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Osmeña, Sergio (1878–1961)

Filipino politician, founder of the Nationalist Party, and vice president (1935–1944) and president (1944–1946) of the Philippine Commonwealth. Born on 9 September 1878 in Cebu City, the Philippines, Sergio Osmeña graduated with a law degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 1903. In 1904 he was appointed provincial governor of Cebu. In 1907 he was elected to the Philippine National Assembly and became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1916. Osmeña was elected vice president of the Philippines in 1935 and served loyally under President Manuel Quezon. On 1 August 1944, Osmeña became president of the government-in-exile upon the death of President Quezon.

When Osmeña returned to the Philippines in October 1944, he sided with those who wished to punish the collaborators who had helped the Japanese during the occupation. To the surprise of many, the commander of U.S. forces in the islands, General Douglas MacArthur, adopted a lenient attitude toward the collaborators and personally pardoned the prominent collaborator Manuel Roxas.

In preparation for Filipino independence, on 14 May 1945 Osmeña and U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed an agreement allowing the United States to retain military bases in the Philippines after independence was granted in 1946. In the 1946 elections, the Nationalist Party chose Osmeña as its candidate, although he refused to actively campaign. After forming the Liberal Party in January 1946, Roxas declared his intention to run for the presidency. Osmeña received little assistance from MacArthur, who backed his old friend Roxas. In the April 1946 elections, Roxas defeated Osmeña and became the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines. Osmeña then retired from politics. He died in Manila on 19 October 1961.

Edy Parsons


Further Reading
Pomeroy, William J. The Philippines: Colonialism, Collaboration, and Resistance. New York: International Publishers, 1992.
 

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