6th President of the Philippines

Elpidio Quirino (November 16, 1890 -- February 29, 1956)

Early life and career:

Elpidio Quirino was a native of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur although born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur to Don Mariano Quirino of Caoayan, Ilocos Sur and Doña Gregoria Mendoza Rivera of Agoo, La Union. Quirino spent his early years in Aringay, La Union. He studied and graduated his elementary education to his native Caoayan, where he became a barrio teacher. He received secondary education at Vigan High School, then went to Manila where he worked as junior computer in the Bureau of Lands and as property clerk in the Manila police department. He graduated from Manila High School in 1911 and also passed the civil service examination, first-grade.

Quirino attended the University of the Philippines. In 1915, he earned his law degree from the university's College of Law, and was admitted to the bar later that year. He was engaged in the private practice of law.

House of Representatives:

He was engaged in the private practice of law until he was elected as member of the Philippine House of Representatives from 1919 to 1925 succeeding Alberto Reyes. In 1925 he was succeed as Congressman by Vicente Singson Pablo.


He was later elected as Senator from 1925 to 1931 representing the First Senatorial District. He then served as Secretary of Finance and Secretary of the Interior in the Commonwealth government.

In 1934, Quirino was a member of the Philippine Independence mission to Washington D.C., headed by Manuel L. Quezon that secured the passage in the United States Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. This legislation set the date for Philippine independence by 1945. Official declaration came on July 4, 1946.

Before the Second World War, Quirino was re-elected to the Senate but was not able to serve until 1945. During the Battle of Manila in World War II, his wife, Alicia Syquia, and three of his five children were killed as they were fleeing their home.

After the war, the Philippine Commonwealth Government was restored. The Congress was likewise re-organized and in the Senate Quirino was installed was Senate President pro tempore.


Soon after the reconstitution of the Commonwealth Government in 1945 Senators Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino and their allies called for the holding on an early national election to choose the president and vice president of the Philippines and members of the Congress. In December, 1945 the House Insular Affairs of the United States Congress approved the joint resolution setting the election date at not later than April 30, 1946.

Prompted by this congressional action, President Sergio Osmeña called the Philippine Congress to a three-day special session. Congress enacted Commonwealth Act No. 725, setting the election on April 23, 1946, and was approved by President Osmeña on January 5, 1946.

Senate President pro tempore Elpidio Quirino was nominated as the running mate by newly formed Liberal Party of presidential candidate and then-Senate President Manuel Roxas. The tandem won the election. Vice-President Quirino was later appointed as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.


Elpidio Quirino's six years as president were marked by notable postwar reconstruction, general economic gains, and increased economic aid from the United States. Basic social problems, however, particularly in the rural areas, remained unsolved, and his administration was tainted by widespread graft and corruption.


Quirino assumed the presidency on April 17, 1948, taking his oath of office two days after the death of Manuel Roxas. His first official act as the President was the proclamation of a state mourning throughout the country for Roxas' death. Since Quirino was a widower, his surviving daughter Vicky would serve as the official hostess and perform the functions traditionally ascribed to the First Lady.

New Capital City:

On July 17, 1948, the Congress approved Republic Act No. 333, amending Commonwealth Act No. 502, declaring Quezon City the capital of the Philippines in place of Manila. Nevertheless, pending the official transfer of the government offices to the new capital site, Manila remained to be such for all effective purposed.

HUKBALAHAP Re-incidence:

With the expiration of the Amnesty deadline on August 15, 1948, the government found out that the Huks had not lived up to the terms of the Quirino-Taruc agreement. Indeed, after having been seated in Congress and collecting his back pay allowance. Luis Taruc surreptitiously fled away from Manila, even as a measly number of his followers had either submitted themselves to the conditions of the Amnesty proclamation or surrendered their arms. In the face of counter charges from the Huk from to the effect that the government had not satisfied the conditions agreed upon, President Quirino ordered a stepped-up campaign against dissidents, restoring once more to the mailed-fist policy in view of the failure of the friendly attitude previously adopted.

Fireside Chats:

Moreover, to bring the government closer to the people, he revived President Quezon's "fireside chats", in which he enlightened the people on the activities of the Republic by the periodic radio broadcasts from the Malacañang Palace.

Impeachment Attempt:

Riding on the crest of the growing wave of resentment against the Liberal Party, a move was next hatched to indict President Quirino himself. Led by Representative Agripino Escareal a committee, composed of seven members of the House of Representatives, prepared a five-count accusation ranging from nepotism to gross expenditures. Speaker Eugenio Perez appointed a committee of seven, headed by Representative Lorenzo Sumulong to look into the charges preparatory to their filing with the Senate, acting as an impeachment body. Solicitor General Felix Angelo Bautista entered his appearance as defense counsel for the chief executive. Following several hearings, on April 19, 1949, after a rather turbulent session that lasted all night, the congressional committee reached a verdict completely exonerating the President. Realizing the heavy undertone of politicking behind the move, the exoneration decision was received favorable by the nation at large.

