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Jose P. Laurel - Third President

First President of the Second Republic


Jose Paciano Laurel y Garcia was the president of the Japanese-Sponsored Republic of the Philippines during World War II, from 1943 to 1945.

Laurel was not subsequently officially recognized as a Philippine president until the administration of Diosdado Macapagal.

Laurel 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. Prior to his Presidency he was

  • Secretary of the Interior (Leonard Wood cabinet)
  • Senator for the Fifth Senatorial District (Batangas, Mindoro, Tayabas, Cavite, and Marinduque)
    • 7th Legislature (1925-1928)
    • 8th Legislature (1928-1931)
    • 9th Legislature (1931-1934)
    • 10th Legislature (1934-1935)
  • Majority floor leader (1928-1931)
  • Delegate, (1934-1935) Constitutional Convention
  • Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1936-1941)
  • Secretary of Justice (Quezon cabinet, 1941)
  • Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ( 1941 )
  • Commissioner of Justice, Commissioner of the Interior (1942-1943) (Japanese Occupation)
  • President, Preparatory Committee on Philippine Independence, (1942-1943) (Japanese Occupation)

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, Laurel was instructed by President Manuel L. Quezon to remain in Manila. President Quezon fled to Corregidor 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.

In October 1943, Laurel was selected, by the National Assembly, under vigorous Japanese influence, to serve as 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he would be denounced in some quarters as a war collaborator or even a traitor, although his indictment for treason was superseded by President Roxas' Amnesty Proclamation, and evidenced by his subsequent electoral success. Laurel is considered as doing his best in interceding, protecting and looking after the best interests of the Filipinos against the harsh wartime Japanese military rule and policies. During his presidency, the Philippines faced a crippling food shortage which demanded much of Laurel's attention. Laurel also resisted in vain Japanese demands that the Philippines issue a formal declaration of war against the United States.

Laurel's term ended soon after the Japanese forces surrendered to the United States on August 15, 1945. Laurel arrested for collaborating with the Japanese, and later charged with 132 counts of treason. In 1948 President Manuel Roxas signed a general amnesty. Laurel later won a senate seat in 1951.

Laurel founded the Lyceum of the Philippines University in 1952.

On November 6, 1959, he died of massive heart attack and stroke at the Lourdes Hospital in Manila.


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