmeña was a man with clumsy social skills further alienated him from MacArthur and practically every other American, as Osmeña kept saying the wrong things at the wrong times.[25] By contrast, the charismatic Roxas made for more appealing social company and he proceeded to massage MacArthur's ego via flattery.[25] Moreover, Osmeña had often opposed MacArthur before the war was another point against him as far as MacArthur was concerned, who was quite determined that Roxas should be the first president after independence.[25] Osmeña travelled to Washington in 1945 to President Roosevelt to appeal for his help against MacArthur, but he made so many tactless remarks in his meeting at the White House that Roosevelt declared after meeting him that MacArthur should be allowed to rule the Philippines whatever way he liked.[25] MacArthur announced in a speech that Roxas was "one of the prime factors in the guerilla movement" against the Japanese.[20] Roxas himself embraced this new image and in a speech stated: "Modesty aside, Manuel Roxas was the leader, the leader of the resistance movement in the Philippines!"[20] Besides for Roxas, MacArthur pardoned over 5, 00 Filipino collaborators and despite the fact that over 80% of the Filipino Army officers went over to the Japanese in 1942, these men had their commissions restated..[30]

When the Congress of the Philippines was convened in 1945, the legislators elected in 1941 chose Roxas as Senate President.[26] Of the members of the 1941 Congress, 8 out of the 14 Senators and 19 of the 67 Representatives had collaborated with the Japanese during the occupation.[24] Despite their collaboratist past, MacArthur allowed all of the 1941 Congress to met again. In an attempt to undermine Osmeña's chances of winning the 1946 Filipino presidential election, MacArthur forced his administration to make unpopular decisions while he groomed Roxas to run in the 1946 election.[25] On 12 April 1945, President Roosevelt died and the new president, Harry S. Truman, had little interest in the Philippines as he had more pressing concerns to face in his first months in office.[25] When MacArthur left the Philippines for Japan to sign the armistice ending the war on 30 August 1945, Buhite described the Philippines as being " a chaotic state, their relationship being unclear, their economy in tatters and their political status undecided".[25] When he took over the American occupation of Japan, MacArthur in turn lost his interest in the Philippines, only returning to Manila on 4 July 1946 to witness the declaration of Filipino independence before promptly returning to Tokyo.[25]

Presidential election of 1946[edit]

Presidential styles of
Manuel A. Roxas
Presidential Seal 1.png
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleMr. President

Prior to the Philippine national elections of 1946, at the height of the last Commonwealth elections, Senate President Roxas and his friends left the Nacionalista Party and formed the Liberal Party.[31] 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.[32] The American military government strongly favored Roxas during the election, regarding him as the Filipino politician most likely to allow the American bases to continue in the Philippines after independence.[24] The British historian Francis Pike wrote that Roxas "effectively brought" the 1946 election, helped by the fact that he owned the largest newspaper empire in the Philippines.[24] The Roxas newspapers election coverage were essentially campaign ads for the Roxas campaign.[24] Osmeña refused to campaign, saying that the Filipino people knew of his reputation. On April 23, 1946, Roxas won 54 percent of the vote, and the Liberal Party won a majority in the legislature.[33]


Last President of the Commonwealth[edit]

On May 8, 1946, prior to his inauguration, President-elect Roxas, accompanied by US High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, left for the United States. During his American visit, Roxas came out clearly for the United States to maintain its bases after independence, saying in a speech: "We will welcome the existence of your naval, air and army bases on such of our soil as it is mutually agreeable for the common protection of the United States and the Philippines, and will co-operate in the defense and security of those bases insofar as it is within our power to do so".[29] After the experience of the Japanese occupation, Filipino public opinion was no longer against the presence of American bases after independence in quite the same way as before 1941.[12] However, the U.S. government was apparently not aware of the change in public opinion, and favored Roxas as the man best able to allow the United States to keep its bases after independence.

