The Philippines will mark the 72nd death anniversary of Jose Abad Santos, former Supreme Court Chief Justice and World War II hero, this coming May 7.
The day, which this year falls on Wednesday, is a special non-working day in Pampanga as well as Angeles City by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 8815. RA 8815 came into effect during the time of former President Joseph Estrada.
Abad-Santos was born in San Fernando, Pampanga in February 19, 1886. Prior to being the country’s fifth top magistrate, he served as speaker of the House of Representatives and an associate justice of the Supreme Court.
When given a choice by President Manuel Quezon to come with him to Australia, Abad-Santos refused, saying: “If you will excuse me, Mr. President, I prefer to remain, carry on my work here, and stay with my family.”
Quezon later on gave Abad-Santos the task of supervising the civil government in areas not yet occupied by Japanese forces, effectively making him the acting president during that time.
He was performing in this capacity when he and his son Pepito was arrested in Cebu City. He was falsely accused of ordering the destruction of essential infrastructures in the city to render them useless for the Japanese. He also steadfastly refused to collaborate with the invaders.
Shortly before his execution in Malabang, Lanao, Abad-Santos told his son: “Do not cry, Pepito. Show these people that you are brave. It is a rare opportunity for me to die for our country. Not everybody is given that chance.”