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Philippines - HISTORY
IN EARLY SPRING 1992, as President Corazon C. Aquino approached the end of her term, there was no doubt that her administration had restored a functioning democratic system to the Philippines. Aquino herself had decided not to seek another term as president even though the one-term presidency limitation imposed by the constitution did not apply to her. There was, however, no dearth of aspirants for the position. Eight candidates, including former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who had returned to the Philippines in the fall of 1991 to face embezzlement charges, were considered serious contenders.
In 1992, although its citizens had many reasons to hope for a brighter future, the Philippines was a nation beset with numerous economic and political problems. These problems has been compounded by a series of natural disasters: in the wake of a massive earthquake in northern Luzon in July 1990 and a devastating typhoon in the central Visyas in November 1990, the Mount Pinatubo volcano in Central Luzon erupted for the first time in 600 years in early June 1991. The eruption covered the surrounding countryside with molten ash and caused serious damage to the infrastructure of the region, including United States military facilities at Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base. The economy, which had slowed to a 3-percent gross national product (GNP) growth in 1990, fell by 0.6 percent in the first six months of 1991 and by slightly more than that in the third quarter. Inflation peaked at 19.3 percent in August 1991, declined to 15.8 percent by November, but remained far above the 9.5-percent International Monetary Fund (IMF) target for the year. Investment, up 19.7 percent from January to September 1991, was nearly offset by the inflation rate, resulting in only a marginal increase. Unemployment was 10.3 percent in July 1991, nearly two percentage points higher than the previous year, and most economists estimated underemployment to be at least twice that rate.
In the early 1990s, the Philippines was rather densely populated (220 persons per square kilometer), and the annual population growth rate was 2.5 percent. Approximately 57 percent of the population was under twenty years of age. Education was very highly regarded, as it had been throughout most of the twentieth century. The literacy rate of the total population approached 90 percent, and compulsory, free education reached nearly all elementary school-age children, even in the remotest areas. Health care was adequate in urban areas, less so in the countryside.
Corazon Aquino had been swept into the presidency by the February 1986 "People's Power" uprising amid high expectations that she would be able to right all of the wrongs in the Philippine body politic. It soon became evident, however, that her goals were essentially limited to restoring democratic institutions. She renounced the dictatorial powers that she had inherited from President Ferdinand E. Marcos and returned the Philippines to the rule of law, replacing the Marcos constitution with a democratic, progressive document that won overwhelming popular approval in a nationwide plebiscite, and scheduling national legislative and local elections. The new constitution, ratified in 1987, gives the Philippines a presidential system of government similar to that of the United States. The constitution provides the checks and balances of a three-branch government. It provider for the presidency; a two-house Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives; and an independent judiciary capped by the Supreme Court. The constitution also provides for regular elections and contains a bill of rights guaranteeing the same political freedoms found in the United States Constitution. Fueled by a constitutionally guaranteed free and open press, the freewheeling political life that had existed before the martial law period (1972-81) soon resumed. But most of the political problems, including widespread corruption, human rights abuses, and inequitable distribution of wealth and power, remained.
Many of the most intractable problems in the Philippines can be traced to the country's colonial past. One major source of tension and instability stems from the great disparity in wealth and power between the affluent upper social stratum and the mass of low-income, often impoverished, Filipinos. In 1988 the wealthiest 10 percent of the population received nearly 36 percent of the income, whereas the poorest 30 percent of the population received less than 15 percent of the income.
The roots of the disparity between the affluent and the impoverished lie in the structure established under Spanish rule, lasting from the first settlement under Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565 to the beginning of United States rule in 1898. Friars of various Roman Catholic orders, acting as surrogates of the Spanish government, had integrated the scattered peoples of the barangays into administrative entities and firmly implanted Roman Catholicism among them as the dominant faith--except in the southern Muslim-dominated portion of the archipelago. Over the centuries, these orders acquired huge landed estates and became wealthy, sometimes corrupt, and very powerful. Eventually, their estates were acquired by principales (literally, principal ones; a term for the indigenous local elite) and Chinese mestizos eager to take advantage of expanding opportunities in agriculture and commerce. The children of these new entrepreneurs and landlords were provided education opportunities not available to the general populace and formed the nucleus of an emerging, largely provincially based, sociocultural elite--the ilustrados-- who dominated almost all aspects of national life in later generations.
The peasants revolted from time to time against their growing impoverishment on the landed estates. They were aided by some reform-minded ilustrados, who made persistent demands for better treatment of the colony and its eventual assimilation with Spain. In the late nineteenth century, inflamed by various developments, including the martyrdom of three Filipino priests, a number of young ilustrados took up the nationalist banner in their writings, published chiefly in Europe. During the struggle for independence against Spain (1896-98), ilustrados and peasants made common cause against the colonial power, but not before a period of ilustrado vacillation, reflective of doubts about the outcome of a confrontation that had begun as a mass movement among workers and peasants around Manila. Once committed to the struggle, however, the ilustrados took over, becoming the articulators and leaders of the fight for independence--first against Spain, then against the United States.
Philippine peasant guerrilla forces contributed to the defeat of the Spanish. When the Filipinos were denied independence by the United States, they focused their revolutionary activity on United States forces, holding out in the hills for several years. The ilustrado leadership chose to accommodate to the seemingly futile situation. Once again, ilustrados found themselves in an intermediary position as arbiters between the colonial power and the rest of the population. Ilustrados responded eagerly to United States tutelage in democratic values and process in preparation for eventual Philippine self-rule, and, in return for their allegiance, United States authorities began to yield control to the ilustrados. Although a massive United States-sponsored popular education program exposed millions of Filipinos to the basic workings of democratic government, political leadership at the regional and national levels became almost entirely the province of families of the sociocultural elite. Even into the 1990s, most Philippine political leaders belonged to this group.
Members of the peasantry, for their part, continued to stage periodic uprisings in protest against their difficult situation. As the twentieth century progressed, their standard of living worsened as a result of population growth, usury, the spread of absentee landlordism, and the weakening of the traditional patron-client bonds of reciprocal obligation.
Whereas the economic legacy of colonialism, including the relative impoverishment of a very large segment of the population, left seeds of dissension in its wake, not all of the enduring features of colonial rule were destabilizing forces. Improvements in education and health had done much to enhance the quality of life. More important in the context of stabilizing influences was the profound impact of Roman Catholicism. The great majority of the Filipino people became Catholic, and the prelates of the church profoundly influenced the society.
Beginning with independence in 1946, the church was a source of stability to the infant nation. Throughout the period of constitutional government up to the declaration of martial law in 1972, however, the church remained outside of politics; its largely conservative clergy was occupied almost exclusively with religious matters.
Democracy functioned fairly well in the Philippines until 1972. National elections were held regularly under the framework of the 1935 constitution, which established checks and balances among the principal branches of government. Elections provided freewheeling, sometimes violent, exchanges between two loosely structured political parties, with one succeeding the other at the apex of power in a remarkably consistent cycle of alternation. Ferdinand Marcos, first elected to the presidency in 1965, was reelected by a large margin in 1969, the first president since independence to be elected to a second term.
Discontent rooted in economic disparity and religious differences grew in the late 1960s. The New People's Army (NPA), a guerrilla force formed in 1968 in Tarlac Province, north of Manila, by the newly established Communist Party of the Philippines-Marxist Leninist, soon spread to other parts of Luzon and throughout the archipelago. In the south, demands for Muslim autonomy and violence, often between indigenous Muslims and government-sponsored Christian immigrants who had begun to move down from the north, were on the rise. In 1969 the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was organized as a guerrilla force for the Muslim cause. The volatile political situation came to a head when grenade explosions in the Plaza Miranda in Manila during an opposition Liberal Party rally on August 21, 1971, killed 9 people and wounded 100. Marcos blamed the leftists and suspended habeas corpus. Thirteen months later, on September 21, 1972, Marcos used a provision of the 1935 constitution to declare martial law after an attempt was reportedly made to assassinate Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile. In 1986, after Marcos's downfall, Enrile admitted that his unoccupied car had been riddled by machine-gun bullets fired by his own people.
Under the provisions of martial law, Marcos shut down Congress and most newspapers, jailed his major political opponents, assumed dictatorial powers, and ruled by presidential decree. During the early years of martial law, the economy improved, benefiting from increased business confidence and Marcos's appointment of talented technocrats to economic planning posts. But over the next few years, major segments of the economy gradually were brought under the control of the Marcos crony group. Monopolies controlled by Marcos cronies were subsidized heavily, seriously depleting the national treasury. The previously apolitical, professional armed forces were used by Marcos to enforce martial law and ensure his political survival. Even after Marcos rescinded martial law in January 1981, he continued to rule with virtual dictatorial powers. Thus, it came as no surprise that Marcos won an overwhelming victory in the June 1981 presidential election, an election that was boycotted by most opposition forces.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as the economic and political situation deteriorated, opposition to the Marcos government grew. The Catholic Church, the country's strongest and most independent nongovernmental institution, became increasingly critical of the government. Priests, nuns, and the church hierarchy, motivated by their commitment to human rights and social justice, became involved in redressing the sufferings of the common people through the political process. The business community became increasingly apprehensive during this period, as inflation and unemployment soared and the GNP stagnated and declined. Young military officers, desirous of a return to pre- martial law professionalism, allied with Minister of National Defense Enrile to oppose close Marcos associates in the military.
One of Marcos's first acts under martial law was to jail Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino , his main opponent and most likely successor. But even in his imprisonment, Aquino maintained a large following, and when he was allowed to go to the United States for medical treatment in 1980, he became a more formidable leader of the opposition in exile. By 1983 the deteriorating economic and political situation and Marcos's worsening health convinced Aquino that in order to prevent civil war he must return to the Philippines to build a responsible united opposition and persuade Marcos to relinquish power.
Despite the obvious danger to his personal safety, Aquino returned. He was shot in the head and killed on August 21, 1983, as he was escorted off an airplane at Manila International Airport by soldiers of the Aviation Security Command. As a martyr, Aquino became the focus of popular indignation against the corrupt Marcos regime, a more formidable opponent in death than in life. The opposition, initially consisted primarily of the Catholic hierarchy, the business elite, and a faction of the armed forces. It grew into the People's Power movement with millions of rural, working class, middle class, and professional supporters, when Aquino's widow, Corazon "Cory" Aquino, returned to the Philippines to take over, first symbolically and then substantively, as leader of the opposition.
In November 1985, Marcos, still convinced that he had control of the political situation, announced a presidential election for February 7, 1986, one year before the expiration of his presidential term. Cardinal Jaime Sin, the archbishop of Manila, arranged a political alliance of convenience that ran the immensely popular Cory Aquino as candidate for president and politically astute Salvador "Doy" Laurel as vice president. The Aquino-Laurel ticket gained the support of the Catholic Church and a substantial part of the electorate and, despite widespread fraud by Marcos supporters, garnered a majority of votes in the election. Nevertheless, the Marcos-dominated National Assembly declared Marcos the winner on February 15.
Opposition at home and abroad was immediate and vociferous. On February 22, Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and the commander of the Philippine Constabulary, Fidel V. Ramos, issued a joint statement demanding Marcos's resignation and set up a rebel headquarters inside Camp Aguinaldo and the adjoining Camp Crame in Metro Manila. When Marcos called out troops loyal to him to put down the rebellion, Cardinal Sin broadcast an appeal over the church-run Radio Veritas calling on the people to render nonviolent support to the rebels. Hundreds of thousands of unamed priests, nuns, and ordinary citizens faced down the tanks and machine guns of the government troops. Violent confrontation was prevented and many government troops turned back or defected. By the evening of February 25, Marcos and his family were enroute to exile in Hawaii, and Corazon Aquino had assumed power.
The Aquino government had been in office only five months when it was challenged by the first of six coup attempts led by dissatisfied armed forces factions. The first attempt, a relatively minor affair, was quickly put down, but later attempts in August 1987 and December 1989, led by the same reformist officers that had helped bring Aquino to power, came very close to toppling her government. In the 1989 attempt, elite rebel units seized a major air base in Cebu, held parts of army and air force headquarters and the international airport, and were preparing to move on armed forces headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo when they were turned back. The threat of another coup attempt hung over the capital in 1990, but as Aquino's term drew to a close in 1991 and 1992, the threat had considerably diminished. Most disaffected military officers seemed content to seek change through the political process, and many officers involved in earlier coup attempts had been persuaded to give themselves up, confident of lenient treatment.
In 1992 the threat from domestic insurgents was somewhat reduced. Although the MNLF and other Moro insurgent groups were a major threat in the southern Philippines in the early 1970s, since that time, internal divisions, reduced external support, pressure by the armed forces, and government accommodations-- including the creation of an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 1990--had greatly reduced that threat. The communist NPA peaked in 1987, when there were 26,000 guerrillas active in the field. In 1992, with approximately 20,000 full-time guerrilla troops, the NPA remained a formidable threat to the government. Arrest of a number of top insurgent cadres and major internal purges, however, had greatly reduced its power.
Despite Filipinos' serious concern for maintaining national identity and avoiding any appearance of foreign subjugation, in 1992 congruent interests and a long history of friendly relations made it seem likely that the United States would remain the Philippines' closest ally--even after the long, difficult, and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations to extend the Military Bases Agreement. The original Military Bases Agreement of 1947, amended in 1959 and again in 1979, was scheduled to expire in 1991 unless an extension was negotiated. Negotiations for continued United States use of the two major bases in the Philippines--Clark Air Base in Pampanga Province and Subic Bay Naval Base in Zambales Province--had begun in 1990. The tenor of the negotiations changed significantly, however, in 1991, when the end of the Cold War made the bases less important and the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo volcano rendered Clark Air Base unusable. By the end of August 1991, United States and Philippine negotiators had agreed to extend the United States lease of Subic Bay Naval Base for another ten years in return for US$360 million in direct compensation for the first year and US$203 million for the remaining nine years of the lease. But in September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the agreement. As a result, the United States was expected to vacate Subic Bay Naval Base, its only remaining base in the Philippines, by the end of 1992.
In early spring 1992, everyone's attention was turned to the upcoming national elections. Who would be the first president elected since the restoration of democracy? What would be the composition of the new Congress? Would the new president and the new Congress strike out in bold new directions or would it be more business as usual? The future of the Philippines depended on the answers to these questions.
Fidel Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines on June 30, 1992, after winning a 23.6 percent plurality in the May 11, 1992, general election. Ramos, secretary of national defense in the Aquino administration and handpicked by Aquino to succeed her, narrowly defeated Secretary of Agrarian Reform Miriam Defensor Santiago, who received 19.8 percent of the vote, and former Marcos crony Eduardo Cojuangco, who received 18.1 percent.
The election proved that Corazon Aquino had succeeded in the primary goal of her presidency, restoring democracy to the Philippines. Nearly 85 percent of eligible voters turned out to elect 17,205 officials, including the president, the vice president, 24 members of the Senate, 200 members of the House of Representatives, 73 governors, and 1,602 mayors. The election was relatively peaceful; there was no threat of a military coup before, during, or after the election and only 52 election- related deaths were reported, compared to 150 in the 1986 presidential election. Despite claims of election fraud from losing candidates, the Commission on Elections apparently exercised effective control and relatively few voting irregularities were substantiated. Ramos won the election on his appeal for stability and a continuation of Aquino policies, and Santiago received strong support for her anticorruption candidacy. Cojuangco's substantial support, however, suggested that a large share of the electorate favored a return to the economic policies and the traditional patronage system of the Marcos era.
Shortly after his inauguration, Ramos sought a reconciliation with his former rivals from the presidential election, Imelda Marcos and Eduardo Cojuangco. In the House of Representatives, Ramos gained the position of speaker of the House for Jose de Venecia, his close political ally and secretary of the Lakas ng Edsa-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas-NUCD). Ramos received support from the fifty-one members of the House elected under the banner of the Lakas-NUCD alliance, which he had formed when he failed to get the nomination of the Laban Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) party. In part because of his conciliatory approach, Ramos was also able to marshal support from a substantial share of LDP members, from members of Eduardo Cojuangco's Nationalist People's Party, and from members of the Liberal Party. He was less successful in the Senate, where LDP chairman Neptali Gonzales was elected president. Ramos seemed likely to face a major challenge getting his program to stimulate economic growth and restore order to the Philippines through a divided and potentially hostile Congress.
