Long and final draft:
We always take the socialist vantage point in studying the history of Philippine society, i.e., the standpoint of the working peoples of our society and the rest of the world. Our main objective is not merely to interpret our history’s past in order to neither maintain nor extrapolate its trajectory—our main intention is to intervene in political praxis at every step of the way in order to change it along the socialist road.
The socialist vantage point sees class struggle as pivotal. In this era of neoliberal globalization and post-Cold War, we see other spheres of society such as ethnicity, race, gender and other social categories asserting themselves and intertwining with class issues. We are now afforded to examine the class struggle alongside the basic or natural issues of humanity—all in relation to the state.
In terms of historical periodization, we can use the development of the Philippine nation-state as a relative locus to review the changes of Philippine society from feudalism to capitalism. We will focus on the motion of three interrelated spheres of society;
1) the state,
2) class relations and class struggle, and
3) nation—as they weave into the progression of world capitalism from the Industrial Revolution and the recent Technological Revolution
In this chapter, it would help if we define certain concepts that have gained renewed force in our contemporary study of history.
A nation-state is a specific form of state that exists to provide a sovereign territory for a particular nation, and derives its legitimacy from that function. In the ideal model of the nation-state, the population consists of the nation and only of the nation: the state not only houses it, but also protects it and its national identity. (A country is a geographical area that connotes an independent political entity.)
There are many definitions of the state. One of the most common is that: a state is an organized political community occupying a definite territory, having an organized government, possessing internal and external sovereignty, and normally exerts monopolization of the legitimate use of force, compulsion, or other types of hegemony.
The term nation, while an ethical and philosophical doctrine in itself (and is usually the starting point for the ideology of nationalism), is distinguished by a common identity of its members, and usually by a common origin, in the sense of ancestry, parentage or descent, and ethnicity. The national identity refers both to the distinguishing features of the group, and to the individual’s sense of belonging to it.
There are also many definitions of social classes. In Marxist political-economy, class is defined in terms of the extent to which an individual or social group has control over the means of production, i.e., the physical, non-human, inputs used in production (factories, machines, tools and materials, and other non-human capital). Examples are relations between the capitalists (bourgeoisie) and workers (proletariat), the landlords and peasants. Other classes in this category are the lumpen-proletariat, the middle class and the intelligentsia. If the dominant class relation in a given society is the capitalist-worker relations, then capitalism is the dominant economic mode in that given society.
Since the Spanish colonization of the 1500s, the formation of the Philippine nation-state and development of the working peoples’ movements were largely influenced by the onslaught and resistance against colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism and by both the World Wars 1 and 2.
The La Liga Filipina and the Katipunan, respectively founded and led by Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, both wished for nationhood, patterned after the anti-monarchial and anti-feudal shifts in Europe during their time.
The Spanish-American and the subsequent Philippine-American War (1899-1913) and American-Moro Wars (1899 to 1912), led to the direct annexation of the Phiippine Islands to the United States. Inspired by the workers movement like the Union Obrera Democratica and the initial successes of the Russian Revolution, a new type of working class movement arose from the Philippine labor movement.
The Communist Party of the Philippines was established in 1930 (that later merged the peasant-based Socialist Party of the Philippines, which was founded in 1932, in at the start of the Second World War). The merger party formed its armed wing, the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon, to take the direct brunt of armed resistance against Japanese occupation.
US neocolonialism after World War 2 led to a wave of national liberation struggles in Asia, africa and Latin America. Jose Ma formed a new type of communist party that was inspired by the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949. Sison. The Maoist communist party formed the New People’s Army and mounted a guerilla resistance against Pres. Ferdinand Marcos’s martial rule that lasted from 1972 until 1983.
Martial rule also saw the rise of new political movements that challenged the Marcos regime and opt for socialism. The Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa (BISIG) is one of such major formations.
The collapse of the Soviet system that started with internal problems during the 1980s marked the end of the Cold War by 1990. The ousting of Pres. Marcos in 1986 by a combination of military mutiny and the so-called “people power” revolt preceded this.
The mid-1980s and onwards highlights the onset of neoliberal globalization’s effects in Philippine economy and politics. US veered away from anticommunism to “anti-terrorism” against militant Islam. The monopoly over the Left spectrum of the Communist Party of the Philippines (Maoist) was shattered with the severance of many of its leaders and some party organs by 1992.
Socialist and communist movements worldwide were admittedly on an ideological and political retreat and are seeking new ground for a rebound. The world also saw the rise of ethnic, national and religious fundamentalist tensions that led to pogroms, genocide and terrorism.
The Philippine state since the 1986 revolt remained weak. Its economy is in near shambles, and is in fact the most backward in Southeast Asia. Key state institutions as the presidency, legislature, the Supreme Court, the electoral commission and the defense establishment are so damaged that elite political legitimacy hounds society and warns of permanent crises.
Progressive and patriotic political forces from the ranks of junior officers down to the rank-and-file are rising from the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP). Moro revolutionary movements for self-determination persist, such as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and its breakaway Moro National Liberation Front (MILF).
The Philippine socialist movement is now reckoning with a local working class that is becoming more and more stratified, and punctuated by the rise of the service sector, stunted industrial and agricultural sectors, and increase in the number of out-migration whose numbers are over 7 million today.
The Genesis of Southeast Asian Nation-States: An Overview
What we know as the “Philippines” today was carved out of early European colonialism. During the 1500s and 1600s the Europeans were able to take control of the international trade of Asia, thereby diverting the profits from this trade to Europe. As a result, the Europeans became stronger while Asian empires and kingdoms became weaker. By the 1800s the Europeans were in a position to establish their authority over much of Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia is dominantly Malay by ethnicity with significant presence of Chinese, Indians, aborigines and other immigrants from the rest of the region and the world. In a generic sense, anthropologists use the name "Malay" to describe all the numerous related groups inhabiting the Malay Archipelago, and which are not of older aboriginal stock. These include the Aceh, Minangkabaus, Bataks and Mandailings who live in Sumatra ; Java and Sunda in Java ; Banjars, Ibans, Kadazans and Melanaus in Borneo ; Bugis and Torajas in Sulawesi ; the various dominant ethnic groups in the Philippines such as the Tagalogs, Ilocanos and Ifugao of Luzon island, the Visayans of the central Philippines, the Maguindanao, Tausug and Bajao of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago ; and the people of East Timor (again, excluding those of older Papuan stock).
Western powers carved out colonies from the so-called “Malay Archipelago” during the 1500s. Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, and the United States all collected colonies in this part of the globe. Various national-liberation struggles have commenced since then, traversing both World Wars 1 and 2.
The Portuguese had the least impact on Southeast Asia. They captured Malacca in 1511, holding it until the Dutch seized it in 1641. Otherwise, they maintained only a small piece of territory on the island of Timor, southeast of Bali.
