Decline and fall of the Marcos dictatorship

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This period begins with the formal lifting of martial law in 1981. Marcos retains his dictatorial powers, however, and gets assured support from the US in his US state visit in 1982. Aquino is assassinated in 1983, and massive protest actions and threat of economic collapse rock the entire country. Turning defensive, Marcos holds Batasang Pambansa elections in 1984 but main opposition groups boycott it and heighten calls for Marcos to step down instead. He calls for a 'snap election' in January 1986, which is marred by massive fraud, but he is nevertheless declared the winner. Opposition candidate Corazon C. Aquino calls for massive civil disobedience. RAM, a clandestine group within the AFP supported by Enrile and Ramos, occupy two military camps in EDSA after an aborted coup attempt. The people in their millions pour into the streets. Marcos flees the country, and Aquino is sworn in as new President, ending the 20-year rule of Marcos.

Formal lifting of martial law, retention of Marcos’ dictatorial powers (1981-1983)

Key events in 1981

See also: 1981

  • Marcos officially lifts martial law on 17 Jan 1981
  • Marcos calls for presidential elections in May at an end-January meeting of the KBL. He also introduces a resolution to the Interim Batasang Pambansa to amend the Constitution to provide for presidential elections by direct vote. He says however that the Constitution did not allow for the candidacy of ex-senator Benigno Aquino Jr. (currently in the US on medical leave from prison) for being under-age. (Source: Montreal Gazette, 31 Jan 1981)
  • In February, the IBP passes a constitutional amendment changing the parliamentary system to a semi-presidential system and providing presidential elections by direct vote.
  • In April, the constitutional amendment is approved in a nationwide plebiscite.
  • In June, Marcos holds and expectedly wins a presidential election. The opposition boycotts the elections. Main story in Presidential elections of 1981
  • 29 December: Tommy Manotoc disappears after a date with Imee Marcos. His parents blame Marcos for kidnapping him, for Manotoc having secretly married Imee in the US after divorcing his first wife Aurora Pijuan in October. Marcos denies the allegations, and insists that Manotoc was kidnapped by the communists. (Source: NYT News Service, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7 Jan 1982)

Key events in 1982

See also: 1982 events

A Filipino youth dies while scavenging for scrap metal in a garbage dump at the U.S. Navy base at Subic Bay. Base authorities say the youth accidentally fell into a ravine, although the local mayor quotes two witnesses as saying they saw a U.S. marine push the victim.

U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger meets with Marcos on 1 April during his 26-hour visit to Manila. Marcos welcomes Weinberger as “a son coming home”. In a nationally televised luncheon toast at Malacanang, Marcos pays tribute to Weinberger as an intelligence officer on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff in World War II. Marcos earlier said he would take advantage of Weinberger’s visit to press for an early renegotiation of the US-RP military bases agreement to remove what the Marcos government calls “inequities and irritants.” A briefing paper distributed to media says Weinberger’s Manila visit is being made to “reassure the Philippine government of high-level U.S. interests in its security of the Philippines. It says Weinberger will discuss the base issue and “any areas of host-nation concern.”

  • Weinberger visit met by anti-US student protests

As Marcos toasted Weinberger in Malacanang, about 200 student protesters who gathered in fron1982t of the U.S. embassy denounced the U.S. bases in the country, and Defense chief’s visit as a trip of a “warmonger,” a “leading merchant of death” in Reagan’s “warlike cabinet.” Police dispersed the demonstrators.

(Source: AP, Kingman Daily Miner, 1 April 1982)

  • 81 anti-Marcos leaders charged with conspiracy

At least 81 people--most of them labor leaders based in Metro Manila--have been charged with conspiracy since mid-August, when Marcos bared an alleged nationwide terror campaign of bombings, assassinations and strikes to coincide with his forthcoming U.S. visit. (Source: The Courier, 24 Sep 1982)

September 8 rally at US embassy Led by the League of Filipino students, some 100 students chanting slogans calling for the ouster of the US-Marcos dictatorship demonstrate outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila on 8 September. The students carry banners protesting the U.S. visit and U.S. bases in the Philippines. The peaceful one-hour rally, small by past standards of student outdoor protests, is held in defiance of a continuing government crackdown on suspected subversives. About 75 policemen watch the protest. No arrests are reported during the rally.

September 8 launch of ACTION vs US-Marcos dictatorship Meanwhile, about 250 representatives of various labor, student, political, and religious groups launch the Alliance of Citizens Toward Independence, Oneness and Nationalism (ACTION), also on 8 September. Rev. Jose Dizon, alliance coordinator, announces plans to hold a series of demonstrations beginning on 14 September, the day Marcos is expected to leave for Washington for talks with Reagan.