The Philippine economy showed some improvement in early 1992, spurred by increases in agricultural production and in consumer and government spending. Budget deficits were well within IMF guidelines--P3.2 billion in the first two months. At the end of April, the treasury posted a P5.5 billion surplus as a result of higher than programmed revenue receipts, mainly from the sale of Philippine Airlines. The increased revenue permitted the early repeal of the 5 percent import surcharge, stimulating both import spending and export growth. The money supply grew more rapidly than desired, but was kept under control. Treasury bill rates fell to 17.3 percent in March 1992 from 23 percent in November 1991, and inflation was down to 9.4 percent for the first quarter of 1992, from 18.7 percent in 1991.
One of the greatest threats to the Philippine economy in 1992 was the power shortage. The fall in the water level in Lake Lanao caused a 50 percent reduction in the power supply to Mindanao in December 1991, and the resumption of full power was not expected until almost the end of 1992. The power shortage in Luzon continued to be chronic. Power cuts of four to five hours per day have been common; in May they reached six hours on some days in Manila, the country's industrial hub. To help to meet this chronic shortage, the government reactivated the contract with Westinghouse Corporation to restart construction on a 620 megawatt nuclear power plant on the Bataan Peninsula that had been abandoned in 1986. This plant, however, will not be on line until 1995.
The conversion to civilian use of the military bases vacated by the United States poses another major economic challenge. The United States forces departed from the huge Subic Bay Naval Base on September 30, 1992, and the United States was expected to leave Cubi Point Naval Air Station, its last base in the Philippines, in November 1992. The Philippine Congress ratified a base conversion bill in February 1992 that created five special economic zones at the vacated United States bases under the Base Conversion Development Authority. The authority, which will exist for five years, will sell the land connected with the bases within six months and use half the proceeds to convert the bases to civilian use. One plan envisions converting the former Subic Bay Naval Base into a tourist center, industrial zone, container port, and commercial shipyard. But this plan will be hampered by the United States removal of major equipment, including three dry docks, from the base.
In late 1992, a new Philippine president and a new Congress, the first elected under the 1987 constitution, faced major economic and political challenges. An anxious Philippine citizenry waited to see how well its leader and elected representatives would cooperate in an attempt to meet these challenges.
Negrito, proto-Malay, and Malay peoples were the principal peoples of the Philippine archipelago. The Negritos are believed to have migrated by land bridges some 30,000 years ago, during the last glacial period. Later migrations were by water and took place over several thousand years in repeated movements before and after the start of the Christian era.
The social and political organization of the population in the widely scattered islands evolved into a generally common pattern. Only the permanent-field rice farmers of northern Luzon had any concept of territoriality. The basic unit of settlement was the barangay, originally a kinship group headed by a datu (chief). Within the barangay, the broad social divisions consisted of nobles, including the datu; freemen; and a group described before the Spanish period as dependents. Dependents included several categories with differing status: landless agricultural workers; those who had lost freeman status because of indebtedness or punishment for crime; and slaves, most of whom appear to have been war captives.
Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from the Indonesian islands. By 1500 Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the Manila area by 1565. Muslim immigrants introduced a political concept of territorial states ruled by rajas or sultans who exercised suzerainty over the datu. Neither the political state concept of the Muslim rulers nor the limited territorial concept of the sedentary rice farmers of Luzon, however, spread beyond the areas where they originated. When the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century, the majority of the estimated 500,000 people in the islands still lived in barangay settlements.
The first recorded sighting of the Philippines by Europeans was on March 16, 1521, during Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe. Magellan landed on Cebu, claimed the land for Charles I of Spain, and was killed one month later by a local chief. The Spanish crown sent several expeditions to the archipelago during the next decades. Permanent Spanish settlement was finally established in 1565 when Miguel López de Legazpi, the first royal governor, arrived in Cebu from New Spain (Mexico). Six years later, after defeating a local Muslim ruler, he established his capital at Manila, a location that offered the excellent harbor of Manila Bay, a large population, and proximity to the ample food supplies of the central Luzon rice lands. Manila remained the center of Spanish civil, military, religious, and commercial activity in the islands. The islands were given their present name in honor of Philip II of Spain, who reigned from 1556 to 1598.
Spain had three objectives in its policy toward the Philippines, its only colony in Asia: to acquire a share in the spice trade, to develop contacts with China and Japan in order to further Christian missionary efforts there, and to convert the Filipinos to Christianity. Only the third objective was eventually realized, and this not completely because of the active resistance of both the Muslims in the south and the Igorot, the upland tribal peoples in the north. Philip II explicitly ordered that pacification of the Philippines be bloodless, to avoid a repetition of Spain's sanguinary conquests in the Americas. Occupation of the islands was accomplished with relatively little bloodshed, partly because most of the population (except the Muslims) offered little armed resistance initially.
Church and state were inseparably linked in carrying out Spanish policy. The state assumed administrative responsibility--funding expenditures and selecting personnel--for the new ecclesiastical establishments. Responsibility for conversion of the indigenous population to Christianity was assigned to several religious orders: the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Augustinians, known collectively as the friars-- and to the Jesuits. At the lower levels of colonial administration, the Spanish built on traditional village organization by co-opting the traditional local leaders, thereby ruling indirectly.
This system of indirect rule helped create in rural areas a Filipino upper class, referred to as the principalía or the principales (principal ones). This group had local wealth; high status and prestige; and certain privileges, such as exemption from taxes, lesser roles in the parish church, and appointment to local offices. The principalía was larger and more influential than the preconquest nobility, and it created and perpetuated an oligarchic system of local control. Among the most significant and enduring changes that occurred under Spanish rule was that the Filipino idea of communal use and ownership of land was replaced with the concept of private, individual ownership and the conferring of titles on members of the principalía.
Religion played a significant role in Spain's relations with and attitudes toward the indigenous population. The Spaniards considered conversion through baptism to be a symbol of allegiance to their authority. Although they were interested in gaining a profit from the colony, the Spanish also recognized a responsibility to protect the property and personal rights of these new Christians.
The church's work of converting Filipinos was facilitated by the absence of other organized religions, except for Islam, which predominated in the south. The missionaries had their greatest success among women and children, although the pageantry of the church had a wide appeal, reinforced by the incorporation of Filipino social customs into religious observances, for example, in the fiestas celebrating the patron saint of a local community. The eventual outcome was a new cultural community of the main Malay lowland population, from which the Muslims (known by the Spanish as Moros, or Moors) and the upland tribal peoples of Luzon remained detached and alienated.
The Spanish found neither spices nor exploitable precious metals in the Philippines. The ecology of the islands was little changed by Spanish importations and technical innovations, with the exception of corn cultivation and some extension of irrigation in order to increase rice supplies for the growing urban population. The colony was not profitable, and a long war with the Dutch in the seventeenth century and intermittent conflict with the Moros nearly bankrupted the colonial treasury. Annual deficits were made up by a subsidy from Mexico.
Colonial income derived mainly from entrepôt trade: The "Manila galleons" sailing from Acapulco on the west coast of Mexico brought shipments of silver bullion and minted coin that were exchanged for return cargoes of Chinese goods, mainly silk textiles. There was no direct trade with Spain. Failure to exploit indigenous natural resources and investment of virtually all official, private, and church capital in the galleon trade were mutually reinforcing tendencies. Loss or capture of the galleons or Chinese junks en route to Manila represented a financial disaster for the colony.
The thriving entrepôt trade quickly attracted growing numbers of Chinese to Manila. The Chinese, in addition to managing trade transactions, were the source of some necessary provisions and services for the capital. The Spanish regarded them with mixed distrust and acknowledgment of their indispensable role. During the first decades of Spanish rule, the Chinese in Manila became more numerous than the Spanish, who tried to control them with residence restrictions, periodic deportations, and actual or threatened violence that sometimes degenerated into riots and massacres of Chinese during the period between 1603 and 1762.
In 1762 Spain became involved in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) on the side of France against Britain; in October 1762, forces of the British East India Company captured Manila after fierce fighting. Spanish resistance continued under Lieutenant Governor Simón de Anda, based at Bacolor in Pampanga Province, and Manila was returned to the Spanish in May 1764 in conformity with the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the war. The British occupation nonetheless marked, in a very significant sense, the beginning of the end of the old order.
Spanish prestige suffered irreparable damage because of the defeat at British hands. A number of rebellions broke out, of which the most notable was that of Diego Silang in the Ilocos area of northern Luzon. In December 1762, Silang expelled the Spanish from the coastal city of Vigan and set up an independent government. He established friendly relations with the British and was able to repulse Spanish attacks on Vigan, but he was assassinated in May 1763. The Spanish, tied down by fighting with the British and the rebels, were unable to control the raids of the Moros of the south on the Christian communities of the Visayan Islands and Luzon. Thousands of Christian Filipinos were captured as slaves, and Moro raids continued to be a serious problem through the remainder of the century. The Chinese community, resentful of Spanish discrimination, for the most part enthusiastically supported the British, providing them with laborers and armed men who fought de Anda in Pampanga.
After Spanish rule was restored, José Basco y Vargas one of the ablest of Spanish administrators, was the governor from 1778 to 1787, and he implemented a series of reforms designed to promote the economic development of the islands and make them independent of the subsidy from New Spain. In 1781 he established the Economic Society of Friends of the Country, which, throughout its checkered history extending over the next century, encouraged the growth of new crops for export--such as indigo, tea, silk, opium poppies, and abaca (hemp)--and the development of local industry. A government tobacco monopoly was established in 1782. The monopoly brought in large profits for the government and made the Philippines a leader in world tobacco production.
The venerable galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico continued as a government monopoly until 1815, when the last official galleon from Acapulco docked at Manila. The Royal Company of the Philippines, chartered by the Spanish king in 1785, promoted direct trade from that year on between the islands and Spain. All Philippine goods were given tariff-free status, and the company, together with Basco's Economic Society, encouraged the growth of a cash-crop economy by investing a portion of its early profits in the cultivation of sugar, indigo, peppers, and mulberry trees for silk, as well as in textile factories.
As long as the Spanish empire on the eastern rim of the Pacific remained intact and the galleons sailed to and from Acapulco, there was little incentive on the part of colonial authorities to promote the development of the Philippines, despite the initiatives of José Basco y Vargas during his career as governor in Manila. After his departure, the Economic Society was allowed to fall on hard times, and the Royal Company showed decreasing profits. The independence of Spain's Latin American colonies, particularly Mexico in 1821, forced a fundamental reorientation of policy. Cut off from the Mexican subsidies and protected Latin American markets, the islands had to pay for themselves. As a result, in the late eighteenth century commercial isolation became less feasible.
Growing numbers of foreign merchants in Manila spurred the integration of the Philippines into an international commercial system linking industrialized Europe and North America with sources of raw materials and markets in the Americas and Asia. In principle, non-Spanish Europeans were not allowed to reside in Manila or elsewhere in the islands, but in fact British, American, French, and other foreign merchants circumvented this prohibition by flying the flags of Asian states or conniving with local officials. In 1834 the crown abolished the Royal Company of the Philippines and formally recognized free trade, opening the port of Manila to unrestricted foreign commerce.
By 1856 there were thirteen foreign trading firms in Manila, of which seven were British and two American; between 1855 and 1873 the Spanish opened new ports to foreign trade, including Iloilo on Panay, Zamboanga in the western portion of Mindanao, Cebu on Cebu, and Legaspi in the Bicol area of southern Luzon. The growing prominence of steam over sail navigation and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 contributed to spectacular increases in the volume of trade. In 1851 exports and imports totaled some US$8.2 million; ten years later, they had risen to US$18.9 million and by 1870 were US$53.3 million. Exports alone grew by US$20 million between 1861 and 1870. British and United States merchants dominated Philippine commerce, the former in an especially favored position because of their bases in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the island of Borneo.
By the late nineteenth century, three crops--tobacco, abaca, and sugar--dominated Philippine exports. The government monopoly on tobacco had been abolished in 1880, but Philippine cigars maintained their high reputation, popular throughout Victorian parlors in Britain, the European continent, and North America. Because of the growth of worldwide shipping, Philippine abaca, which was considered the best material for ropes and cordage, grew in importance and after 1850 alternated with sugar as the islands' most important export. Americans dominated the abaca trade; raw material was made into rope, first at plants in New England and then in the Philippines. Principal regions for the growing of abaca were the Bicol areas of southeastern Luzon and the eastern portions of the Visayan Islands.
Sugarcane had been produced and refined using crude methods at least as early as the beginning of the eighteenth century. The opening of the port of Iloilo on Panay in 1855 and the encouragement of the British vice consul in that town, Nicholas Loney (described by a modern writer as "a one-man whirlwind of entrepreneurial and technical innovation"), led to the development of the previously unsettled island of Negros as the center of the Philippine sugar industry, exporting its product to Britain and Australia. Loney arranged liberal credit terms for local landlords to invest in the new crop, encouraged the migration of labor from the neighboring and overpopulated island of Panay, and introduced stream-driven sugar refineries that replaced the traditional method of producing low-grade sugar in loaves. The population of Negros tripled. Local "sugar barons"--- the owners of the sugar plantations--became a potent political and economic force by the end of the nineteenth century.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, deep-seated Spanish suspicion of the Chinese gave way to recognition of their potentially constructive role in economic development. Chinese expulsion orders issued in 1755 and 1766 were repealed in 1788. Nevertheless, the Chinese remained concentrated in towns around Manila, particularly Binondo and Santa Cruz. In 1839 the government issued a decree granting them freedom of occupation and residence.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, immigration into the archipelago, largely from the maritime province of Fujian on the southeastern coast of China, increased, and a growing proportion of Chinese settled in outlying areas. In 1849 more than 90 percent of the approximately 6,000 Chinese lived in or around Manila, whereas in 1886 this proportion decreased to 77 percent of the 66,000 Chinese in the Philippines at that time, declining still further in the 1890s. The Chinese presence in the hinterland went hand in hand with the transformation of the insular economy. Spanish policy encouraged immigrants to become agricultural laborers. Some became gardeners, supplying vegetables to the towns, but most shunned the fields and set themselves up as small retailers and moneylenders. The Chinese soon gained a central position in the cash-crop economy on the provincial and local levels.
Of equal, if not greater, significance for subsequent political, cultural, and economic developments were the Chinese mestizos. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, they composed about 5 percent of the total population of around 2.5 million and were concentrated in the most developed provinces of Central Luzon and in Manila and its environs. A much smaller number lived in the more important towns of the Visayan Islands, such as Cebu and Iloilo, and on Mindanao. Converts to Catholicism and speakers of Filipino languages or Spanish rather than Chinese dialects, the mestizos enjoyed a legal status as subjects of Spain that was denied the Chinese. In the words of historian Edgar Vickberg, they were considered, unlike the mixed-Chinese of other Southeast Asian countries, not "a special kind of local Chinese" but "a special kind of Filipino."
The eighteenth-century expulsion edicts had given the Chinese mestizos the opportunity to enter retailing and the skilled craft occupations formerly dominated by the Chinese. The removal of legal restrictions on Chinese economic activity and the competition of new Chinese immigrants, however, drove a large number of mestizos out of the commercial sector in mid-nineteenth century. As a result, many Chinese mestizos invested in land, particularly in Central Luzon. The estates of the religious orders were concentrated in this region, and mestizos became inquilinos (lessees) of these lands, subletting them to cultivators; a portion of the rent was given by the inquilino to the friary estate. Like the Chinese, the mestizos were moneylenders and acquired land when debtors defaulted.
By the late nineteenth century, prominent mestizo families, despite the inroads of the Chinese, were noted for their wealth and formed the major component of a Filipino elite. As the export economy grew and foreign contact increased, the mestizos and other members of this Filipino elite, known collectively as ilustrados, obtained higher education (in some cases abroad), entered professions such as law or medicine, and were particularly receptive to the liberal and democratic ideas that were beginning to reach the Philippines despite the efforts of the generally reactionary--and friar-dominated--Spanish establishment.