Spain ruled the Philippines from its conquest of Cebu in 1565 and Manila in 1571 until its defeat in the Spanish-American War in 1898. Many ethnic Moro tribes, especially in Mindanao, were not fully hegemonized though by Spanish and American colonialisms.
Dutch colonialism falls into two periods. The first, that of the V.O.C., or Dutch East India Company, lasted from 1605 to 1799. The V.O.C. had little interest in territorial administration; its primary concern was to maximize profits through trading monopolies.
When the V.O.C. collapsed in 1799, the Dutch government took control of its assets in 1825, after the Napoleonic Wars, and began to bring the Indonesian archipelago under its administrative authority. This process was completed during the 1930s.
At the end of the Second World War, the Dutch had hoped to retain the Netherlands East Indies as a colony, but the Indonesians opposed the return of the Dutch, setting up a republic in 1945. In 1949, after four years of fighting, the Indonesians gained their independence with the assistance of the United Nations which served as a mediator between the Indonesians and the Dutch.
The British conquered Burma, fighting three Anglo-Burmese Wars in 1824-26, 1852, and 1885-86. Unlike other colonies that maintained their ethnic identity, Burma was a province of British India. The Burmese, therefore, had two sets of rulers, the British at the top with the Indians in the middle. In 1935 the British agreed to separate Burma from India, putting this agreement into effect in 1937. Burma was able to negotiate its independence from Great Britain in 1948.
Penang (acquired in 1786), Singapore (founded by Raffles in 1819), and Malacca (Melaka, acquired in 1824), were governed by Britain as the Straits Settlements. The Straits Settlements served as a base for British expansion into the Malay Peninsula between 1874 and 1914. When the Malay States entered into negotiations for their independence--achieved in 1957--Penang and Malacca became part of Malaysia as did Singapore in 1963.
However, Singapore was asked to withdraw from the federation in 1965. Singapore has been an independent city state since that date. Sarawak and Sabah which joined Malaysia in 1963 continue to remain members of the federation.
France moved into Vietnam in 1858, capturing Saigon in 1859. Using the south, then called Cochin China, as a base the French moved west and north completing the conquest of Indochina by 1907. (Indochina--the five territories under French authority: Cochin China, Annam, Tongking, Laos, and Cambodia.) The French also wanted to retain their colony after the Second World War. The Vietnamese rejected French rule, and after defeating the French at Dien Bien Phu, obtained their independence at the Geneva Conference in 1954.
The United States moved into the Philippines as a result of the peace settlement with Spain in 1898. The Filipinos were granted a Commonwealth (internal autonomy) government in 1935, and their independence in 1946.
Thailand continued to be independent. It was the only Southeast Asian state to remain independent during the colonial period.
World War I (between 1914 and 1919) proved to be the decisive break with the old world order, marking the final demise of absolutist monarchy in Europe. Four empires were shattered: The German, the Austro-Hungarian, the Ottoman, and the Russian. Their four dynasties, the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs, the Ottomans, and the Romanovs, who had roots of power back to the days of the Crusades, all fell during or after the war.
World War 1 also meant the emergence of the modern nation-state as Europe began to reconfigure itself along economic and “ethnic maps”. The Southeast Asian colonies carved out by the western powers proceeded independently in nation-state building by embarking on renewed national liberation struggles along the Euopean republican or parliamentary models.
1st Period: Spanish Colonial Period (1565-1898)
Before Spanish colonization circa 1500s, ethnic groups in the “Philippine archipelago” were scattered, and groups of 50 to a hundred families into pre-state independent barangays, or groups of 50 to a hundred families. The barangays ruled by chiefs or datus. The datus comprised the nobility. Then came the maharlikas (freemen), followed by the aliping mamamahay (serfs) and aliping saguiguilid (slaves). With no monetary system in place, barter was predominant with rice used as the medium of exchange. We cannot yet speak of a unitary nation during the pre-Hispanic era.
Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, the commander of the fourth Spanish expedition, named the islands after Philip, heir to the Spanish throne. The Philippines Islands was formally organized as a Spanish colony until 1565 when Philip II appointed Miguel Lopez de Legazpi the first Governor-General.
By the Circa 1600, the “Philippine archipelago had a population of only 900,000 and grew to around four million by 1850. With the exception of many Moro ethnic groups in Mindanao, Roman Catholicism (through the Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Recollects and Jesuits) forced its away against local animism, Islam, and Hinduism throughout the rest of the archipelago.
Under the weight of Spanish empire-building and mercantilism in this part of the world—the combination of the sword and ideological rule of the Spanish Catholic friars—Spanish colonialism began to impose the rising European trend of the nation-state upon the archipelago prior to the impending break up of old Empires in Europe.
Spanish governors brought with them their feudal notions of land tenure—the encomienda system (Royal Land Grants)-- with encomienderos and subordinate vassals. The traditional village chiefs became a class of landed nobility wielding considerable local authority. This system grants that encomienderos must defend his encomienda from external attack, maintain peace and order within, and support the Catholic friars. In turn, the encomiendero acquired the right to collect tribute from the indios (native).
Later on, the encomienda system degenerated into abuse of power by the encomienderos. The tribute soon became land rents to a few powerful landlords. And the natives who once cultivated the lands in freedom were transformed into mere share tenants.
The "friarocracy" of the religious orders and the oligarchy of the landholders were the twin pillars of colonial society. The Spanish did not develop the trade potential of the Philippine's agricultural or mineral resources. The colony was administered from Mexico and its commerce centered on the galleon trade between Canton and Acapulco in which Manila functioned secondarily as an entrepot.
Smaller Chinese junks brought silk and porcelain from Canton to Manila where the cargoes were re-loaded on galleons bound for Acapulco and the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The Chinese goods were paid for in Mexican silver.
The Spanish hold on the Philippines first began to weaken in 1762 when the British briefly captured Manila during the Seven Years' War. In support of the British invasion, the long persecuted Chinese merchant community rose in revolt against the Spanish authority. The Treaty of Paris returned Manila to Spain at the end of the War but with increasing diversion of the China trade to Britain.
The king of Spain (Charles III ) issued a royal decree in 1780 establishing a government monopoly in tobacco in the Philippines. This monopoly took effect in 1782.
When the economic of laissez faire of Adam Smith accepted by many European countries, Spain also adopted this doctrine and opened Manila to foreign trade in 1789. (Laissez faire is a French phrase meaning "let do, let go, let pass." Smith was an economist who advocated the doctrine that is generally understood as opposing economic interventionism by the state beyond that which is perceived to be necessary to maintain peace and property rights.)