September 24 rally at US embassy About 500 students demonstrate outside the US embassy on 24 Sept to denounce Marcos as a U.S. puppet and protest his on-going U.S. visit and talks with Reagan as “an act of national betrayal.” The students hoisted banners and placards reading, “Dismantle the US-Marcos dictatorship.” The demonstrators handed out anti-U.S. and anti-Marcos leaflets to curious motorists stuck in slow-crawling traffic. One of the leaflets read: “Mr. Marcos is simply trying to save himself from total isolation, gaining the confidence of his imperialist master once more, trying to avoid either his replacement by another puppet, or another Iran or Nicaragua.”

More than 150 policemen armed with clubs guard the embassy’s closed gates, with Manila Police chief Brig. Gen. Narciso Cabrera telling reporters that the protesters will be treated “with maximum tolerance, for as long as there is no violence.”

September 24 rally by Iranian students Some 200 Iranian students rally at a mosque in downtown Manila to protest the recent massacre of Palestinians in Beirut by Israeli-backed Christian militiamen. (Sources: AP and UPI wires, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9 Sep 1982; The Courier, 24 Sep 1982)

(Sources: ‘‘Lewiston Morning Tribune’’, 16 Sep 1982)

  • 14 Sep: Marcos leaves Manila for Washington
  • 16 Sep: Marcos arrives in Washington for his first state visit in 16 years, intent on seeking additional aid for continued US use of military bases in the Philippines.
  • 17 Sep: Reagan warmly welcomes Marcos.
  • Marcos appears before the US Senate and House foreign affairs committees and the National Press Club, in which he repeatedly addresses questions about human rights abuses and martial law. Rep. Stephen Solarz asks Marcos to respond to Amnesty International reports citing widespread torture, political arrests and murders by Marcos government agents. Marcos replies that AI is “not exactly the most accurate judge” because it did not visit the Philippines before preparing the report. An AI spokesman later explains that the report is based on a 17-day visit by investigators to the Philippines in November 1981.
  • 18 Sep: A coalition of US-based anti-Marcos groups hold a counter-forum to rebut Marcos’ statement.
  • 28 Sep: Marcos ends U.S. visit, returns to the Philippines.

Key events in 1983

See also: 1983 events

  • 21 Jul 1983: Deputy Foreign Minister Pacifico A. Castro says the Marcos government will not issue travel documents for Aquino’s planned return to the Philippines, until such time as police can “neutralize reported assassination groups” bent to kill Aquino upon his return. Earlier, Aquino asked Philippine Consul Ernesto Pineda in New York to issue him a new passport; his old one had expired in 1982. (Source: AP, Lawrence Journal-World, 21 Jul 1983)

Aquino assassination and subsequent mass protests (1983-1985)

Key events in 1983

See also: 1983

  • On 21 Aug, AVSECOM operatives assassinate Benigno Aquino Jr. (See main article: Aquino assassination)
  • Massive protest marches and rallies in Metro Manila and other cities
  • On 31 Aug, a noise barrage is held in the vicinity of Mendiola in downtown Manila, following the burial of Ninoy Aquino. Troopers fire on the crowd, killing at least one--Karim Dimakuta, 23.
  • On 21 Sep, some 500,000 people hold protest rally at Liwasang Bonifacio in front of the Post Office building. About 5,000 protestors (in other reports, 1,000 protestors) split off and battle 400 riot policemen on Mendiola bridge leading to Malacanang. Youthful protesters pelt police with debris and rocks. At least one person is killed, and two buses are burned. (Another report states that 11 persons are killed on this day.)
  • The "Justice for Aquino, Justice for All" alliance (JAJA) is formed.
  • Agrava Fact-Finding Board convenes on 3 Nov 1983.
  • 10 Nov 1983: Marcos clashes publicly with top business leaders, at the televised closing session of the three-day Philippine Business Conference at Malacanang, attended by 350 business leaders. Earlier, the PBC leaders hand Marcos a highly critical 6-page “Mandate for Economic Survival.” The report said, “Our country is probably undergoing the most critical period in its recorded economic history. In his televised speech at the meeting, Marcos accuses the business leaders of contributing to the country’s economic ills through tax evasion and hoarding of foreign exchange. (Source: NYT News Service, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, 11 Nov 1983)
  • 21 Nov 1983: Speaking before the National Assembly, Imelda Marcos announces her resignation from the Executive Committee, publicly renounces any ambitions to succeed her husband “at any time,” and vows to leave government when Marcos does. Earlier, the KBL approved a resolution that calls for the restoration of the vice presidency (abolished by Marcos when he declared martial law) and an election for the post in 1987 when Marcos’ current term expires. The proposed constitutional, to be submitted for approval in a plebiscite in early 1984, also would designate the speaker of the National Assembly as acting president if Marcos becomes incapacitated before the vice presidential election in 1987. (Source: The Pittsbrugh Press, 21 Nov 1983)