The power of religious orders remained one of the great constants, over the centuries, of Spanish colonial rule. Even in the late nineteenth century, the friars of the Augustinian, Dominican, and Franciscan orders conducted many of the executive and control functions of government on the local level. They were responsible for education and health measures, kept the census and tax records, reported on the character and behavior of individual villagers, supervised the selection of local police and town officers, and were responsible for maintaining public morals and reporting incidences of sedition to the authorities. Contrary to the principles of the church, they allegedly used information gained in confession to pinpoint troublemakers. Given the minuscule number of Spanish living outside the capital even in the nineteenth century, the friars were regarded as indispensable instruments of Spanish rule that contemporary critics labeled a "friarocracy" (frialocracia).
Controversies over visitation and secularization were persistent themes in Philippine church history. Visitation involved the authority of the bishops of the church hierarchy to inspect and discipline the religious orders, a principle laid down in church law and practiced in most of the Catholic world. The friars were successful in resisting the efforts of the archbishop of Manila to impose visitation; consequently, they operated without formal supervision except that of their own provincials or regional superiors. Secularization meant the replacement of the friars, who came exclusively from Spain, with Filipino priests ordained by the local bishop. This movement, again, was successfully resisted, as friars through the centuries kept up the argument, often couched in crude racial terms, that Filipino priests were too poorly qualified to take on parish duties. Although church policy dictated that parishes of countries converted to Christianity be relinquished by the religious orders to indigenous diocesan priests, in 1870 only 181 out of 792 parishes in the islands had Filipino priests. The national and racial dimensions of secularization meant that the issue became linked with broader demands for political reform.
The economic position of the orders was secured by their extensive landholdings, which generally had been donated to them for the support of their churches, schools, and other establishments. Given the general lack of interest on the part of Spanish colonials--clustered in Manila and dependent on the galleon trade--in developing agriculture, the religious orders had become by the eighteenth century the largest landholders in the islands, with their estates concentrated in the Central Luzon region. Land rents--paid often by Chinese mestizo inquilinos, who planted cash crops for export--provided them with the sort of income that enabled many friars to live like princes in palatial establishments.
Central to the friars' dominant position was their monopoly of education at all levels and thus their control over cultural and intellectual life. In 1863 the Spanish government decreed that a system of free public primary education be established in the islands, which could have been interpreted as a threat to this monopoly. By 1867 there were 593 primary schools enrolling 138,990 students; by 1877 the numbers had grown to 1,608 schools and 177,113 students; and in 1898 there were 2,150 schools and over 200,000 students out of a total population of approximately 6 million. The friars, however, were given the responsibility of supervising the system both on the local and the national levels. The Jesuits were given control of the teacher-training colleges. Except for the Jesuits, the religious orders were strongly opposed to the teaching of modern foreign languages, including Spanish, and scientific and technical subjects to the indios (literally, Indians; the Spanish term for Filipinos). In 1898 the University of Santo Tomás taught essentially the same courses that it did in 1611, when it was founded by the Dominicans, twenty-one years before Galileo was brought before the Inquisition for publishing the idea that the earth revolved around the sun.
The friarocracy seems to have had more than its share of personal irregularities, and the priestly vow of chastity often was honored in the breach. In the eyes of educated Filipino priests and laymen, however, most inexcusable was the friars' open attitude of contempt toward the people. By the late nineteenth century, their attitude was one of blatant racism. In the words of one friar, responding to the challenge of the ilustrados, "the only liberty the Indians want is the liberty of savages. Leave them to their cock-fighting and their indolence, and they will thank you more than if you load them down with old and new rights."
Apolinario de la Cruz, a Tagalog who led the 1839-41 Cofradía de San José revolt, embodied the religious aspirations and disappointments of the Filipinos. A pious individual who sought to enter a religious order, he made repeated applications that were turned down by the racially conscious friars, and he was left with no alternative but to become a humble lay brother performing menial tasks at a charitable institution in Manila. While serving in that capacity, he started the cofradía (confraternity or brotherhood), a society to promote Roman Catholic devotion among Filipinos. From 1839 to 1840, Brother Apolinario sent representatives to his native Tayabas, south of Laguna de Bay, to recruit members, and the movement rapidly spread as cells were established throughout the southern Tagalog area. Originally, it was apparently neither anti-Spanish nor nativist in religious orientation, although native elements were prevalent among its provincial followers. Yet its emphasis on secrecy, the strong bond of loyalty its members felt for Brother Apolinario, and, above all, the fact that it barred Spanish and mestizos from membership aroused the suspicions of the authorities. The cofradía was banned by the authorities in 1840.
In the autumn of 1841 Brother Apolinario left Manila and gathered his followers, then numbering several thousands armed with rifles and bolos (heavy, single-bladed knives), at bases in the villages around the town of Tayabas; as a spiritual leader, he preached that God would deliver the Tagalog people from slavery. Although the rebel force, aided by Negrito hill tribesmen, was able to defeat a detachment led by the provincial governor in late October, a much larger Spanish force composed of soldiers from Pampanga Province--the elite of the Philippine military establishment and traditional enemies of the Tagalogs--took the cofradía camp at Alitao after a great slaughter on November 1, 1841.
The insurrection effectively ended with the betrayal and capture of Brother Apolinario. He was executed on November 5, 1841. Survivors of the movement became remontados (those who go back into the mountains), leaving their villages to live on the slopes of the volcanic Mount San Cristobal and Mount Banahao, within sight of Alitao. These mountains, where no friar ventured, became folk religious centers, places of pilgrimage for lowland peasants, and the birthplace of religious communities known as colorums.
Religious movements such as the cofradía and colorums expressed an inchoate desire of their members to be rid of the Spanish and discover a promised land that would reflect memories of a world that existed before the coming of the colonists. Nationalism in the modern sense developed in an urban context, in Manila and the major towns and, perhaps more significantly, in Spain and other parts of Europe where Filipino students and exiles were exposed to modern intellectual currents. Folk religion, for all its power, did not form the basis of the national ideology. Yet the millenarian tradition of rural revolt would merge with the Europeanized nationalism of the ilustrados to spur a truly national resistance, first against Spain in 1896 and then against the Americans in 1899.
Following the Spanish revolution of September 1868, in which the unpopular Queen Isabella II was deposed, the new government appointed General Carlos María de la Torre governor of the Philippines. An outspoken liberal, de la Torre extended to Filipinos the promise of reform. In a break with established practice, he fraternized with Filipinos, invited them to the governor's palace, and rode with them in official processions. Filipinos in turn welcomed de la Torre warmly, held a "liberty parade" to celebrate the adoption of the liberal 1869 Spanish constitution, and established a reform committee to lay the foundations of a new order. Prominent among de la Torre's supporters in Manila were professional and business leaders of the ilustrado community and, perhaps more significantly, Filipino secular priests. These included the learned Father José Burgos, a Spanish mestizo, who had published a pamphlet, Manifesto to the Noble Spanish Nation, criticizing those racially prejudiced Spanish who barred Filipinos from the priesthood and government service. For a brief time, the tide seemed to be turning against the friars. In December 1870, the archbishop of Manila, Gregorio Melitón Martínez, wrote to the Spanish regent advocating secularization and warning that discrimination against Filipino priests would encourage anti-Spanish sentiments.
According to historian Austin Coates, "1869 and 1870 stand distinct and apart from the whole of the rest of the period as a time when for a brief moment a real breath of the nineteenth century penetrated the Islands, which till then had been living largely in the seventeenth century." De la Torre abolished censorship of newspapers and legalized the holding of public demonstrations, free speech, and assembly--rights guaranteed in the 1869 Spanish constitution. Students at the University of Santo Tomás formed an association, the Liberal Young Students (Juventud Escolar Liberal), and in October 1869 held demonstrations protesting the abuses of the university's Dominican friar administrators and teachers.
The liberal period came to an abrupt end in 1871. Friars and other conservative Spaniards in Manila managed to engineer the replacement of de la Torre by a more conservative figure, Rafael de Izquierdo, who, following his installation as governor in April 1871, reimposed the severities of the old regime. He is alleged to have boasted that he came to the islands "with a crucifix in one hand and a sword in the other." Liberal laws were rescinded, and the enthusiastic Filipino supporters of de la Torre came under political suspicion.
The heaviest blow came after a mutiny on January 20, 1872, when about 200 Filipino dockworkers and soldiers in Cavite Province revolted and killed their Spanish officers, apparently in the mistaken belief that a general uprising was in progress among Filipino regiments in Manila. Grievances connected with the government's revocation of old privileges--particularly exemption from tribute service--inspired the revolt, which was put down by January 22. The authorities, however, began weaving a tale of conspiracy between the mutineers and prominent members of the Filipino community, particularly diocesan priests. The governor asserted that a secret junta, with connections to liberal parties in Spain, existed in Manila and was ready to overthrow Spanish rule.
A military court sentenced to death the three Filipino priests most closely associated with liberal reformism--José Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora--and exiled a number of prominent ilustrados to Guam and the Marianas (then Spanish possessions), from which they escaped to carry on the struggle from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Europe. Archbishop Martínez requested that the governor commute the priests' death sentences and refused the governor's order that they be defrocked. Martínez's efforts were in vain, however, and on February 17, 1872, they were publicly executed with the brutal garrote on the Luneta (the broad park facing Manila Bay). The archbishop ordered that Manila church bells toll a requiem for the victims, a requiem that turned out to be for Spanish rule in the islands as well. Although a policy of accommodation would have won the loyalty of peasant and ilustrado alike, intransigence--particularly on the question of the secularization of the clergy--led increasing numbers of Filipinos to question the need for a continuing association with Spain.
Between 1872 and 1892, a national consciousness was growing among the Filipino émigrés who had settled in Europe. In the freer atmosphere of Europe, these émigrés--liberals exiled in 1872 and students attending European universities--formed the Propaganda Movement. Organized for literary and cultural purposes more than for political ends, the Propagandists, who included upper-class Filipinos from all the lowland Christian areas, strove to "awaken the sleeping intellect of the Spaniard to the needs of our country" and to create a closer, more equal association of the islands and the motherland. Among their specific goals were representation of the Philippines in the Cortes, or Spanish parliament; secularization of the clergy; legalization of Spanish and Filipino equality; creation of a public school system independent of the friars; abolition of the polo (labor service) and vandala (forced sale of local products to the government); guarantee of basic freedoms of speech and association; and equal opportunity for Filipinos and Spanish to enter government service.
The most outstanding Propagandist was José Rizal, a physician, scholar, scientist, and writer. Born in 1861 into a prosperous Chinese mestizo family in Laguna Province, he displayed great intelligence at an early age. After several years of medical study at the University of Santo Tomás, he went to Spain in 1882 to finish his studies at the University of Madrid. During the decade that followed, Rizal's career spanned two worlds: Among small communities of Filipino students in Madrid and other European cities, he became a leader and eloquent spokesman, and in the wider world of European science and scholarship--particularly in Germany--he formed close relationships with prominent natural and social scientists. The new discipline of anthropology was of special interest to him; he was committed to refuting the friars' stereotypes of Filipino racial inferiority with scientific arguments. His greatest impact on the development of a Filipino national consciousness, however, was his publication of two novels--Noli Me Tangere (Touch me not) in 1886 and El Filibusterismo (The reign of greed) in 1891. Rizal drew on his personal experiences and depicted the conditions of Spanish rule in the islands, particularly the abuses of the friars. Although the friars had Rizal's books banned, they were smuggled into the Philippines and rapidly gained a wide readership.
Other important Propagandists included Graciano Lopez Jaena, a noted orator and pamphleteer who had left the islands for Spain in 1880 after the publication of his satirical short novel, Fray Botod (Brother Fatso), an unflattering portrait of a provincial friar. In 1889 he established a biweekly newspaper in Barcelona, La Solidaridad (Solidarity), which became the principal organ of the Propaganda Movement, having audiences both in Spain and in the islands. Its contributors included Rizal; Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian geographer and ethnologist whom Rizal had met in Germany; and Marcelo del Pilar, a reformminded lawyer. Del Pilar was active in the antifriar movement in the islands until obliged to flee to Spain in 1888, where he became editor of La Solidaridad and assumed leadership of the Filipino community in Spain.
In 1887 Rizal returned briefly to the islands, but because of the furor surrounding the appearance of Noli Me Tangere the previous year, he was advised by the governor to leave. He returned to Europe by way of Japan and North America to complete his second novel and an edition of Antonio de Morga's seventeenth-century work, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (History of the Philippine Islands). The latter project stemmed from an ethnological interest in the cultural connections between the peoples of the pre-Spanish Philippines and those of the larger Malay region (including modern Malaysia and Indonesia) and the closely related political objective of encouraging national pride. De Morga provided positive information about the islands' early inhabitants, and reliable accounts of pre-Christian religion and social customs.
After a stay in Europe and Hong Kong, Rizal returned to the Philippines in June 1892, partly because the Dominicans had evicted his father and sisters from the land they leased from the friars' estate at Calamba, in Laguna Province. He also was convinced that the struggle for reform could no longer be conducted effectively from overseas. In July he established the Liga Filipina (Philippine League), designed to be a truly national, nonviolent organization. It was dissolved, however, following his arrest and exile to the remote town of Dapitan in northwestern Mindanao.
The Propaganda Movement languished after Rizal's arrest and the collapse of the Liga Filipina. La Solidaridad went out of business in November 1895, and in 1896 both del Pilar and Lopez Jaena died in Barcelona, worn down by poverty and disappointment. An attempt was made to reestablish the Liga Filipina, but the national movement had become split between ilustrado advocates of reform and peaceful evolution (the compromisarios, or compromisers) and a plebeian constituency that wanted revolution and national independence. Because the Spanish refused to allow genuine reform, the initiative quickly passed from the former group to the latter.
After Rizal's arrest and exile, Andres Bonifacio, a self-educated man of humble origins, founded a secret society, the Katipunan, in Manila. This organization, modeled in part on Masonic lodges, was committed to winning independence from Spain. Rizal, Lopez Jaena, del Pilar, and other leaders of the Propaganda Movement had been Masons, and Masonry was regarded by the Catholic Church as heretical. The Katipunan, like the Masonic lodges, had secret passwords and ceremonies, and its members were organized into ranks or degrees, each having different colored hoods, special passwords, and secret formulas. New members went through a rigorous initiation, which concluded with the pacto de sangre, or blood compact.
The Katipunan spread gradually from the Tondo district of Manila, where Bonifacio had founded it, to the provinces, and by August 1896--on the eve of the revolt against Spain--it had some 30,000 members, both men and women. Most of them were members of the lower-and lower-middle-income strata, including peasants. The nationalist movement had effectively moved from the closed circle of prosperous ilustrados to a truly popular base of support.
During the early years of the Katipunan, Rizal remained in exile at Dapitan. He had promised the Spanish governor that he would not attempt an escape, which, in that remote part of the country, would have been relatively easy. Such a course of action, however, would have both compromised the moderate reform policy that he still advocated and confirmed the suspicions of the reactionary Spanish. Whether he came to support Philippine independence during his period of exile is difficult to determine.
He retained, to the very end, a faith in the decency of Spanish "men of honor," which made it difficult for him to accept the revolutionary course of the Katipunan. Revolution had broken out in Cuba in February 1895, and Rizal applied to the governor to be sent to that yellow fever-infested island as an army doctor, believing that it was the only way he could keep his word to the governor and yet get out of his exile. His request was granted, and he was preparing to leave for Cuba when the Katipunan revolt broke out in August 1896. An informer had tipped off a Spanish friar about the society's existence, and Bonifacio, his hand forced, proclaimed the revolution, attacking Spanish military installations on August 29, 1896. Rizal was allowed to leave Manila on a Spanish steamship. The governor, however, apparently forced by reactionary elements, ordered Rizal's arrest en route, and he was sent back to Manila to be tried by a military court as an accomplice of the insurrection.
The rebels were poorly led and had few successes against colonial troops. Only in Cavite Province did they make any headway. Commanded by Emilio Aguinaldo, the twenty-seven-year-old mayor of the town of Cavite who had been a member of the Katipunan since 1895, the rebels defeated Civil Guard and regular colonial troops between August and November 1896 and made the province the center of the revolution.
