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
affiliations
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 served as Aquino's only Prime Minister from 25 February – 25 March 1986. He was a foremost leader of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), the political party that helped topple the Marcos dictatorship with the 1986 People Power Revolution that restored democracy to the Philippines.

Early life[edit]

Laurel is the fifth son of José P. Laurel, President of the Japanese-sponsored Second Philippine Republic during the Second World War. 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 in 1899, and Secretary of the Interior in the first Philippine revolutionary government under President Emilio Aguinaldo.

He first enrolled at Centro Escolar de Señoritas, studying there from 1933 to 1935). Laurel’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). He finished elementary schooling at Ateneo de Manila Grade School in 1941. In his first year of high school, Laurel received second honors with a general average of 93.4. Barely three months later, his studies came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of the war in the Pacific Theater on 8 December 1941. The school was temporarily closed by the Japanese government for the reason that it was run by American Jesuits, and this prompted Laurel to enrol at De La Salle College High School, where he graduated in 1946.

Stay in Japan[edit]

Towards the end of the war, 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 seven 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, 21 March 1945, the group began a long and perilous overland journey to Tuguegarao, where a Japanese navy plane would fly the group to Japan. The odyssey ended in Nara, where they were confined until 10 November 1945.

The long confinement gave the romantic and impressionable 15-year-old Laurel 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 with his mentor, Education Minister Camilo Osias. But his most treasured moments in Nara were those spent with his father, enjoying their daily morning walks in the park when his father would invariably talk to him about his views on life.

On 12 September 1945, Laurel's father was arrested by a group of Americans headed by a Colonel Turner and was taken to Sugamo Prison. The family was flown to Manila two months later on 10 November 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 the former President was placed in solitary confinement in Sugamo Prison in Japan. He wrote the poem To My Beloved Father to lift up his spirits, and sent it to the former President as a Christmas present.

To My Beloved Father

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 by sea to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia since 1949) and join Sukarno in the struggle for independence from the Dutch Empire, but local authorities stopped them at the pier. He completed his secondary education at La Salle in March 1946.

Although all his older brothers were lawyers, he enrolled at the University of the Philippines as a pre-medicine student, where he obtained his AA (Pre-Medicine) and was admitted to Medicine proper, shifting to Law two years later. 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 examination, 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:

Laurel later married Celia Díaz, a society debutante.

Legal career[edit]

In Manila, Laurel 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 Citizen’s Legal Aid Society of the Philippines (CLASP).

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

In 1960, Laurel edited the papers of the convention that drafted the 1935 Constitution, compressing 24 tomes of documents into seven compact volumes. It was in fulfilment of a promise he had made to his father, who was originally to collaborate in the project but had died prematurely of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1959.

Political career[edit]

Senator[edit]

It was not until 1967 that Laurel seriously entered politics when he ran and won a Senate seat in the 6th Congress. 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, Laurel 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.

In 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. He 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” in 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1971.

In 1972, Laurel was the first Philippine government official to visit the People's Republic of China, then under Chairman Mao Zedong. He was met by Premier Zhou Enlai, Vice Premier (later President) 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 PRC and the adoption of a One-China Policy (which eventually became the official stand of the Philippines).

Vice-presidency and premiership[edit]

For a brief period following the People Power Revolution in late February 1986, Laurel became the only person in Philippine history to concurrently hold the posts of Vice-President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister. The office of Prime Minister was abolished in late 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.

Later life[edit]

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

In 1996, he was appointed by President Ramos as the chairman of the Philippine National Centennial Commission in run-up to the hundredth anniversary of Philippine Independence on 12 June 1898. Through his unwavering leadership, he revived Filipino nationalism by promoting Filipino heritage and culture with heavy advertising.

He was supposed to resign after the Centennial celebrations, but President Joseph Estrada extended his term, abolishing the Commission in 1999. A few months after, Laurel was charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan (political anti-graft court) for misappropriating funds for constructing of the controversial, 1.165-billion Centennial Expo in Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga. Laurel vehemently denied the allegation and chose to stand as his own defense counsel.

Death[edit]

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

On 29 January, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation № 544, declaring several days of official mourning for Laurel.

Notes[edit]

  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

References[edit]

  • 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
1986
Office abolished
Preceded by
Pacifico Castro
Acting
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
1986–1987
Succeeded by
Manuel Yan