Biography (April 23, 1920 - October 21, 1921)
The second Chief Justice of the Supreme Cour of the Philippines, like the first Chief Justice, enjoyed the high esteem of the US President William H. Taft. Acknowledging he intellectual superiority of Victorino Mapa, President Taft remarked, "He had no living superior in Latin Jurisprudence and civil codes of the world, especially of Spain as esablished in the Philipines."
He was appointed as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1904. Before this appointment, he was named a member of the Second Philippine Commission. The Commission composed of nine members - four Americans and five Filipinos - ran the affairs of the country. It discharged both legislative and executive functions. In this Commission, Commissioner Mapa was assigned Chairman of the Committee to study municipal and provincial governments. In 1913, Governor Francis V. Harrison drafted Mapa as Secretary of Finance and Justice in the Executive Department. With the passage of the Jones Law in 1916, the Executive Department was reorganized, and the Department of Finance and Justice became two separate departments. Mapa was named Secretary of Justice.
He was born on February 24, 1852 in the town of Kalibo, Capiz. He was the second of eight children of Placido Mapa and Eleuteria Montano. He imbibed his primary studies from his parents and private tutors. For secondary studies, he was sent to Manila where he was enrolled at San Juan de Letran College. Showing superior intelligence, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Santo Tomas at the age of thirteen. He furthered his studies in the same university by finishing philosophy and then law. He was admitted to the Bar in 1881.
He was appointed Register of Deeds in Iloilo. He served briefly as Vice-Mayor then Mayor of Iloilo. He became a member of the Council of Reforms in the Spanish administration. During the Philippine Revolution, he was president of the Tribunal Justice in the Philippine Revolutionary Government in Panay, where he was one of the "intelligentia". Like Arellano, he favored a federal system of government.
In 1900, he became he Chairman of the Commitee to negotiate peace with the Americans.
After long and remarkable service as Secretary of Justice, he was appoined Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on April 23, 1920. but because of failing health, he retired from the Supreme Court on October 21, 1921, four months short of 70 years.
His decision showed marked independence of mind expressed in precise style. His opinions are regarded to his day as models of clear logic and distinct brevity.
On Mapa's death at the age of 75 on April 12, 1927, the Supreme Cour passed a resolution disclosing his peers' high regard for him.
He was married to Gorgonia Jamora. They had no children.
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