Under a new governor, who apparently had been sponsored as a hard-line candidate by the religious orders, Rizal was brought before a military court on fabricated charges of involvement with the Katipunan. The events of 1872 repeated themselves. A brief trial was held on December 26 and--with little chance to defend himself--Rizal was found guilty and sentenced to death. On December 30, 1896, he was brought out to the Luneta and executed by a firing squad.
Rizal's death filled the rebels with new determination, but the Katipunan was becoming divided between supporters of Bonifacio, who revealed himself to be an increasingly ineffective leader, and its rising star, Aguinaldo. At a convention held at Tejeros, the Katipunan's headquarters in March 1897, delegates elected Aguinaldo president and demoted Bonifacio to the post of director of the interior. Bonifacio withdrew with his supporters and formed his own government. After fighting broke out between Bonifacio's and Aguinaldo's troops, Bonifacio was arrested, tried, and on May 10, 1897, executed by order of Aguinaldo.
As 1897 wore on, Aguinaldo himself suffered reverses at the hands of Spanish troops, being forced from Cavite in June and retreating to Biak-na-Bato in Bulacan Province. The futility of the struggle was becoming apparent, however, on both sides. Although Spanish troops were able to defeat insurgents on the battlefield, they could not suppress guerrilla activity. In August armistice negotiations were opened between Aguinaldo and a new Spanish governor. By mid-December, an agreement was reached in which the governor would pay Aguinaldo the equivalent of US$800,000, and the rebel leader and his government would go into exile. Aguinaldo established himself in Hong Kong, and the Spanish bought themselves time. Within the year, however, their more than three centuries of rule in the islands would come to an abrupt and unexpected end.
Spain's rule in the Philippines came to an end as a result of United States involvement with Spain's other major colony, Cuba. American business interests were anxious for a resolution--with or without Spain--of the insurrection that had broken out in Cuba in February 1895. Moreover, public opinion in the United States had been aroused by newspaper accounts of the brutalities of Spanish rule. When the United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898, acting Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt ordered Commodore George Dewey, commander of the Asiatic Squadron, to sail to the Philippines and destroy the Spanish fleet anchored in Manila Bay. The Spanish navy, which had seen its apogee in the support of a global empire in the sixteenth century, suffered an inglorious defeat on May 1, 1898, as Spain's antiquated fleet, including ships with wooden hulls, was sunk by the guns of Dewey's flagship, the Olympia, and other United States warships. More than 380 Spanish sailors died, but there was only one American fatality.
As Spain and the United States had moved toward war over Cuba in the last months of 1897, negotiations of a highly tentative nature began between United States officials and Aguinaldo in both Hong Kong and Singapore. When war was declared, Aguinaldo, a partner, if not an ally, of the United States, was urged by Dewey to return to the islands as quickly as possible. Arriving in Manila on May 19, Aguinaldo reassumed command of rebel forces. Insurrectionists overwhelmed demoralized Spanish garrisons around the capital, and links were established with other movements throughout the islands.
In the eyes of the Filipinos, their relationship with the United States was that of two nations joined in a common struggle against Spain. As allies, the Filipinos provided American forces with valuable intelligence (e.g., that the Spanish had no mines or torpedoes with which to sink warships entering Manila Bay), and Aguinaldo's 12,000 troops kept a slightly larger Spanish force bottled up inside Manila until American troop reinforcements could arrive from San Francisco in late June. Aguinaldo was unhappy, however, that the United States would not commit to paper a statement of support for Philippine independence.
By late May, the United States Department of the Navy had ordered Dewey, newly promoted to Admiral, to distance himself from Aguinaldo lest he make untoward commitments to the Philippine forces. The war with Spain still was going on, and the future of the Philippines remained uncertain. The immediate objective was to capture Manila, and it was thought best to do that without the assistance of the insurgents. By late July, there were some 12,000 United States troops in the area, and relations between them and rebel forces deteriorated rapidly.
By the summer of 1898, Manila had become the focus not only of the Spanish-American conflict and the growing suspicions between the Americans and Filipino rebels but also of a rivalry that encompassed the European powers. Following Dewey's victory, Manila Bay was filled with the warships of Britain, Germany, France, and Japan. The German fleet of eight ships, ostensibly in Philippine waters to protect German interests (a single import firm), acted provocatively--cutting in front of United States ships, refusing to salute the United States flag (according to naval courtesy), taking soundings of the harbor, and landing supplies for the besieged Spanish. Germany, hungry for the ultimate status symbol, a colonial empire, was eager to take advantage of whatever opportunities the conflict in the islands might afford. Dewey called the bluff of the German admiral, threatening a fight if his aggressive activities continued, and the Germans backed down.
The Spanish cause was doomed, but Fermín Jaudenes, Spain's last governor in the islands, had to devise a way to salvage the honor of his country. Negotiations were carried out through British and Belgian diplomatic intermediaries. A secret agreement was made between the governor and United States military commanders in early August 1898 concerning the capture of Manila. In their assault, American forces would neither bombard the city nor allow the insurgents to take part (the Spanish feared that the Filipinos were plotting to massacre them all). The Spanish, in turn, would put up only a show of resistance and, on a prearranged signal, would surrender. In this way, the governor would be spared the ignominy of giving up without a fight, and both sides would be spared casualties. The mock battle was staged on August 13. The attackers rushed in, and by afternoon the United States flag was flying over Intramuros, the ancient walled city that had been the seat of Spanish power for over 300 years.
The agreement between Jaudenes and Dewey marked a curious reversal of roles. At the beginning of the war, Americans and Filipinos had been allies against Spain in all but name; now Spanish and Americans were in a partnership that excluded the insurgents. Fighting between American and Filipino troops almost broke out as the former moved in to dislodge the latter from strategic positions around Manila on the eve of the attack. Aguinaldo was told bluntly by the Americans that his army could not participate and would be fired upon if it crossed into the city. The insurgents were infuriated at being denied triumphant entry into their own capital, but Aguinaldo bided his time. Relations continued to deteriorate, however, as it became clear to Filipinos that the Americans were in the islands to stay.
After returning to the islands, Aguinaldo wasted little time in setting up an independent government. On June 12, 1898, a declaration of independence, modeled on the American one, was proclaimed at his headquarters in Cavite. It was at this time that Apolinario Mabini, a lawyer and political thinker, came to prominence as Aguinaldo's principal adviser. Born into a poor indio family but educated at the University of Santo Tomás, he advocated "simultaneous external and internal revolution," a philosophy that unsettled the more conservative landowners and ilustrados who initially supported Aguinaldo. For Mabini, true independence for the Philippines would mean not simply liberation from Spain (or from any other colonial power) but also educating the people for self-government and abandoning the paternalistic, colonial mentality that the Spanish had cultivated over the centuries. Mabini's The True Decalogue, published in July 1898 in the form of ten commandments, used this medium, somewhat paradoxically, to promote critical thinking and a reform of customs and attitudes. His Constitutional Program for the Philippine Republic, published at the same time, elaborated his ideas on political institutions.
On September 15, 1898, a revolutionary congress was convened at Malolos, a market town located thirty-two kilometers north of Manila, for the purpose of drawing up a constitution for the new republic. A document was approved by the congress on November 29, 1898. Modeled on the constitutions of France, Belgium, and Latin American countries, it was promulgated at Malolos on January 21, 1899, and two days later Aguinaldo was inaugurated as president.
American observers traveling in Luzon commented that the areas controlled by the republic seemed peaceful and well governed. The Malolos congress had set up schools, a military academy, and the Literary University of the Philippines. Government finances were organized, and new currency was issued. The army and navy were established on a regular basis, having regional commands. The accomplishments of the Filipino government, however, counted for little in the eyes of the great powers as the transfer of the islands from Spanish to United States rule was arranged in the closing months of 1898.
In late September, treaty negotiations were initiated between Spanish and American representatives in <"http://worldfacts.us/France-Paris.htm">Paris. The Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898. Among its conditions was the cession of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States (Cuba was granted its independence); in return, the United States would pay Spain the sum of US$20 million. The nature of this payment is rather difficult to define; it was paid neither to purchase Spanish territories nor as a war indemnity. In the words of historian Leon Wolff, "it was . . . a gift. Spain accepted it. Quite irrelevantly she handed us the Philippines. No question of honor or conquest was involved. The Filipino people had nothing to say about it, although their rebellion was thrown in (so to speak) free of charge."
The Treaty of Paris aroused anger among Filipinos. Reacting to the US$20 million sum paid to Spain, La Independencia (Independence), a newspaper published in Manila by a revolutionary, General Antonio Luna, stated that "people are not to be bought and sold like horses and houses. If the aim has been to abolish the traffic in Negroes because it meant the sale of persons, why is there still maintained the sale of countries with inhabitants?" Tension and ill feelings were growing between the American troops in Manila and the insurgents surrounding the capital. In addition to Manila, Iloilo, the main port on the island of Panay, also was a pressure point. The Revolutionary Government of the Visayas was proclaimed there on November 17, 1898, and an American force stood poised to capture the city. Upon the announcement of the treaty, the radicals, Mabini and Luna, prepared for war, and provisional articles were added to the constitution giving President Aguinaldo dictatorial powers in times of emergency. President William McKinley issued a proclamation on December 21, 1898, declaring United States policy to be one of "benevolent assimilation" in which "the mild sway of justice and right" would be substituted for "arbitrary rule." When this was published in the islands on January 4, 1899, references to "American sovereignty" having been prudently deleted, Aguinaldo issued his own proclamation that condemned "violent and aggressive seizure" by the United States and threatened war.
Hostilities broke out on the night of February 4, 1899, after two American privates on patrol killed three Filipino soldiers in a suburb of Manila. Thus began a war that would last for more than two years. Some 126,000 American soldiers would be committed to the conflict; 4,234 American and 16,000 Filipino soldiers, part of a nationwide guerrilla movement of indeterminate numbers, died.
The Filipino troops, armed with old rifles and bolos and carrying anting-anting (magical charms), were no match for American troops in open combat, but they were formidable opponents in guerrilla warfare. For General Ewell S. Otis, commander of the United States forces, who had been appointed military governor of the Philippines, the conflict began auspiciously with the expulsion of the rebels from Manila and its suburbs by late February and the capture of Malolos, the revolutionary capital, on March 31, 1899. Aguinaldo and his government escaped, however, establishing a new capital at San Isidro in Nueva Ecija Province. The Filipino cause suffered a number of reverses. The attempts of Mabini and his successor as president of Aguinaldo's cabinet, Pedro Paterno, to negotiate an armistice in May 1899 ended in failure because Otis insisted on unconditional surrender.
Still more serious was the murder of Luna, Aguinaldo's most capable military commander, in June. Hot-tempered and cruel, Luna collected a large number of enemies among his associates, and, according to rumor, his death was ordered by Aguinaldo. With his best commander dead and his troops suffering continued defeats as American forces pushed into northern Luzon, Aguinaldo dissolved the regular army in November 1899 and ordered the establishment of decentralized guerrilla commands in each of several military zones. More than ever, American soldiers knew the miseries of fighting an enemy that was able to move at will within the civilian population in the villages. The general population, caught between Americans and rebels, suffered horribly.
According to historian Gregorio Zaide, as many as 200,000 civilians died, largely because of famine and disease, by the end of the war. Atrocities were committed on both sides. Although Aguinaldo's government did not have effective authority over the whole archipelago and resistance was strongest and best organized in the Tagalog area of Central Luzon, the notion entertained by many Americans that independence was supported only by the "Tagalog tribe" was refuted by the fact that there was sustained fighting in the Visayan Islands and in Mindanao. Although the ports of Iloilo on Panay and Cebu on Cebu were captured in February 1899, and Tagbilaran, capital of Bohol, in March, guerrilla resistance continued in the mountainous interiors of these islands. Only on the sugar-growing island of Negros did the local authorities peacefully accept United States rule. On Mindanao the United States Army faced the determined opposition of Christian Filipinos loyal to the republic.
Aguinaldo was captured at Palanan on March 23, 1901, by a force of Philippine Scouts loyal to the United States and was brought back to Manila. Convinced of the futility of further resistance, he swore allegiance to the United States and issued a proclamation calling on his compatriots to lay down their arms. Yet insurgent resistance continued in various parts of the Philippines until 1903.
The Moros on Mindanao and on the Sulu Archipelago, suspicious of both Christian Filipino insurrectionists and Americans, remained for the most part neutral. In August 1899, an agreement had been signed between General John C. Bates, representing the United States government, and the sultan of Sulu, Jamal-ul Kiram II, pledging a policy of noninterference on the part of the United States. In 1903, however, a Moro province was established by the American authorities, and a more forward policy was implemented: slavery was outlawed, schools that taught a non-Muslim curriculum were established, and local governments that challenged the authority of traditional community leaders were organized. A new legal system replaced the sharia, or Islamic law. United States rule, even more than that of the Spanish, was seen as a challenge to Islam. Armed resistance grew, and the Moro province remained under United States military rule until 1914, by which time the major Muslim groups had been subjugated.
On January 20, 1899, President McKinley appointed the First Philippine Commission (the Schurman Commission), a five-person group headed by Dr. Jacob Schurman, president of Cornell University, and including Admiral Dewey and General Otis, to investigate conditions in the islands and make recommendations. In the report that they issued to the president the following year, the commissioners acknowledged Filipino aspirations for independence; they declared, however, that the Philippines was not ready for it. Specific recommendations included the establishment of civilian government as rapidly as possible (the American chief executive in the islands at that time was the military governor), including establishment of a bicameral legislature, autonomous governments on the provincial and municipal levels, and a system of free public elementary schools.
The Second Philippine Commission (the Taft Commission), appointed by McKinley on March 16, 1900, and headed by William Howard Taft, was granted legislative as well as limited executive powers. Between September 1900 and August 1902, it issued 499 laws. A judicial system was established, including a Supreme Court, and a legal code was drawn up to replace antiquated Spanish ordinances. A civil service was organized. The 1901 municipal code provided for popularly elected presidents, vice presidents, and councilors to serve on municipal boards. The municipal board members were responsible for collecting taxes, maintaining municipal properties, and undertaking necessary construction projects; they also elected provincial governors. In July 1901 the Philippine Constabulary was organized as an archipelago-wide police force to control brigandage and deal with the remnants of the insurgent movement. After military rule was terminated on July 4, 1901, the Philippine Constabulary gradually took over from United States army units the responsibility for suppressing guerrilla and bandit activities.
From the very beginning, United States presidents and their representatives in the islands defined their colonial mission as tutelage: preparing the Philippines for eventual independence. Except for a small group of "retentionists," the issue was not whether the Philippines would be granted self-rule, but when and under what conditions. Thus political development in the islands was rapid and particularly impressive in light of the complete lack of representative institutions under the Spanish. The Philippine Organic Act of July 1902 stipulated that, with the achievement of peace, a legislature would be established composed of a lower house, the Philippine Assembly, which would be popularly elected, and an upper house consisting of the Philippine Commission, which was to be appointed by the president of the United States. The two houses would share legislative powers, although the upper house alone would pass laws relating to the Moros and other non-Christian peoples. The act also provided for extending the United States Bill of Rights to Filipinos and sending two Filipino resident commissioners to Washington to attend sessions of the United States Congress. In July 1907, the first elections for the assembly were held, and it opened its first session on October 16, 1907. Political parties were organized, and, although open advocacy of independence had been banned during the insurgency years, criticism of government policies in the local newspapers was tolerated.
Taft, the Philippines' first civilian governor, outlined a comprehensive development plan that he described as "the Philippines for the Filipinos . . . that every measure, whether in the form of a law or an executive order, before its adoption, should be weighed in the light of this question: Does it make for the welfare of the Filipino people, or does it not?" Its main features included not only broadening representative institutions but also expanding a system of free public elementary education and designing economic policies to promote the islands' development. Filipinos widely interpreted Taft's pronouncements as a promise of independence.
The 1902 Philippine Organic Act disestablished the Catholic Church as the state religion. The United States government, in an effort to resolve the status of the friars, negotiated with the Vatican. The church agreed to sell the friars' estates and promised gradual substitution of Filipino and other non-Spanish priests for the friars. It refused, however, to withdraw the religious orders from the islands immediately, partly to avoid offending Spain. In 1904 the administration bought for US$7.2 million the major part of the friars' holdings, amounting to some 166,000 hectares, of which one-half was in the vicinity of Manila. The land was eventually resold to Filipinos, some of them tenants but the majority of them estate owners.
