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.
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.
Corruption 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.