Archive for the 'Historical Events' Category

01
Dec
09

Philippine Coup Attempts

A coup d’état or simply coup is a sudden, unconstitutional deposition of government power, usually led by a small group of the existing state to replace the opposed government with another type of government, either civil or military.
During Ferdinand E. Marcos’s presidency, a lot of corruption arose. During his second term, Marcos abolished the 1935 Philippine Constitution and in 1972 established martial law in order to retain his power.  He embezzled government money shortly after his establishment of martial law. Marcos also ordered the military to kill any political opposition against him. It is speculated that Marcos had arranged the Benigno Aquino, Jr. assassination in order to “kill” the competition.

After pressures from Washington in 1985, Marcos decided to hold snap elections to build legitimacy within his regime. The growing opposition of Marcos pushed for Aquino’s widow, Corazon Aquino to run for office, which she did. Marcos’s official election canvasser claimed that Marcos won the election, however the (unofficial) National Movement for Free Elections claimed that Aquino won the most votes. The Filipino people were fed up with Marcos’s corruption of abuse of power. Marcos fled to Hawaii in exile because of the People Power Revolution and Aquino, the true winner of the snap election, assumed control over the Philippines.

On December 1, 1989, Colonel Gregorio Honassan, General Edgardo Abenina, and retired General Jose Ma. Zumel staged an alliance of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement and of troops loyal to Marcos. During the coup, the rebels took control over Villamor Airbase, Fort Bonifacio, Sangley Airbase, Mactan Airbase in Cebu, and portions of Camp Aguinaldo.From Sangley Airbase, the rebels were able to launch planes and helicopters that bombarded Malacañang Palace (the Philippine White House),Camp Crane and Camp Aguinaldo. By December 3, 1989, government forces were able to recapture all forts and military bases except for Mactan Airbase. The rebels retreating from Fort Bonifacio occupied twenty-two high rise buildings  along the Ayala business area in Makati. The rebels fought hard until December 9th, when the rebels surrendered the Mactan Airbase while the Makati occupation ended earlier on December 7th. The coup left 99 Filipinos dead, including 50 civilians, and 570 Filipinos wounded.

The United States supported the Aquino government and sent aircraft carriers and fighter planes from Clark Air Base in support. The American planes had clearances to shoot down any rebel planes at their base.

Following the coup, President Aquino put together the Fact-Finding Commission to investigate and provide a full report on the coup attempts against her regime. She put Hilario Davide in charge of the investigation and his report is known as the Davide Commission Report. The Davide Commission Report claimed that the coup arose because of  perceived deficiencies in the Aquino government in areas as corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, and lenient treatment of communist insurgents. The Davide Report also suggested reform, including the establishment of a civilian national police force, a crackdown on corruption in the military, a performance review of appointive government officials, reforms in the process of military promotions, a review of election laws in time for the 1992 presidential elections. The coup attempts show how much more successful a legitimate government (Aquino) is than an illegitimate government (Marcos).

- Alexander Nubla

01
Dec
09

Philippine Parliamentary Elections of 1978

Before President Ferdinand Marcos instilled his martial law throughout the Philippines, there was another highly-debated topic that preceded this one – the Philippine Constitution. From 1967-1971, the formation and the election of delegates for a Constitutional Convention were created in order to make a few revisions to the current constitution. Officially holding its first meeting on June 1, 1971, the Constitutional Convention was headed by the elected delegate Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol up until his death on June 14, 1971. He was succeeded by Diosadado Macapagal of Pampanga, who, unfortunately, also found himself incapable of performing any real changes due to Marcos’ martial law that was declared and put into place in September 1972.

As if being subject to martial law were not enough, the Convention was met with further obstacles. When several delegates happened to disappear, either due to their being placed in detention, hiding, or voluntary exile, it seemed as if nothing were to be done about the revisions. In addition to the persistent “suggestions” for provisions in the Constitution from President Ferdinand Marcos himself, the Convention approved its proposed Constitution of the Philippines on November 29, 1971. The following day, the President issued Presidential Decree No.73 setting the date of the plebiscite on January 15, 1973 for the ratification or rejection of the proposed Constitution. He then issued a contradictory General Order No. 20 postponing the scheduled referendum. Unbeknownst to the Constitutional Convention, the proposed Constitution had been approved according to the President’s Proclamation No. 1102. It announced that the proposed Constitution had been ratified on January 17 with an overwhelming vote of the members of the Citizen Assemblies, organized by Marcos himself through Presidential Decree No. 86. Although many petitions were sent to the Supreme Court for an appeal, it was conclusive that there were no obstacles in the way of the new Constitution.