Governor general Felix Berenguer de Marquina encouraged foreign merchants to come and invest in the Philippines. By the middle of the 19th century there were already a number of English, American, German, French, and Swiss trading companies in the Philippines. As a result trade and commerce increased greatly and the Philippines began to experience a period of economic development.
More Philippine ports were established and opened to foreign trade. the opening of the ports of Sual in Pangasinan, Iloilo and Zamboanga, Cebu, Legaspi and Tacloban accelerated the economic growth of the Philippines.
To support the growing trade, the improvements of transportation and communication. An international telegraph communication system was established in 1888 through an undersea cable between Zambales and the British Colony of Hong Kong. In 1837, the first domestic telegraph line was opened and the telephone line in 1890.
For over 333 years, the Philippines was a crown colony of Spain. Until 1821 when the Mexican's revolted and won independence from Spain, the Philippines was a dependency of Mexico, being administered by the viceroy in the name of the king. From 1821 to 1898, the country was a distinct government unit under the direct control of the home government in Madrid. The king issued cedulas for the administration of the colony and appointed a governor, member of the royal audiencia and other high officials.
The La Liga Filipina and the Katipunan were formed to struggle for Philippine nationhood.
It became clear to the Filipinos that the peaceful campaign for reforms would not materialize. The abuses and injustices of the colonial leaders left the Filipinos with no alternative but to stage a different campaign -- armed revolution and finally political separation from Spain. This campaign began when Bonifacio left La Liga Filipina and activated his secret revolutionary organization, the Kapitunan.
The first real battle of the revolution took place on August 30 when Bonifacio led 800 Katipuneros in attacking the Spanish arsenal in San Juan del Monter. Bonifacio lost 150 katipuneros in the encounter. Many more were captured, some of whom were executed by the Spaniards. The fires of the revolution spread to other parts of the archipelago. Uprisings were reported as far as Iloilo, Negros, Aklan, and Palawan.
As the revolution spread, thousands of Filipinos in Manila were imprisoned on suspicion of being rebels. Many were exiled to Spanish colonies such as Guam and Africa.
When the Cuban civil war broke out in 1895, Rizal offered to serve as a doctor in the Spanish army in Cuba. He left his exile in Dapitan and proceeded to Cuba via Spain. But he was arrested on charges of rebellion and sedition. He was returned to Manila and faced trials. The Spanish military court sentenced him to death by firing squad.
The early Katipuneros were beefed up by non-Katipuneros, like Gen. Edilberto Evangelista (from the University of Ghent in Belgium) and most of his troops. By December 1896 also, Filipinos in the enemy infantry regiments had begun defecting to the revolution.
At the time of the revolution there were two provincials councils of the Katipunan in Cavite. One was Magdiwang Council in Noveleta under Mariano Alvarez, the uncle-in-law of Bonifacio. The other was the Magdalo council in Kawit under Baldomero Aguinaldo, a cousin of Emilio Aguinaldo.
The Magdiwang faction asked Bonifacio to settle the Katipunan leadership in Cavite. A meeting was held in Imus on December 31,1896. Later on, as the Spanish forces continued to win in the battlefields, the Katipuneros decided to settle the issue of what to do with the Katipunan. A meeting was held in Tejeros, San Francisco de Malabon. The Magdalo group won. Bonifacio lost the leadership in Revolution. The Katipunan which he established was dissolved and replaced by a revolutionary government. Aguinaldo was elected President of the revolutionary government.
Bonifacio was not elected to any minor post in the revolutionary government because he was not a lawyer. He left Tejeros and decided to continue the Katipunan under his leadership. In Naic, Bonifacio and his followers signed the Naic Military Agreement under which the Katipunan would have its own army separated from the revolutionary government forces of Aguinaldo. General Pio del Pilar was appointed commander of the Bonifacio army.
The Katipunan supremo was charged of treason and sedition by the Aguinaldo government and was sentenced to death on May 4,1897. Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were executed on May 10,1897 in the Maragondon.
The revolutionary forces of Aguinaldo suffered a series of defeats as the Spanish forces were strengthened by reinforcements from Spain. The Spaniards were in control of Cavite by the of June 1897.
Aguinaldo fled to Biak-Na-Bato in Bulacan in July 1897 and established a new revolutionary government which came to be known as the Biak-na-Bato Republic.
A peace pact, the Pact of Biak-Na-Bato, which was signed on December 14 and 16, 1897, stipulated the end of the Filipino-Spanish Revolution. The forces of Aguinaldo were given amnesty and Aguinaldo and his top officials went on exile to Hongkong. Aguinaldo left for Hongkong on December 27,1897 with 25 revolutionary leaders.
But the peace pact did not last long. Soon fighting between Spanish and Filipino forces erupted in various parts of the archipelago namely in Zambales, Bulacan, Ilocos Sur, Caloocan, Camarines Norte. General Francisco Makabulos of Tarlac established a revolutionary government for Central Luzon in April 1898.
As the war went on, the United States of America declared war on Spain.
This Aguinaldo-led government that was established in Malolos, dissolved the Katipunan in July 1898 and established the Army of Liberation of Filipinas. The indigenous Filipino Military Academy or Academia Militar (different from the Philippine Military Academy which was formed by the American colonizers), was also established in Malolos, on October 25, 1898 to train officers in the revolutionary army for service in the army of the Republic. On September 15, 1898, in Malolos, President Aguinaldo formally declared the victorious conclusion of the war of liberation against Spain, paying due tribute to the Army of Liberation of Filipinas.
2nd Period: American Colonialism, the Second World War, and Japanese Occupation (1899-1945)
In December 1898, the U.S. purchased the Philippines and other territories from Spain at the Treaty of Paris for the sum of 20 million United States dollars, after the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War.
McKinley re-issued his old orders on December 21, 1989 to take over the whole archipelago as America’s colony . The American Admiral Dewey, in contrast to the antic of McKinley’s “benevolent assimilation” of the archipelago’s peoples, wrote in his autobiography (written 1913) that the American negotiators in Paris: ...scarcely comprehended that a rebellion was included in the purchase... Now, after paying twenty millions for the islands, we must establish our authority by force against the very wishes of the people whom [we claimed] we sought to benefit.
Some Americans, notably William Jennings Bryan, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, and other members of the American Anti-Imperialist League, strongly objected to the annexation of the Philippines.
The American thus launched two wars to claim the whole archipelago. The more well-known is the “Christian Filipino-American War” in Luzon and the Visayas, and the least understood are “American-Moro Wars” in Mindanao and Sulu.
The American-Moro Wars in Mindanao and Sulu lasted from 1899 to 1912. An increasing number of historians today see these wars as more of massacres. Gen. Leonard Wood, who labeled the Muslims as “moral degenerates”, was the U.S. Army commander in this less-documented war. The wars formally ended in the Battle of Bud Bagsak in Sulu, in June 11-15, 1913. But stiff Moro resistance persisted until 1916.
