Jose Torralba

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José Torralba was the Governor-General of the Philippines from 4 February 1715 to 9 August 1717.[1]


Prior to his appointment as governor-general, Torralba was the chief of Spain’s army in the archipelago, and a senior magistrate of the Real Audiencia.[2]

Upon the death of Governor-General Martín de Urzúa in 1715, the colonial government was in nominal control of the Audiencia.[3] Torralba, in reality, took control as governor-general.[4]

During his term, it is said that he was effective in developing the infrastructure in the archipelago.[5]

However, he was accused of improperly governing the archipelago. An investigation by the new Governor-General, Fernándo Bustamante, found irregularities in the governance of the archipelago during Torralba's term.[6] Many civil as well as ecclesiastical officials were involved in private trade, which led them to neglect their duties.[7] The colonial government's finances were in disarray, and smuggling of funds from Mexico were discovered.[8] In order to stop this, Bustamante introduced reforms and conducted an investigation.[9] Torralba and other members of the Audiencia were then accused of graft and corruption after it was found that the government had a shortage of over 700,000 pesos.[10]

As a result, Torralba and the other members of the Audiencia were arrested and imprisoned upon orders of Bustamante.[11] However, Torralba was eventually released in prison after a remaining member of the Audiencia protested against Bustamante's decision, resulting in the lack of a member of the Audiencia who could administer it.[12] He was made a judge of the Audiencia despite opposition from Manila Archbishop Francisco de la Cuesta and the religious because of the charges against him.[13] He then issued warrants against his enemies, who then sought sanctuary at the Manila Cathedral.[14] Bustamante sent his soldiers to attack the cathedral, violating the right of sanctuary.[15] Archbishop Cuesta and the religious condemned this action, and questioned the legitimacy of the Audiencia now under the administration of Torralba.[16] Archbishop Cuesta even excommunicated Torralba.[17] This resulted in the imprisonment of Archbishop Cuesta, the Dominicans, the superiors of the religious orders, and other supporters of the archbishop on the morning of 11 October 1719.[18] The same day, Bustamante and his son were assassinated by an angry mob composed of supporters of Archbishop Cuesta and those who sought refuge in churches to try to evade arrest after Torralba had issued warrants against them.[19]

During the investigation regarding the deaths of Bustamante and his son, Torralba, who was reinstated as an official by Bustamante, testified against the slain governor-general.[20] He condemned Bustamante for his "fierce disposition, tyrannical acts, and "diabolical craftiness.""[21] He also accused him of greed, taking away the properties of those he imprisoned for himself.[22]


  1. Carlos Quirino, Old Manila, ed. María Eloísa G. Parco-de Castro, 2nd ed. (Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2016), 292.
  2. Quirino, Old Manila, 292; Charles Henry Cunningham, The Audiencia in the Spanish Colonies As Illustrated by the Audiencia of Manila (1583-1800) (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919), accessed 19 January 2021,, 127.
  3. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 273.
  4. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 273.
  5. Quirino, Old Manila, 292.
  6. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 274.
  7. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 274.
  8. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 274.
  9. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 274.
  10. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 274.
  11. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 278.
  12. Cunningham, The Audiencia, 278.
  13. Quirino, Old Manila, 292.
  14. Quirino, Old Manila, 292.
  15. Quirino, Old Manila, 292.
  16. Diego de Otazo, SJ, “The government and death of Bustamante,” in The Philippine Islands 1493-1898, trans. Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, vol. 44 (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1906), 156.
  17. Otazo, SJ, “The government," 156.
  18. Otazo, SJ, “The government," 156; Quirino, Old Manila, 292.
  19. Quirino, Old Manila, 292.
  20. Otazo, SJ, “The government," 160.
  21. Otazo, SJ, “The government," 160.
  22. Otazo, SJ, “The government," 160.



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