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Jose Laurel

Jose Laurel 01José Paciano Laurel y García (March 9, 1891 – November 6, 1959) was the president of the Japanese-Sponsored Republic of the Philippines during World War II, from 1943 to 1945.

Laurel was not subsequently officially recognized as a Philippine president until the administration of Diosdado Macapagal.

While a teen, Laurel was indicted for attempted murder when he almost killed a rival suitor of his girlfriend. While studying and finishing law school, he argued for and received an acquittal.

Laurel received his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1915, where he studied under Dean George A. Malcolm, whom he would later succeed on the Supreme Court. He then obtained a Master of Laws degree from University of Santo Tomas in 1919. Laurel then attended Yale Law School, where he obtained a Doctorate of Law.

Laurel began his life in public service while a student, as a messenger in the Bureau of Forestry then as a clerk in the Code Committee tasked with the codification of Philippine laws. During his work for the Code Committee, he was introduced to its head, Thomas A. Street, a future Supreme Court Justice who would be a mentor to the young Laurel.

Upon his return from Yale, Laurel was appointed first as Undersecretary of the Interior Department, then promoted as Secretary of the Interior in 1922. In that post, he would frequently clash with the American Governor-General Leonard Wood, and eventually, in 1923, resign from his position together with other Cabinet members in protest of Wood’s administration. His clashes with Wood solidified Laurel’s nationalist credentials.

In 1925 he was elected to the Philippine Senate. He would serve for one term before losing his re-election bid in 1931 to Claro M. Recto. He retired to private practice, but by 1934, he was again elected to public office, this time as a delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Convention. Hailed as one of the “Seven Wise Men of the Convention”, he would sponsor the provisions on the Bill of Rights. Following the ratification of the 1935 Constitution and the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Laurel was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on February 29, 1936.

Other Information

  • Born : March 9, 1891
  • Birthplace : Tanauan, Batangas
  • Died : November 6, 1959 (aged 68), Manila
  • Birth name : José Paciano Laurel y García
  • Father : Sotero Laurel, Sr.
  • Mother : Jacoba García
  • Nationality : Filipino
  • Ethnic Affiliation : Tagalog
  • Schoolos Attended :
    • Bachelor of Laws, University of the Philippines, With Honors (1915)
    • Masters of Law – Escuela de Derecho
    • Doctor of Civil Law (Jurisprudence), Yale University as government pensionado (1920)
    • Doctor of Laws, University of Santo Tomas (1936)
    • Doctor of Laws honoris causa Tokyo Imperial University
  • Political party : Kapisanan ng Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (KALIBAPI)
  • Other political affiliations : Partido Nacionalista (1922-1941), Kalibapi (1943-1945), Nacionalista Party (1947-1959)
  • Spouse : Pacencia Hidalgo
  • Children:
    • Jose B., Laurel Jr.
    • Jose S. Laurel III
    • Sotero Laurel
    • Natividad Laurel
    • Potenciana Laurel
    • Mariano Laurel
    • Salvador Laurel
    • Arsenio Laurel
  • Profession : Judge
  • Religion : Roman Catholic

Positions held

Private Citizen

  • Professor – University of the Philippines
    Government employee


  • Secretary of the Interior (Leonard Wood cabinet)
  • Senator for the Fifth Senatorial District (Batangas, Mindoro, Tayabas, Cavite, and Marinduque, 7th Legislature 1925-1928;8th Legislature 1928-1931; 9th Legislature 1931-1934; 10th Legislature 1934-1935)
  • Majority floor leader (1928-1931)
  • Delegate, 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention
  • Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1936-1941)
  • Secretary of Justice (Quezon cabinet), 1941
  • Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1941)
  • Commissioner of Justice, Commissioner of the Interior 1942-1943 (Japanese Occupation)
  • President, Preparatory Committee on Philippine Independence, 1942-43 (Japanese Occupation)
  • Philippine President (October 14, 1943 – August 17, 1945)

Notable Events


  • Jurisprudence of Justice Laurel


  • Second Philippine Republic
  • Assassination attempt (June 05, 1943)

Awards and achievements

  • 2nd Place, 1915 Bar Examinations


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