History of the Philippines (1965–86)

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Republic of the Philippines
Repúbliká ng Pilipinas


Flag (1985–1986) Coat of arms
Lupang Hinirang
"Chosen Land"
Location of the Philippines in Southeast Asia.
Capital Manila
Languages Tagalog
Government Dominant-party (1978-1986)
Multi-party Unitary
presidential constitutional republic under a Military Dictatorship
 -  1965–1986 Ferdinand Marcos
Vice President
 -  1986 Arturo Tolentino
Legislature Batasang Pambansa
 -  1973 Constitution January 17, 1973
 -  EDSA Revolution February 25, 1986
Currency Philippine peso

The history of the Philippines, from 1965-1986, covers the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. The Marcos era includes the final years of the Third Republic (1965–72), the Philippines under martial law (1972–81), and the majority of the Fourth Republic (1981–86).

The Marcos administration (1965–72)[edit]

Ferdinand Marcos, president from 1965-1986.

First term[edit]

On 1965, Ferdinand Marcos won the Presidential election and became the 10th President of the Philippines. His first term was marked with increased industrialization and the creation of solid infrastructure nationwide, such as the North Luzon Expressway and the Maharlika Highway. Marcos did this by appointing a cabinet composed mostly of technocrats and intellectuals, by increasing funding to the Armed Forces, and mobilizing them to help in construction. Marcos also established schools and learning institutions nationwide, more than of his predecessors combined.

In 1968, Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. warned that Marcos was on the road to establishing "a garrison state" by "ballooning the armed forces budget", saddling the defense establishment with "overstaying generals" and "militarizing our civilian government offices", thus foreshadowing events that would happen in the following decade.

Marcos also sent 10,450 Filipino soldiers to Vietnam during his term, under the PHILCAG (Philippine Civic Action Group). The 12th President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos, was then a part of this expeditionary force.

Second term[edit]

In 1969, Marcos ran for a second term (allowable under the 1935 constitution then in effect[1]), and won versus 11 other candidates. Marcos began his second term by creating a personality cult of sorts around himself, mandating that all public institutions must carry a picture of the President, and even replacing some billboards with his propaganda messages.

Marcos' second term was marked by economic turmoil brought about by factors both external and internal, a restless student body who demanded educational reforms, a rising crime rate, and a growing Communist insurgency, among other things.

The crisis boiled over on October 30, 1970 during a massive protest in Mendiola now known as the First Quarter Storm, where student protesters and communist elements were forcefully quelled by military forces. This marked a period of intense student protesting and violence around Metro Manila, especially near the University Belt. At one point, student activists took over the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines and declared it a free commune, which lasted for a while before the government dissolved it. Violent protesting continued over the next few years until the declaration of martial law in 1972.

Plaza Miranda bombing[edit]

Main article: Plaza Miranda bombing

On August 21, 1971, the Liberal Party held a campaign rally at the Plaza Miranda to proclaim their Senatorial bets and their candidate for the Mayoralty of Manila. Two grenades were reportedly tossed on stage, injuring almost everybody present. As a result, Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in order to arrest those behind the attack. He rounded up a list of supposed suspects, Maoists, and other undesirables. In an effort to eliminate rivals in the Liberal Party, Marcos and his allies took an investigation and which it turnout - coming from the opposition .The writ was briefly restored on January 11, 1972 amidst widespread protest. Decades later,the CPP under Jose Ma. Sison admitted that they were responsible for the Plaza Miranda attack, though Marcos got blamed for it presumably to eliminate the Opposition senatorial candidates considering that his own candidates are lagging.

Martial law (1972–1981)[edit]

In September 1972, then Defence Minister Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed while en route home. The assassination attempt, which Enrile claims was real, along with the growing threat of the New People's Army, citizen unrest, a restless student body who demanded educational reforms, a rising crime rate and a growing Communist insurgency. On September 21 President Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1081, proclaiming a State of martial law in the Philippines.Due to uncontrolled situation of the country [2]

Marcos, who henceforth ruled by decree, curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, abolished Congress, controlled media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics Senators Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Jose W. Diokno. Initially, the declaration of martial law was well-received, given the social turmoil of the period. Crime rates decreased significantly after a curfew was implemented. Political opponents were given the opportunity to go into exile. As martial law went on for the next nine years, the excesses committed by the military emerged.