The most important step in establishing a new political system was the successful coaptation of the Filipino elite--called the "policy of attraction." Wealthy and conservative ilustrados, the self-described "oligarchy of intelligence," had been from the outset reluctant revolutionaries, suspicious of the Katipunan and willing to negotiate with either Spain or the United States. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, a descendant of Spanish nobility, and Benito Legarda, a rich landowner and capitalist, had quit Aguinaldo's government in 1898 as a result of disagreements with Mabini. Subsequently, they worked closely with the Schurman and Taft commissions, advocating acceptance of United States rule.
In December 1900, de Tavera and Legarda established the Federalista Party, advocating statehood for the islands. In the following year they were appointed the first Filipino members of the Philippine Commission of the legislature. In such an advantageous position, they were able to bring influence to bear to achieve the appointment of Federalistas to provincial governorships, the Supreme Court, and top positions in the civil service. Although the party boasted a membership of 200,000 by May 1901, its proposal to make the islands a state of the United States had limited appeal, both in the islands and in the United States, and the party was widely regarded as being opportunistic. In 1905 the party revised its program over the objections of its leaders, calling for "ultimate independence" and changing its name to the National Progressive Party (Partido Nacional Progresista).
The Nacionalista Party, established in 1907, dominated the Philippine political process until after World War II. It was led by a new generation of politicians, although they were not ilustrados and were by no means radical. One of the leaders, Manuel Quezon, came from a family of moderate wealth. An officer in Aguinaldo's army, he studied law, passed his bar examination in 1903, and entered provincial politics, becoming governor of Tayabas in 1906 before being elected to the Philippine Assembly the following year. His success at an early age was attributable to consummate political skills and the support of influential Americans. His Nacionalista Party associate and sometime rival was Sergio Osmeña, the college-educated son of a shopkeeper, who had worked as a journalist. The former journalist's thoroughness and command of detail made him a perfect complement to Quezon. Like Quezon, Osmeña had served as a provincial governor (in his home province of Cebu) before being elected in 1907 to the assembly and, at age twenty-nine, selected as its first speaker.
Although the Nacionalista Party's platform at its founding called for "immediate independence," American observers believed that Osmeña and Quezon used this appeal only to get votes. In fact, their policy toward the Americans was highly accommodating. In 1907 an understanding was reached with an American official that the two leaders would block any attempt by the Philippine Assembly to demand independence. Osmeña and Quezon, who were the dominant political figures in the islands up to World War II, were genuinely committed to independence. The failure of Aguinaldo's revolutionary movement, however, had taught them the pragmatism of adopting a conciliatory policy.
The appearance of the Nacionalista Party in 1907 marked the emergence of the party system, although the party was without an effective rival from 1916 for most of the period until the emergence of the Liberal Party in 1946. Much of the system's success (or, rather, the success of the Nacionalistas) depended on the linkage of modern political institutions with traditional social structures and practices. Most significantly, it involved the integration of local-level elite groups into the new political system. Philippine parties have been described by political scientist Carl Landé as organized "upward" rather than "downward." That is, national followings were put together by party leaders who worked in conjunction with local elite groups--in many cases the descendants of the principalía of Spanish times--who controlled constituencies tied to them in patron-client relationships. The issue of independence, and the conditions and timing under which it would be granted, generated considerable passion in the national political arena. According to Landé, however, the decisive factors in terms of popular support were more often local and particularistic issues rather than national or ideological concerns. Filipino political associations depended on intricate networks of personalistic ties, directed upward to Manila and the national legislature.
The linchpins of the system created under United States tutelage were the village- and province-level notables--often labeled bosses or caciques by colonial administrators--who garnered support by exchanging specific favors for votes. Reciprocal relations between inferior and superior (most often tenants or sharecroppers with large landholders) usually involved the concept of utang na loob (repayment of debts) or kinship ties, and they formed the basis of support for village-level factions led by the notables. These factions decided political party allegiance. The extension of voting rights to all literate males in 1916, the growth of literacy, and the granting of women's suffrage in 1938 increased the electorate considerably. The elite, however, was largely successful in monopolizing the support of the newly enfranchised, and a genuinely populist alternative to the status quo was never really established.
The policy of attraction ensured the success of what colonial administrators called the political education of the Filipinos. It was, however, also the cause of its greatest failure. Osmeña and Quezon, as the acknowledged representatives, were not genuinely interested in social reform, and serious problems involving land ownership, tenancy, and the highly unequal distribution of wealth were largely ignored. The growing power of the Nacionalista Party, particularly in the period after 1916 when it gained almost complete control of a bicameral Filipino legislature, barred the effective inclusion of nonelite interests in the political system. Not only revolution but also moderate reform of the social and economic systems were precluded. Discussions of policy alternatives became less salient to the political process than the dynamics of personalism and the ethic of give and take.
The term of Governor General Francis Burton Harrison (1913-21) was one of particularly harmonious collaboration between Americans and Filipinos. Harrison's attitudes (he is described as having regarded himself as a "constitutional monarch" presiding over a "government of Filipinos") reflected the relatively liberal stance of Woodrow Wilson's Democratic Party administration. In 1913 Wilson had appointed five Filipinos to the Philippine Commission of the legislature, giving it a Filipino majority for the first time. Harrison undertook rapid "Filipinization" of the civil service, much to the anger and distress of Americans in the islands, including superannuated officials. In 1913 there had been 2,623 American and 6,363 Filipino officials; in 1921 there were 13,240 Filipino and 614 American administrators. Critics accused Harrison of transforming a "colonial government of Americans aided by Filipinos" into a "government of Filipinos aided by Americans" and of being the "plaything and catspaw of the leaders of the Nacionalista Party."
A major step was taken in the direction of independence in 1916, when the United States Congress passed a second organic law, commonly referred to as the Jones Act, which replaced the 1902 law. Its preamble stated the intent to grant Philippine independence as soon as a stable government was established. The Philippine Senate replaced the Philippine Commission as the upper house of the legislature. Unlike the commission, all but two of the Senate's twenty-four members (and all but nine of the ninety representatives in the lower house, now renamed the House of Representatives) were popularly elected. The two senators and nine representatives were appointed by the governor general to represent the non-Christian peoples. The legislature's actions were subject to the veto of the governor general, and it could not pass laws affecting the rights of United States citizens. The Jones Act brought the legislative branch under Filipino control. The executive still was firmly under the control of an appointed governor general, and most Supreme Court justices, who were appointed by the United States president, still were Americans in 1916.
Elections were held for the two houses in 1916, and the Nacionalista Party made an almost clean sweep. All but one elected seat in the Senate and eighty-three out of ninety elected seats in the House were won by their candidates, leaving the National Progressive Party (the former Federalista Party) a powerless opposition. Quezon was chosen president of the Senate, and Osmeña continued as speaker of the House.
The Jones Act remained the basic legislation for the administration of the Philippines until the United States Congress passed new legislation in 1934 which became effective in 1935, establishing the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Provisions of the Jones Act were differently interpreted, however, by the governors general. Harrison rarely challenged the legislature by his use of the veto power. His successor, General Leonard Wood (1921-27), was convinced that United States withdrawal from the islands would be as disastrous for the Filipinos as it would be for the interests of the United States in the western Pacific. He aroused the intense opposition of the Nacionalistas by his use of the veto power 126 times in his six years in office. The Nacionalista Party created a political deadlock when ranking Filipino officials resigned in 1923 leaving their positions vacant until Wood's term ended with his death in 1927. His successors, however, reversed Wood's policies and reestablished effective working relations with Filipino politicians.
Although the Jones Act did not transfer responsibility for the Moro regions (reorganized in 1914 under the Department of Mindanao and Sulu) from the American governor to the Filipinocontrolled legislature, Muslims perceived the rapid Filipinization of the civil service and United States commitment to eventual independence as serious threats. In the view of the Moros, an independent Philippines would be dominated by Christians , their traditional enemies. United States policy from 1903 had been to break down the historical autonomy of the Muslim territories. Immigration of Christian settlers from Luzon and the Visayan Islands to the relatively unsettled regions of Mindanao was encouraged, and the new arrivals began supplanting the Moros in their own homeland. Large areas of the island were opened to economic exploitation. There was no legal recognition of Muslim customs and institutions. In March 1935, Muslim datu petitioned United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt, asking that "the American people should not release us until we are educated and become powerful because we are like a calf who, once abandoned by its mother, would be devoured by a merciless lion." Any suggestion of special status for or continued United States rule over the Moro regions, however, was vehemently opposed by Christian Filipino leaders who, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established, gained virtually complete control over government institutions.
The Taft Commission, appointed in 1900, viewed economic development, along with education and the establishment of representative institutions, as one of the three pillars of the United States program of tutelage. Its members had ambitious plans to build railroads and highways, improve harbor facilities, open greater markets for Philippine goods through the lowering or elimination of tariffs, and stimulate foreign investment in mining, forestry, and cash-crop cultivation. In 1901 some 93 percent of the islands' total land area was public land, and it was hoped that a portion of this area could be sold to American investors. Those plans were frustrated, however, by powerful agricultural interests in the United States Congress who feared competition from Philippine sugar, coconut oil, tobacco, and other exports. Although Taft argued for more liberal terms, the United States Congress, in the 1902 Land Act, set a limit of 16 hectares of Philippine public land to be sold or leased to American individuals and 1,024 hectares to American corporations. This act and tight financial markets in the United States discouraged the development of large-scale, foreign-owned plantations such as were being established in British Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and French Indochina.
The Taft Commission argued that tariff relief was essential if the islands were to be developed. In August 1909, Congress passed the Payne Aldrich Tariff Act, which provided for free entry to the United States of all Philippine products except rice, sugar, and tobacco. Rice imports were subjected to regular tariffs, and quotas were established for sugar and tobacco. In 1913 the Underwood Tariff Act removed all restrictions. The principal result of these acts was to make the islands increasingly dependent on American markets; between 1914 and 1920, the portion of Philippine exports going to the United States rose from 50 to 70 percent. By 1939 it had reached 85 percent, and 65 percent of imports came from the United States.
In 1931 there were between 80,000 and 100,000 Chinese in the islands active in the local economy; many of them had arrived after United States rule had been established. Some 16,000 Japanese were concentrated largely in the Mindanao province of Davao (the incorporated city of Davao was labeled by local boosters the "Little Tokyo of the South") and were predominant in the abaca industry. Yet the immigration of foreign laborers never reached a volume sufficient to threaten indigenous control of the economy or the traditional social structure as it did in British Malaya and Burma.
The limited nature of United States intervention in the economy and the Nacionalista Party's elite dominance of the Philippine political system ensured that the status quo in landlord and tenant relationships would be maintained, even if certain of its traditional aspects changed. A government attempt to establish homesteads modeled on those of the American West in 1903 did little to alter landholding arrangements. Although different regions of the archipelago had their own specific arrangements and different proportions of tenants and small proprietors, the kasama (sharecropper) system, was the most prevalent, particularly in the rice-growing areas of Central Luzon and the Visayan Islands.
Under this arrangement, the landowners supplied the seed and cash necessary to tide cultivators over during the planting season, whereas the cultivators provided tools and work animals and were responsible for one-half the expense of crop production. Usually, owner and sharecropper each took one-half of the harvest, although only after the former deducted a portion for expenses. Terms might be more liberal in frontier areas where owners needed to attract cultivators to clear the land. Sometimes land tenancy arrangements were three tiered. An original owner would lease land to an inquilino, who would then sublet it to kasamas. In the words of historian David R. Sturtevant: "Thrice removed from their proprietario, affected taos [peasants] received ever-diminishing shares from the picked-over remains of harvests."
Cultivators customarily were deep in debt, for they were dependent on advances made by the landowner or inquilino and had to pay steep interest rates. Principal and interest accumulated rapidly, becoming an impossible burden. It was estimated in 1924 that the average tenant family would have to labor uninterruptedly for 163 years to pay off debts and acquire title to the land they worked. The kasama system created a class of peons or serfs; children inherited the debts of their fathers, and over the generations families were tied in bondage to their estates. Contracts usually were unwritten, and landowners could change conditions to their own advantage.
Two factors led to a worsening of the cultivators' position. One was the rapid increase in the national population (from 7.6 million in 1905 to 16 million in 1939) brought about through improvements in public health, which put added pressure on the land, lowered the standard of living, and created a labor surplus. Closely tied to the population increase was the erosion of traditional patron-client ties. The landlord-tenant relationship was becoming more impersonal. The landlord's interest in the tenants' welfare was waning. Landlords ceased providing important services and used profits from the sale of cash crops to support their urban life-styles or to invest in other kinds of enterprises. Cultivators accused landowners of being shameless and forgetting the principle of utang na loob, demanding services from tenants without pay and giving nothing in return.
As the area under cultivation increased from 1.3 million hectares in 1903 to 4 million hectares in 1935--stimulated by United States demand for cash crops and by the growing population--tenancy also increased. In 1918 there were roughly 2 million farms, of which 1.5 million were operated by their owners; by 1939 these figures had declined to 1.6 million and 800,000, respectively, as individual proprietors became tenants or migrant laborers. Disparities in the distribution of wealth grew. By 1939 the wealthiest 10 percent of the population received 40 percent of the islands' income. The elite and the cultivators were separated culturally and geographically, as well as economically; as new urban centers rose, often with an Americanized culture, the elite left the countryside to become absentee landlords, leaving estate management in the hands of frequently abusive overseers. The Philippine Constabulary played a central role in suppressing antilandlord resistance.
The tradition of rural revolt, often with messianic overtones, continued under United States rule. Colorum sects, derived from the old Cofradía de San José, had spread throughout the Christian regions of the archipelago and by the early 1920s competed with the Roman Catholic establishment and the missionaries of Gregorio Aglipay's Independent Philippine Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). A colorum-led revolt broke out in northeastern Mindanao early in 1924, sparked by a sect leader's predictions of an imminent judgment day. In 1925 Florencio Entrencherado, a shopkeeper on the island of Panay, proclaimed himself Florencio I, Emperor of the Philippines, somewhat paradoxically running for the office of provincial governor of Iloilo that same year on a platform of tax reduction, measures against Chinese and Japanese merchants, and immediate independence. Although he lost the election, the campaign made him a prominent figure in the western Visayan Islands and won him the sympathies of the poor living in the sugar provinces of Panay and Negros. Claiming semidivine attributes (that he could control the elements and that his charisma had been granted him by the Holy Spirit and the spirits of Father Burgos and Rizal), Florencio had a following of some 10,000 peasants on Negros and Panay by late 1926. In May 1927, his supporters, heeding his call that "the hour will come when the poor will be ordered to kill all the rich," launched an abortive insurrection.
Tensions were highest in Central Luzon, where tenancy was most widespread and population pressures were the greatest. The 1931 Tayug insurrection north of Manila was connected with a colorum sect and had religious overtones, but traditionally messianic movements gradually gave way to secular, and at times revolutionary, ones. One of the first of these movements was the Association of the Worthy Kabola (Kapisanan Makabola Makasinag), a secret society that by 1925 had some 12,000 followers, largely in Nueva Ecija Province. Its leader, Pedro Kabola, called for liberation of the Philippines and promised the aid of the Japanese. The Tangulang (Kapatiran Tangulang Malayang Mamamayang--Association for an Offensive for Our Future Freedom) movement founded in 1931 was both urban and rural based and had as many as 40,000 followers.
The most important movement, however, was that of the Sakdalistas. Founded in 1933 by Benigno Ramos, a former Nacionalista Party member and associate of Quezon who broke with him over the issue of collaboration, the Sakdal Party (sakdal means to accuse) ran candidates in the 1934 election on a platform of complete independence by the end of 1935, redistribution of land, and an end to caciquism. Sakdalistas were elected to a number of seats in the legislature and to provincial posts, and by early 1935 the party may have had as many as 200,000 members. Because of poor harvests and frustrations with the government's lack of response to peasant demands, Sakdalistas took up arms and seized government buildings in a number of locations on May 2-3, 1935. The insurrection, suppressed by the Philippine Constabulary, resulted in approximately 100 dead and Benigno Ramos fled into exile to Japan.
