Elpidio Quirino was born on November 15, 1890 at the warden’s quarters adjoining the provincial jail of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. His father was Mariano Quirino, the provincial prison warden and former barrio school teacher. His mother was Gregoria Rivera of Agoo, La Union. She taught Pidiong, as Elpidio was fondly called, his alphabet.
Elpidio finished his elementary education at the Aringay Public School and started his secondary at Vigan High School. Even while studying he was allowed to teach at the barrio school of Caparian, receiving a monthly pay of twelve pesos.
He moved t manila in 1908, enrolled at the Manila High School, and worked at the office of the principal while studying. He took his first grade civil service examination and emerged one of the topnotchers. This qualified him for a better job as property clerk at the Manila Police Department, with a salary of P150.
After finishing high school, he enrolled in the College of law, University of the Philippines. He graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1915 and in the same year passed the bar examination.
His Employment and Public Service
He got employment in the Philippine Commission and then in the Philippine Senate, and because of his intelligence and efficiency, Senate President Quezon made him his private secretary.
He won the congressional seat at Ilocos Sur in 1918, and then became senator in 1925. He was sent as delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1935.
He married Alicia Syquia on January 16, 1921. They had five children, but excluding Tomas and Victoria, these were massacred with their mother by the Japanese during the liberation of Manila.
In 1925, he was elected Senator and re-elected in 1931. Upon the establishment of the Commonwealth Government, President Quezon appointed him Secretary of Finance, then Secretary of Interior.
He was elected Vice-President of the Philippine when President Roxas was President. President Roxas designated him also as Secretary of Finance and later, Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
He was Vice-President of the country when President Roxas died of heart attack while delivering a speech on rehabilitation and reconstruction at Clark field. On April 17, 1948, Elpidio Quirino took his oath of office as President.
Because he was a widower, the First Lady of the Philippine was his daughter Victoria.
When Quirino took over the presidency of the country was still suffering from disorder for Roxas before him had not quite solved the problems.
His Plans and Admirations
It was now up to the new president to do his best. He announced his plans as follows: He would restore peace and order throughout the country; He would restore confidence and faith of the people in their government.
The first objective was based on the widespread Hukbalahap underground. The second was based on the belief that a large segment of the people had lost confidence in the government because of graft, corruption and nepotism.
President Quirino himself summed up his program when he issued the statement “Our most serious concern should be: immediate increased production, government reorganization to achieve efficiency, vigorous and honest enforcement of the tax laws, preservation of our national integrity, and continued friendly relations with our neighbors and the entire world.
Concerned with the problem of peace and order, President Quirino, unlike the late President Roxs believed in reconciliation with the “Huks”. He believed that with the Huks within the fold of the law the country could proceed to economic development without disturbance.
After, negotiations, he proclaimed amnesty for the Huks on June 21, 1948 on condition that they would surrender their arms. The Congress also showed Luis Taruk, Huk Supremo, to take his seat as the duly elected representative in the House of Pampanga.
There were still some disorders after this but eventually President Quirino gave the Huks the chance to change their lives for the better. He gave them houses and fields to cultivate. From then on, peace and order reigned in the country.
To ameliorate the condition of those who suffered from the Huk movement, President Quirino created the President’s Action Committee on Social Amelioration (PACSA). This office was charged with the duty of going to the field and minister to the needy, the hungry, the homeless and the sick, the victim of violence and disorder. The PACSA also employed hundreds of jobless persons.
Prosperity seemed to be happening because of foreign investments in the Philippines, but many were also suffering from inflation. Commodities were high priced and the wages of teachers, government employees and low-income workers were not sufficient to tide them over.
To alleviate this condition, President Quirino ordered an increase in pay of teachers and employees. In the Barrios and farms, he encouraged the small farmers or tenants to own lands by buying the big estates and reselling them to the tenants on easy payments. To help the laborers, the Minimum Wage Law was passed in 1951. The law provided an increase in minimum pay of laborers.
It was very sad that in spite of President Quirino’s good patriotic motives, his enemies tried to start impeachment proceedings against him. Nevertheless, he emerged victorious in the Presidential election of November 1949.
President Quirino did his best to ameliorate the economic and political conditions of the country. He appointed Ramon Magsaysay as Secretary of National Defense and peace and order improved. Through his representation, the Philippines received aid from the US.
To keep the nation free from foreign aggression, a Philippine-US Defence Pact was negotiated on August 30, 1951. His admiration did its best in spite of the manifold problems and unfavourable conditions of the post war period.
In 1953, President Quirino raw for re-election but he was defeated by former Secretary of National Defens, Ramon Magsaysay.
President Quirino died on February 29, 1955 in his suburban home in Novaliches, Quezon City.
* This simple biography (talambuhay) of Elpidio Quirino should explain simply his life as a public servant.
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