|Died||18 Apr 1948|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Manuel Roxas y Acuña studied law at the University of the Philippines and became a career politician. In 1921, he was elected into the House of Representatives and became the speaker the following year. In 1935, he became a member of Manuel Quezon's cabinet as Secretary of Finance. In 1941 he was elected president of the Senate but did not start his term until 1945 due to Japanese occupation.
During WW2, Roxas put aside his suit and joined the Filipino military as a reserves officer. He was the liaison officer between Philippines armed forces and American General Douglas MacArthur. When Quezon left Corregidor for, ultimately, the United States, Roxas was named the successor to the presidency should Quezon and his vice president Osmeña did not survive the journey. After Quezon's departure, Roxas went to Mindanao to direct the local resistance. In 1942 Roxas was captured by Japanese forces and was imprisoned as a prisoner-of-war at Bukidnon, Mindanao. For fifteen weeks he was interrogated and threatened with death, rescued only by members of the Japanese puppet government under José Laurel's sponsorship. He was returned to Manila and joined Laurel. His records under the puppet regime was unclear. A resistance group's offer in 1943 to extricate him was declined, "he either thought the plan unsafe or was feeling friendlier toward the enemy; it is impossible to tell", said William Manchester. Dr. Emigidio Cruz, an army major and also Quezon's personal physician, infiltrated Manila and made contact with Roxas in fall of 1943, Roxas made known to Cruz that he had no interest to go to the United States, while at the same time did not report Cruz to Japanese authorities. The next year another mission was planned to infiltrate another operative to speak to Roxas, but it was tipped off and everyone involved in that plot was beheaded, except for Roxas. Records were not clear whether Laurel granted amnesty for Roxas, if the Japanese valued Roxas' presence in the puppet regime, or perhaps if Roxas was actually the source of the tip. In Oct 1943, he helped to write the constitution of Laurel's government and signed the final draft. He later became the head of the Economic Planning Board and the Biba, the powerful branch of government that regulated rice distribution.
When Philippines was liberated by MacArthur's forces, Roxas was originally arrested under the charge of collaborating with the enemy, but MacArthur cleared him. His rank in the US Army was also reinstated. Many Filipinos forgave his apparent collaboration for that he was rumored to had been a valuable inside agent for resistance fighters and guerrilla groups during Japanese occupation. He assumed his elected position as the president of the Senate in 1945. In 1946 Roxas ran for presidency under the Nacionalista Party ticket, and defeated Sergio Osmeña; he won the election of 23 Apr and became the first president of the new independent Filipino republic. Elpidio Quirino was his running mate who became the vice president.
In 1948, Roxas granted amnesty to all those arrested under the crime of collaborating with the Japanese.
Roxas passed away as the result of a heart attack after delivering a speech at Clark Air Base. After his death, his birth city was renamed Roxas City in his honor.
Sources: American Caesar, Wikipedia.
Manuel Roxas Timeline
|1 Jan 1892||Manuel Roxas was born.|
|18 Apr 1948||Manuel Roxas passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945