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Jose P. Laurel

His Excellency
José P. Laurel
3rd President of the Philippines
President of the Republic of the Philippines
In office
October 14, 1943 – August 17, 1945
Prime Minister Jorge B. Vargas
(Ministries involved)
Preceded by Manuel L. Quezon (as President, de jure)
Jorge B. Vargas (as Presiding Officer of the Philippine Executive Commission and head of government, de facto)
Succeeded by Sergio Osmeña
Commissioner of the Interior
In office
December 4, 1942 – October 14, 1943
Presiding Officer, PEC Jorge B. Vargas
Preceded by Benigno Aquino, Sr.
Succeeded by Quintin Paredes
Commissioner of Justice
In office
December 24, 1941 – December 4, 1942
Presiding Officer, PEC Jorge B. Vargas
Preceded by Teofilo L. Sison
Succeeded by Teofilo L. Sison
Senator of the Philippines
In office
December 30, 1951 – December 30, 1957
Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court
In office
February 29, 1936 – February 5, 1942
Preceded by George Malcolm
Succeeded by Court reorganised
Majority leader of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
Senate President Manuel L. Quezon
Preceded by Francisco Enage
Succeeded by Benigno S. Aquino
Senator of the Philippines from the 5th Senatorial District
In office
1925 – 1931
Served with: Manuel L. Quezon (1925–1931)
Preceded by Antero Soriano
Succeeded by Claro M. Recto
Secretary of the Interior of the Philippines
In office
Personal details
Born (1891-03-09)March 9, 1891
Tanauan City, Spanish East Indies
Died November 6, 1959(1959-11-06) (aged 68)
Manila, Philippines
Resting place Tanauan City, Batangas, Philippines
Political party Nacionalista Party (Before 1942; 1945–1959)
Other political
KALIBAPI (1942–1945)
Spouse(s) Pacencia Hidalgo
Children José B. Laurel, Jr.
Sotero Laurel
Natividad Laurel-Guinto
Potenciana Laurel Yupangco
Mariano Laurel
Salvador Laurel
Arsenio Laurel
Rosenda Laurel Avanceña
Alma mater University of the Philippines College of Law
University of Santo Tomas
Yale Law School
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism

José Paciano Laurel y García, PLH (March 9, 1891 – November 6, 1959) was the president of the Second Philippine Republic, a Japanese puppet state when occupied during World War II, from 1943 to 1945. Since the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal (1961–1965), Laurel has been recognized as a legitimate president of the Philippines.

Early life and career

José Paciano Laurel y García was born on March 9, 1891 in the town of Tanauan, Batangas. His parents were Sotero Laurel, Sr. and Jacoba García. His father had been an official in the revolutionary government of Emilio Aguinaldo and a signatory to the 1898 Malolos Constitution.

While a teen, Laurel was indicted for attempted murder when he almost killed a rival suitor of his girlfriend with a Batangas fan knife. While studying and finishing law school, he argued for and received an acquittal.[1]

Laurel received his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1915, where he studied under Dean George A. Malcolm, whom he would later succeed on the Supreme Court. He then obtained a Master of Laws degree from University of Santo Tomas in 1919. Laurel then attended Yale Law School, where he obtained a Doctorate of Law.

Laurel began his life in public service while a student, as a messenger in the Bureau of Forestry then as a clerk in the Code Committee tasked with the codification of Philippine laws. During his work for the Code Committee, he was introduced to its head, Thomas A. Street, a future Supreme Court Justice who would be a mentor to the young Laurel.[2]

Upon his return from Yale, Laurel was appointed first as Undersecretary of the Interior Department, then promoted as Secretary of the Interior in 1922. In that post, he would frequently clash with the American Governor-General Leonard Wood, and eventually, in 1923, resign from his position together with other Cabinet members in protest of Wood's administration. His clashes with Wood solidified Laurel's nationalist credentials.