Romulo becomes UN President:

Great honor was paid the Philippines when, in September 1949, the Fourth General Assembly of the United Nations elected delegate Carlos P. Romulo as President. The first. Oriental to hold the position, Romulo was strongly supported by the Anglo-Saxon bloc, as well as by the group of Spanish-speaking nations, thus underscoring the hybrid nature of the Filipino people's culture and upringing.

1949 Presidential election:

Main article: Philippine presidential election, 1949

Incumbent President Elpidio Quirino won a full term as President of the Philippines after the untimely death of President Manuel Roxas in 1948. His running mate, Senator Fernando López won as Vice President. Despite factions created in the administration party, Quirino won a satisfactory vote from the public. It was the only time in Philippine history where the duly elected president, vice president and senators all came from the same party, the Liberal Party. Carlos P. Romulo and Marvin M. Gray, publisher of the Manila Evening News, accuse Quirino in their book The Magsaysay Story (The John Day Company, 1956, updated - with an additional chapter on Magsaysay's death - re-edition by Pocket Books, Special Student Edition, SP-18, December 1957) of widespread fraud and intimidation of the opposition by military action, calling it the "dirty election".

Baguio Conference:

In May 1950, upon the invitation of President Qurino, through the insistent suggestion of United Nations President Carlos P. Romulo, official representatives of India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia met in the city of Baguio for a regional conference sponsored by the Philippines. China and Korea did not attend the conference because the latter did not contemplate the formation of a military union of the Southeast Asian nations. One the other hand, Japan, Indonesia, China, and others were not invited because, at the time, they were not free and independent states. Due to the request of India and Indonesia, no political questions were taken up the conference. Instead, the delegates discussed economic and, most of all, cultural, problems confronting their respective countries. Strangely enough however, the Baguio Conference ended with an official communique in which the nations attending the same expressed their united agreement in supporting the right to self-determination of all peoples the world over. This initial regional meet held much promise of a future alliance of these neighboring nations for common protection and aid.

HUKBALAHAP continued re-insurgence:

Quirino's administration faced a serious threat in the form of the communist Hukbalahap movement. Though the Huks originally had been an anti-Japanese guerrilla army in Luzon, communists steadily gained control over the leadership, and when Quirino's negotiation with Huk commander Luis Taruc broke down in 1948, Taruc openly declared himself a Communist and called for the overthrow of the government.

Peace Campaign:

With the Communist organization here estimated to still have more that forty thousand duly registered members by March 1951, the government went on with its sustained campaign to cope with the worsening peace and order problem. The 1951 budget included the use of a residue fund for the land resettlement program in favor of the surrendered HUKS. The money helped maintain the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR), with its settlements of six thousand five hundred hectares in Kapatagan (Lanao) and twenty five thousand hectares in Buldon (Cotabato). In each group taken to these places there was a nucleus of former Army personnel ans their families, who became a stabilizing factor and ensured the success of the program. Indeed, less that ten percent of the Huks now settles down gave up this new lease in life offered them by the government.

To promote the smooth restructuring of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the military were made to undergo a reorganization. Battalion combat teams of one thousand men each were established. Each operated independently of the High Command, except for overall coordination in operational plans. A totlal of twenty six Battalion Combat Teams were put up. New army units were also established, such was the first Airborne Unit, the Scout Rangers, the Canine Unit, and the Cavalry. Unit. Their mental showing offered much promise.

1951 Midterm Election:

Main article: Philippine general election, 1951

After a sweep by the Liberals in 1949, many Filipinos doubted the election result. This brought a sweep by the Nacionalistas in the 1951 elections. There was a special election for the vacated senate seat of Fernando Lopez, who won as Vice President in 1949. The Liberals won no seats in the senate.

1953 Presidential Election:

Main article: Philippine presidential election, 1953

Quirino ran for re-election for presidency with José Yulo as vice president in 1953 despite his ill health. His defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay, unable to bear further iniquities from Quirino, resigned his office and joined the Nacionalista Party. Other prominent Liberalists, like Vice President Fernando López, Ambassador Carlos P. Romulo, Senators Tomás Cabili and Juan Sumulong, also bolted Quirino's party.

On August 22, 1953, Nacionalista and Democratic Parties formed a coalition to ensure Quirino's full defeat. On the election day, Quirino was defeated by Ramon Magsaysay with a majority vote of 1.5 million. Quirino is mentioned as to have been secretly overthrown by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in the film JFK by Oliver Stone.


