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Philippines Modern History

In July 1946, the independent republic of the Philippines was again proclaimed. But independence had its price. The US was allowed to establish military bases in the country and only US weapons were allowed to be imported. Furthermore, reciprocal customs duties were introduced between the United States and the Philippines. Democratic institutions were built according to the American model. Power now rested in the hands of a small land-owning elite, many of whom were educated in the West and had previously held high positions in colonial administration.

Immediately after the war, squatting guerrillas became involved in formal politics.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Philippines. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

Democratic Alliance (DA). In 1946, seven representatives of the DA were elected to Parliament. But to ensure support for a constitutional change that would benefit American interests, the newly elected Liberal President Manuel Roxas ensured that these seven and three other opposition members were excluded from Parliament.

The Hawk guerrillas refused to give up their weapons, and the government launched a brutal campaign against the guerrillas, which was banned in 1948. The Hawks started a guerrilla war that was initially successful, but with American help, the government side was able to defeat the guerrillas in the early 1950s.

Contemporary History of PhilippinesCorruption and violence then came to characterize political life. Until 1972, the governmental power switched between the Nationalist Party and the Liberal Party. The Nationalist Party's candidate Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1965 and re-elected in 1969. During his first term, Marcos invested in an expansion of the infrastructure financed by foreign loans. But a promised land reform is put on ice.

In the 1960s, the Philippines was one of Southeast Asia's richest countries. But while many of the neighboring countries reached rapid growth, developments in the Philippines stopped. In the early 1970s, Marcos faced a political crisis with an empty treasury, rising unemployment and daily demonstrations. The protests came from students, farmers, workers and intellectuals as well as members of Congress. In addition, the regime faced armed resistance from a new Communist guerrilla, the NPA, and Muslim separatists (see Left Uprising and Muslim separatists).

Suppression under Marco's rule

In September 1972, Marcos introduced a state of emergency and thereby assumed all power. The press was censored, the Congress dissolved and 50,000 people arrested. Marcos claimed that he would build a new society but instead he created a power pyramid with a network of people he could trust. Loyal support was generously rewarded.

The state of emergency was lifted in January 1981, but at the same time the constitution was changed so that Marcos could be elected president for another term. In an election boycotted by the opposition in June 1981, Marcos was re-elected by a large majority.

When the opposition leader Benigno Aquino returned from his exile in the US in 1983, he was already murdered at the airport. It became the starting point for a powerful resistance movement that came to include both traditional opposition parties such as communists, popular movements, trade unions, business representatives and many churches. Communist guerrillas grew steadily and, with their civilian administration, controlled large areas - sometimes with the quiet support of local rulers and the Catholic Church.

The weak position of the Marcos regime worried the Americans who had great economic and military interests to take advantage of, and the United States tried to get Marcos to democratize his rule.

The previously so divided opposition agreed before the 1986 election about a presidential candidate, Benigno Aquino's widow Corazon Aquino. In the final phase, she was also supported by parts of the military. Marcos proclaimed himself victorious, but extensive electoral fraud was discovered. After demonstrations when hundreds of thousands of people filled the major ring road around Manila (called Edsa) and after Corazon Aquino had also received US support for her election victory, she took over as president and the Marcos family fled to Hawaii, where the former president passed away in 1989.

Great expectations were set on the new government and initially Aquino had the opinion. A new constitution was approved in a referendum in 1987. But as several union leaders were murdered and human rights violations continued, criticism of the president continued. Aquino's attempt to boost the economy failed. She was subjected to seven coup attempts and each time her position weakened.

Until 1992, the United States had several military bases in the country. The American presence was seen by many Filipinos as a violation of national sovereignty and when the agreement was renewed in 1991, 12 of the Senate's 23 members voted no to an extension. The US responded by reducing its aid to the country.

The 1992 presidential election was won by the former General and Defense Minister Fidel Ramos, who had stood by Aquino's side in 1986. The victory was scarce and Ramo's party Lakas-NUCD won only a small part of the seats in the congress. But Ramos succeeded in reversing the stagnant economy. He worked hard to reach peace with Muslim separatists, the left-wing guerrillas and coup-makers among the military. In 1996, a peace agreement was signed with the Muslim separatist movement MNLF and after settlements with rebel groups within the army, the military was no longer considered a threat. Ramo's greatest success was that he managed to give the country a sense of stability. But his supporters' unsuccessful attempts to change the constitution to allow the president to stand for re-election led to him losing in popularity.

In 1998, Joseph Estrada won the presidential election with almost 40 percent of the vote. Estrada had gone for election on a populist message of better conditions for the poor population and the fight against corruption and crime. He could benefit from his background as a movie actor in the 1960s when he played heroes who intervened on the poor side. His followers were a diverse collection of Chinese businessmen, old Marcos supporters and left-wing activists. Initially, Estrada did better than expected, but his government was increasingly criticized for incompetence, brother-in-law and corruption.

