Carlos Polestico García (November 4, 1896 – June 14, 1971) was a Filipino teacher, poet, orator, lawyer, public official, political economist, organized guerrilla and Commonwealth military leader, who was the eighth President of the Philippines.

Early life

García was born in Talibon, Bohol on November 4, 1896, to Policronio García and Ambrosia Polestico, who were both natives of Bangued, Abra.

García grew up with politics, with his father serving as a municipal mayor for four terms. He acquired his primary education in his native town Talibon, then took his secondary education in Cebu Provincial High School, now Abellana National School, both at the top of his class. Initially, he pursued his college education at Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, and later studied at the Philippine Law School, the College of Law of National University, where he earned his law degree in 1923 and later, he received his honorary degree, Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa from National University in 1961. He was among the top ten in the bar examination.[1]

Rather than practice law right away, he worked as a teacher for two years at Bohol Provincial High School. He became famous for his poetry in Bohol, where he earned the nickname "Prince of Visayan Poets" and the "Bard from Bohol".


On May 24, 1933, he married Leonila Dimataga, and they had a daughter, Linda Garcia-Campos.

Political career

García entered politics in 1925, scoring an impressive victory to become Representative of the Third District of Bohol. He was elected for another term in 1928 and served until 1931. He was elected Governor of Bohol in 1933, but served only until 1941 when he successfully ran for Senate, but he was unable to serve due to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during the World War II. He assumed the office when Congress re-convened in 1945 after Allied liberation and the end of the war. When he resumed duties as senator after the war, he was chosen Senate majority floor leader.[2] The press consistently voted him as one of the most outstanding senators. Simultaneously, he occupied a position in the Nacionalista Party.

World War II

García refused to cooperate with the Japanese during the war. He did not surrender when he was placed on the wanted list with a price on his head. He instead and took part in the guerilla activities and served as adviser in the free government organized in Bohol.[citation needed]


Garcia (right) and Magsaysay (left)

García was the running mate of Ramón Magsaysay in the 1953 presidential election in which both men won. He was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs by President Magsaysay, and for four years served concurrently as Vice-President.

As Secretary of Foreign Affairs, he opened formal reparation negotiations in an effort to end the nine-year technical state of war between Japan and the Philippines, leading to an agreement on April 1954. During the Geneva Conference of 1954 on Korean unification and other Asian problems, García, as chairman of the Philippine delegation, attacked communist promises in Asia and defended the U.S. policy in the Far East. In a speech on May 7, 1954–the day that the Viet Minh defeated French forces at the Battle of Diên Biên Phu in Vietnam– Garcia repeated the Philippine stand for nationalism and opposition to Communism.[citation needed]

García acted as chairman of the eight-nation Southeast Asian Security Conference held in Manila in September 1954, which led to the development of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).[3]


Presidential styles of
Carlos P. García
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleMr. President
Economy of the Philippines under
President Carlos García
1957 22.68 million
Gross Domestic Product (1985 constant prices)
1957Increase Php 189,457 million ($ 94.7 billion)
1961Increase Php 224,430 million ($85.0 billion)
Growth rate, 1957-614.6%
Per capita income (1985 constant prices)
1957Increase Php 8,353
1961Decrease Php 7,927
Total exports
1957Increase Php 35,980 million
1961Increase Php 39,845 million
Exchange rates
1 US US$ = Php 2.64
1 Php = US US$ 0.38
Sources: Philippine Presidency Project
Malaya, Jonathan; Eduardo Malaya. So Help Us God... The Inaugurals of the Presidents of the Philippines. Anvil Publishing, Inc.


Vice-President Carlos P. García (right) was sworn in as President upon Magsaysay's death at the Council of State Room in the Executive Building of the Malacañan Palace complex. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Ricardo Paras.

At the time of President Magsaysay's sudden death on March 17, 1957, García was heading the Philippine delegation to the SEATO conference then being held at Canberra, Australia.[4] Having been immediately notified of the tragedy, Vice President García enplaned back for Manila. Upon his arrival he directly repaired to Malacañang Palace to assume the duties of President. Chief Justice Ricardo Paras, of the Supreme Court, was at hand to administer the oath of office. President Garcia's first actions dealt with the declaration of a period of mourning for the whole nation and the burial ceremonies for the late Chief-Executive Magsaysay.[4]


After much discussion, both official and public, the Congress of the Philippines, finally, approved a bill outlawing the Communist Party of the Philippines. Despite the pressure exerted against the congressional measure, García signed the said bill into law as Republic Act No. 1700 on June 19, 1957.[4][5]

Republic Act № 1700 was superseded by Presidential Decree № 885, entitled "Outlawing Subversive Organization, Penalizing Membership Therein and For Other Purposes." This was amended by Presidential Decree № 1736, and later superseded by Presidential Decree № 1835, entitled, "Codifying The Various Laws on Anti-Subversion and Increasing the Penalties for Membership in Subversive Organization." This, in turn, was amended by Presidential Decree № 1975. On May 5, 1987, Executive Order № 167 repealed Presidential Decrees № 1835 and № 1975 as being unduly restrictive of the constitutional right to form associations.[6]