Personal life

He married Paciencia Hidalgo in 1911. The couple had nine children:


  • Roberto Laurel, grandson, President of Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila and Lyceum of the Philippines University-Cavite, son of Sotero Laurel (2nd son of José P. Laurel)
  • Peter Laurel, grandson, President of Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas and Lyceum of the Philippines University-Laguna
  • Franco Laurel, great-grandson, singer/stage actor
  • Rajo Laurel, great-grandson, fashion designer
  • Cocoy Laurel, grandson, actor/stage actor
  • Iwi Laurel-Asensio, granddaughter, singer/entrepreneurship
  • Cholo Laurel, grandson, movie director
  • Patty Laurel, granddaughter, TV host/former MTV VJ
  • Mark Anthony Laurel, great-grandson, earned fame in wholly different field as a game master
  • José Laurel IV, grandson, representative of the 3rd District of Batangas, son of José B. Laurel, Jr.
  • Denise Laurel, great-granddaughter, Filipino actress and singer and a member of ABS-CBN's circle of homegrown talents.
  • Nicole Laurel-Asensio, great-granddaughter, A Literature Major and Dean’s List Awardee in the College of Liberal Arts in De La Salle University, Daughter of Iwi Laurel-Asensio, Lead singer of General Luna (band)

Senator of the Philippines

In 1925 Laurel was elected to the Philippine Senate. He would serve for one term before losing his re-election bid in 1931 to Claro M. Recto.[3] He retired to private practice, but by 1934, he was again elected to public office, this time as a delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention. Hailed as one of the "Seven Wise Men of the Convention", he would sponsor the provisions on the Bill of Rights.[3] Following the ratification of the 1935 Constitution and the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Laurel was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on February 29, 1936.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

Laurel's Supreme Court tenure may have been overshadowed by his presidency, yet he remains one of the most important Supreme Court justices in Philippine history. He authored several leading cases still analyzed to this day that defined the parameters of the branches of government as well as their powers.


Another highly influential decision penned by Laurel was due process of law must be observed, and enumerated the "cardinal primary rights" that must be respected in administrative proceedings. Since then, these "cardinal primary rights" have stood as the standard in testing due process claims in administrative cases.

Calalang v. Williams, 70 Phil. 726 (1940) was a seemingly innocuous case involving a challenge raised by a private citizen to a traffic regulation banning kalesas from Manila streets during certain afternoon hours. The Court, through Laurel, upheld the regulation as within the police power of the government. But in rejecting the claim that the regulation was violative of social justice, Laurel would respond with what would become his most famous aphorism, which is to this day widely quoted by judges and memorized by Filipino law students:

"Social justice is neither communism, nor despotism, nor atomism, nor anarchy", but the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may at least be approximated. Social justice means the promotion of the welfare of all the people, the adoption by the Government of measures calculated to insure economic stability of all the competent elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the interrelations of the members of the community, constitutionally, through the adoption of measures legally justifiable, or extra-constitutionally, through the exercise of powers underlying the existence of all governments on the time-honored principle of salus populi est suprema lex. Social justice, therefore, must be founded on the recognition of the necessity of interdependence among divers and diverse units of a society and of the protection that should be equally and evenly extended to all groups as a combined force in our social and economic life, consistent with the fundamental and paramount objective of the state of promoting the health, comfort, and quiet of all persons, and of bringing about "the greatest good to the greatest number."[this quote needs a citation]


Presidential styles of
Jose P. Laurel
Reference style His Excellency[4]
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Mr. President

The presidency of Laurel understandably remains one of the most controversial in Philippine history. After the war, he would be denounced in some quarters as a war collaborator or even a traitor, although his indictment for treason was superseded by President Roxas' Amnesty Proclamation.


When Japan invaded, President Manuel L. Quezon first fled to Bataan and then to the United States to establish a government-in-exile. Laurel's prewar, close relationship with Japanese officials (a son had been sent to study at the Imperial Military Academy in Tokyo, and Laurel had received an honorary doctorate from Tokyo University), placed him in a good position to interact with the Japanese occupation forces.

Laurel was among the Commonwealth officials instructed by the Japanese Imperial Army to form a provisional government when they invaded and occupied the country. He cooperated with the Japanese, in contrast to the decision of Filipino Chief Justice Abad Santos. Because he was well-known to the Japanese as a critic of US rule, as well as having demonstrated a willingness to serve under the Japanese Military Administration, he held a series of high posts in 1942–1943. In 1943, he was shot by Philippine guerrillas while playing golf at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, but he quickly recovered. Later that year, he was selected, by the National Assembly, under vigorous Japanese influence, to serve as President.