Before the battle of Bud Bagsak was the Battle of Bud Dajo in Sulu on March 5-7, 1906. The Moro fighters led by Datu Uti were defeated by Col. J.W Duncan. Nearly 1,000 Moro fighters perished.
The four-day Battle of Bud Bagsak in 1912 was personally led by U.S. Brigadier General John "Black Jack" J. Pershing of the 8th Infantry and Philippine Scouts against Moro resistance fighters, who were led by Nakil Amil and armed mostly with kris, barongs, spears and few guns. It was the fiercest battle Gen. Pershing experienced, he admitted to his wife.
(The Moro National Liberation Front today notes that in many other battles in the Morolands, the Moro fighters were proven to be unstoppable by the 0.38 caliber pistol and other rifles which led the Americans to invent the more powerful U.S. Army Colt M1911 0.45 caliber pistol. This battle was considered a massacre. More than 2,000 Moros died including 196 women and 340 children.)
As to the “Christian Filipino-American War,” the Filipinos in Luzon and the Visayas, fighting for their independence from Spain since 1896, had already declared their independence on June 12. On August 14, 11,000 ground troops were sent to occupy the Philippines.
On January 21, 1899, Emilio Aguinaldo was declared the first President. He later organized a Congress at Malolos, Bulacan to draft a constitution. The Malolos Constitution included provisions intended to confiscate large estates, especially the so-called friar lands. However, as the Republic was short-lived, Aguinaldo’s plan was never implemented due to the Philippine-American War.
On the same year, Aguinaldo ordered guerilla warfare to fight the Americans. The Army of Liberation of Filipinas, weakened by the American military onslaught, was dissolved and supplanted by former Katipuneros and fresh rescruits around the old Katipunan (which was previoulsy abolished in July 1898).
In 1901 the United States occupation government in Manila enacted the Sedition Act. This was at the height of the guerrilla war. The law made advocacy of Filipino independence by whatever means punishable by law. The display of the Philippine flag was a criminal offense.
There were only a few Philippine victories out of the more than 17 recorded battles during the Philippine-American Wars between 1898 and 1906. The most notable are the following:
1)“Battle of Paye”, (December 19, 1899) -- In Morong (now Rizal) Filipino General Licerio Geronimo routed an American brigade under General Lawton, in which Lawton was killed.
2)“Siege of Catubig” (April 15, 1900) -- Filipino guerillas launched a surprise attack against a detachment of American soldiers, and, after a four-day siege, forced them to evacuate the town of Catubig in Samar.
3)“Battle of Makahambus” (June 4, 1900) -- In Makahambus in Maguindanao, Filipinos routed an Americans regiment and inflicted heavy casualties. It was one of the most one-sided Philippine victory during the war. The Filipinos were under the command of Colonel Aploninar Velez in the Maguindanao Battalion. All of them were volunteers, and were not part of the regular Army of Liberation of Filipinas.
4)“Battle of Pulang Lupa” (September 13, 1900) -- In Torrijos in Marinudque, 40 Filipino resistance fighters under Colonel Maximo Abad ambushed 100 Americans and killed, wounded, or captured all of them.
5)“Balangiga Massacre” (September 28, 1901) -- Over 50 Americans were killed in an ambush in Samar in the most infamous incident of the Philippine-American war.
6)“Battle of Mabitac” (September 17, 1900) -- Filipino forces outmaneuvered and routed American forces in Laguna. It was a decisive victory for the forces under General Juan Cailles against the American force commanded by Colonel Benjamin F. Cheatham.
7)“Massacre at Dolores” (1904) -- In Samar, 47 Philippine Constabulary Scouts commanded by American Lieutenant Hayt were ambushed by 1000 pulahanes and were nearly all killed. Indigenous in Samar highlands, the pulahanes lived a simple religion based on a basic worship of both nature. They peaked to 15,000 during the war. They are known for their fanatical combat.
During the war, 4,324 American soldiers were killed and 2,818 were wounded. There were also 2,000 casualties that the Philippine Constabulary suffered during the war, over a thousand of which were fatalities. Philippine military deaths are estimated at 20,000 (16 thousand actually counted) while civilian deaths numbered in 250,000 to 1,000,000 Filipinos.
In 1908, Manuel Arellano Remondo, in a book entitled General Geography of the Philippine Islands, wrote: "The population decreased due to the wars, in the five-year period from 1895 to 1900, since, at the start of the first insurrection, the population was estimated at 9,000,000, and at present (1908), the inhabitants of the Archipelago do not exceed 8,000,000 in number."
In monetary terms, the American wars to colonize the archipelgao began with the $20,000,000 paid to Spain by virtue of the Treaty of Paris. As of 1907, according to an estimate in the New York Evening Post (March 6, 1907), the cost of the wars to the United States had reached $308,369,155.00.
Gen. Malvar’s surrender on April 15, 1902 formally ended the “Christian Filipino-American War”. Sporadic fighting continued elsewhere in the archipelago. The occupation of Leyte Island by five U.S. Army battalions in June 1906 decisively ended the war. While some measures to allow partial self-government were implemented earlier, the guerrilla war did not subside until 1913 when US President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a change in policy that would, after a transitional period, grant the Philippines full independence.
Meanwhile, the Taft Commission swept away three centuries of Spanish governance and installed in its place the laws and institutions of a modern civil state. It established a code of law, a judicial system and elective municipal and provincial governments.
Direct American colonialism forcibly introduced their own brand of “land reform”. They introduced the following:
1)Philippine Bill of 1902: set the ceilings on the hectarage of private individuals and corporations may acquire: 16 has. for private individuals and 1,024 has. for corporations.
2)Land Registration Act of 1902 (Act No. 496): provided for a comprehensive registration of land titles under the Torrens system.
3)Public Land Act of 1903: introduced the homestead system in the Philippines.
4)Tenancy Act of 1933 (Act No. 4054 and 4113): regulated relationships between landowners and tenants of rice (50-50 sharing) and sugar cane lands.
American authorities, however, could not touch the Friar Lands because the Treaty of Paris of 1898 bound the US government to protect the property interests of religious orders. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 imposed the strict separation of church and state and eliminated the Roman Catholic Church as the official state religion. In 1904 the administration paid the Vatican US$7.2 million for most of the lands held by the religious orders. The lands were later sold back to Filipinos. Some tenants were able to buy their land but it was mainly the established estate owners who could afford to buy the former church lands.
The Torrens system, which the Americans instituted for the registration of lands, did not solve the problem completely. Either they were not aware of the law or if they did, they could not pay the survey cost and other fees required in applying for a Torrens title.