On September 22, 1992, Republic Act № 1700, as amended, was repealed by Republic Act № 7636.[7]

Filipino First Policy

García exercised the Filipino First Policy, for which he was known. This policy heavily favored Filipino businessmen over foreign investors. He was also responsible for changes in retail trade which greatly affected the Chinese businessmen in the country. In a speech during a joint session of Congress on September 18, 1946, García said the following:

Austerity Program

In the face of the trying conditions in the country, García initiated what has been called "The Austerity Program". His administration was characterized by its austerity program and its insistence on a comprehensive nationalist policy. On March 3, 1960, he affirmed the need for complete economic freedom and added that the government no longer would tolerate the dominance of foreign interests (especially American) in the national economy. He promised to shake off "the yoke of alien domination in business, trade, commerce and industry." Garcia was also credited with his role in reviving Filipino cultural arts.[3] The main points of the Austerity Program were:[4]

  1. The government would tighten up its controls to prevent abuses in the over shipment of exports under license and in under-pricing as well.
  2. There would be a more rigid enforcement of the existing regulations on barter shipments.
  3. Government imports themselves were to be restricted to essential items.
  4. The government also would reduce rice imports to a minimum.
  5. An overhauling of the local transportation system would be attempted so as to reduce the importation of gasoline and spare parts.
  6. The tax system would be revised so as to attain more equitable distribution of the payment-burden and achieve more effective collection from those with ability to pay.
  7. There would be an intensification of food production.

The program was hailed[4] by the people at large and confidence was expressed that the measures proposed would help solve the standing problems of the Republic.[4]

Bohlen–Serrano Agreement

During his administration, he acted on the Bohlen–Serrano Agreement, which shortened the lease of the American military bases from 99 years to 25 years and made it renewable after every five years.[9]

Republic Cultural Award

In addition to his laws and programs, the Garcia administration also put emphasis on reviving the Filipino culture. In doing so, the Republic Cultural Award was created. To this day, the award is being given to Filipino artists, scientists, historians, and writers.[10]

1961 Presidential Election

At the end of his second term, he ran for re–election in the Presidential elections in November 1961, but was defeated by his Vice-President Diosdado Macapagal, who belonged to the opposing Liberal Party (the President and the Vice-President are elected separately in the country).


Post-Presidency and Death

Garcia, circa 1960s
President Garcia's tomb at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

After his failed re–election bid, García retired to Tagbilaran to resume as a private citizen.

On June 1, 1971, García was elected delegate of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. The convention delegates elected him as the President of the Convention. However, just days after his election, on June 14, 1971, Garcia died from a fatal heart attack on 5:57 p.m. at his residence in Bohol Avenue (now Sgt. Esguerra Avenue), Quezon City.[11] He was succeeded as president of the Convention by his former Vice-President, Diosdado Macapagal.[citation needed]

García became the first layman to lie in state in Manila Cathedral—a privilege until then limited to a deceased Archbishop of Manila—and the first President to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.[citation needed]


Foreign Honors


  1. ^ a b "Remembering Carlos P. Garcia on his 115th Birth Anniversary" Archived January 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
  2. ^ "List of Previous Senators". Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Eufronio Alip, ed., The Philippine Presidents from Aguinaldo to García (1958); Jesús V. Merritt, Our Presidents: Profiles in History (1962); and Pedro A. Gagelonia, Presidents All (1967). See also Hernando J. Abaya, The Untold Philippine Story (1967). Further information can be found in Ester G. Maring and Joel M. Maring, eds., Historical and Cultural Dictionary of the Philippines (1973).
  4. ^ a b c d e f Molina, Antonio. The Philippines: Through the centuries. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Cooperative, 1961. Print.
  5. ^ "Republic Act No. 1700". Chan Robles Law Library. June 19, 1957.
  6. ^ "Executive Order No. 167, Series of 1987". Chan Robles Law Library. May 5, 1987.
  7. ^ "Republic Act No. 7636". Chan Robles Law Library. September 22, 1992.
  8. ^ "Our Vision and Mission". prescarlosgarcia.org. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  9. ^ Gregor, A. James (1989). In the Shadow of Giants: The Major Powers and the Security of Southeast Asia. Hoover Institution Press. p. 119. ISBN 9780817988210.
  10. ^ "Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961) Philippine Presidents". Philippine Presidents. 2010.
  11. ^ "CPG IS DEAD!". The Bohol Chronicle. June 15, 1971. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  12. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1959" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Filipino recipients of Spanish Decorations". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.
  14. ^ "President's Month in Review: March 16 – March 31, 1958". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.

External links

Wikisource logo Works written by or about Carlos P. Garcia at Wikisource

Political offices
Preceded by
Fernando Lopez
Vice President of the Philippines
Title next held by
Diosdado Macapagal
Preceded by
Ramon Magsaysay
President of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Diosdado Macapagal