Through the 1930s, tenant movements in Central Luzon became more active, articulate, and better organized. In 1938 the Socialist Party joined in a united front with the Communist Party of the Philippines (Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas--PKP), which was prominent in supporting the demands of tenants for better contracts and working conditions. As the depression wore on and prices for cash crops collapsed, tenant strikes and violent confrontations with landlords, their overseers, and the Philippine Constabulary escalated.
In response to deteriorating conditions, commonwealth president Quezon launched the "Social Justice" program, which included regulation of rents but achieved only meager results. There were insufficient funds to carry out the program, and implementation was sabotaged on the local level by landlords and municipal officials. In 1939 and 1940, thousands of cultivators were evicted by landlords because they insisted on enforcement of the 1933 Rice Share Tenancy Act, which guaranteed larger shares for tenants.
The constellation of political forces in the United States that assisted in the resolution of the independence question formed an odd community of interests with the Filipino nationalists. Principal among these were the agricultural interests. American sugar beet, tobacco, and dairy farmers feared the competition of low-tariff insular products, and the hardships suffered in a deepening depression in the early 1930s led them to seek protection through a severance of the colonial relationship. In this they had the support of Cuban sugar interests, who feared the loss of markets to Philippine sugarcane. United States labor unions, particularly on the West Coast, wanted to exclude Filipino labor. A number of American observers saw the Philippines as a potential flash point with an expansive Japan and argued for a withdrawal across the Pacific to Hawaii.
In the climate generated by these considerations, Osmeña and Manuel Roxas, a rising star in the Nacionalista Party and Osmeña's successor as speaker of the House, successfully campaigned for passage of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Independence Bill, which Congress approved over President Herbert Hoover's veto in January 1933. Quezon opposed the legislation, however, on the grounds that clauses relating to trade and excluding Filipino immigrants were too stringent and that the guarantees of United States bases on Philippine soil and powers granted a United States high commissioner compromised independence. After the bill was defeated in the Philippine legislature, Quezon himself went to Washington and negotiated the passage of a revised independence act, the Tydings-McDuffie Act, in March 1934.
The Tydings-McDuffie Act provided for a ten-year transition period to independence, during which the Commonwealth of the Philippines would be established. The commonwealth would have its own constitution and would be self-governing, although foreign policy would be the responsibility of the United States. Laws passed by the legislature affecting immigration, foreign trade, and the currency system had to be approved by the United States president.
If the Tydings-McDuffie Act marked a new stage in Filipino-American partnership, it remained a highly unequal one. Although only fifty Filipino immigrants were allowed into the United States annually under the arrangement, American entry and residence in the islands were unrestricted. Trade provisions of the act allowed for five years' free entry of Philippine goods during the transition period and five years of gradually steepening tariff duties thereafter, reaching 100 percent in 1946, whereas United States goods could enter the islands unrestricted and duty free during the full ten years. Quezon had managed to obtain more favorable terms on bases; the United States would retain only a naval reservation and fueling stations. The United States would, moreover, negotiate with foreign governments for the neutralization of the islands.
The country's first constitution was framed by a constitutional convention that assembled in July 1934. Overwhelmingly approved by plebiscite in May 1935, this document established the political institutions for the intended ten-year commonwealth period that began that year and after July 1946 became the constitution of the independent Republic of the Philippines. The first commonwealth election to the new Congress was held in September 1935. Quezon and Osmeña, reconciled after their disagreements over the independence act, ran on a Coalition Party ticket and were elected president and vice president, respectively.
Japan launched a surprise attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Initial aerial bombardment was followed by landings of ground troops both north and south of Manila. The defending Philippine and United States troops were under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, who had been recalled to active duty in the United States Army earlier in the year and was designated commander of the United States Armed Forces in the Asia-Pacific region. The aircraft of his command were destroyed; the naval forces were ordered to leave; and because of the circumstances in the Pacific region, reinforcement and resupply of his ground forces were impossible. Under the pressure of superior numbers, the defending forces withdrew to the Bataan Peninsula and to the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay. Manila, declared an open city to prevent its destruction, was occupied by the Japanese on January 2, 1942.
The Philippine defense continued until the final surrender of United States-Philippine forces on the Bataan Peninsula in April 1942 and on Corregidor in May. Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war captured by the Japanese at Bataan were forced to undertake the infamous "Death March" to a prison camp 105 kilometers to the north. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 men, weakened by disease and malnutrition and treated harshly by their captors, died before reaching their destination. Quezon and Osmeña had accompanied the troops to Corregidor and later left for the United States, where they set up a government in exile. MacArthur was ordered to Australia, where he started to plan for a return to the Philippines.
The Japanese military authorities immediately began organizing a new government structure in the Philippines. Although the Japanese had promised independence for the islands after occupation, they initially organized a Council of State through which they directed civil affairs until October 1943, when they declared the Philippines an independent republic. Most of the Philippine elite, with a few notable exceptions, served under the Japanese. Philippine collaboration in Japanese-sponsored political institutions--which later became a major domestic political issue--was motivated by several considerations. Among them was the effort to protect the people from the harshness of Japanese rule (an effort that Quezon himself had advocated), protection of family and personal interests, and a belief that Philippine nationalism would be advanced by solidarity with fellow Asians. Many collaborated to pass information to the Allies. The Japanese-sponsored republic headed by President José P. Laurel proved to be unpopular.
Japanese occupation of the Philippines was opposed by increasingly effective underground and guerrilla activity that ultimately reached large-scale proportions. Postwar investigations showed that about 260,000 people were in guerrilla organizations and that members of the anti-Japanese underground were even more numerous. Their effectiveness was such that by the end of the war, Japan controlled only twelve of the forty-eight provinces. The major element of resistance in the Central Luzon area was furnished by the Huks, Hukbalahap, or the People's Anti-Japanese Army organized in early 1942 under the leadership of Luis Taruc, a communist party member since 1939. The Huks armed some 30,000 people and extended their control over much of Luzon. Other guerrilla units were attached to the United States Armed Forces Far East.
MacArthur's Allied forces landed on the island of Leyte on October 20, 1944, accompanied by Osmeña, who had succeeded to the commonwealth presidency upon the death of Quezon on August 1, 1944. Landings then followed on the island of Mindoro and around the Lingayen Gulf on the west side of Luzon, and the push toward Manila was initiated. Fighting was fierce, particularly in the mountains of northern Luzon, where Japanese troops had retreated, and in Manila, where they put up a last-ditch resistance. Guerrilla forces rose up everywhere for the final offensive. Fighting continued until Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945. The Philippines had suffered great loss of life and tremendous physical destruction by the time the war was over. An estimated 1 million Filipinos had been killed, a large proportion during the final months of the war, and Manila was extensively damaged.
Demoralized by the war and suffering rampant inflation and shortages of food and other goods, the Philippine people prepared for the transition to independence, which was scheduled for July 4, 1946. A number of issues remained unresolved, principally those concerned with trade and security arrangements between the islands and the United States. Yet in the months following Japan's surrender, collaboration became a virulent issue that split the country and poisoned political life. Most of the commonwealth legislature and leaders, such as Laurel, Claro Recto, and Roxas, had served in the Japanese-sponsored government. While the war was still going on, Allied leaders had stated that such "quislings" and their counterparts on the provincial and local levels would be severely punished. Harold Ickes, who as United States secretary of the interior had civil authority over the islands, suggested that all officials above the rank of schoolteacher who had cooperated with the Japanese be purged and denied the right to vote in the first postwar elections. Osmeña countered that each case should be tried on its own merits.
Resolution of the problem posed serious moral questions that struck at the heart of the political system. Collaborators argued that they had gone along with the occupiers in order to shield the people from the harshest aspects of Japanese rule. Before leaving Corregidor in March 1942, Quezon had told Laurel and José Vargas, mayor of Manila, that they should stay behind to deal with the Japanese but refuse to take an oath of allegiance. Although president of a "puppet" republic, Laurel had faced down the Japanese several times and made it clear that his loyalty was first to the Philippines and second to the Japanese-sponsored Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere.
Critics accused the collaborators of opportunism and of enriching themselves while the people starved. Anticollaborationist feeling, moreover, was fueled by the people's resentment of the elite. On both the local and the national levels, it had been primarily the landlords, important officials, and the political establishment that had supported the Japanese, largely because the latter, with their own troops and those of a reestablished Philippine Constabulary, preserved their property and forcibly maintained the rural status quo. Tenants felt the harshest aspects of Japanese rule. Guerrillas, particularly those associated with the Huks, came from the ranks of the cultivators, who organized to defend themselves against Philippine Constabulary and Japanese depredations.
The issue of collaboration centered on Roxas, prewar Nacionalista speaker of the House of Representatives, who had served as minister without portfolio and was responsible for rice procurement and economic policy in the wartime Laurel government. A close prewar associate of MacArthur, he maintained contact with Allied intelligence during the war and in 1944 had unsuccessfully attempted to escape to Allied territory, which exonerated him in the general's eyes. MacArthur supported Roxas in his ambitions for the presidency when he announced himself as a candidate of the newly formed Liberal Party (the liberal wing of the Nacionalista Party) in January 1946. MacArthur's favoritism aroused much criticism, particularly because other collaborationist leaders were held in jail, awaiting trial. A presidential campaign of great vindictiveness ensued, in which Roxas's wartime role was a central issue. Roxas outspent and outspoke his Nacionalista opponent, the aging and ailing Osmeña. In the April 23, 1946, election, Roxas won 54 percent of the vote, and the Liberal Party won a majority in the legislature.
On July 4, 1946, Roxas became the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines. In 1948 he declared an amnesty for arrested collaborators--only one of whom had been indicted--except for those who had committed violent crimes. The resiliency of the prewar elite, although remarkable, nevertheless had left a bitter residue in the minds of the people. In the first years of the republic, the issue of collaboration became closely entwined with old agrarian grievances and produced violent results.
If the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in November 1935 marked the high point of Philippine-United States relations, the actual achievement of independence was in many ways a disillusioning anticlimax. Economic relations remained the most salient issue. The Philippine economy remained highly dependent on United States markets--more dependent, according to United States high commissioner Paul McNutt, than any single state was dependent on the rest of the country. Thus a severance of special relations at independence was unthinkable, and large landowners, particularly those with hectarage in sugar, campaigned for an extension to free trade. The Philippine Trade Act, passed by the United States Congress in 1946 and commonly known as the Bell Act, stipulated that free trade be continued until 1954; thereafter, tariffs would be increased 5 percent annually until full amounts were reached in 1974. Quotas were established for Philippine products both for free trade and tariff periods. At the same time, there would be no restrictions on the entry of United States products to the Philippines, nor would there be Philippine import duties. The Philippine peso was tied at a fixed rate to the United States dollar.
The most controversial provision of the Bell Act was the "parity" clause that granted United States citizens equal economic rights with Filipinos, for example, in the exploitation of natural resources. If parity privileges of individuals or corporations were infringed upon, the president of the United States had the authority to revoke any aspect of the trade agreement. Payment of war damages amounting to US$620 million, as stipulated in the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946, was made contingent on Philippine acceptance of the parity clause.
The Bell Act was approved by the Philippine legislature on July 2, two days before independence. The parity clause, however, required an amendment relating to the 1935 constitution's thirteenth article, which reserved the exploitation of natural resources for Filipinos. This amendment could be obtained only with the approval of three-quarters of the members of the House and Senate and a plebiscite. The denial of seats in the House to six members of the leftist Democratic Alliance and three Nacionalistas on grounds of fraud and violent campaign tactics during the April 1946 election enabled Roxas to gain legislative approval on September 18. The definition of three-quarters became an issue because three-quarters of the sitting members, not the full House and Senate, had approved the amendment, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the administration's interpretation .
In March 1947, a plebiscite on the amendment was held; only 40 percent of the electorate participated, but the majority of those approved the amendment. The Bell Act, particularly the parity clause, was seen by critics as an inexcusable surrender of national sovereignty. The pressure of the sugar barons, particularly those of Roxas's home region of the western Visayan Islands, and other landowner interests, however, was irresistible. In 1955 a revised United States-Philippine Trade Agreement (the Laurel-Langley Agreement) was negotiated. This treaty abolished the United States authority to control the exchange rate of the peso, made parity privileges reciprocal, extended the sugar quota, and extended the time period for the reduction of other quotas and for the progressive application of tariffs on Philippine goods exported to the United States.
The Philippines became an integral part of emerging United States security arrangements in the western Pacific upon approval of the Military Bases Agreement in March 1947. The United States retained control of twenty-three military installations, including Clark Air Base and the extensive naval facilities at Subic Bay, for a lease period of ninety-nine years. United States rather than Philippine authorities retained full jurisdiction over the territories covered by the military installations, including over collecting taxes and trying offenders, including Filipinos, in cases involving United States service personnel. Base rights remained a controversial issue in relations between the two countries into the 1990s.
The Military Assistance Agreement also was signed in March 1947. This treaty established a Joint United States Military Advisory Group to advise and train the Philippine armed forces and authorized the transfer of aid and matériel--worth some US$169 million by 1957. Between 1950 and the early 1980s, the United States funded the military education of nearly 17,000 Filipino military personnel, mostly at military schools and training facilities in the United States. Much United States aid was used to support and reorganize the Philippine Constabulary in late 1947 in the face of growing internal unrest. A contingent of Philippine troops was sent to Korea in 1950. In August 1951 the two nations signed the Mutual Defense Treaty Between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.
At the end of World War II, most rural areas, particularly in Central Luzon, were tinderboxes on the point of incineration. The Japanese occupation had only postponed the farmers' push for better conditions. Tensions grew as landlords who had fled to urban areas during the fighting returned to the villages in late 1945, demanded back rent, and employed military police and their own armed contingents to enforce these demands. Food and other goods were in short supply. The war had sharpened animosities between the elite, who in large numbers had supported the Japanese, and those tenants who had been part of the guerrilla resistance. Having had weapons and combat experience and having lost friends and relatives to the Japanese and the wartime Philippine Constabulary, guerrilla veterans and those close to them were not as willing to be intimidated by landlords as they had been before 1942.
MacArthur had jailed Taruc and Casto Alejandrino, both Huk leaders, in 1945 and ordered United States forces to disarm and disband Huk guerrillas. Many guerrillas, however, concealed their weapons or fled into the mountains. The Huks were closely identified with the emerging Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM--National Peasant Union), which was strongest in the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac and had as many as 500,000 members. As part of the left-wing Democratic Alliance, which also included urban left-wing groups and labor unions, the PKM supported Osmeña and the Nacionalistas against Roxas in the 1946 election campaign. They did so not only because Roxas had been a collaborator but also because Osmeña had promised a new law giving tenants 60 percent of the harvest, rather than the 50 percent or less that had been customary.
Six Democratic Alliance candidates won congressional seats, including Taruc, who had been released from jail along with other leaders, but their exclusion from the legislature on charges of using terrorist methods during the campaign provoked great unrest in the districts that had elected them. Continued landlord- and police-instigated violence against peasant activities, including the murder of PKM leader Juan Feleo in August 1946, provoked the Huk veterans to dig up their weapons and incite a rebellion in the Central Luzon provinces. The name of the HUK movement was changed from the People's Anti-Japanese Army to the People's Liberation Army (Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan).
Roxas's policy toward the Huks alternated between gestures of negotiation and harsh suppression. His administration established an Agrarian Commission and passed a law giving tenants 70 percent of the harvest, although this was extremely difficult to enforce in the countryside. The Huks in turn demanded reinstatement of the Democratic Alliance members of Congress; disbandment of the military police, which in the 1945-48 period had been the equivalent of the old Philippine Constabulary; and a general amnesty. They also refused to give up their arms. In March 1948, Roxas declared the Huks an illegal and subversive organization and stepped up counterinsurgency activities.
