October 14, 2015 marks the 72nd anniversary of the Second Philippine Republic, which was inaugurated on this day in 1943, with Jose P. Laurel as President.


The Second Philippine Republic was established during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. At the outset of the occupation, the Japanese government established a military administration over the Philippines, as well as the Philippine Executive Commission, composed of several pre-war Filipino political leaders. The KALIBAPI (Kapisanan ng Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas) was also organized, designed to be the sole and exclusive political organization in the Philippines.

On June 16, 1943, Premier Hideki Tojo promised independence to the Philippines. The KALIBAPI would then form the Preparatory Committee on Philippine Independence (PCPI), which was tasked with drafting a new Constitution. The new Constitution was approved by the Preparatory Committee on Philippine Independence on September 4, 1943 and ratified by the KALIBAPI on September 7, 1943.

The KALIBAPI then proceeded to elect part of the new National Assembly, which also included appointed members; in turn, the National Assembly elected its Speaker and then elected Jose P. Laurel as President. On October 14, 1943, in ceremonies in front of the Legislative Building in Manila, the new Republic was inaugurated, and Jose P. Laurel, the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, assumed office as President.

On September 21, 1944, President Laurel proclaimed martial law in the Philippines (it came into effect on September 22). On September 23, 1944, Laurel proclaimed that the Philippines was “in a state of war” with the Allied Powers—but this was never ratified by the National Assembly. In large part, Japanese dissapointment with Laurel led to the Republic under Laurel being superseded by the Makapili, organized in December, 1944 to more militantly oppose the returning American forces and Filipino guerrillas. The Japanese brought the Laurel government to Baguio in December, 1944, and a small remnant of that government was taken to Tokyo in March, 1945. Laurel formally dissolved the Second Republic on August 17, 1945, two days after Japan surrendered to the Allies.

When the Commonwealth government was restored on Philippine soil on October 23, 1944, Field Marshal Douglas MacArthur as military commander had issued a proclamation nullifying all acts of the Philippine Executive Commission and the Second Republic. The Supreme Court of the Philippines reiterated this nullification in a decision (G.R. No. L-5)  on September 17, 1945 (and subsequent decisions), but pointed out President Osmeña recognized the validity of some judicial acts of a non-political nature. The Supreme Court categorized the Philippine Executive Commission and the Second Republic as a de facto (actual, whether by right or not) government, in contrast to the de jure (meaning rightful, or legitimate) status of the Commonwealth government. While this means no laws or regulations from the Second Republic are legally recognized, President Laurel has been included in the roster of Philippine presidents since the 1960s.

Many officials who served in the Philippine Executive Commission, the Second Republic and its various agencies were charged with treason but received an amnesty from President Manuel Roxas on January 28, 1948.

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This is a painting by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo of Rafael Alunan, completed in 1923. Mr. Alunan had a long and distinguished career as a public servant in both the legislative and executive branches of government, serving as a member of the Quezon cabinet, then Commissioner in the Philippine Executive Commission, the Chairman of the National Planning Board and later as Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources as part of the Laurel cabinet. He died in a plane crash in 1948.

Mr. Alunan stands beside an accurate and detailed representation of the Philippine flag, which, at the start of the Second Philippine Republic, had been reverted to the Aguinaldo design which featured three yellow stars and an anthropomorphic eight-rayed sun. As such, this painting is a rare and invaluable resource to historians as to the original colors and design of the Philippine flag in 1898, until it was modified in the codification of the specifications of the Philippine flag in 1936. Those specifications were later reissued by the Second Republic, abandoning its brief adoption of the original Aguinaldo design.

PCDSPO would like to thank Mr. Rafael Alunan III, Mrs. Marot Fernandez, and the Alunan family for allowing us to photograph the painting.



A compilation of photos from the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, taken from the April 9, 1967 issue of The Sunday Times. This was the first of three issues on World War II in the Philippines, “its glory and despair, its anxiety and agony; the soul-shaking excitement of events from Bataan, 1942 to the Battle of Manila, 1945.” The photoset also includes other photographs from the Presidential Museum and Library and from the website of Ms. Linda Stanfield, who kindly gave permission to include her collection of photographs from the Japanese Propaganda Corps.

View the entire photoset on the Presidential Museum and Library Flickr: The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines

In addition, the BBC Motion Gallery has a large collection of film clips of the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, from its partnership with NHK of Japan. Click this link to see a gallery of Japanese Occupation film clips, many of them taken from Japanese and Philippine newsreels of the era.


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