Key events in 1984

See also: 1984

  • January 1984 plebiscite to ratify various IBP measures, including creation of the office of the Vice President, abolition of the Executive Committee, elections for the Regular Batasang Pambansa, among others.
  • May 1984 elections to the Regular Batasang Pambansa are held.
  • Anti-dictatorship movement conducts protest campaign to boycott the May 1984 elections.
  • 1 July 1984: Supreme Court orders the AFP to remove imprisoned CPP leader Jose Maria Sison from solitary confinement and allow him the opportunity to associate with other detainees. The SC resolution is dated 21 June 1984.
  • In October 1984, Agrava Board submits Majority and Minority Reports to Marcos.
  • By November 1984, US State Department issues a National Security Study Directive (NSSD), later signed by President Reagan as an NSDD, saying that while Marcos was “part of the problem, he is also necessarily part of the solution.”

The fall of the Marcos dictatorship

Key events in 1985

See also: 1985

  • March 1985: AFP officers form the Reform the Armed Forces Now Movement (RAM, or We Belong).
  • July 1985: the Marcos hidden wealth story breaks into the pages of a US newspaper.
  • October 1985: US senator Paul Laxalt goes on a mission to Manila to convince Marcos that President Reagan himself wanted reforms in the Philippines.
  • 3 Nov 1985: Marcos announces during an interview on a US television network that he would hold a snap election in February 1986. The National Assembly sets the election date on 7 Feb 1986.
  • 21 Nov 1985: Opposition camp comes up with a minimum program of government aimed at dismantling the Marcos dictatorship and its stranglehold over the national economy, the removal of US bases and the declaration of the Philippines as a non-aligned nation.
  • 2 Dec 1985: Sandiganbayan acquits all 26 accused, including Gen. Fabian Ver, of the murder of Aquino.
  • 3 Dec 1985: Corazon Aquino files her candidacy for president, after Salvador Laurel accedes to become Mrs. Aquino’s running mate.

The 1986 ‘snap’ presidential elections

Main story: 1986 snap presidential elections

  • Jan 1986: RAM states that Mrs. Aquino’s camp is not supported by the communists, and that RAM will support her if she beats Marcos in the elections.
  • 12 Jan 1986: Ver threatens to prosecute Mrs. Aquino’s advisers Lorenzo Tanada and Agapito ‘Butz’ Aquino for their alleged links with the CPP.
  • 17 Jan 1986: Cardinal Sin accuses Marcos and the KBL of contriving black propaganda against Mrs. Aquino. The CBCP issues a statement guiding the faithful in the electoral process.
  • 27 Jan 1986: US Ambassador Bosworth expresses apprehension over violence and irregularities in the electoral campaign.
  • 28 Jan 1986: CBCP issues pastoral letter calling on electorate to exercise their voting rights and their vigilance against electoral cheating.
  • 4 Feb 1986: Mrs. Aquino addresses an estimated 1 million people at Rizal Park. Meanwhile, NAMFREL announces it will assign poll watchers to report on the ballot count.
  • 4 Feb 1986: US congressional delegates led by Sen. Richard Lugar to observe the conduct of elections.
  • 7 Feb 1986: the Filipino people go to polls to choose between Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino.
  • The NAMFREL Quick Count vs. the official Comelec count
  • 14 Feb 1986: CBCP issues a post-election statement condemning the electoral fraud and violence, and calls on Filipinos to launch non-violent struggles for justice.
  • 15 Feb 1986: Comelec and Batasang Pambansa proclaim Marcos and his running mate Arturo Tolentino the winners. Opposition members of parliament stage a walkout.
  • 16 Feb 1986: Mrs. Aquino launches civil disobedience campaign to pressure Marcos to step down, laying out seven measures in the campaign. In response, Marcos threatens to prosecute all who will join the campaign.
  • 17 Feb 1986: Mrs. Aquino rejects US Sen. Lugar’s proposal for a new election.
  • Gen. Ver resigns his post as AFP Chief but retains his position as Director-General of the NISA.
  • 19 Feb 1986: Foreign diplomats, particularly from European countries, are called back to their respective countries to report on the Philippine situation.
  • 20 Feb 1986: RAM leaders offer Aquino a proposal for a coup and subsequent junta.

The February 1986 (EDSA) People Power uprising

Main story: 1986 EDSA uprising

Supplemented by: 1986 EDSA uprising recollections