Land disputes began and agrarian troubles worsened during the American rule because of the defective land system rooted in Spanish times, and of the pervasiveness of feudalism throught the archipelago.
In the labor front, it was in the early years of the Philippine-American War that the labor movement started to take shape.
After a certain period of “preparatory organizing,” the first formal Philippine trade union – the Union de Litografos y Impresores de Filipinas (UIF) – was established on January 1, 1902, led by Isabelo de los Reyes and Hermenegildo Cruz. The UIF evolved from the different Gremios de Impresores and the first “informal” Union de Impresores y Litograficos de Filipinas (abbreviated also as UIF) formed in 1899 in San Fernando, Pampanga. The gremios ( akin to “craft unions” or “guilds” in old Europe), were considered as “proto-unions” or “embryonic unions” in the country; many from their ranks, especially the impresores bacame core members of the Katipunan.
Delos Reyes and Cruz went beyond the UIF by launching the following month (February 2, 1902) the first labor federation of unions from various occupations, the Union Obrera Democratica (UOD) at the Teatro Variedades in Sampaloc, Manila.
Wage and trade union rights issues were flatly rejected under US colonialism resulting in labor strikes. The first general strike was on August 2, 1902, that crippled many factories and offices in Manila and its neighboring towns. This incident, in turn, resulted to the first systematic state repression against organized labor in the Philippines: The strikes were suppressed; UOD was tagged as “anarchist” or “subversive”; several union leaders, including de los Reyes, were incarcerated.
After this initial blow against labor, the UOD was immediately reestablished on October 12, 1902, and aptly renamed Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas (UODF). Aside from continuing UOD’s work, the UODF would lead the country’s first unofficial celebration of the International Labor Day on May 1, 1903, held near the Malacañang Palace. Thousands of workers marched from Plaza Moriones in Tondo to Malacanang to demand complete independence from US colonialism. Dr. Dominador Gomez, a key UODF leader, was arrested for sedition and illegal association and was tried and sentenced to one year hard labor. Herminigildo Cruz succeeded in the federation’s leadership.
After UODF came the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas (COF) which was launched May 1, 1913. Among its prominent leaders ar Felipe Mendoza, Lope K. Santos, Crisanto Evangelista, and Hermenegildo Cruz. The COF ushered in a new era of trade unionism where the unions achieved relative stability and social legitimacy, heightened labor struggles and further expansion of union membership.
COF finally broke up in 1929, giving birth to the Katipunan ng mga Anakpawis ng Pilipinas (KAP, or Proletarian Labor Congress of the Philippines) on May 12 on that same year. This new federation would usher in the Philippine labor movement’s radical or leftist tradition, inspired to a significant degree by the victory of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Among its leaders, most were already converted to Marxism, include Crisanto Evangelista, Antonino Ora and Jacinto Manahan.
These KAP leaders would also lead the establishment on August 26, 1930 and the formal launching on the following November 7 of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) as the legal political arm of the workers.
August 26, is the 34th anniversary of the beginning of the national revolutionary armed struggle against Spanish colonialism (the 1896 Revolution). November 7, 1930 [Gregorian calendar] was the anniversary of the Russian October Socialist Revolution [Julian calendar].
The PKP’s founding convention was held at the Templo del Trabajo (“Temple of Labor”) Plaza Moriones in the working class district of Tondo in Manila, attended by almost 6,000 workers and peasants and represented by 60 delegates who were leaders of labor federations, trade unions and peasant associations affiliated to the KAP. The peasant-based Pambansang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KPMP) also joined the PKP.
On May 1931, the Quezon colonial government tried to suppress the worker’s organization (PKP). The military dispersed the marching workers in Caloocan with water cannons and attacked a worker’s meeting held by the laborers. Evangelista was arrested and accused of sedition, rebellion and illegal assembly.
American military authorities raided the KAP Congress. Several KAP leaders were arrested and the Court of First Instance declared PKP and KAP illegal. The Supreme Court upheld the decision.
The period from 1935 to 1946, or the so-called Commonwealth Period, is seen as a twist from direct American colonialism to American neocolonialism. President Manuel L. Quezon espoused the "Social Justice" program to arrest the increasing social unrest in Central Luzon.
Peasant unrest in Central Luzon ushered in the formation of the Philippine Socialist Party, founded by Pedro Abad Santos in 1932. Two years later, he creates and heads the Aguman Ding Madlang Talapagobra (AMT). The Abad Santos compound in Barangay San Jose becomes the focal point of the peasant movement. The peasant-based Philippine Socialist Party was to merge later with the worker-based Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas before the start of the Second World War.
The Second World War II started in Europe in 1939 and in the Pacific in 1941.
Japan had already been at war in Manchuria (1931) and China (1937) long before the Second World War started in Europe when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. By 1941, Japanese military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region had made confrontation and war with the United States increasingly certain.
Japanese troops landed at the Lingayen Gulf on December 22, 1941 and advanced across central Luzon towards Manila. On the advice of President Quezon, General MacArthur declared Manila an “open city” on December 25, 1941 and removed the Commonwealth government to Corregidor. The Japanese occupied Manila on January 2, 1942.
Upon the arrival of the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942, peasants and workers organizations grew strength. Many peasants took up arms and identified themselves with the anti-Japanese group, the more than 30,000-strong HUKBALAHAP (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon) led by the PKP.
Many PKP and KAP cadres contributed a lot in the resistance movement during Japan’s invasion of the country in 1942. Their “shadow people’s government” and HUKBALAHAP guerrillas were a sharp contrast to the generally wavering and US-dependent forces directed by the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) and its local counterparts. Evangelista and many of his comrades would be martyred by the Japanese fascist military.
Led by Luis Taruc, the HUKBALAHAP controlled whole areas of Central Luzon; landlords who supported the Japanese lost their lands to the peasants, while those who supported the Huks earned fixed rentals in favor of the tenants.
On January 9, 1945 the Americans landed unopposed at the Lingayen Gulf on Luzon and closed on Manila. The Japanese fought desperately, street by street, to hold the city, from February 3 to 23 in the fiercest urban warfare ever. When at last the fighting ended in the old Spanish citadel of Intramuros, Manila was in ruins. Manila, once touted as the “Paris of the Orient”, joined the company of Warsaw as the most devastated cities of World War 2.
The battle left 1,010 U.S. soldiers dead and 5,565 wounded. An estimated 100,000 Filipinos were deliberately killed by retreating Japanese forces. About 16,000 Japanese soldiers died, mostly sailors from the Japanese Manila Defense Force.
The Japanese made their last stand entrenched in northern Luzon. General Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya, did not surrender in Baguio until September 2, 1945; the same day as General Umezu surrendered formally for Japan on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
World War II in the Philippines was costly. Overall, the Americans lost 60,628 men and the Japanese an estimated 300,000. Filipino casualties are estimated at over a million.
