Alejo S. Santos (July 11, 1911 — February 18, 1984) was a Filipino soldier and World War II hero who parlayed his fame into a political career. His prestige was somewhat marred in later life when he agreed to run as the only candidate against Ferdinand Marcos in the widely-suspect 1981 Philippine presidential elections.
Early Life and Guerilla Hero
Santos was born in Bustos, Bulacan, the son of a farmer. At the outbreak of World War II, he was a captain of the USAFFE. He was among the USAFFE soldiers who retreated to Bataan to make the last stand against the invading Japanese Imperial Army. However, he evaded capture by the Japanese when Bataan fell, escaping instead to his hometown. Santos then agreed to join the fledgling anti-Japanese guerilla movement. He became one of the founders of the Bulacan Military Area, the main guerilla movement in Bulacan. The BMA attracted many patriotic Filipinos chafing under Japanese rule, and was soon organized into eight divisions. For his World War II activities, Santos received numerous citations and awards from the Philippine and American governments. He was also conferred the rank of brigadier general by the American government.
After the liberation of Bulacan in 1945, Santos was named as its military governor. He was elected as to the House of Representatives in 1946, representing the 2nd District of Bulacan under the banner of the leftist Democratic Alliance, but was almost immediately unseated together with several of his party-mates in a controversial maneuver believed to be related with the looming congressional vote on the approval of the Bell Trade Act with the United States. Nonetheless, Santos was again elected to the House in 1949, and he served in the 2nd Congress until his election as governor of Bulacan in 1951. By then, Santos had affiliated with the Nacionalista Party. Santos would serve as governor until 1957. From 1959 to 1961, Santos served as Secretary of National Defense in the cabinet of President Carlos P. Garcia.
Candidacy Against Marcos
By 1981, Santos had mostly retired from political life, devoting his activity to veteran's affairs. It came as a surprise when he agreed to run for President against Ferdinand Marcos in the 1981 elections. The elections were called shortly after Marcos lifted the nine-year old declaration of martial law while retaining authoritarian powers at the same time, and were seen as a means of maintaining the veneer of democracy, especially in the international community. However, the anti-Marcos political opposition, which felt it was cheated out of victory in the 1978 parliamentary elections, refused to participate in the presidential elections and successfully called for a boycott. Santos' candidacy, ostensibly under the banner of the then-moribund Nacionalista party, provided Marcos with at least one other candidate he could run against. Santos, as the sole opponent of Marcos, did not offer a vigorous campaign, and he was trounced in the election, garnering only 8.6% of the vote as against Marcos's 91.4%.
A camp of the Philippine National Police and a bridge in Bulacan were named after Santos.
Filipinos in History: Volume IV, National Historical Institute (Manila, 1994)
https://www.dnd.gov.ph/alejo-s-santos.html “Alejo S. Santos”. Department of National Defense. July 15, 2020
https://www.bulacan.gov.ph/generalinfo/governor.php?id=1 “Alejo S. Santos (1951-1957)”. Experience Bulacan. July 15, 2020
https://www.philstar.com/pilipino-star-ngayon/probinsiya/2020/02/22/1995069/gen-alejo-santos-bridge-sa-baliuag-bustos-bukas-na "Gen. Alejo Santos bridge sa Baliuag, Bustos bukas na." Pilipino Star Ngayon. Accessed 05 January 2021
Filipino military personnel
People from Bulacan
Philippine presidential candidates