Manuel Acuña Roxas (January 1, 1892 – April 15, 1948) was the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines. He served as president from the granting of independence in 1946 until his abrupt death in 1948. His term as Philippine president is also the shortest; 1 year 10 months and 18 days.
Manuel Roxas was born on New Years Day, January 1, 1892 in Capiz, Capiz, a city that was renamed in his honor, to Rosario Acuña. His father, Gerardo Acuna Roxas, died before he was born. Roxas had two siblings in brother Mamerto Roxas, and sister Margarita Roxas.
Manuel Roxas studied college in University of Manila, and law at the University of the Philippines College of Law, where he was a member of the college’s first ever graduating class in 1913. He placed first in the bar examinations held later that year. He was immediately drawn into politics, and began what became a lifelong career in government service as a provincial fiscal. In 1921, he was elected to the House of Representatives. The following year he was elected House Speaker.
After the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established 1935, Roxas became a member of the unicameral National Assembly, and served (1938–1941) as the Secretary of Finance in President Manuel L. Quezon’s cabinet. 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.
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. He 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. Roxas was captured (1942) by the Japanese invasion forces. After a period of imprisonment, he was brought to Manila and eventually signed the Constitution promulgated by the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic. He was made responsible for economic policy under the government of Jose P. Laurel. During this time he also served as an intelligence agent for the underground Philippine guerrilla forces. In 1944 he unsuccessfully tried to escape to Allied territory. The returning American forces arrested him as a Japanese collaborator. After the war, Gen. Douglas MacArthur cleared him and reinstated his commission as an officer of the US armed forces. This resuscitated his political career.
When the Congress of the Philippines was convened in 1945, the legislators elected in 1941 chose Roxas as Senate President. In the Philippine national elections of 1946, Roxas ran for president as the nominee of the liberal wing of the Nacionalista Party. He had the staunch support of General MacArthur. His opponent was Sergio Osmeña, who refused to campaign, saying that the Filipino people knew his reputation. However, in the April 23, 1946 election, Roxas won 54 percent of the vote, and the Liberal Party won a majority in the legislature. When the Philippines gained independence from the United States on July 4, 1946, he became the first president of the new republic.
On 1946, at the height of the last Commonwealth elections, subjected for replacing Sergio Osmeña in office, Senate President Roxas and his friends bolted from the Nacionalista Party and founded their own Liberal Party. Roxas then became the stand-bearer for presidency for the Liberal Party and Elpidio Quirino for vice-president. The Nacionalistas, on the other hand, have Osmeña for president and Senator Eulogio Rodriguez for vice-president. On April 23, 1946, Roxas and Quirino won the ticket.
On May 8, 1946, President-elect Roxas, accompanied by US High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, enplaned for the United States to discuss with the American authorities the vital matters affecting the Philippines. On May 28, 1946, Roxas was inaugurated amidst impressive ceremonies as the last President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The inaugural ceremonies were held on the grounds of ruined, shell-blasted Legislative Building and were witness by towering crowds of around 200,000 people. He delineated the main policies of his administration, mainly, closer ties with the United States, adherence to the newly-created United Nations Organization, reconstruction of war-devastated country, relief for the masses, social justice to the working class, maintenance of peace and order, preservation of individual rights and liberties of the citizenry and honesty and efficiency of government office.
Roxas served as the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in a brief period, from his subsequent election on May 28, 1946 to July 4, 1946, the scheduled date of the proclamation of Philippine Independence. Roxas prepared the groundwork for the advent of a free and independent Philippines, assisted by the Congress (reorganized May 25, 1946), with Senator Jose Avelino as the Senate President and Congressman Eugenio Perez as the House of Representatives Speaker. On June 3, 1946, Roxas appeared for the first time before the joint session of the 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 are set to face and reports of his special trip to the United States–the approval for independence.
On June 21, he reappeared into another joint session of the Congress and urged the acceptance of two important laws passed by the Congress of the United States on April 30, 1946 to the Philippine lands. They are the Philippine Rehabilitation Act and the Philippine Trade Act. Both recommendations were accepted by the Congress.
- Born : January 1, 1892
- Birthplace : Capiz (now Roxas City), Capiz
- Died : April 15, 1948 (aged 56), Clark Air Base, Angeles, Pampanga
- Birth name : Manuel Acuña Roxas
- Father : Gerardo Roxas
- Mother : Rosario Acuña
- Nationality : Filipino
- Ethnic Affiliation : Ilonggo
- Schoolos Attended :
- Capiz Elementary School (1904)
- St. Joseph’s College, Hong Kong (1905)
- Manila High School (now Araullo High School), highest honors (1909)
- Bachelor of Laws, University of the Philippines, valedictorian (1913)
- Political party : Nacionalista (1919–1945), Liberal Party (1945–1948)
- Other political affiliations : Partido Colectivista Liberal (1922), Partido Nacionalista Consolidado (1923-33), Partido Nacionalista (“Pro”) (1934), Nacionalista Coalition (Coalition Party), (1935-1937), Partido Nacionalista (1937-1941), Kalibapi (1943-1945), Partido Nacionalista (1945-1946), Liberal Party (founder) (1946-1948)
- Spouse : Trinidad de Leon
- Gerardo Roxas
- Ruby Roxas
- Profession : Lawyer
- Religion : Roman Catholic
- Secretary and Law clerk to Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano (1913-1915)
- Law professor (1915-1916)
- Municipal councilor (appointed) of Capiz (1917)
- Governor of Capiz (1919-21)
- Representative, House of Representatives (7th, 8th, 9th Legislatures), 1922-1934
- Speaker of the House )1922-1933)
- Delegate, 1934-35 Constitutional Convention
- Member, National Assembly (1935-1938)
- Secretary of Finance (Quezon cabinet), (November 26, 1938 to August 28, 1941)
- Elected Senator-at-large (November 18, 1941)
- Major (reserve) in the Philippine Army (later liaison officer with and then aide-de-camp to General Douglas MacArthur; promoted to Colonel and then Brigadier General), 1941
- Member – Preparatory Commission on Philippine Independence (1943)
- Chairman – National Economic Board
- Chairman – Bigasang Bayan (Laurel administration), 1944
- Philippine President (May 28, 1946 -April 15, 1948)
- Reconstruction after the war
Awards and achievements
- 1st Place, 1913 Bar Examinations