Had the actual proposed Constitution of the Constitutional Convention had been approved, it would have established a parliamentary government in the Philippines, with the President as a Prime Minister but a ceremonial head of state. This, however, was not implemented as a result of the meeting held during January 10-15, 1972 by the Citizen Assemblies where an overwhelming majority rejected the convening of a National Assembly. The Citizen Assemblies continued to support President Ferdinand Marcos, agreeing that martial law should be continued and that the President’s “suggestions” to the Constitution be ratified in 1976. The suggested amendments included an Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) substituting for the Interim National Assembly, and the President becoming the Prime Minister with legislative powers until martial law was lifted. From 1972 until the convening of the Interim Batasang Pambansa in 1978, the President exercised absolute legislative powers.

The assembly of the Interim Batasang Pambansa was once again postponed through legislation, with Presidential Decree No. 995 creating the Batasang Bayan – a 132-member council that advised the President on important legislature measures – instead. Finally, on April 7, 1978, the first national election for 166 of the 208 seats of the Interim Batasan Pambansa took place. The major opposing camps were the regime’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) led by First Lady Imelda Marcos and Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) led by Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino. Regardless of being able to run from his jail cell and promoting noise to be made in support of the opposition, Ninoy lost by a landslide to KBL. Of the 21 opposing candidates LABAN endorsed, none received a seat. The fraudulent Interim Batasang Pambansa now consisted of an entire committee committed to its new Prime Minister, President Ferdinand Marcos, convening on June 12, 1978.

♥ Jessel Villegas

01
Dec
09

Assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr.

The assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. occurred on August 21, 1983. Aquino was shot in the head while leaving the airplane at Manila Airport. The death of Aquino generated widespread demonstrations that acquitted government involvement in the act. In October 1984 the independent commission found that military conspiracy led by General Fabian C. Ver., the Philippine armed forces chief of staff, was responsible for the assassination.  Ver and 25 other suspected participants were acquitted of these charges in 1985.

The assassination of Aquino was rooted from the idea that Aquino produced a threat to Marcos government. Aquino, after all, had been Marcos chief political rival. For example, when Aquino presumably planned to run for president in 1973 Aquino was disillusioned in 1972 when President Marcos declared martial law. However, once the martial law was lifted Aquino returned home to the Philippines intending to campaign for the upcoming elections. Nevertheless, Aquino was never allowed to campaign. This assassination was the beginning of the end of Marcos regime. He was unable to regain control even after attempting to call for a snap election. His opponent then became Aquino’s widow, Corazon. According to Corazon, she felt that she “was not the only one who had suffered the most under Marcos” regime. Corazon alleged that she “could see the country sinking deeper and deeper into despair” and that the election was no longer “one politician against another politician” but rather “a search for someone who is almost the complete opposite of what Marcos is.” Corazon was aiming to seek justice. Throughout her campaign she became the driving force behind unity and fight against Marcos. Even though Marcos declared himself the winner of the election over Corazon, he was forced to flee the country due to the hundreds of thousands of angered Filipinos who marched the streets in rebellion. Corazon Aquino then became president.

This event is significant in Filipino history because it marks a new beginning in history under the reign of someone who is the complete opposite of Marcos. Marcos reign lasted two decades and was filled with corruption and treachery. Corazon Aquino represented the fight against a feeling of helplessness, powerless, and abuse against excessive autocratic rule. In her decision to run for presidency, Corazon quoted her husband’s words “’I will never be able to forgive myself if I will have to live with the knowledge that I could have done something and I did not do anything.” In essence, the question here was not political credibility or ethos but rather a question of determination and reconciliation for all Filipino people had suffered enough under Marcos.

 - Dora Alicia Gomez

30
Nov
09

New People’s Army (NPA)

Tracing their roots back to the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Hukbalahap, the New People’s Army was founded on March 29, 1969 after the party’s reestablishment on December 26, 1968. Established by Jose Mara Sison, the CPP’s Central Committee chairman, and a number of other members, the NPA and the new CPP was established as a Maoist organization after a split within the party against pro-Soviet members. The NPA’s objective is the overthrow of the Philippine government through armed struggle and the establishment of a new democratic government with socialist goals. In addition, the NPA was opposed to the Marcos dictatorship’s endemic corruption and abuse of the working class and peasantry.  The NPA’s support base was primarily from the working class and agrarian peasantry of the provinces. However, as the group grew in number and influence, the NPA’s membership came to include thousands of university students and professors especially after the implementation of martial law under President Marcos. Also, at one point, the NPA could boast its presence and activity in every province of the islands despite its humble beginnings in Tarlac.