Following Roxas's death from a heart attack in April 1948, his successor, Elpidio Quirino, opened negotiations with Huk leader Taruc, but nothing was accomplished. That same year the communist PKP decided to support the rebellion, overcoming its reluctance to rely on peasant movements. Although it lacked a peasant following, the PKP declared that it would lead the Huks on all levels and in 1950 described them as the "military arm" of the revolutionary movement to overthrow the government. From its inception, the government considered the Huk movement to have been communist instigated, an extension onto the Luzon Plain of the international revolutionary strategy of the Cominform in Moscow. Yet the rebellion's main impetus was peasant grievances, not Leninist designs. The principal factors were continuous tenant-landlord conflicts, in which the government actively took the part of the latter, dislocations caused by the war, and perhaps an insurrectionist tradition going back several centuries. According to historian Benedict Kerkvliet, "the PKP did not inspire or control the peasant movement . . . . What appears closer to the truth is that the PKP, as an organization, moved back and forth between alliance and nonalliance with the peasant movement in Central Luzon." Most farmers had little interest in or knowledge of socialism. Most wanted better conditions not redistribution of land or collectivization. The landlord-tenant relationship itself was not challenged, just its more exploitive and impersonal character in the contemporary period.
Huk fortunes reached their peak between 1949 and 1951. Violence associated with the November 1949 presidential election, in which Quirino was reelected on the Liberal Party ticket, led many farmers to support the Huks, and after that date there were between 11,000 and 15,000 armed Huks. Although the core of the rebellion remained in Central Luzon, Huk regional committees also were established in the provinces of Southern Tagalog, in northern Luzon, in the Visayan Islands, and in Mindanao. Antigovernment activities spread to areas outside the movement's heartland.
Beginning in 1951, however, the momentum began to slow. This was in part the result of poor training and the atrocities perpetrated by individual Huks. Their mistreatment of Negrito peoples made it almost impossible for them to use the mountain areas where these tribespeople lived, and the assassination of Aurora Quezon, President Quezon's widow, and of her family by Huks outraged the nation. Many Huks degenerated into murderers and bank robbers. Moreover, in the words of one guerrilla veteran, the movement was suffering from "battle fatigue." Lacking a hinterland, such as that which the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) provided for Viet Cong guerrillas or the liberated areas established by the Chinese Communists before 1949, the Huks were constantly on the run. Also the Huks were mainly active in Central Luzon, which permitted the government to concentrate its forces. Other decisive factors were the better quality of United States-trained Philippine armed forces and the more conciliatory policy adopted by the Quirino government toward the peasants.
Ramon Magsaysay, a member of Congress from Zambales Province and veteran of a non-Huk guerrilla unit during the war, became secretary of defense in 1950. He initiated a campaign to defeat the insurgents militarily and at the same time win popular support for the government. With United States aid and advisers he was able to improve the quality of the armed forces, whose campaign against the Huks had been largely ineffective and heavy-handed. In 1950 the constabulary was made part of the armed forces (it had previously been under the secretary of the interior) with its own separate command. All armed forces units were placed under strict discipline, and their behavior in the villages was visibly more restrained. Peasants felt grateful to Magsaysay for ending the forced evacuations and harsh pacification tactics that some claimed had been worse than those of the Japanese occupation.
Nominated as Nacionalista Party presidential candidate in April 1953, Magsaysay won almost two-thirds of the vote over his opponent, Quirino, in November. Often compared to United States president Andrew Jackson, Magsaysay styled himself as a man of the people. He invited thousands of peasants and laborers to tour the Malacañang Palace--the presidential residence in Manila--and encouraged farmers to send him telegrams, free of charge, with their complaints. In the countryside a number of small-scale but highly visible projects had been started, including the building of bridges, roads, irrigation canals, and artesian "liberty wells"; the establishment of special courts for landlord-tenant disputes; agricultural extension services; and credit for farmers. The Economic Development Corps project settled some 950 families on land that the government had purchased on Mindanao. In the ensuing years, this program, in various forms, promoted the settlement of poor people from the Christian north in traditionally Muslim areas. Although it relieved population pressures in the north, it also exacerbated centuries-old MuslimChristian hostilities. The capture and killing of Huk leaders, the dissolution of Huk regional committees, and finally the surrender of Taruc in May 1954 marked the waning of the Huk threat.
Magsaysay's vice president, Carlos P. Garcia, succeeded to the presidency after Magsaysay's death in an airplane crash in March 1957 and was shortly thereafter elected to the office. Garcia emphasized the nationalist themes of "Filipino First" and attainment of "respectable independence." Further discussions with the United States on the question of the military bases took place in 1959. Early agreement was reached on United States relinquishment of large land areas initially reserved for bases but no longer required for their operation. As a result, the United States turned over to Philippine administration the town of Olongapo on Subic Bay, north of Manila, which previously had been under the jurisdiction of the United States Navy.
The 1957 election had resulted, for the first time, in a vice president of a party different from that of the president. The new vice president, Diosdado Macapagal, ran as the candidate of the Liberal Party, which followers of Magsaysay had joined after unsuccessful efforts to form an effective third party. By the time of the 1961 presidential election, the revived Liberal Party had built enough of a following to win the presidency for Macapagal. In this election, the returns from each polling place were reported by observers (who had been placed there by newspapers) as soon as the votes were counted. This system, known as Operation Quick Count, was designed to prevent fraud.
The issue of jurisdiction over United States service personnel in the Philippines, which had not been fully settled after the 1959 discussions, continued to be a problem in relations between the two countries. A series of incidents in the 1960-65 period, chiefly associated with Clark Air Base, aroused considerable anti-American feelings and demonstrations. Negotiations took place and resulted in an August 1965 agreement to adopt provisions similar to the status of forces agreement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization regarding criminal jurisdiction. In the next four years, agreements were reached on several other matters relating to the bases, including a 1966 amendment to the 1947 agreement, which moved the expiration date of the fixed term for United States use of the military facilities up to 1991.
Philippine foreign policy under Macapagal sought closer relations with neighboring Asian peoples. In July 1963, he convened a summit meeting in Manila consisting of the Philippines , Indonesia, and Malaysia. An organization called MAPHILINDO was proposed; much heralded in the local press as a realization of Rizal's dream of bringing together the Malay peoples, MAPHILINDO was described as a regional association that would approach issues of common concern in the spirit of consensus. MAPHILINDO was quickly shelved, however, in the face of the continuing confrontation between Indonesia and newly established Malaysia and the Philippines' own claim to Sabah, the territory in northeastern Borneo that had become a Malaysian state in 1963.
In the presidential election of 1965, the Nacionalista candidate, Ferdinand E. Marcos (1917-90), triumphed over Macapagal. Marcos dominated the political scene for the next two decades, first as an elected president in 1965 and 1969, and then as a virtual dictator after his 1972 proclamation of martial law. He was born in llocos Norte Province at the northwestern tip of Luzon, a traditionally poor and clannish region. He was a brilliant law student, who successfully argued before the Philippine Supreme Court in the late 1930s for a reversal of a murder conviction against him (he had been convicted of shooting a political rival of his father). During World War II, Marcos served in the Battle of Bataan and then claimed to have led a guerrilla unit, the Maharlikas. Like many other aspects of his life, Marcos's war record, and the large number of United States and Philippine military medals that he claimed (at one time including the Congressional Medal of Honor), came under embarrassing scrutiny during the last years of his presidency. His stories of wartime gallantry, which were inflated by the media into a personality cult during his years in power, enthralled not only Filipino voters but also American presidents and members of Congress.
In 1949 Marcos gained a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives; he became a senator in 1959. His 1954 marriage to former beauty queen Imelda Romualdez provided him with a photogenic partner and skilled campaigner. She also had family connections with the powerful Romualdez political dynasty of Leyte in the Visayas.
During his first term as president, Marcos initiated ambitious public works projects--roads, bridges, schools, health centers, irrigation facilities, and urban beautification projects--that improved the quality of life and also provided generous pork barrel benefits for his friends. Massive spending on public works was, politically, a cost-free policy not only because the pork barrel won him loyal allies but also because both local elites and ordinary people viewed a new civic center or bridge as a benefit. By contrast, a land reform program--part of Marcos's platform as it had been that of Macapagal and his predecessors--would alienate the politically all-powerful landowner elite and thus was never forcefully implemented.
Marcos lobbied rigorously for economic and military aid from the United States but resisted pressure from President Lyndon Johnson to become significantly involved in the Second Indochina War. Marcos's contribution to the war was limited to a 2,000- member Philippine Civic Action Group sent to the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) between 1966 and 1969. The Philippines became one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), established in 1967. Disputes with fellow ASEAN member Malaysia over Sabah in northeast Borneo, however, continued, and it was discovered, after an army mutiny and murder of Muslim troops in 1968 (the "Corregidor Incident"), that the Philippine army was training a special unit to infiltrate Sabah.
Although Marcos was elected to a second term as president in 1969--the first president of the independent Philippines to gain a second term--the atmosphere of optimism that characterized his first years in power was largely dissipated. Economic growth slowed. Ordinary Filipinos, especially in urban areas, noted a deteriorating quality of life reflected in spiraling crime rates and random violence. Communist insurgency, particularly the activity of the Huks--had degenerated into gangsterism during the late 1950s, but the Communist Party of the Philippines-Marxist Leninist, usually referred to as the CPP, was "reestablished" in 1968 along Maoist lines in Tarlac Province north of Manila, leaving only a small remnant of the orgiinal PKP. The CPP's military arm, the New People's Army (NPA), soon spread from Tarlac to other parts of the archipelago. On Mindanao and in the Sulu Archipelago, violence between Muslims and Christians, the latter often recent government-sponsored immigrants from the north, was on the rise. In 1969 the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was organized on Malaysian soil. The MNLF conducted an insurrection supported by Malaysia and certain Islamic states in the Middle East, including Libya.
The carefully crafted "Camelot" atmosphere of Marcos's first inauguration, in which he cast himself in the role of John F. Kennedy with Imelda as his Jackie, gave way in 1970 to general dissatisfaction with what had been one of the most dishonest elections in Philippine history and fears that Marcos might engineer change in the 1935 constitution to maintain himself in power. On January 30, 1970, the "Battle of Mendiola," named after a street in front of the Malacañang Palace, the presidential mansion, pitted student demonstrators, who tried to storm the palace, against riot police and resulted in many injuries.
Random bombings, officially attributed to communists but probably set by government agents provocateurs, occurred in Manila and other large cities. Most of these only destroyed property, but grenade explosions in the Plaza Miranda in Manila during an opposition Liberal Party rally on August 21, 1971, killed 9 people and wounded 100 (8 of the wounded were Liberal Party candidates for the Senate). Although it has never been conclusively shown who was responsible for the bombing, Marcos blamed leftists and suspended habeas corpus--a prelude to martial law. But evidence subsequently pointed, again, to government involvement.
Government and opposition political leaders agreed that the country's constitution, American-authored during the colonial period, should be replaced by a new document to serve as the basis for thorough-going reform of the political system. In 1967 a bill was passed providing for a constitutional convention, and three years later, delegates to the convention were elected. It first met in June 1971.
The 1935 constitution limited the president to two terms. Opposition delegates, fearing that a proposed parliamentary system would allow Marcos to maintain himself in power indefinitely, prevailed on the convention to adopt a provision in September 1971 banning Marcos and members of his family from holding the position of head of state or government under whatever arrangement was finally established. But Marcos succeeded, through the use of bribes and intimidation, in having the ban nullified the following summer. Even if Marcos had been able to contest a third presidential term in 1973, however, both the 1971 mid-term elections and subsequent public opinion polls indicated that he or a designated successor--Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile or the increasingly ambitious Imelda Marcos--would likely be defeated by his arch-rival, Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino.
On September 21, 1972, Marcos issued Proclamation 1081, declaring martial law over the entire country. Under the president's command, the military arrested opposition figures, including Benigno Aquino, journalists, student and labor activists, and criminal elements. A total of about 30,000 detainees were kept at military compounds run by the army and the Philippine Constabulary. Weapons were confiscated, and "private armies" connected with prominent politicians and other figures were broken up. Newspapers were shut down, and the mass media were brought under tight control. With the stroke of a pen, Marcos closed the Philippine Congress and assumed its legislative responsibilities. During the 1972-81 martial law period, Marcos, invested with dictatorial powers, issued hundreds of presidential decrees, many of which were never published.
Like much else connected with Marcos, the declaration of martial law had a theatrical, smoke-and-mirrors quality. The incident that precipitated Proclamation 1081 was an attempt, allegedly by communists, to assassinate Minister of National Defense Enrile. As Enrile himself admitted after Marcos's downfall in 1986, his unoccupied car had been riddled by machinegun bullets fired by his own men on the night that Proclamation 1081 was signed.
Most Filipinos--or at least those well positioned within the economic and social elites--initially supported the imposition of martial law. The rising tide of violence and lawlessness was apparent to everyone. Although still modest in comparison with the Huk insurgency of the early 1950s, the New People's Army was expanding, and the Muslim secessionist movement continued in the south with foreign support. Well-worn themes of communist conspiracy--Marcos claimed that a network of "front organizations" was operating "among our peasants, laborers, professionals, intellectuals, students, and mass media personnel"--found a ready audience in the United States, which did not protest the demise of Philippine democracy.
Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating a "New Society" based on new social and political values. He argued that certain aspects of personal behavior, attributed to a colonial mentality, were obstacles to effective modernization. These included the primacy of personal connections, as reflected in the ethic of utang na loob, and the importance of maintaining in-group harmony and coherence, even at the cost to the national community. A new spirit of self-sacrifice for the national welfare was necessary if the country were to equal the accomplishments of its Asian neighbors, such as Taiwan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Despite Marcos's often perceptive criticisms of the old society, Marcos, his wife, and a small circle of close associates, the crony group, now felt free to practice corruption on an awe-inspiring scale.
Political, economic, and social policies were designed to neutralize Marcos's rivals within the elite. The old political system, with its parties, rough-and-tumble election campaigns, and a press so uninhibited in its vituperative and libelous nature that it was called "the freest in the world," had been boss-ridden and dominated by the elite since early American colonial days, if not before. The elite, however, composed of local political dynasties, had never been a homogeneous group. Its feuds and tensions, fueled as often by assaults on amor proprio (self-esteem) as by disagreement on ideology or issues, made for a pluralistic system.
Marcos's self-proclaimed "revolution from the top" deprived significant portions of the old elite of power and patronage. For example, the powerful Lopez family, who had fallen out of Marcos's favor (Fernando Lopez had served as Marcos's first vice president), was stripped of most of its political and economic assets. Although always influential, during the martial law years, Imelda Marcos built her own power base, with her husband's support. Concurrently the governor of Metro Manila and minister of human settlements (a post created for her), she exercised significant powers.
During the first years of martial law, the economy benefited from increased stability, and business confidence was bolstered by Marcos's appointment of talented technocrats to economic planning posts. Despite the 1973 oil price rise shock, the growth of the gross national product (GNP) was respectable, and the oil-pushed inflation rate, reaching 40 percent in 1974, was trimmed back to 10 percent the following year. Between 1973 and the early 1980s, dependence on imported oil was reduced by domestic finds and successful energy substitution measures, including one of the world's most ambitious geothermal energy programs. Claiming that "if land reform fails, there is no New Society," Marcos launched highly publicized new initiatives that resulted in the formal transfer of land to some 184,000 farming families by late 1975. The law was filled with loopholes, however, and had little impact on local landowning elites or landless peasants, who remained desperately poor.
The largest, most productive, and technically most advanced manufacturing enterprises were gradually brought under the control of Marcos's cronies. For example, the huge business conglomerate owned by the Lopez family, which included major newspapers, a broadcast network, and the country's largest electric power company, was broken up and distributed to Marcos loyalists including Imelda Marcos's brother, Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, and another loyal crony, Roberto Benedicto. Huge monopolies and semimonopolies were established in manufacturing, construction, and financial services. When these giants proved unprofitable, the government subsidized them with allocations amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos. Philippine Airlines, the nation's international and domestic air carrier, was nationalized and turned into what one author has called a "virtual private commuter line" for Imelda Marcos and her friends on shopping excursions to New York and Europe.