President José P. Laurel October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Ministries involved Jorge B. Vargas October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Agriculture and Commerce Rafael Alunan October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Health, Labor and Public Instructions Emiliano Tria Tirona October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Finance Antonio de las Alas October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Foreign Affairs Claro M. Recto October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Justice Quintin Paredes October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Education Camilo Osías October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Minister of Home Affairs Teofilo Sison October 14, 1943-August 17, 1945
Chief Cabinet Secretary Emilio Abello August 31, 1944-August 17, 1945

Domestic policies


During Laurel's tenure as President, hunger was the main worry. Prices of essential commodities rose to unprecedented heights. The government exerted every effort to increase production and bring consumers' goods under control. However, Japanese rapacity had the better of it all. On the other hand, guerrilla activities and Japanese retaliatory measures brought the peace and order situation to a difficult point. Resorting to district-zoning and domiciliary searches, coupled with arbitrary asserts, the Japanese made the mission of Laurel's administration incalculably exasperating and perilous.[5]

Food shortage

During his presidency, the Philippines faced a crippling food shortage which demanded much of Laurel's attention.[6] Rice and bread were still of availability but the sugar supply was gone.[7] Laurel also resisted in vain Japanese demands that the Philippines issue a formal declaration of war against the United States. There were also reports during his presidency of the Japanese military carrying out rape and massacre towards the Filipino population.


Telling of Laurel's ambivalent and precarious position is the following anecdote. In 1944, Laurel issued an executive order organizing the Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (KALIBAPI) as the sole political organization to back the government. An attempt was made to organize a women's section of the KALIBAPI, and Laurel hosted several women leaders in Malacañan Palace to plead his case. After he spoke, a university president, speaking in behalf of the group, responded, "Mr. President, sa kabila po kami". ("Mr. President, we are on the other side.") Laurel joined the others assembled in hearty laughter and the KALIBAPI women's section was never formed.[6]

Foreign policies

Philippine-Japanese Treaty of Alliance

On October 20, 1943 the Philippine-Japanese Treaty of Alliance was signed by Claro M. Recto, who was appointed by Laurel as his Foreign Minister, and Japanese Ambassador to Philippines Sozyo Murata. One redeeming feature was that no conscription was envisioned.[5]

Greater East Asia Conference

Shortly after the inauguration of the Second Philippine Republic, President Laurel, together with cabinet Ministers Recto and Paredes flew to Tokyo to attend the Greater East Asia Conference which was an international summit held in Tokyo, Japan from November 5 – 6, 1943, in which Japan hosted the heads of state of various component members of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The conference was also referred to as the Tokyo Conference.

The Conference addressed few issues of any substance, but was intended from the start as a propaganda show piece, to illustrate the Empire of Japan's commitments to the Pan-Asianism ideal and to emphasize its role as the "liberator" of Asia from Western colonialism.[8]

The Joint Declaration of the Greater East Asia Conference was published as follows:

It is the basic principle for the establishment of world peace that the nations of the world have each its proper place, and enjoy prosperity in common through mutual aid and assistance. The United States of America and the British Empire have in seeking their own prosperity oppressed other nations and peoples. Especially in East Asia, they indulged in insatiable aggression and exploitation, and sought to satisfy their inordinate ambition of enslaving the entire region, and finally they came to menace seriously the stability of East Asia. Herein lies the cause of the recent war. The countries of Greater East Asia, with a view to contributing to the cause of world peace, undertake to cooperate toward prosecuting the War of Greater East Asia to a successful conclusion, liberating their region from the yoke of British-American domination, and ensuring their self-existence and self-defense, and in constructing a Greater East Asia in accordance with the following principles:

  • The countries of Greater East Asia through mutual cooperation will ensure the stability of their region and construct an order of common prosperity and well-being based upon justice.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia will ensure the fraternity of nations in their region, by respecting one another's sovereignty and independence and practicing mutual assistance and amity.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia by respecting one another's traditions and developing the creative faculties of each race, will enhance the culture and civilization of Greater East Asia.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia will endeavor to accelerate their economic development through close cooperation upon a basis of reciprocity and to promote thereby the general prosperity of their region.
  • The countries of Greater East Asia will cultivate friendly relations with all the countries of the world, and work for the abolition of racial discrimination, the promotion of cultural intercourse and the opening of resources throughout the world, and contribute thereby to the progress of mankind.[9]

Martial law

Laurel declared the country under martial law in 1944 through Proclamation No. 29, dated September 21. Martial law came into effect on September 22, 1944 at 9 am. Proclamation No. 30 was issued the next day, declaring the existence of a state of war between the Philippines and the United States and the United Kingdom. This took effect on September 23, 1944 at 10:00 am.