By war’s end, the HUKBALAHAP had a strength of 20,000 armed regulars and 50,000 reservists, supported by mass base of more than half a million people in the Central and Southern Luzon towns and provinces where former feudal estates have been redistributed and where Provisional Revolutionary Local Governments had been set up.
However, the United States intended to restore the pre-war Commonwealth government. Luis Taruc and the Huks had well known socialist sympathies and communist associations. The U.S. Army military police set out to disarm them as dangerous insurgents. Gen Douglas MacArthur had Taruc arrested and jailed.
After the establishment of the Philippine Independence in 1946, the problems of land tenure remained. These became worst in certain areas.
The period from 1946 until 1986 was marked by the dependence of the Philippines to the United Sates. Six presidents managed the neocolonial state: Manuel Roxas (1946-1948), Elpidio Quirino (1948-1953), Ramon Magsaysay (1953-1957), Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961), Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965), and Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1972). (Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972 and he was ousted in 1986.)
By this time, the Philippine economy remained highly dependent on US market--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.
3rd Period: The Authoritarian State, and the Cold War
Ferdinand Marcos and his running mate Fernando Lopez defeated the incumbent president Diosdado Macapagal and Gerardo Roxas of the Liberal Party in a landslide victory in the 1965 presidential election.
At this time, the Philippines was the second best performing economy in Asia after Japan. Meanwhile, during the 60s raged the Chinese Cultural Revolution led by the Gang of Four. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, animated by a wild arms race, was leading dangerously to a thermonuclear confrontation. A shaky armstice, forged in 1956, still held between northern Korea and southern Korea. The Vietnamese national liberation war against United States aggression was also in full swing.
A heated polemic was also ensuing between the Chinese Communist Party and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Washington’s policy was to “contain communism” in Asia, and the Philippines strategic geographic location was perfect to host US military forces in Subic in Olongapo City and Clark Air Base in Angeles City.
Inspired by the success of the 1949 Chinese revolution and the 1960s Chinese Cultural Revolution, Jose Maria Sison broke away from the pro-Soviet Communist Party of the Philippines and proceeded to build a Maoist party in 26 December1968. Sison established the New People’s Army (NPA) in 29 March 1969 to launch a “protracted people’s war”.
Throughout his 20-year tenure, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos maintained close neocolonial relations with the United States. He was a close friend of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson. He launched major military campaigns against the NPA and Moro revolutionary forces. He was an outspoken critic of communism. In support for the U.S. military efforts in South Vietnam, he agreed to send Filipino troops to that war zone.
Marcos was re-elected in 1969, along with Fernando Lopez, becoming the first president of the Republic of the Philippines to be elected to a full second term.
In 1971, Marcos called for a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of revising the 1935 Constitution. The Convention was composed of 321 elected delegates headed by former Presidents Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal. However, the Convention's image was tarnished by scandals that included the bribing of some delegates to "vote" against a proposal to prohibit Marcos from staying in power under a new constitution.
Marcos' second term was marked by increasing civil strife known as the "First Quarter Storm." The phenomenon was a period of unrest in the Philippines, composed of a series of heavy demonstrations, protests, and marches against the government from January to March 1970, two years before the Philippines were placed under martial law.
The movement was led by college students, as well as labourers, who protested against graft and corruption in government, and the decline in the economy caused by high oil prices. The storm ended up being violent especially when the police used tear gas and even armed weapons to quell the demonstrators.
In Plaza Miranda, Manila, a bomb exploded in the Liberal Party campaign rally on 21 August 1971 with several anti-Marcos political candidates injured. After the series of bombings in Manila claimed to have been carried out by the New People's Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Marcos warned of imminent Communist takeover.
On September 21, 1972, by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081, Marcos declared martial law over the entire country, thereby remaining in office past limits imposed by the 1935 Constitution as amended. Five days after the proclamation of Martial Law, the entire country was proclaimed a land reform area and simultaneously the Agrarian Reform Program was decreed. By 1973, he had assumed dictatorial control—ushering in a so-called constitutional authoritarianism.
His vision of a "Bagong Lipunan (New Society)"—similar to the “Orde Baru (New Order)" that was imposed in Indonesia under dictator Suharto—was pursued during the martial law years. On March 1966, Suharto permanently banned the Communist Party of Indonesia and its alleged front groups, purging the parliament and cabinet of Sukarno-loyalists, eliminating labor unions and instituting press censorship.
There are parrallelisms, too, in the case of Pres. Park Chung Hee of South Korea. Just after being sworn in for his third term, Park declared a state of emergency "based on the dangerous realities of the international situation." He then dissolved Parliament and suspended the Constitution. In 1972, he introduced the Yusin Constitution, which dramatically increased his power and made him a virtual dictator.
During martial rule in the Philippines, Marcos broke up monopolies that were traditionally owned by Chinese and Mestizo oligarchs to Filipino businessmen. Marcos' family members and close personal friends took over the said businesses and used them as fronts to launder proceeds from institutionalized graft and corruption in the different national governmental agencies. He broke the old oligarchy and, through nepotism, created a new one. "Crony capitalism" was the term used to describe this practice, which includes graft and corruption via bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement.
Meanwhile, the Moro National Liberation Front ( MNLF) led the Bangsamoro War of secession in the 1970 where more than 100,000 (estimate) perished. The Organizatioin of Islamic Confrence (OIC) recognizes the MNLF as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people,” and accorded it an observer status in the OIC.
Nur Misuari formed the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), formed in the late 1960s following the Jabidah Massacre.
Jabidah Massacre occurred on March 1968 under the Marcos presidency, when sixty-eight (68) Moro men died in the hands of the military in Corregidor Island. Based on accounts from a lone survivor, 68 Moro men who were oblivious to the real military mission were recruited and put under military training in order to execute the Marcos’s Oplan Merdeka, an operation aimed at planting rebellion in the State of Sabah. This would give way for the Filipino military’s intervention and eventual conquest of Sabah. But when the Moro men found this out, they refused outright to cooperate and were subsequently murdered.
On 23 December 1976, the OIC brokered the “Tripoli Agreement of 1976” between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MNLF. This OIC-sponsored agreement has become the "mother agreement" that brought an end to the war of secession and paved the way for the Bangsamoro autonomy within the territorial integrity and constitutional processes of the country.
However, since 1976, the Tripoli Agreement had been the subject of disagreements, controversies, charges and counter-charges not only between the two principals but also among the various stakeholders of peace in Mindanao.