Probably the most negative impact of crony capitalism, however, was felt in the traditional cash-crop sector, which employed millions of ordinary Filipinos in the rural areas. (The coconut industry alone brought income to an estimated 15 million to 18 million people.) Under Benedicto and Eduardo Cojuangco, distribution and marketing monopolies for sugar and coconuts were established. Farmers on the local level were obliged to sell only to the monopolies and received less than world prices for their crops; they also were the first to suffer when world commodity prices dropped. Millions of dollars in profits from these monopolies were diverted overseas into Swiss bank accounts, real estate deals, and purchases of art, jewelry, and antiques. On the island of Negros in the Visayas, the region developed by Nicholas Loney for the sugar industry in the nineteenth century, sugar barons continued to live lives of luxury, but the farming community suffered from degrees of malnutrition rare in other parts of Southeast Asia.
Ferdinand Marcos was responsible for making the previously nonpolitical, professional Armed Forces of the Philippines, which since American colonial times had been modeled on the United States military, a major actor in the political process. This subversion occurred done in two ways. First, Marcos appointed officers from the Ilocos region, his home province, to its highest ranks. Regional background and loyalty to Marcos rather than talent or a distinguished service record were the major factors in promotion. Fabian Ver, for example, had been a childhood friend of Marcos and later his chauffeur, rose to become chief of staff of the armed forces and head of the internal security network. Secondly, both officers and the rank and file became beneficiaries of generous budget allocations. Officers and enlisted personnel received generous salary increases. Armed forces personnel increased from about 58,000 in 1971 to 142,000 in 1983. Top-ranking military officers, including Ver, played an important policy-making role. On the local level, commanders had opportunities to exploit the economy and establish personal patronage networks, as Marcos and the military establishment evolved a symbiotic relationship under martial law.
A military whose commanders, with some exceptions, were rewarded for loyalty rather than competence proved both brutal and ineffective in dealing with the rapidly growing communist insurgency and Muslim separatist movement. Treatment of civilians in rural areas was often harsh, causing rural people, as a measure of self-protection rather than ideological commitment, to cooperate with the insurgents. The communist insurgency, after some reverses in the 1970s, grew quickly in the early 1980s, particularly in some of the poorest regions of the country. The Muslim separatist movement reached a violent peak in the mid1970s and then declined greatly, because of divisions in the leadership of the movement and reduced external support brought about by the diplomatic activity of the Marcos government.
Relations with the United States remained most important for the Philippines in the 1970s, although the special relationship between the former and its ex-colony was greatly modified as trade, investment, and defense ties were redefined. The Laurel-Langley Agreement defining preferential United States tariffs for Philippine exports and parity privileges for United States investors expired on July 4, 1974, and trade relations were governed thereafter by the international General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). During the martial law period, foreign investment terms were substantially liberalized, despite official rhetoric about foreign "exploitation" of the economy. A policy promoting "nontraditional" exports such as textiles, footwear, electronic components, and fresh and processed foods was initiated with some success. Japan increasingly challenged the United States as a major foreign participant in the Philippine economy.
The status of United States military bases was redefined when a major amendment to the Military Bases Agreement of 1947 was signed on January 6, 1979, reaffirming Philippine sovereignty over the bases and reducing their total area. At the same time, the United States administration promised to make its "best effort" to obtain congressional appropriations for military and economic aid amounting to US$400 million between 1979 to 1983. The amendment called for future reviews of the bases agreement every fifth year. Although the administration of President Jimmy Carter emphasized promoting human rights worldwide, only limited pressure was exerted on Marcos to improve the behavior of the military in rural areas and to end the death-squad murder of opponents. (Pressure from the United States, however, did play a role in gaining the release of Benigno Aquino in May 1980, and he was allowed to go to the United States for medical treatment after spending almost eight years in prison, including long stretches of time in solitary confinement.)
On January 17, 1981, Marcos issued Proclamation 2045, formally ending martial law. Some controls were loosened, but the ensuing New Republic proved to be a superficially liberalized version of the crony-dominated New Society. Predictably, Marcos won an overwhelming victory in the June 1981 presidential election, boycotted by the main opposition groups, in which his opponents were nonentities.
Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino was, like his life-long rival Ferdinand Marcos, a consummate politician, Philippine-style. Born in 1932, he interrupted his college studies to pursue a journalistic career, first in wartime Korea and then in Vietnam, Malaya, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Like Marcos, a skilled manager of his own public image, he bolstered his popularity by claiming credit for negotiating the May 1954 surrender of Huk leader Luis Taruc. The Aquino family was to Tarlac Province in Central Luzon what the Marcos family was to Ilocos Norte and the Romualdez family was to Leyte: a political dynasty. Aquino became the governor of Tarlac Province in 1963, and a member of the Senate in 1967. His marriage to Corazon Cojuangco, a member of one of the country's richest and most prominent Chinese mestizo families, was, like Marcos's marriage to Imelda Romualdez, a great help to his political career. If martial law had not been declared in September 1972, Aquino would probably have defeated Marcos or a hand-picked successor in the upcoming presidential election. Instead, he was one of the first to be jailed when martial law was imposed.
Aquino's years in jail--physical hardship, the fear of imminent death at the hands of his jailers, and the opportunity to read and meditate--seemed to have transformed the fast-talking political operator into a deeper and more committed leader of the democratic opposition. Although he was found guilty of subversion and sentenced to death by a military court in November 1977, Aquino, still in prison, led the LABAN (Lakas Ng Bayan--Strength of the Nation) party in its campaign to win seats in the 1978 legislative election and even debated Marcos's associate, Enrile, on television. The vote was for seats in the legislature called the National Assembly, initiated in 1978, which was, particularly in its first three years essentially a rubber-stamp body designed to pass Marcos's policies into law with the appearance of correct legal form. (The LABAN was unsuccessful, but it gained 40 percent of the vote in Metro Manila.)
Allowed to go to the United States for medical treatment in 1980, Benigno Aquino, accompanied by his wife, became a major leader of the opposition in exile. In 1983 Aquino was fully aware of the dangers of returning to the Philippines. Imelda Marcos had pointedly advised him that his return would be risky, claiming that communists or even some of Marcos's allies would try to kill him. The deterioration of the economic and political situation and Marcos's own worsening health, however, persuaded Aquino that the only way his country could be spared civil war was either by persuading the president to relinquish power voluntarily or by building a responsible, united opposition. In his view, the worst possible outcome was a post-Marcos regime led by Imelda and backed by the military under Ver.
Aquino was shot in the head and killed as he was escorted off an airplane at Manila International Airport by soldiers of the Aviation Security Command on August 21, 1983. The government's claim that he was the victim of a lone communist gunman, Rolando Galman (who was conveniently killed by Aviation Security Command troops after the alleged act), was unconvincing. A commission appointed by Marcos and headed by jurist Corazon Agrava concluded in their findings announced in late October 1984, that the assassination was the result of a military conspiracy. Marcos's credibility, both domestically and overseas, was mortally wounded when the Sandiganbayan, a high court charged with prosecuting government officials for crimes, ignored the Agrava findings, upheld the government's story, and acquitted Ver and twenty-four other military officers and one civilian in December 1985.
Although ultimate responsibility for the act still had not been clearly determined in the early 1990s, on September 28, 1990, a special court convicted General Luther Custodio and fifteen other officers and enlisted members of the Aviation Security Command of murdering Aquino and Galman. Most observers believed, however, that Imelda Marcos and Fabian Ver wanted Aquino assassinated. Imelda's remarks, both before and after the assassination, and the fact that Ver had become her close confidant, cast suspicion on them.
For the Marcoses, Aquino became a more formidable opponent dead than alive. His funeral drew millions of mourners in the largest demonstration in Philippine history. Aquino became a martyr who focused popular indignation against a corrupt regime. The inevitable outcome--Marcos's overthrow--could be delayed but not prevented.
The People's Power movement, which bore fruit in the ouster of Marcos on February 25, 1986, was broad-based but primarily, although not exclusively, urban-based, indeed the movement was commonly known in Manila as the EDSA Revolution. People's Power encompassed members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the business elite, and a faction of the armed forces. Its millions of rural, working-class, middle-class, and professional supporters were united not by ideology or class interests, but by their esteem for Aquino's widow, Corazon, and their disgust with the Marcos regime. After her husband's assassination, Corazon Aquino assumed first a symbolic and then a substantive role as leader of the opposition. A devout Catholic and a shy and self-styled "simple housewife," Mrs. Aquino inspired trust and devotion. Some, including top American policy makers, regarded her as inexperienced and naive. Yet in the events leading up to Marcos's ouster she displayed unexpected shrewdness and determination.
Martial law had emasculated and marginalized the opposition, led by a number of traditional politicians who attempted, with limited success, to promote a credible, noncommunist alternative to Marcos. The most important of these was Salvador H. "Doy" Laurel. Laurel organized a coalition of ten political groups, the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), to contest the 1982 National Assembly elections. Although he included Benigno Aquino as one of UNIDO's twenty "vice presidents," Laurel and Aquino were bitter rivals.
During the martial law and post-martial law periods, the Catholic Church was the country's strongest and most independent nongovernmental institution. It traditionally had been conservative and aligned with the elites. Parish priests and nuns, however, witnessed the sufferings of the common people and often became involved in political, and even communist, activities. One of the best-known politicized clergy was Father Conrado Balweg, who led a New People's Army guerrilla unit in the tribal minority regions of northern Luzon. Although Pope John Paul II had admonished the clergy worldwide not to engage in active political struggle, the pope's commitment to human rights and social justice encouraged the Philippine hierarchy to criticize the Marcos regime's abuses in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Church-state relations deteriorated as the statecontrolled media accused the church of being infiltrated by communists. Following Aquino's assassination, Cardinal Jaime Sin, archbishop of Manila and a leader of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, gradually shifted the hierarchy's stance from one of "critical collaboration" to one of open opposition.
A prominent Catholic layman, José Concepcion, played a major role in reviving the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) with church support in 1983 in order to monitor the 1984 National Assembly elections. Both in the 1984 balloting and the February 7, 1986, presidential election, NAMFREL played a major role in preventing, or at least reporting, regime-- instigated irregularities. The backbone of its organization was formed by parish priests and nuns in virtually every part of the country.
The Aquino assassination shattered business confidence at a time when the economy was suffering from years of mismanagement under the cronies and unfavorable international conditions. Business leaders, especially those excluded from regime-nurtured monopolies, feared that a continuation of the status quo would cause a collapse of the economy. Their apprehensions were shared by foreign creditors and international agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Inflation and unemployment were soaring. The country's GNP became stagnant by 1983, and then it contracted--by -6.8 percent in 1984, and -3.8 percent in 1985, according to the IMF. There was a steep decline both in domestic and foreign investment. Outward capital flows reached as high as US$2 million a day in the panic that followed Aquino's death. The Makati area of Manila, with its banks, brokerage houses, luxury hotels, and upper-class homes, became a center of vocal resistance to the Marcos regime.
Left-wing groups, affiliated directly or indirectly with the Communist Party of the Philippines, played a prominent role in anti-regime demonstrations after August 1983. While the New People's Army was spreading in rural areas, the communists, through the National Democratic Front, gained influence, if not control, over some labor unions, student groups, and other urbanbased organizations. Leftists demanding radical political change established the New Nationalist Alliance (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan--BAYAN), in the early 1980s, but their political influence suffered considerably from their decision to boycott the presidential election of February 1986.
Corruption and demoralization of the armed forces led to the emergence, in the early 1980s, of a faction of young officers, mostly graduates of the elite Philippine Military Academy, known as the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). RAM supported a restoration of pre-martial law "professionalism" and was closely allied with Minister of National Defense Enrile, long a Marcos loyalist yet increasingly unhappy with Ver's ascendancy over the armed forces.
Given its past colonial association and continued security and economic interests in the Philippines, the United States never was a disinterested party in Philippine politics. On June 1, 1983, the United States and the Philippines signed a five-year memorandum of agreement on United States bases, which committed the United States administration to make "best efforts" to secure US$900 million in economic and military aid for the Philippines between 1984 and 1988. The agreement reflected both United States security concerns at a time of increased Soviet-Western tension in the Pacific and its continued faith in the Marcos regime.
The assassination of Aquino shocked United States diplomats in Manila, but conservative policy makers in the administration of President Ronald Reagan remained, until almost the very end, supportive of the Marcoses, because no viable alternative seemed available. In hindsight, United States support for the moderate People's Power movement under Corazon Aquino, backed by church and business groups, would seem to be self-evident common sense. Yet in the tense days and weeks leading up to Marcos's ouster, many policy makers feared that she was not tough or canny enough to survive a military coup d'état or a communist takeover.
Indicative of the importance of United States support for his regime, Marcos announced his decision to hold a "snap" presidential election on an American television talk show, "This Week with David Brinkley," in November 1985. He promised skeptical Americans access for observer teams, setting February 7, 1986, a year before his six-year presidential term ran out, as the date for the election. He believed his early reelection would solidify United States support, silence his critics in the Philippines and the United States, and perhaps banish the ghost of Benigno Aquino. Marcos's smoothly running, well-financed political machine and the divided nature of the opposition promised success, but his decision proved to be a monumental blunder.
Cardinal Sin, an astute negotiator described by one diplomat as "one of the best politicians in the Philippines," arranged a political alliance of convenience between Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel, who had announced his own candidacy but agreed to run as Aquino's vice-presidential candidate. Aquino had immense popular support and Laurel brought his superior organizational skills to the campaign. Their agreement to run together was arranged just in time for the deadline for submission of candidacies in early December. The church hierarchy gave its moral support to the opposition ticket. Cardinal Sin, realizing that poor people would not refuse money offered for votes and that the ethic of utang na loob would oblige them to vote for the briber, admonished the voters that an immoral contract was not binding and that they should vote according to their consciences.
On the day of the election, NAMFREL guarded ballot boxes and tried to get a rapid tally of the results in order to prevent irregularities. A team of United States observers, which included a joint congressional delegation, issued a mild criticism of electoral abuses, but individual members expressed shock and indignation: Senator Richard Lugar claimed that between 10 and 40 percent of the voters had been disenfranchised by the removal of their names from registration rolls. The results tabulated by the government's Commission on Elections (COMELEC) showed Marcos leading, whereas NAMFREL figures showed a majority for the Aquino-Laurel ticket. On February 9, computer operators at COMELEC observed discrepancies between their figures and those officially announced and walked out in protest, at some risk to their lives. The church condemned the election as fraudulent, but on February 15, the Marcos-dominated National Assembly proclaimed him the official winner. Despite the election fraud, the Reagan administration's support for Marcos remained strong, as did its uncertainty concerning Corazon Aquino. Yet a consensus of policy makers in the White House, Department of State, Pentagon, and Congress was emerging and advised the withdrawal of support from Marcos.
On February 22, Enrile and General Fidel Ramos, commander of the Philippine Constabulary, issued a joint statement demanding Marcos's resignation. They established their rebel headquarters inside Camp Aguinaldo and the adjoining Camp Crame in Metro Manila, which was guarded by several hundred troops. Marcos ordered loyal units to suppress the uprising, but Cardinal Sin, broadcasting over the Catholic-run Radio Veritas (which became the voice of the revolution), appealed to the people to bring food and supplies for the rebels and to use nonviolence to block pro-Marcos troop movements.
Hundreds of thousands responded. In the tense days that followed, priests, nuns, ordinary citizens, and children linked arms with the rebels and faced down, without violence, the tanks and machine guns of government troops. Many of the government troops defected, including the crews of seven helicopter gunships, which seemed poised to attack the massive crowd on February 24 but landed in Camp Crame to announce their support for People's Power. Violent confrontations were prevented. The Philippine troops did not want to wage war on their own people.
Although Marcos held an inauguration ceremony at Malacañang Palace on February 25, it was boycotted by foreign ambassadors (with the exception, in an apparently unwitting gaffe, of a new Soviet ambassador). It was, for the Marcoses, the last, pathetic hurrah. Advised by a United States senator, Paul Laxalt, who had close ties to Reagan, to "cut and cut cleanly," Marcos realized that he had lost United States support for any kind of arrangement that could keep him in power. By that evening, the Marcoses had quit the palace that had been their residence for two decades and were on their way to exile in the United States. Manila's population surged into Malacañang to view the evidence of the Marcos's extravagant life-style (including Imelda's muchpublicized hundreds of pairs of expensive, unworn shoes). An almost bloodless revolution brought Corazon Aquino into office as the seventh president of the Republic of the Philippines.
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