The nation will commemorate the 71st death anniversary of Jose Abad Santos, former Chief Justice and World War II hero, this May 7. The day, which falls on Tuesday, is a special non-working holiday in the province of Pampanga, including Angeles City. This is by virtue of Republic Act 8815, which was enacted into law in 2000, during the time of then-President Joseph Estrada. RA 8815 can be accessed here.
There remains a dispute about the exact date of Abad Santos’ death, with some historical accounts indicating that the San Fernando, Pampanga native was in fact executed on May 2, 1942. At the sidelines of last year’s commemoration, San Fernando mayor Oscar Rodriguez argued that the argument over the date of Abad-Santos’ death should not eclipse his heroism.
Abad Santos could have avoided his execution but he refused to pledge allegiance to the Japanese oinvaders. One enduring anecdote about Abad Santos happened just before he was executed by firing squad in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. To console one of his sons, he is quoted to have said: “Do not cry, Jr., show to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die for one’s country. Not everybody has that chance.”