By 1978, fissures within the MNLF led to the formation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which aimed towards the formation of an Islamic state in Mindanao. Thus in the same year, three major factions surfaced that largely followed the three major ethnic groupings of the Bangsamoro people (Tausug, Maguindanao and Maranao). The MNLF, the MILF under Ustadz Salamat Hashim and and the MNLF Reformist Group under Commander Dimas Pundato were the three groups that had initially emerged from internal debates.
Over the years, President Marcos' hand was strengthened by the support of the armed forces, whose size he tripled, to 200,000 troops. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Constabulary Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Gen. Fabian Ver, were the chief administrators the martial law regime from 1972 to 1981, and the three remained President Marcos' closest advisors until his ouster in 1986.
Marcos can be considered the quintessential kleptocrat, having supposedly looted billions of dollars from the Filipino treasury. Much of the lost sum has yet to be accounted for, but $684 million has been recovered and returned to the government. The Marcos regime was marred by human rights violations, widespread corruption and political mismanagement by his cronies, which culminated with the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. on 21 August 1983.
The political opposition blamed Marcos for the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., while others blamed the military and his wife, Imelda. The 1985 acquittals of Gen. Fabian Ver as well as other high-ranking military officers for the assassination were widely seen as a miscarriage of justice.
By 1984, his close personal friend, President Ronald Reagan, started distancing himself from the Marcos regime. The leftist movement of the Maoist CPP peaked to about 20,000 armed fighters by 1985. The US had lost in the Vietnam War. Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge. The Russians were in Afghanistan. The Cold War was still on. It was to the interesst of Washngton that the Philippines must not fall under Maoist control.
To ease the unemployment problem and earn foreign exchange, Marcos instituted the diaspora of workers to work abroad, especially in the Middle East. But this was not enough. Massive corruption, loss of legitimacy and the debt crisis were taking their toll on the economy. World market for Philippine exports such as coconut and sugar declined, by1983 real GNP per capita fell 17 percent from its high point in 1981, and debt repayment had ceased due to troubles in borrowing on the international capital market.
In the face of escalating public discontent and under pressure from foreign allies, Marcos resigned the presidency conditionally to run for office during 1986 snap elections. He declared Arturo Tolentino as his running mate. The opposition united behind Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino and her running mate, Salvador Laurel. Both Marcos and Aquino declared themselves winners, the administration and opposition accusing each other of rigging the elections.
Meanwhile, the forces led by the Communist Party of the Philippines opted to boycott the snap elections and were sidelined for from the political mainstream in the unfolding political drama.
Jaime Cardinal Sin, who previously assumed a “critical collaborationist” stance vis-avis Marcos was moving closer in an alliance with Corazon Aquino. Despite the separation of the Curch and the State, the late Cardinal Sin and the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines assumed the role of an influential political force during last few years of the Marcos era.
The de-professionalization of the military under Marcos’s 21 year rule not only created juicy posts for retired senior officers within the government bureaucracy. It also alienated, politicized and radicalized a segment of junior officers, mostly coming from the early 70s batch of the Philippine Military Academy. In 1982, junior officers close to Defense Chief Juan Ponce formed the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). The RAM was openly critical of Marcos's domination of the military and of senior officers' corruption and incompetence.
Popular sentiment sided with Aquino, leading to a massive, multi-sectoral congregation of protesters, at Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, also known as EDSA, Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare during the 1980s. A gradual defection of the military to Aquino followed, led by then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile whose arrest for graft and corruption charges was about to be served, the RAM led by Gringo Honasan, and Fidel Ramos, then-military vice-chief.
Cardinal Sin urged the people to join the protests. Due to the massive unrest, Pres. Ronald Reagan, through US Se. Paul Laxalt, told Marcos to “cut and cut clean”. This so-called "People Power movement"—or “”EDSA Revolution”-- drove Marcos into exile, and installed Corazon Aquino as president.
4th Period: The EDSA State—From Corazon Aquino to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Marcos’s 23-year rule completely altered the predisposition of the state institutions, like the elections and military establishment. The EDSA Revolution also emboldened non-state actors, like the churches and other civil society organizations, by way of insitutionalizing “people power”.
From 1986 until today, the post-Marcos EDSA state foisted an elite democracy that is propped up by contentious elections, and punctuated by insurrectionary episodes of “people power” in between. The EDSA state is also characterized by the continued deterioration up to the near failure of key state institutions.
The post-Marital Law EDSA state regimes and their respective tenures are as follows: President Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992); President Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998);
President Joseph E. Estrada (1998-2000); and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2000-present ):
The late 1980s up to the 1990s also saw a major reconfiguration of global political and economic relations that had profound impact on Philippine society.
For one, the EDSA state was greeted by globalization. In generic terms, globalization is generally understood as to the worldwide phenomenon of technological, economic, political and cultural exchanges, brought about by modern communication, transportation and legal infrastructure as well as the political choice to consciously open cross-border links in international trade and finance.
The definition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hews more closely with the “free trade” fundamentals of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The IMF defines globalization as: “the growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide through increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services, freer international capital flows, and more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology”.
Former US President Reagan’s “supply side economics” was transformed into “neoliberalism”. Reagan’s paleoconservative (old conservative) supply side economics basically encourages increased production to stimulate demand. It is often blended with “trickle down economics”, which advocates letting businesses flourish, believing their profits will ultimately trickle down to lower-income individuals and the rest of the economy.
On the other, neoliberalism is actively promoted by the US Bush administration through the influence of neoconservatives like World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Neoliberalism emphasizes unregulated trade and markets, and the expanded corporate world provided by the end of the Cold War, or globalization. It argues that free markets, free trade, and the unrestricted flow of capital will produce the greatest social, political and economic good. It is at odds with “fair trade”.
Through neoliberalism, EDSA state regimes have been pursuing privatization, deregulation, “free trade”, and the like. Phlippine agriculture has become stunted. The service sector keeps on increasing relative to the industrical and agricultural sectors. Overseas migration of Filipino workers and professionals (like nurses) keeps on increasing. The jobless growth phenomenon is rearing its ugly head.
In politics, the Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. US foreign policy has since then shifted to combatting “terrorism” and militant Islam, especially agains the Al Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden.
Under Pres. Clinton, this shift was mirrored when, in the aftermath of the Mount Pinatubo eruption, US forces abandoned Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base after the Philippine government voted not to renew a basing agreement in 1992. The Philippine Senate vote ended US’s almost a century of military presence in the Philippines.
The end of the Cold War, signaled by the collapse of the Soviet Union, also coincided with the weakening of the Philippine communist movement by 1992. Plagued by bloody internal purges in the latter half of the 1980s, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) splintered to at least two major factions, with the largest one preserved by Armando Liwanag, who is believed to be Jose Maria Sison. The RAs (or “Reaffirmists”) upheld CPP’s 1968 decision for a Maoist protracted people’s war, while the RJs (or “Rejectionists”) opted for other revolutionary strategies.