The NPA ranks of armed fighters numbered in the thousands, with its peak of 25,000-34,000 well-armed fighters in the 1980s. The NPA engaged in extensive and intensive guerilla warfare against the Philippine military throughout the islands, targeting military personnel, police, judges, and even U.S. military members in NPA areas. In the 1970s, as the revolutionary movement in the country began to grow, Marcos declared the poissibility of martial law to curb opposition to his regime. After a series of bombings and attacks on government officials and sites, much of it suspect to the Marcos regime itself, Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 for the first time in the nation’s history in order to clamp down on political opponents as well as armed movements such as the NPA and Muslim rebels in the south. Despite a heavy crackdown on NPA guerillas by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the NPA’s guerilla activities evolved from a localized rebellion composed of a few thousand fighters to a widespread and intensified military conflict with up to 34,000 guerillas with an estimated 400,000 identifying with the CCP.

The New People’s Army is significant in the chapters of Philippine history due to the impact it had in shaping Filipino history and politics. As an extension of the legacy of combating foreign presences in the islands such as the Japanese and the U.S. by the Hukbalahap, the NPA was established as an armed movement with the objectives of abolishing the feudal land system of the country, eliminate government corruption and poverty, as well as overthrow the government to establish a new democratic and socialist government. During martial law, President Marcos used the NPA as a front for declaring martial law in order to crush political opponents, as well as armed movements such as the NPA due to the threat they posed towards his dictatorship. In spite of a decrease in the numbers of the NPA and its presence throughout the Philippines, the NPA still exists to this day in fighting the Philippine government in order to eliminate poverty. Jose Maria Sison still heads the NPA from self-imposed exile in the Netherlands to this day.

- Lex Duey

NPA founder Jose Maria Sison

New People's Army flag

NPA guerillas with rifles in the air

19
Nov
09

People Power Revolution

The People Power Revolution, also known as the Philippine Revolution of 1986 or EDSA Revolution, was a monumental historical event that was preceded by years of political instability and civil unrest.  For twenty years the Philippines had been subject to the authoritarian regime of ex-president, Ferdinand Marcos.  During his term the country faced extreme wealth disparities due to political corruption, which then resulted in increased crime rates.  Marcos used this civil unrest, as well as the supposed threat of communism, as a justification for the implementation of martial law on September 21, 1972.  The proclamation of martial law allowed Marcos to exceed his two-term limit and remain in office without holding elections.  Marcos used his increased power to embezzle money from the government, as well as silence his opposition and critics, such as in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.  The assassination of Aquino only intensified government suspicions and heightened discontent among Filipino citizens.  

After being pressured by the United States government, Marcos declared on November 23, 1985 that a snap presidential election would be held the following year.  The elections were conducted on February 7, 1986, but conflict arose regarding the results.  The Commission of Elections declared Ferdinand Marcos the winner, while the National Movement for Free Elections declared Corazon Aquino, the widow of Benigno Aquino, Jr., as the winner.  The allegations of fraud that circled the elections caused once prominent supporters of Marcos, such as Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, to resign from their political posts and withdraw support.  The Catholic Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, asked the Filipino citizens via radio broadcast to come to the opposition’s aid. 

Masses of demonstrators flocked to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) near Camp Aguinaldo where Enrile and Ramos were holding a press conference announcing their withdrawal of support for the Marcos regime.  The crowd consisted of a variety of people such as military figures, clergy members, and families.  An exact count of the demonstrators is unknown, but estimates suggest over one million people gathered to form barricades and conduct non-violent demonstrations.  The sheer number of demonstrators proved to be effective in hindering the movement of government troops.  Leaders of the opposition were able to capture radio and television stations, as well as destroy military artillery and supplies.

On February 25, 1986 two inaugurations were held, one for Aquino and the other for Marcos.  However, Aquino’s inauguration received a much larger turnout than that of Marcos, so he and his family quickly fled the palace.  Marcos and his family were able to secure safe passage to Hawaii, and thus fled the Philippines for the United States.  The opposition was victorious having forced Marcos out of the country, and instating Corazon Aquino as the first woman president of the Philippines.

The People Power Revolution was a historical event that was years in the making, and has continued to have a significant impact on the Philippines in the years have that followed.  The more obvious result of the movement was that it helped to overthrow one of the most infamous authoritarian regimes in history, and reintroduced democracy to a country that had been denied such rights for more than twenty years.  However, one of the less obvious, but still highly significant outcomes, was that it demonstrated the ability of the Filipino masses to organize and serve as a force for change.  This newfound power created a sense of nationalism among Filipinos, as people from diverse social classes and regions came together for a common purpose.  In addition, the influence of this event reached beyond the borders of the Philippines, as the People Power Revolution served as an inspiration for other non-violent demonstrations around the world.

- Stephanie Enano




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