Upon assuming the reins of government, Quirino announced two main objectives of his administration: first, the economic reconstruction of the nation and second, the restoration of the faith and confidence of the people in the government. In connection to the first agenda, he created the President's Action Committee on Social Amelioration or PACSA to mitigate the sufferings of indigent families, the Labor Management Advisory Board to advise him on labor matters, the Agricultural Credit Cooperatives Financing Administration or ACCFA to help the farmers market their crops and save them from loan sharks, and the Rural Banks of the Philippines to facilitate credit utilities in rural areas.

Social Program:

Enhancing President Manuel Roxas' policy of social justice to alleviate the lot of the common mass, President Quirino, almost immediately after assuming office, started a series of steps calculated to effectively ameliorate the economic condition of the people. After periodic surpire visits to the slums of Manila and other backward regions of the country, President Quirno officially made public a seven-point program for social security, o wit:
  1. Unemployment insurance
  2. Old-age insurance insurance
  3. Accident and permanent disability insurance
  4. Health insurance
  5. Maternity insurance
  6. State relief
  7. Labor opportunity
President Quirino also created the Social Security Commission, making Social Welfare Commissioner Asuncion Perez chairman of the same. This was followed by the creation of the President's Action Committee on Social Amelioration, charges with extending aid, loans, and relief to the less fortunate citizens. Both the policy and its implementation were hailed by the people as harbingers of great benefits.

Agrarian Reform:

As part of his Agrarian Reform agenda, President Quirino issued on October 23, 1950 Executive Order No. 355 which replaced the National Land Settlement Administration with Land Settlement Development Corporation (LASEDECO) which takes over the responsibilities of the Agricultural Machinery Equipment Corporation and the Rice and Corn Production Administration.

Integrity Board:

To cope with the insistent clamor for government improvement, President Quirino created the Integrity Board to probe into reports of graft and corruption in high government places. Vice-President Fernando Lopez was most instrumental, through his courageous exposes, in securing such a decision from President Quirino.

Foreign Policies:

Quirino's administration excelled in diplomacy, impressing foreign heads of states and world statesmen by his intelligence and culture. In his official travels to the United States, European countries, and Southeast Asia, he represented the Philippines with flying colors. During his six years of administration, he was able to negotiate treaties and agreements with other nations of the Free World. Two Asian heads of state visited Philippines–President Chiang Kai-shek of Nationalist China (Formosa) in July 1949 and President Achmed Sukarno of Indonesia in January 1951.

In 1950, at the onset of the Korean War, Quirino authorized the deployment of over 7,450 Filipino soldiers to Korea, under the designation of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea or PEFTOK.

Korean War:

On June 25, 1950, the world was astonished to hear the North Korean aggression against the independent South Korea. The United Nations immediately took up this challenge to the security of this part of the world. Carlos P. Romulo soon stood out as the most effective spokesman for the South Korean cause. On behalf of our government, Romulo offered to send a Philippine military contingent to be under the overall command of General Douglas MacArthur, who had been named United Nations Supreme Commander for the punitive expedition. The Philippines, thus, became the first country to join the United States in the offer of military assistance to beleaguered South Korea.

President Quirino took the necessary steps to make the Philippine offer. On a purely voluntary basis, the first contingent - the tenth Combat Battalion Team - was formed under Col. Azurin, and dispatched to Korea, where its members quickly won much renown for their military skill and bravery. The name of Captain Jose Artiaga, Jr., heroically killed in action, stands ou as a symbol of our country's contribution to the cause of freedom ountside native shores. Other Philippine Combat Teams successively replaced the first contingent sent, and they all built a name for discipline, tenacity, and courage, until the truce that brought the conflict to a halt.

Quirino-Foster Agreement:

By the time of the creation of the integrity board, moreover, the Bell Mission, led by Daniel W. Bell, an American banker, and composed of five members, with a staff of twenty workers, following their period of stay in the Philippines, beginning in July 1950, finally submitted its report on October of the same year. The Report made several proposals, most noteworthy, of which were that the United States should give the Philippines 250,000,000 dollars over a period of five years, but the Philippines, in return, ought to reform its tax structure, enact a minimum wage law for agricultural and industrial labor, initiate social and land reforms, as well as a sound planning for economic development, For all the strong language of the Report, which, in some quarters merited bitter opposition, President Quirino gamely and patriotically, took in the recommendations and sought to implement them. Thus in November 1950, President Quirino and William Foster, representing the United States Government, signed an agreement by virtue of which the former pledged to obtain the necessary Philippine legislation, in keeping with the Bell Mission Report, while envoy Foster promised the necessary by the same Report.


Following his failed bid for re-election, Quirino retired to private life in Quezon City, Metro Manila. He died of a heart attack on February 29, 1956.

However, much as he tried to become a good president, Quirino failed to win the people's affection. Several factors caused the unpopularity of his administration, namely:

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