Following are some highlights of the respective EDSA state regimes.
Pres. Aquino’s term was directed towards restoring pre-Martial law elite democracy in the country. Upon her ascent to the presidency, briefly established a revolutionary government (e.g. abolishing Marcos’s Batasang Pambansa (parliament) and relieving all public officials) under the terms of a provisional "Freedom Constitution", legally establishing the structure of the government pending the adoption of a permanent, democratically-drafted constitution. In late 1986, the Aquino administration appointed a Constitutional Commission to draft the new constitution. It was ratified on February 7, 1987. Congressional and local elections soon followed, setting up a government based on popular and democratic mandate.
The all Aquino-appointed 1986 Constitutional Commission submitted to the people a new Constitution which was overwhelmingly ratified on February 2, 1987 and went into effect on February 11. The new constitution crippled presidential power to declare martial law, proposed the creation of autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao, and restored the presidential form of government and the bicameral Congress.
Despite the Aquino government's attempts to depoliticize the Philippine military, the February 1986 rebellion against Marcos was not the last uprising. Marcos loyalist units mutinied in Manila only months after Aquino took office, and by 1991 there had been six open rebellions against her rule.
The RAM officers that had previously helped bring her to power led the two most serious coup attempts, in August 1987 and December 1989. In 1991, discontented elements of the AFP, led by fugitive RAM founders, still threatened to unseat the president.
A sore mark on Aquino’s record is land reform. On January 15, 1987, thousands of peasants belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) decided to proceed to Malacanang to demand genuine land reform. A phalanx of anti-riot police and Philippine Marines blocked their way. As they marched their towards the palace gates, policemen and soldiers opened fire on the marchers. Thirteen peasants and fisherfolks were instantly killed, while 62 others were wounded.
President Ramos legalized the Communist Party of the Philippines and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, and Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents.
A peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Nur Misuari, a major Moro revolutionary organization fighting for an independent Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao, was signed in 1996, ending the 24-year old struggle. However an MNLF splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Salamat Hashim, continued the armed Muslim struggle for an Islamic state.
Estrada's brand of governance, coming under the cloud of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, took a heavy toll on the economy. Unemployment worsened, the budget deficit grew, and the currency plunged. The economy recovered but much slower than its Asian neighbors.
In contrast to Ramos, Estrada waged in 1999 an all-out war against the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Central Mindanao, which displaced half a million people.
In October 2000, Ilocos Sur governor Luis "Chavit" Singson a close Estrada friend accused the President of receiving collections from jueteng, an illegal numbers game. On November 13, 2000 the House of Representatives impeached Estrada on grounds of bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution. He was the first Philippine President to be impeached.
His impeachment trial in the Senate began on December 7 but broke down on January 17, 2001, after 11 senators allied with Estrada successfully blocked the opening of confidential bank records that would have been used by the prosecution to incriminate the President.
In response, the so-called “EDSA Dos” ensued where an estimated hundreds of thousands of people, with many coming from the middle class, massed up at the EDSA Shrine demanding Estrada's immediate resignation. Estrada's cabinet resigned en masse and the military and police withdrew their support.
On January 20, the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant and swore in Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the country's 14th President. Estrada and his family evacuated the Malacañang Palace soon after.
Estrada challenged the legitimacy of Arroyo's government, claiming he did not resign from office and Arroyo was just an Acting President, but the Supreme Court twice upheld its legitimacy.
On April 25, 2001, two weeks before the mid-term senatorial elections, the Sandiganbayan—the Philippine anti-graft court—issued an arrest warrant for Estrada. Estrada's supporters mostly coming from urban poor ranks staged the so-called "EDSA Tres", or third People Power Revolution at the EDSA Shrine, which on May 1 attempted to overthrow Arroyo's government.
Arroyo supported the US led Invasion of Iraq and sent a contingent of troops to Iraq. The troops were withdrawn in July 2004 as a condition for the release of a Filipino worker hostaged by Iraqi militants.
Complaining of high-level corruption in the military, Magdalo which a group of about 300 junior military officers staged a mutiny on July 27, 2003 occupying the Oakwood Premier in Ayala Center in Makati City and rigging the vicinity with bombs. The mutiny ended 22 hours later after the surrender of the mutineers.
In the controversial May 10, 2004 elections, retracting previous pronouncements that she will not run anymore in the presidential race, Arroyo (Lakas-CMD) ran against popular movie actor and Estrada buddy Fernando Poe, Jr. (KNP), Senator Panfilo Lacson (independent), her former Education Secretary Raul Roco (Aksyon Demokratiko) and evangelist Eduardo Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas).
After a long canvassing in Congress, Arroyo was proclaimed the winner on June 24 with over 1.1 million votes over her strongest contender Poe. Her running-mate Senator Noli De Castro won the vice-presidency, and the administration party, the Lakas-CMD secured a majority in both houses of Congress.
More controversies hounded the Arroyo presidency. For one, her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, and her son were accused as illegal gambling lords.
The most serious of the Arroyo scandals so far revolved around allegations of massive cheating in the previous presidential elections. In the now infamous “Hello Garci!” tapes, military intelligence operatives wiretapped her conversations with a Commission on Elections (COMELEC) official, Virgilio Garcillano. She was recorded instructing the latter to increase the votes for her in Mindanao island. Her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, went on a voluntary exile to the United States.
On June and July 2005, the country saw massive protests calling for President Arroyo's resignation due to alleged election fraud. Left organizations such as the Laban ng Masa (Fight of the Masses), led by Francisco Nemenzo, and other Left organizations challenged Arroyo’s policies that bans street rallies and stifle dissent.
Philippine hardcore politicians, such as Senate President Franklin Drilon, Former President Corazon Aquino, and many of Arroyo's cabinet members who resigned also urged the President to resign. On July 9, the police and military alert was raised to full alert throughout the Philippines.
On 24 February 2006, a coup reportedly designed to oust the current President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from power was foiled. The alleged coup prompted a nation-wide state of emergency, though Presidential Proclamation 1071, which lasted until March 3.
Since then, Arroyo has implemented tough measures that smacks of Marcosian tactics during the Martial Law days. Her administration is also pushing for a constitutional change (Charter Change) by 2006 that seeks to transform the current presidential system to a parliamentary form of government, thereby extending her rule until 2010.
Si Vincent “Enteng” Gueco ay isang democratic activist at political consultant ng Laban ng Masa. Isang independent Democratic Left political Coalition na nananawagan ng pagbabago sa lipunang Pilipino. Hiwalay ito sa CPP-NPA-NDF na naglalayong ibagsak sa pamamagitan ng armadong pakikibaka ang kasalukuyang rehimen Macapagal Arroyo.