When one of Estrada's former allies claimed that the president had received several million dollars from a gaming syndicate, the demands for his departure grew. In late autumn 2000, 100,000 people demonstrated against Estrada in Manila. Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo left the government and the House of Representatives voted to put the president before state law.

Arroyo takes over

In January 2001, it looked as if Estrada could avoid national law when eleven senators out of 21 voted against a judicial process. This triggered new mass protests in the capital. In the demonstration trains, mainly the representatives of the middle class appeared. That the president was forced to leave power was clear when the military withdrew its support for him as well. On January 20, 2001, Vice President Arroyo took over as President.

The Supreme Court upheld Estrada's immunity from prosecution and he was arrested in April 2001. He was prosecuted, among other things, for damaging the equivalent of $ 80 million. Violent unrest occurred in Manila, where Estrada's supporters tried to storm the presidential palace.

In July 2003, several hundred soldiers occupied a luxury hotel and shopping center in Manila. They accused high-ranking officers of corruption and of secretly selling weapons to Muslim rebels in order to prolong the war. The action was interrupted as the soldiers received no strong popular support.

Arroyo decided to run for office in the presidential election on May 10, 2004. Her main competitor was political newcomer movie star Fernando Poe Jr (Da King). Arroyo promised to provide poor Filipinos with water, electricity, health care, education and work. It was more unclear what political message Poe, openly supported by Estrada, represented.

After six weeks, Arroyo was named victor with 40 percent of the vote against just over 36 percent for Poe. After the election, she pledged a series of measures to increase state income and fight against corruption and poverty. Accusations of election fraud, along with corruption suspicions against her husband, son and brother-in-law, weakened Arroyo. But the opposition was divided and at the end of 2004 Poe died of a heart attack.

In June 2005, protests against Arroyo escalated after a former security police said they had a call on tape proving that the president had cheated on the election victory. She was accused of calling the country's highest election official in connection with the counting of votes. After a while, the president admitted that she was speaking on the tape, but denied that she had tried to influence the election. Requirements for her departure were raised from several directions. In Manila, demonstrations were held both for and against Arroyo. The opposition made several attempts to get her before the national court, but did not get the congress with her. The fact that the President was able to remain was because she still had support from the military leadership and large sections of the business community and the Catholic Church.

The next crisis came in February 2006. The authorities stated that the military had injured a coup attempt and the government introduced an emergency permit, which was canceled after a week.

The campaign before the parliamentary elections in May 2007 became violent. Of the more than one hundred people killed, about half were politicians. The Senate election was a success for the opposition, while candidates related to Arroyo won only two seats. However, the government side had gained a majority in the lower chamber

Former President Joseph Estrada was sentenced in September 2007 to life in prison for corruption. Estrada was found guilty of embezzling approximately $ 80 million of state funds. He was fined just over $ 15 million and got a state property confiscated by the state. The following month, Estrada was pardoned by the President in exchange for refraining from taking any political office.

Hurricane Ketsana erupted over Luzon in September 2009, causing severe flooding in Manila and its environs. At least 200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands became homeless. The government issued disaster permits in the capital and 25 provinces. But Arroyo (who now had record low opinion figures) and her ministers were criticized for taking so long for the rescue work to get started.

Massacre at Mindnao

The 2010 presidential election long seemed like an open deal. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was named presidential candidate for the Little Liberal Party in late 2009. His chief challenger was construction billionaire Manuel "Manny" Villar of the Nationalist Party, Gilberto Teodoro, who was running for the ruling party of Lakas Kampi-CMD and former President Joseph Estrada (who the Election Commission allowed to stand, although he did not formally get).

President Arroyo was not allowed to stand for re-election, but her shadow still rested on the election. She was running for the House of Representatives and it was speculated that she was trying to get a new position of power. From several directions attempts were made to throw candidates by linking them with the outgoing president. It particularly affected Villar, who had difficulty releasing himself from the rumors that he had previously used his political position to enrich himself.

A massacre of 57 people in Mindanao in November 2009 upset the entire Philippines. Most of the victims had ties to a local politician who intended to register his candidacy for a mayoral election in Maguindanao province the following year. There were also journalists, local politicians and human rights activists in the society. The suspicions were quickly directed at the powerful Ampatuan clan, which has long dominated politics in the province. The incumbent mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his father were accused of ordering the death (see Maguindanomassakar).

Prior to the May 2010 presidential election, Benigno Aquino, who had previously been a relatively unnoticed congressional politician, led a major in opinion polls. He went to the election with the slogan "if there is no corruption, there is no poverty". One reason for his popularity was the strong sympathies many felt for him after his mother Corazon Aquino's death in cancer the year before. He clearly won with just over 42 percent of the vote against 26 percent for Estrada. Estrada's pair horse Jejomar Binay won by a marginal margin in the vice presidential election. Arroyo Laka's Kampi CMD became the largest party in the House of Representatives, where one of the seats went to the former president. The turnout was just over 75 percent.

