The Philippines as an Independent State

On July 4, 1946, the USA released the Philippines into state independence. Manuel Roxas (* 1892, † 1948), elected president of the newly formed Liberal Party (LP) in April 1946, accepted the close economic and military ties to the USA. In an amendment to the constitution, the Philippines had to grant US citizens the same rights to exploit natural resources as the Filipinos. In addition, the USA received numerous military bases for 99 years. After Roxas ‘ death, the population elected (in a controversial ballot) Elipidio Quirino (* 1880, † 1956; LP) as President of the Republic. Under his government (1948–53), the Hukbalahap triggered an uprising in 1949, in which the discontent of the poor land tenants was particularly evident. The uprising was put down with American military aid. Ramón Magsaysay (* 1907, † 1957), who had played an important role as Defense Minister (1950–53) (reorganization of the army and police), was elected President of the Republic in 1953 as a candidate for the NP; his efforts to reform society failed. After his death he was followed by Carlos P. Garcia (* 1896, † 1971 ; 1957–61; NP) and Diosdado Macapagal (* 1910, † 1997 ; 1961–65; LP).

The Marcos era

In November 1965, F. E. Marcos was elected President of the Republic as a candidate of the NP (re-elected in 1969); Confronted internally with intensifying social, ethnic and religious tensions, he increasingly took a dictatorial course. In 1972 he imposed martial law: opposition politicians were arrested, the freedom of the press restricted, the right to strike abolished and the political parties formally dissolved. He promised land reform. In several referendums (allegations of manipulation) he was confirmed in office in 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1978. In his reign Marcos saw himself on the one hand that of B. Aquino led bourgeois opposition, on the other hand confronted with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed arm of the Communist Party.

In addition, according to Payhelpcenter, an uprising of the Muslim-oriented Moro National Liberation Front had started in the south of the Philippines, on the Sulu Islands, in 1973. After Marcos had repealed martial law in 1980 under domestic political pressure, he was re-elected president in 1981 (with extensive powers). The murder of opposition leader B. Aquino shortly after his return from exile (August 1983) triggered a serious domestic political crisis. Ongoing protests and demonstrations led Marcos to call early elections for February 7, 1986; the opposition was the only candidate for these presidential elections, C. Aquino , the widow B. Aquinos, on.

The Philippines under Presidents C. Aquino and F. Ramos

After the (apparently manipulated) re-election of Marcos, he had to give up the presidency in favor of C. Aquino and leave the country due to ongoing protests by the people power movement and strong foreign policy pressure from the USA. The pro-democracy movement was supported by sections of the military and the business elite, as well as the Catholic Church.

Peace talks with the NPA in 1986 were unsuccessful. The democratization that was initiated (a new constitution was passed by referendum in 1987) was accompanied by a considerable deterioration in the economic situation. The opposition to C. Aquino, which reached into government circles, was organized in 1988 in the multi-party Union for National Action; since 1986 several coup attempts against the president have been suppressed. In 1990 the Philippines terminated the base agreement with the United States in September 1991; the implementation of a new one failed due to resistance from the Senate (1992 evacuation of the Subic Bay naval base as the last American military base). The presidential election in May 1992 was won by F. Ramos who tried to find a peaceful solution to the conflict with the various groups of Islamic insurgents in Mindanao. Following a provisional ceasefire agreement (1993) with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Ramos and the Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari signed on September 2, 1996a peace deal to end a guerrilla war that had killed over 100,000 people in more than two decades. This treaty established a “South Philippine Council for Peace and Development” under the leadership of the rebels for 14 provinces on Mindanao and a referendum for 1999 on the participation of the province in a planned autonomous region. In 1997 a ceasefire was negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which (after rejecting the self-government granted to the Moro in Mindanao as inadequate) terminated the peace agreement in January 1999 and launched a war of civil war to establish a Muslim state of its own »Bangsa Moro «resumed. In addition, the small radical rebel group Abu Sayyaf (German bearer of the sword), a split from the MILF, appeared on Jolo with terrorist actions (including hostage-taking, especially the kidnapping of foreign tourists from the Malaysian island of Sipadan in April 2000, which was particularly spectacular after the payment of high ransom and mediation by Libya months later were mostly released). In 1999 fighting broke out again openly between the Maoist NPA and the army in Luzon.

In terms of foreign policy, after the closure of the American bases, a stronger orientation towards Southeast and East Asia began. In particular, ASEAN, which was founded in 1967 with the participation of the Philippines, has played a greater role since then. Relations with the People’s Republic of China have been strained by competing claims to some Spratly Islands.

Recent developments

After efforts by a citizens’ initiative to obtain a re-election of President Ramos through a constitutional amendment had been declared inadmissible by the Supreme Court, presidential elections were held on May 11, 1998, from which the actor and former Vice President J. E. Estrada, who emerged as » Lawyer for the Poor «presented himself as a winner (took office as President on June 30, 1998). Domestic political protests were soon directed against him, including because of his attempt to change the constitution to give foreign investors greater economic leeway and to strengthen the power of the president; then Estrada movedreturned this project in January 2000. Under him, the conflict escalated again with the various rebel movements, against which he took massive military action. The House of Representatives initiated impeachment proceedings against Estrada in November 2000 on charges of corruption and personal gain. Mass demonstrations with up to 500,000 participants and the distancing of parts of the military, the church and numerous cabinet members from him led to the overthrow of Estrada on January 20, 2001 (officially deposed by the Supreme Court on March 2, 2001). After his arrest in April, there were again large demonstrations. His successor in office was the previous Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In February 2001 the government declared a unilateral ceasefire against Muslim rebels. The following month it agreed to resume peace talks with the MILF, and in June 2001 a ceasefire that remained fragile and repeatedly gave way to new fighting. In May 2001, the Lakas-NUCD won the most seats in the House of Representatives.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the USA, the Philippine government de facto enabled the stationing of American troops in the country again (officially only joint maneuvers were carried out) and was supported by US special forces in the fight against Islamist rebel groups. Macapagal-Arroyo then proved to be a loyal supporter of US President G. W. Bush in the global fight against terrorism.

The Philippines as an Independent State

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