On 10 May 1946, a draft agreement was signed in Washington allowing the United States to keep its Filipino bases for 99 years after independence.[34] Roxas was willing to sign the agreement, but demanded that the number of American bases be reduced and complained that the sweeping immunity from Filipino law enjoyed by American military personnel envisioned in the agreement would not be popular with Filipino public opinion.[35] He also made it clear that he was more comfortable with the Americans mostly having naval and air bases in the Philippines, and wanted the number of U.S. Army bases kept to the minimum.[35] Some aspects of the Roxas desiderata were incorporated in the final agreement as the Americans agreed to reduce the number of bases in the Philippines after independence.[35] Roxas's argument against the U.S. Army having bases were also incorporated in the agreement, through the fact that the Pentagon saw the Philippines primarily as a place to project power into Asia led to most of the American bases being naval and air bases.[35] Furthermore, as long the Americans dominated the waters and air spaces around the Philippines, another invasion was unlikely. However, the Americans refused to give make concessions on the immunity issue, being adamant that American military personnel enjoy immunity from Filipino law after independence.[36]

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. 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.[37]

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.[38] Both recommendations were accepted by the Congress. Under the Bell Trade Act, the goods from the Philippines were granted tariff-free access to the American market, achieving one of Roxas's key aims; in exchange, he accepted pegging the Filipino peso to the U.S. dollar and American corporations were granted parity rights when it came to exploiting the minerals and forests of the Philippines.[39] In exchange for accepting the Bell Trade Act, the American Congress voted for some $2 billion US in aid to the Philippines.[39] Through the $2 billion was intended to assist with the reconstruction of the war-devastated nation, the vast majority of the money was stolen by Roxas and his corrupt friends.[39] The American journalist Robert Shaplen noted after a visit to Manila: "It may well be that in no other city in the world was there so much graft and corruption and conniving after the war".[39]

In the elections for Congress, the Huks joined forces with the socialists and peasant unions to form a new party, the Democratic Alliance, which won 6 seats to Congress on a platform of punishing collaborators, land reform and opposing the Bell Trade Act.[30] Among the Huk leaders elected to Congress was the party's leader Luis Taruc. In what Pike described as "a monstrous abrogation of democratic procedure", Roxas expelled all 6 members of the Democratic Alliance from the Congress, claiming that they been elected illegally, and replaced them with his own supporters.[30] Pike note that Roxas's expulsion of the Democratic Alliance from Congress was just the beginning of a nation-wide purge of all Filipinos who served in the Huk resistance against the Japanese as "arrests and murders followed. Those who survived fled to the jungle and formed the Hukbong Magpaypalaya ng Bayan (the People's Revolutionary Army).".[30]

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.
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 prepare the groundwork for an independent Philippines.

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 19.23 million
Gross Domestic Product (1985 constant prices)
1947Increase Php 85,269 million
Growth rate, 1947–4839.5%
Per capita income (1985 constant prices)
1947Increase Php 4,434
Total exports
1947Increase 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.[40] In 1946, the Filipino gross domestic produce was down 38.7% from where it had been in 1937.[41]

The country was facing near bankruptcy.[40] 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 from the United States, as well as some increase in the national revenues, were to help the new Republic.[40]

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.[40]

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.[42] 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. Pike noted that the Japanese as part of their efforts of "liberation" from American imperialism by bringing the Philippines into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere "...had smashed industrial buildings, banks, government offices and hotels. Infrastructure including ports had been sabotaged or destroyed in the heavy fighting for Manila".[41]

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.[43] 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 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.[44] However problems of land tenure continued. In fact these became worse in certain areas.[44] 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.[44] It was passed to resolve the ongoing peasant unrest in Central Luzon.[44]

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).[40] 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[40] 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.[40]

Civil War[edit]

After persecuting the Hukbó ng Bayan Laban sa Hapón, Roxas opened peace talks with the Huks and invited a delegation of Huk leaders led by Juan Feleo to come to Manila in August 1946.[41] While returning to their jungle bases, Felco and the other Huk leaders were ambushed by the Filipino police.[41] The head of Felco was found floating in the Pamapnga River.[41] The ambush was intended to cripple the Huks, but instead to a civil war as the Filipino police and army rapidly lost control of much of Luzon to the Huks.[41] Strongly opposed to the guerilla movement Hukbó ng Bayan Laban sa Hapón (Nation's Army Against the Japanese, also called "the Huks"), Roxas issued a proclamation outlawing the Huk movement on March 6, 1948.[40] At the same time, Roxas pardoned the Filipinos who had collaborated with the Japanese.[41] The pardon of the collaborators lent some substance to the charge by the Huks that his administration was a continuation of the wartime collaborationist puppet government.