Due to the nature of Laurel's government, and its connection to Japan, a sizable portion of the population actively resisted his presidency,[10] supporting the exiled Commonwealth government;[11] that is not to say that his government didn't have forces against said resistance.[11]

Assassination attempt

On June 5, 1943, Laurel was playing golf at the Wack Wack Golf Course in Mandaluyong when he was shot around 4 times with a 45 caliber pistol.[12] The bullets barely missed his heart and liver.[12] He was rushed by his golfing companions, among them FEU president Nicanor Reyes, Sr., to the Philippine General Hospital where he was operated by the Chief Military Surgeon of the Japanese Military Administration and Filipino surgeons.[12] Laurel enjoyed a speedy recovery.

Two suspects to the shooting were reportedly captured and swiftly executed by the Kempetai.[13] Another suspect, a former boxer named Feliciano Lizardo, was presented for identification by the Japanese to Laurel at the latter's hospital bed, but Laurel then professed unclear memory.[13] However, in his 1953 memoirs, Laurel would admit that Lizardo, by then one his bodyguards, was indeed the would-be-assassin.[13] Still, the historian Teodoro Agoncillo in his book on the Japanese occupation, identified a captain with a guerilla unit as the shooter.[13]

Laurel is the only Filipino president to have been shot outside of combat.

Dissolution of the regime

On July 26, 1945 the Potsdam Declaration served upon Japan an ultimatum to surrender or face utter annihilation. The Japanese government refused the offer. On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, with some 300,000 inhabitants, was almost totally destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped from an American plane. Two days later, the Soviet Union declared war against Japan.[14] The next day, August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The Allied Forces' message now had a telling effect: Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Powers on August 15, 1945.[5] Since April 1945, President Laurel, together with his family and Cabinet member Camilo Osías, Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr., Gen. Tomas Capinpin, and Ambassador Jorge B. Vargas, had been in Japan. Evacuated from Baguio shortly after the city fell, they traveled to Aparri and thence, on board Japanese planes, had been taken to Japan. On August 17, 1945, from his refuge in Nara, President Laurel issued an Executive Proclamation which declared the dissolution of his regime.[5]


1949 presidential election

On August 15, 1945, the Japanese forces surrendered to the United States. Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered Laurel arrested for collaborating with the Japanese. In 1946 he was charged with 132 counts of treason, but was never brought to trial due to the general amnesty granted by President Manuel Roxas in 1948.[15] Laurel ran for president against Elpidio Quirino in 1949 but lost in what was then considered by Carlos P. Romulo and Marvin M. Gray[according to whom?] as the dirtiest election in Philippine electoral history.

Return to the senate

Laurel was elected to the Senate in 1951, under the Nacionalista Party. He was urged upon to run for President in 1953, but he declined, working instead for the successful election of Ramon Magsaysay. Magsaysay appointed Laurel head of a mission tasked with negotiating trade and other issues with United States officials, the result being known as the Laurel–Langley Agreement.

Retirement and death

Laurel considered his election to the Senate as a vindication of his reputation. He declined to run for re-election in 1957. He retired from public life, concentrating on the development of the Lyceum of the Philippines established by his family.

After the sudden death of President Magsaysay in March 1957, Laurel suggested to then Congressman Ferdinand Marcos to propose to Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson for the latter to run as President and the former as Lacson's Vice President. However, the immensely popular Lacson turned down the offer to run against Carlos P. Garcia despite Laurel's pledged support. Marcos, in turn, ran only for President in 1965.

During his retirement, Laurel stayed in a 3-story, 7-bedroom mansion dubbed as "Villa Pacencia", erected in 1957 at Mandaluyong and named after Laurel's wife. The home was one of three residences constructed by the Laurel family, the other two being located in Tanauan and in Paco, Manila (called "Villa Peñafrancia). In 2008, the Laurel family sold "Villa Pacencia" to Senate President Manny Villar and his wife Cynthia.[16]

On November 6, 1959, Laurel died at the Lourdes Hospital, in Manila,[17] from a massive heart attack and a stroke. He is buried in Tanuan.



  • [1]

External links

  • The Jose P. Laurel Memorial Foundation
  • The Philippine Presidency Project
Legal offices
Preceded by
George A. Malcolm
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
Court reorganised
Political offices
Preceded by
Manuel L. Quezon
as president of the Philippines
President of the Republic of the Philippines
October 14, 1943 – August 17, 1945
Succeeded by
Sergio Osmeña
as president of the Philippines
Preceded by
Jorge B. Vargas (de facto)
as Presiding Officer of the Philippine Executive Commission
President of the Republic of the Philippines
October 14, 1943 – August 17, 1945
Succeeded by
Sergio Osmeña
as president of the Philippines

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