Though it was made clear that Martial law was no military take-over of the government, the immediate reaction of some sectors of the nation was of astonishment and dismay, for even if everyone knew that the gravity of the disorder, lawlessness, social injustice, youth and student activism and other disturbing movements had reached a point of peril, they felt that martial law over the whole country was not yet warranted. Worse, political motivations were ascribed to be behind the proclamation, what with the then constitutionally unextendible term of President Marcos about to expire, and this suspicion became more credible when opposition leaders and outspoken anti-administration media people who did not hesitate to resort even to libel were immediately placed under indefinite detention in military camps and other unusual restrictions were imposed on travel, communication, freedom of speech and of the press, etc. In a word, the martial law regime was anathema to no small portion of the populace.[3]

It was in the light of the above circumstances and as a means of solving the dilemma aforementioned that the concept embodied in Amendment No. 6 was born in the Constitution of 1973. In brief, the central Idea that emerged was that martial law may be earlier lifted, but to safeguard our country and people against any abrupt dangerous situation which would warrant the exercise of some authoritarian powers, the latter must be constitutionally allowed, thereby to obviate the need to proclaim martial law and its concomitants, principally the assertion by the military of prerogatives that made them appear superior to the civilian authorities below the President. In other words, the problem was what may be needed for national survival or the restoration of normalcy in the face of a crisis or an emergency should be reconciled with the popular mentality and attitude of the people against martial law.[4]

In a recent speech before his fellow alumni of the University of the Philippines College of Law, President Marcos declared his intention to lift martial law by the end of January 1981.[5]

The reassuring words for the skeptic came on the occasion of the University of the Philippines law alumni reunion on December 12, 1980 when the President declared: "We must erase once and for all from the public mind any doubts as to our resolve to bring martial law to an end and to minister to an orderly transition to parliamentary government." The apparent forthright irrevocable commitment was cast at the 45th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on December 22, 1980 when the President proclaimed: "A few days ago, following extensive consultations with a broad representation of various sectors of the nation and in keeping with the pledge made a year ago during the seventh anniversary of the New Society, I came to the firm decision that martial law should be lifted before the end of January, 1981, and that only in a few areas where grave problems of public order and national security continue to exist will martial law continue to remain in force."[6]


During the early years of Martial Law, the Philippine economy grew a significant amount, spurred by heavy borrowing from transnational banking companies and government-to-government loans. By 1980, however, the heavy burden of foreign debt servicing took its toll in the economy, and mismanagement of important industries due to crony capitalism led the economy to a downturn. The assassination of popular opposition leader Benigno Aquino in 1983 led to the pull-out of foreign capital from the country, resulting in negative GDP growth in 1983 and 1984.

Parliamentary elections[edit]

The first formal elections since 1969 for an interim Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) were held on April 7, 1978. Sen. Aquino, then in jail, decided to run as leader of his party, the Lakas ng Bayan party, but they did not win any seats in the Batasan, despite public support and their apparent victory. The night before the elections, supporters of the LABAN party showed their solidarity by setting up a "noise barrage" in Manila, creating noise the whole night until dawn.

The Fourth Republic (1981–1986)[edit]

— U.S. Vice-President George H. W. Bush during Ferdinand Marcos inauguration, July 1981[7]

The opposition boycotted the June 16, 1981 presidential elections, which pitted Marcos and his Kilusang Bagong Lipunan party against retired Gen. Alejo Santos of the Nacionalista Party. Marcos won by a margin of over 16 million votes, which constitutionally allowed him to have another six-year term. Finance Minister Cesar Virata was elected as Prime Minister by the Batasang Pambansa.

In 1983, opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. was assassinated at Manila International Airport upon his return to the Philippines after a long period of exile in the United States. This coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and began a series of events, including pressure from the United States, that culminated in a snap presidential election on February 7, 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread reports of violence and tampering with results by the Marcos side.

The official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), declared Marcos the winner, despite a walk-out staged by disenfranchised computer technicians on February 9. According to the COMELEC's final tally, Marcos won with 10,807,197 votes to Aquino's 9,291,761 votes. By contrast, the final tally of NAMFREL, an accredited poll watcher, said Aquino won with 7,835,070 votes to Marcos's 7,053,068.[8] However, the complete NAMFREL count done in 1987 revealed that Marcos would still have won with 10,635,458 against Aquino's 9,853,456.[citation needed]

End of the Marcos regime[edit]

The fraudulent result was not accepted by Aquino and her supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), denounced the official results. Gen. Fidel Ramos and Defence Minister Juan Ponce Enrile then withdrew their support for the administration, defecting and barricading themselves within Camp Crame. This resulted in the peaceful 1986 EDSA Revolution that forced Marcos into exile in Hawaii while Corazon Aquino became the 11th President of the Philippines on February 25, 1986. Under Aquino, the Philippines would adopt a new constitution, ending the Fourth Republic and ushering the beginning of the Fifth Republic.


  1. ^ "1935 Constitution, as amended". Official Gazette. http://www.gov.ph. 
  2. ^ Presidential Proclamation No. 1081, September 21, 1972, Proclaiming a State of Martial Law in the Philippines, The LawPhil Project.
  3. ^ "G.R. No. L-58289 July 24, 1982". 
  4. ^ Legaspoi, Valentino. "G.R. No. L-58289 July 24, 1982". 
  7. ^ Philippines: Together Again, TIME Magazine, July 13, 1981
  8. ^ Peter Ackerman; Jack DuVall (2001), A force more powerful: a century of nonviolent conflict, Macmillan, p. 384, ISBN 978-0-312-24050-9 ;
    ^ Isabelo T. Crisostomo (1987), Cory--profile of a president, Branden Books, p. 193, ISBN 978-0-8283-1913-3  (showing a reproduction of NAMFREL's announcement of the results).

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