A new Aquino in power

When Benigno Aquino took office as president in June 2010, expectations of him were high, despite being considered politically inexperienced. He tried to downplay his demands by saying that he was not the "steel man". At the same time, he made great pledges to reduce poverty without raising taxes. He promised the fight against corruption and increased respect for human rights. One million new jobs a year would be created up to and including 2016, partly through the Philippines attracting more foreign investors.

Aquino's first two years in power were marked by the attempts to bring representative Gloria Arroyo to justice for corruption and abuse of power. The plan to form a Truth Commission to investigate corruption charges against her fell after it was rejected by the Supreme Court. The government accused the court of partiality, citing, among other things, that most of the 15 judges had been appointed by Arroyo. Afterwards, several charges were brought against Arroyo (in some cases with husband Jose Miguel Arroyo) and when the former president in 2011 was about to leave the country for hospital care abroad, she was stopped. She was then detained in a military hospital.

The government also tried to dismiss a large number of people Arroyo had appointed to important posts during his final weeks in power, including Supreme Court President Renato C Corona. He was forced to resign after being convicted in a judicial process in Congress. According to the indictment, he had acted partially, in favor of Arroyo. However, he was convicted for not reporting all his financial assets.

Peace talks and corruption scandal

The government also initiated peace talks with the communist movement NDF-CPP-NPA (see Left Uprising) and the Muslim separatist movement Milf (see Muslim separatists). In early 2013, the government and Milf agreed on a framework for a peace treaty, but new unrest flared up later in the year when there were other groups opposing the settlement.

Aquino succeeded in 2012 in passing a law that legalized contraceptives, despite extensive opposition from the Catholic Church. However, the law could not enter into force until 2014 after the Supreme Court ruled that it did not violate the Constitution (see Social conditions).

The congressional elections in May 2013 were seen by many as a referendum on Aquino's rule. His party alliance Team PNoy (see Political system) went to elections with promises of continued political and economic reforms. Team PNoy gained a majority in both chambers of the congress.

Among those elected to the House of Representatives were former President Arroyo, despite the suspicions of crime against her, and Imelda Marcos, widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Her daughter Imee Marcos was re-elected governor of Ilocos Norte, while Joseph Estrada, who was deposed as president in 2001, was named new mayor of Manila.

Despite a major security incident and a five-month long arms ban, fifty people were killed in election-related violence.

A few months after the election, a major corruption scandal broke out. It applied to the Development Fund, PDAF, which had been established by President Arroyo. All members of Congress had received grants through it for use in local development projects. Via media revelations, it turned out that some 30 leading politicians put their money in their own pockets via dedicated NGOs. Among those appointed were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of the UNA, who was then considered one of the country's most influential politicians. In Manila and several other cities, large demonstrations were held in protest of the mosquito.

Aquino initially talked about reforming the PDAF, but the fund was abolished since the Supreme Court ruled that it violated the constitution. At that time, attention had also been directed to the president's own "social" fund (Daf), which in 2012 had made payments of the equivalent of just over $ 25 million to 18 senators since they voted for a judicial process against the Supreme Court chairman. The support for the president fell.

In November 2013, large parts of the central Philippines were paralyzed when the typhoon Haiyan (in the Philippines it was called Yolanda) swept over the area. The worst affected were the islands of Leyte and Samar. Disaster status was announced throughout the country. More than 6,200 people were killed (more than 1,000 people were still missing in March 2014) and 1.1 million homes were completely or partially destroyed (see also Finance).

The authorities received criticism for the fact that it took so long before the relief efforts started. This colored itself on the president who seemed to want to place blame on local authorities and to show a lack of compassion. There were also those who claimed that the delinquency was due to the poor relationship between two political clans, Aquinos and the Marcos family, who have traditionally been strong at Leyte. In mid-December, Aquino announced a four-year reconstruction program of about $ 8 billion.

Although the Philippines received extensive international assistance from many quarters, not least from the United States and the Asean countries, it was noted in particular that China's contribution was limited, even less than Ikeas.

In April 2014, three senators, Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla and Josť "Jinggoy" Estrada, who were suspected of crimes in connection with the PDAF scandal, were indicted. They were arrested a few months later and then said that they had not done anything wrong. Aquino was accused of interfering with tougher corruption suspects of political opponents than against people in their own ranks.

In September 2014, several attempts were made in Congress to get Aquino brought before state law, but all failed as the president supported a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

New violence in Mindanao in early 2015 caused the peace process to fail, leading to President Aquino's most difficult crisis to date (see Calendar).

Duterte wins the presidential election

The May 2016 presidential election consisted of five candidates: Jejomar Binay (who had resigned as vice president in 2015), Manuel Roxas, Senator Grace Poe, Rodrigo Duterte (former mayor of Davao City) and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. But even before the official election results had been presented, four of the candidates admitted defeat, when it became clear that Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte was going for a grand victory.

 
 

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