Sunday, April 26, 2009


José Paciano Laurel y García

José Paciano Laurel y García (March 9, 1891 – November 6, 1959) 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.

Early life

José P. Laurel 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. While studying and finishing law school, he argued for and received an acquittal.

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 Escuela de Derecho in 1919. Laurel then attended Yale Law School, where he obtained a Doctorate of Law.

Political career

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.

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.

In 1925 he was elected to the Philippine Senate. He would serve for one term before losing his re-election bid in 1931 to Claro M. Recto.[4] 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.[5] 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.

Jurisprudence of Justice Laurel

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.

Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936), which is considered as the Philippine equivalent of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803), is Laurel's most important contribution to jurisprudence and even the rule of law in the Philippines. In affirming that the Court had jurisdiction to review the rulings of the Electoral Commission organized under the National Assembly, the Court, through Justice Laurel's opinion, firmly entrenched the power of Philippine courts to engage in judicial review of the acts of the other branches of government, and to interpret the Constitution. Held the Court, through Laurel:

"The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them."

Another highly influential decision penned by Laurel was Ang Tibay v. CIR, 69 Phil. 635 (1940). The Court acknowledged in that case that the substantive and procedural requirements before proceedings in administrative agencies, such as labor relations courts, were more flexible than those in judicial proceedings. At the same time, the Court still asserted that the right to 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."


Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, Laurel was instructed to remain in Manila by President Manuel L. Quezon, who fled to Corregidor and then to the United States to establish a government-in-exile. His 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. It was because of his being well-known to the Japanese as a critic of US rule, as well as his demonstrated willingness to serve under the Japanese Military Administration, that he held a series of high posts in 1942-1943.

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.[6] The bullets barely missed his heart and liver.[6] 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.[6] Laurel enjoyed a speedy recovery.

Two suspects to the shooting were reportedly captured and swiftly executed by the Kempetai.[7] 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.[7] However, in his 1953 memoirs, Laurel would admit that Lizardo, by then one of the former President's bodyguards, was indeed the would-be-assassin.[7] Still, the historian Teodoro Agoncillo in his book on the Japanese occupation, identified a captain with a guerilla unit as the shooter.

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

Post-Presidency Presidential candidate and Senator

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. Laurel ran for president against Elpidio Quirino in 1949 but lost in what was then considered as the dirtiest election in Philippine electoral history.

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.

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.

On November 6, 1959, Laurel died at the Lourdes Hospital, in Manila,[9] from a massive heart attack and a stroke.


Laurel was married to Pacencia Hidalgo in 1911, and had nine children. Several of his children became famous politicians in their own right. His eldest son, Jose Bayani, Jr. (Pepito), became Speaker of the House of Representatives and a candidate for vice-president in 1957 (Jose Macario Laurel, the eldest son of Jose B. Laurel, was a former Batangas Representative). His younger son, Salvador Roman (Doy), was Vice-President from 1986 to 1992.

Three other of Laurel's children would become prominent in politics and business. Sotero Cosme (Teroy), named after Laurel's own father, was elected to the Senate from 1987 to 1992; Jose Sotero III (Pepe) became Ambassador to Japan; and Mariano H. Laurel became president of the Philippine Banking Corporation. The youngest son, Arsenio (Dodjie) earned fame in a wholly different field as a race car driver, but he died young in a racing accident.


  1. 1. Bakit itinuturing na mula sa dugong maharlika ang angkan ng mga Laurel?

  2. : Ipaliwanag kung bakit itinuturing na makabayan ang angkan ng mga Laurel.
    : Ano ang kahalagahan ng pagaaral ng buhay ni Jose P. Laurel sa kasalukuyan?

  3. ang angkang Laurel ay nagmula kay Gat masungit , Pinaka matandang anak ng sultan sa brunei, siyay isang matapang na mandirigma na mahilig makipag sapalaran , at gaya ng binabadya ng kanyang pangalan .. may mapagtimping katauhan.