Rafael del Pan

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Rafael del Pan (17 June 1863-12 May 1915) was a Filipino lawyer, journalist, nationalist, and reformist. He was the first Filipino criminologist. He was the sole author of the Correctional (Criminal) Code which compiled and codified the penal laws of the country. He was influential in the establishment of the Colegio de Abogados.

Early life and education

He was born on 17 June 1863 in Intramuros, Manila to Don Jose Felipe del Pan, a Spaniard, and Amalia Garcia Fontela, a Filipina. When he was seven years old, he was sent to Spain to study. He returned to Manila and studied at the Ateneo Municipal.

In 1880, he obtained his Bachiller en Artes at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and pursued Law studies at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) but did not finish the course. He completed his studies in law at the Central University of Madrid in Spain and obtained the Licenciado en Jurisprudenciaon on 28 January 1886.


del Pan returned to Manila with a Doctorate degree in Law. He served the government as substitute juez de paz for Intramuros for two terms. From 4 July to 31 October 1891, he served as substitute fiscal.

He was named Solicitor General of the Philippine Islands with concurrent post as lawyer for the Sociedad Economia de los Amigos del Pais from 1981 to 1983. He was named Diputado Primero of the Junta de Gobierno and served from 4 February 1895 to 1 April 1897.

When his father died, he had to take his father's place as publisher and editor of La Oceania Española, an influential newspaper during that time. As a journalist, he exposed his sympathies for the Filipinos which earned him the ire of the Spanish authorities and the clergy. In his columns, he advocated Filipino participation in the Spanish Cortes. He also criticized the authorities for deporting Jose Rizal to Dapitan.

del Pan was threatened with arrest for alleged subversive activities thus he sailed back to Europe where he continued to advocate reforms in the Philippines.

He was chosen to be the president of a revolutionary junta in Madrid established by Filipino students in Europe in 1898. The following year, he was named Plenipotentiary to the USA where he campaigned for recognition of Philippine Independence by presenting to the US Senate the petition of two thousand Filipinos for independence. US Senator Henry Teller, who became his ally, addressed his colleagues and advised immediate independence of the Philippines from the Americans.

del Pan collaborated with foreign writers in their studies of Philippine languages. He translated Francisco Balagtas' Florante at Laura to Spanish and Jose Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios into English. He gave the translated Mi Ultimo Adios to Congressman Henry Allen Cooper. Cooper edited and recited it during the House deliberation of the Cooper Bill that was enacted into Law on 1 July 1902.

He took his oath as a lawyer after passing an examination in criminal procedure given by the Supreme Court.

In 1904, he joined the Anti-Annexation group of Dominador Gomez, Pascual Poblete, and Antonio Montenegro. It was also in that year that he became the president of the Colegio de Abogados de Filipinas.

In 1908 del Pan was named Examinador de Titulos of the friar lands and designated member of the Comite Codificador de Leyes (Code Committee of Penal Laws. On 13 December 1914, he was made a member of the Board of Bar Examiners. He also became the President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce.

He became partner of the Del Pan-Ortigas-Fischer Law Office and served as its legal consultant of the government in purchasing the lands of the friars.

He was one of the founders of the Nacionalista Party (NP) whose platform he helped to draft. He ran in the election of representatives in the National Assembly but lost to Fernando Maria Guerrero.


del Pan traveled to Japan to ease his health problem. He was confined at the San Juan de Dios Hospital when he returned to Manila. On 12 May 1915, he died of cancer. He was buried at the Manila North Cemetery. A street and a bridge in Manila were named in his honor.




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