Manuel Acuña Roxas (January 1, 1892 - April 15, 1948) was the fifth president of the Philippines. He was the third and last president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, serving from May 28, 1946 until July 4, 1946, and the first president to serve in the Third Republic of the Philippines, from July 4, 1946 until his death on April 15, 1948.
Roxas was born on January 1, 1892 to Gerardo Roxas Sr. and Rosario Acuña in the municipality of Capiz, which would be renamed Roxas in 1949 in his honor. Roxas was a descendant of Antonio Roxas y Ureta, brother of Domingo Roxas, a progenitor of the Zóbel de Ayala clan.
Roxas started his elementary education at the Capiz Elementary School and continued it at Saint Joseph's College in Hong Kong. He took his secondary education in Manila High School, where he graduated with the highest honors in 1909. In 1913, he received his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines and topped the bar examinations of the same year.
Before Roxas started his government service, he was a practicing lawyer and a professor of law at the Philippine Law School and National University.
In 1913, upon learning Manuel's excellent records, then Chief Justice Cayetano L. Arellano offered him a job to be his secretary in the Supreme Court.
As a politician
Roxas began his political career in 1917, when he was appointed municipal councilor of Capiz. From being a councilor, he was elected governor of the province of Capiz in 1919 and served in this capacity until 1921. After his term as governor, he was elected to represent the province to the 7th, 8th, and 9th Philippine Legislature, from 1922 to 1934, where he was the speaker of the House of Representatives for the entire duration.
In 1923, Roxas, along with then-Senate President Manuel L. Quezon, Secretary of the Interior Jose P. Laurel and other cabinet members, resigned from the Council of State in protest of American Governor-General Leonard Wood's vetoing of the bills passed by the Philippine legislature. He went with Sergio Osmeña to the US in 1933 to secure the passage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law. Roxas was one of the delegates in the drafting of the 1935 Constitution and also served as a member of the National Assembly from 1935 to 1938 and as secretary of Finance under the Quezon administration from November 26, 1938 to August 28, 1941. On November 18, 1941, he was elected senator and later became the Senate president. During that time, he was also a reserve major in the Philippine Army, a liaison officer and aide-to-camp to General Douglas MacArthur, and later promoted to colonel and then brigadier general.
During World War II, he, like Jose P. Laurel, secretly supported the guerilla movement. After the liberation from Japanese rule, Roxas ran for the presidency, going up against incumbent President Sergio Osmeña of Nacionalista Party and Hilario Moncado of Partido Modernista.
Roxas was sworn in as president on July 4, 1946, coinciding with the proclamation of the Third Republic of the Philippines and the country’s independence from the United States.
During Roxas’s term as president, he ratified the Bell Trade Act, which governed trade between the country and the US; included the Parity Amendment in the Constitution; and signed the 1947 Military Bases Agreement. During his presidency, the government was marred by charges of graft and corruption, which caused distrust from the people. Furthermore, abuse by the military and police added to the existing problems with the left-wing Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon) or Huks. Roxas attempted to decimate the Huks but only created widespread anger among the peasants.
On 15 April 1948, while giving a speech at the Clark Air Force Base, Manuel Roxas suffered a heart attack. He died at the age of 56. He was succeeded by his vice president, Elpidio Quirino.
Cabinet and Judicial Appointments 1946-1948
The Commonwealth of the Philippines gave way to the Third Republic of the Philippines on 4 July 1946. On that date, the secretary of foreign affairs became the first in the order of presence among the cabinet. The roster of cabinet officials also became fixed as outlined below:
|Secretary of Foreign Affairs||Elpidio Quirino||1946–1948|
|Secretary of the Interior||Jose Zulueta||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Finance||Miguel Cuaderno||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Justice||Ramon Ozaeta||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce||Mariano Garchitorena||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Public Works and Communications||Ricardo Nepumoceno||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Instruction||Manuel Gallego||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Labor||Pedro Magsalin||1946–1948|
|Secretary of National Defense||Ruperto Kangleon||1946–1948|
|Secretary of Health and Public Welfare||Antonio Villarama||1946–1948|
|General Auditing Office||Sotero Cabahug||1945–1946|
|Secretary to the President||Jose S. Reyes||1945–1946|
|Resident Commissioner||Carlos P. Romulo||1945–1946|
Roxas was married to Doña Trinidad de Leon Roxas, who was involved in a number of charitable institutions, including the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and the White Cross. The couple had two children, Ma. Rosario "Ruby" Roxas and Gerardo "Gerry" Roxas, who was a senator from 1963 to 1972 and was the father of former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas.
- "Malacañang Museum, Philippine Presidents." Office of the President Official Website. (Accessed 23 January 2008)
- "Manuel Roxas." Philippines-Archipelago.com (Accessed 23 January 2008)
- "The Philippine Presidency Project." Pangulo.ph (Accessed 23 January 2008)