The Central Intelligence Agency in a report noted that the Philippines was dominated by "an irresponsible ruling class which exercises economic and political power almost exclusively in its own interests".[41] The American Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, complained that the Philippines was one of the most corrupt nations in Asia as he commented with some understatement "much of the aid to the Philippines has not been used as wisely as we wish it had".[41] Acheson wanted to cease aid to the Philippines until reforms were mounted to crack down on corruption, but was blocked by John Melby, the head of the Filipino desk at the State Department, who warned that to cut off aid would mean handing over the Philippines to the Huks.[41] American officials throughout the late 1940s that Roxas was a corrupt leader whose policies openly favored the hacendado class and that unless reforms were made, it was inevitable that the Huks would win.[41]

Foreign policies[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.[40] 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.[40]

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 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 owners and investors.[39] On 21 March 1947, the United States granted the Philippines some $17.7 million in military aid plus another $25 million US dollars to assist with reconstruction.[39] The Communist Huk rebellion led to fears in the United States that the Huks might come to power while the fact that the Kuomintang were clearly losing the Chinese civil war by this point led to the very real possibility that Chinese Communists might come to the power.[39] In turn, there was much fear in Washington that a Communist China would grant the Soviet Union air and naval bases. The possibility of a Communist China vastly increased the geopolitical importance of the Philippines to the United States, which wanted to retain its air and naval bases in the Philippines to maintain control of the South China Sea.[39] The Americans made it clear that they were prepared to pay "handsomely" for the right to keep their Filipino bases, which Roxas exploited.[39]

Parity 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.

Turtle and Mangsee Islands[edit]

On 19 September 1946 the Republic of the Philippines notified the United Kingdom that it wished to take over the administration of the Turtle Islands and the Mangesse Islands. Pursuant to a supplemental international agreement, the transfer of administration became effective on 16 October 1947.[45][46]


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 the Roxas administration was marred by notable failures: the failure to curb graft and corruption in the government (as evidenced by the surplus war property scandal), the Chinese immigration scandal, the school supplies scandal and the failure to check and stop the communist Hukbalahap movement.

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.[47]


Historical marker on the death place of Roxas
Elpidio Quirino during the wake in Malacañang Palace

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 Eugene L. Eubank at Clark Field, Pampanga. He died later that night of a heart attack.[48][49] 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.

Tomb of Manuel Roxas in Manila North Cemetery


On July 3, 1956, Roxas was posthumously awarded the Quezon Service Cross. The award was presented to his widow, Trinidad L. Roxas, by then Vice-President Carlos P. Garcia on behalf of President Magsaysay.[50][verification needed][additional citation(s) needed]

In his honor, various cities and municipalities in the Philippines have been renamed after him, including Roxas, Oriental Mindoro in (1948), the first town to be named as such; Roxas, Isabela (1948); President Roxas, Capiz (1949); Roxas City, Capiz (1951); Roxas, Palawan (1951); President Roxas, Cotabato (1967); and President Manuel A. Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte (1967). Dewey Boulevard in Metro Manila was renamed in his memory, and he is currently depicted on the 100 Philippine peso bill.

Family and ancestry[edit]


