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Biography of José Abad Santos (1886-1942)


Lawyer and filipino politician, born in San Fernando (Pampanga, Luzon province) on February 19, 1886 and died in Malabang (Mindanao) on May 2, 1942, Secretary of Justice of the Commonwealth of the Philippines during the 1930s, whose tragic death during the Japanese occupation made him a national hero.

Coming from a rich family of merchants, José Abad Santos was the youngest of seven children the eldest of whom was Pedro Abad Santos (1875-1944), also famous for being the founder of the Socialist Party of the Philippines. Formed in the public school established in San Fernando by the American authorities, José received a scholarship to continue studies in United States (1904). After completing high school in a school in Santa Clara (California), he completed a year of law at the University of Illinois and later enrolled at the University of the North-West, Centre whereby graduated in June 1908. The following year he received the degree of doctor at George Washington University in the federal capital.

On his return to the Islands began to practice private law and soon after married, fruit of which had five children. In July 1914 was appointed fiscal Office Assistant of Justice, first public office of a meteoric legal career in Philippine institutions, within the framework of the American legal tutelage. Named first associate lawyer of the Philippine National Bank in 1918, came the following year in the Department of Justice in order to exert on the Attorney general, Deputy Secretary and Secretary of justice charges. His good performance at the head of the judicial portfolio made him acquire considerable prestige and respectability, being ratified in that post by President Quezon in successive government cabinets. Already in 1941 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Prize Court to his years of public service.

With the Japanese invasion (December 1941), Abad Santos returned to being called by Quezon to assume positions of responsibility in the Government. Defeated the Allied forces, accompanied Quezon and the rest of the Philippine Government in the withdrawal to the Bataan peninsula. Although he was able to escape Luzon submarine, he was one of the few leaders who refused from exile and preferred to remain in the country, championing the cause of the resistance; However, soon fell into the hands of Japanese troops while he was on the island of Cebu. The firm refusal to collaborate with the new authorities, he was imprisoned, tortured and finally executed by a firing squad. It is said that to dismiss one of his sons said: "don't cry child, these people shows your courage. [...] An honor is die for your own country, since that not everyone is granted this privilege."


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