  1. ^ "Manuel Roxas". Presidential Museum and Library. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Buhite 2008, p. 26.
  3. ^ a b c d e Hutchinson 1971, p. 162.
  4. ^ Hutchinson 1971, p. 161.
  5. ^ Hutchinson 1971, p. 163.
  6. ^ a b c Hutchinson 1971, p. 164.
  7. ^ a b c d Hutchinson 1971, p. 166.
  8. ^ a b c d Hutchinson 1971, p. 167.
  9. ^ a b Hutchinson 1971, p. 168.
  10. ^ Hutchinson 1971, p. 168-169.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Hutchinson 1971, p. 169.
  12. ^ a b c Salamanca 1989, p. 308.
  13. ^ Salamanca 1989, p. 307.
  14. ^ a b Kerr 1974, p. 12.
  15. ^ a b c Buhite 2008, p. 41.
  16. ^ Weinberg 2005, p. 310.
  17. ^ a b c "MacArthur-The Secret Payment". The American Experience. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Weinberg 2005, p. 863.
  19. ^ a b Weinberg 2005, p. 863-864.
  20. ^ a b c d e Rovere 1992, p. 83.
  21. ^ a b Rovere 1992, p. 84.
  22. ^ Pike 2010, p. 171-172.
  23. ^ a b Pike 2010, p. 171.
  24. ^ a b c d e Pike 2010, p. 172.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Buhite 2008, p. 63.
  26. ^ a b c Shafer 1988, p. 212.
  27. ^ Buhite 2008, p. 83.
  28. ^ a b Buhite 2008, p. 57.
  29. ^ a b Salamanca 1989, p. 310.
  30. ^ a b c d Pike 2010, p. 173.
  31. ^ "'Melted?' Liberal Party meets for 71st anniversary". Rappler. January 21, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  32. ^ Weinberg 2005, p. 864.
  33. ^ Video: Air Freight by Parachute etc. (1946). Universal Newsreel. 1946. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  34. ^ Salamanca 1989, p. 311.
  35. ^ a b c d Salamanca 1989, p. 312.
  36. ^ Salamanca 1989, p. 312-313.
  37. ^ Official Gazette (Manila, May 1946) vol. 42 no. 5, pp. 1151–1165
  38. ^ Official Gazette, July 1946, vol. 42 no. 7, pp. 1625–1628
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pike 2010, p. 174.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Molina, Antonio. The Philippines: Through the centuries. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Cooperative, 1961. Print.
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Pike 2010, p. 175.
  42. ^ Gallego, Manuel V. "The Technique of Japanese Cultural Invasion." Philippine Journal of Education. Manila, November 1946, p. 94
  43. ^ 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
  44. ^ a b c d Manapat, Carlos, et al. Economics, Taxation, and Agrarian Reform. Quezon City: C&E Pub., 2010.Print.
  45. ^ "Exchange of Notes between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines regarding the transfer of the administration of the Turtle and Mangsee Islands to the Philippine Republic; Cmd 8320" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 5, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  46. ^ Peter C. Richards (December 6, 1947). "New Flag Over Pacific Paradise". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ Office of the President of the Philippines Archived July 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines Vol. 52 No. 7 (July 3, 1956). 1956. pp. cccv.
  51. ^ "Manuel Acuña Roxas". July 28, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2015.


  • Buhite, Russell (2008). Douglas MacArthur Statecraft and Stagecraft in America's East Asian Policy. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780742544253.
  • Hutchinson, Joseph (1971). "Quezon's Role in Philippine Independence". In Norman G. Owen (ed.). Compadre Colonialism: Studies in the Philippines under American Rule. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. pp. 157–194.
  • Kerr, George (1974). Formosa: Licensed Revolution and the Home Rule Movement, 1895–1945. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Pike, Francis (2010). Empires at War A Short History of Modern Asia Since World War II. London: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9780857730299.
  • Rovere, Richard (1992). General MacArthur and President Truman The Struggle for Control of American Foreign Policy. Piscataway, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9781412824392.
  • Salamanca, Bonifacio (Summer 1989). "Quezon, Osmeña and Roxas and the American Military Presence in the Philippines". Philippine Studies. 32 (3): 301–316.</ref>
  • Shafer, Michael (1988). Deadly Paradigms The Failure of U.S. Counterinsurgency Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400860586.
  • Weinberg, Gerhard (2005). A World In Arms A Global History of World War Two. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521618266.
  • 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]

Offices and distinctions
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
as Assemblyman
Preceded by Speaker of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Senate of the Philippines
Senate and House of Representatives merged into the unicameral National Assembly
Title last held by
Manuel L. Quezon
President of the Senate
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of Finance
Succeeded by
Serafin Marabut
Preceded by Executive Secretary
Succeeded by
Arturo Rotor
Preceded by President of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Party political offices
New political party President of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
First Liberal Party nominee for President of the Philippines
Succeeded by