He was president of the Philippines for twenty years from 1965 to 1986. Ferdinand Marcos, like previous and current known dictators, was a very clever and cunning man even before his two-term presidency. Even before his top position, he seemed very much capable of initiating unimaginable ideals for himself and for his country, regardless of putting the people first, or for his own sake, his actions in that lengthy era. He served in the military and assembled medals of prestige and honor. He seemed to serve his country well, without going into context.
However, Marcos was so deceiving that he was able to escape the conviction of murder. Ferdinand was convicted murder by the time he was 22 years old for an assassination he committed when he was barely 18. Somehow, someway, Ferdinand was able to get himself out of trouble out of trouble. There was something that Marcos had in whatever he did that gave him his personal edge to deception. Intelligence. Even from the beginning, he had many successes. Through the Justice System to political rivals, the witty Marcos found a way to prevail at the stake of his own country and its citizens.
He would later know the core of the infamous Martial Law, not knowing the consequences that would end his regime. Ferdinand was born on September 11, 1917 in a small village in Ilocos Norte, located in the northern part of Luzon, called Sarat. He was accepted at the University of the Philippines, one of the “elite” universities in the country and Marcos quickly became a top student. Many of his classmates were amazed in his leadership skills along with Benigno S. Aquino Jr. While in college, he was accused of killing Julio Nalundasan with a .
22 caliber while Nalundasan was celebrating his win in the congressional election over Mariano Marcos, Nalundasan’s political rival and Ferdinand’s father. Ferdinand would be arrested for Nalungusan’s murder three years later as a senior. He was put on trial, and the judge found him guilty and jailed for nearly six months. While in jail, he spent his time well. He maximized his time by preparing himself for his bar examination. The results came back and he was ranked #1 among all the examinees with the highest score (Killen 1986). Additionally, after his academic achievement while in prison, he made his own 830 pages appeal for his conviction. A few months later, the court accepted his appeal and dismissed the case.
In the wake of World War II, while practicing law, Ferdinand had joined the Philippine Army as a CIO, Combat Intelligence Officer, and defended his country from the enemy invasion of the Japanese. He later claimed that he played a big role in the Japanese resistance, but it was proven by the US official that he has little or no part in the anti-Japanese activities (). After World War II, Marcos decided to start his powerful political career.
His political path began with his election to the House of Representatives in 1949 as a Congressman from Ilocos. He became Senate President in 1963. He ran for President as Nacionalista in 1965 election and won over Macapagal. Nacionalista Party leader Ferdinand Marcos dominated the political scene of the Philippines for two decades after his election to the presidency in 1965. During his first term, Marcos made public works projects that improved the general quality of life while providing generous pork-barrel benefits for his friends. Marcos perceived that his promised land reform program would alienate the politically all-powerful landowner elite, and that it was never forcefully implemented. He lobbied strongly for economic and military aid from the United States while resisting significant involvement in the Second Indochina War (1954–75). In his first term Marcos tried to stabilize the financial position of the government through an intensified tax collection.
He also borrowed heavily from international financing institutions to support a large-scale infrastructure works projects being built. He improved agricultural production to make the country self-sufficient in food, especially in rice. Marcos also tried to strengthen the foreign relations of the Philippines. He hosted a seven-nation summit conference on the crisis in South Vietnam in October, 1966. In support for the U.S.
military efforts in South Vietnam, he agreed to send Filipino troops to that war zone. In November 1969 Ferdinand Marcos and running mate Fernando Lopez were re-elected. They defeated the Liberal Party nominee of Sergio Osmeña, Jr. and Senator Genaro Magsaysay. In winning the election, Marcos achieved being the first President of the Republic to be re-elected. There were many important developments that occurred in his second term in office.
The 1971 Congress of the Philippines called for a Constitutional Convention on June 1, 1971 to review and rewrite the 1935 Constitution. Three-hundred twenty delegates were elected. The convention was headed first by former President Carlos P. Garcia and later by former President Diosdado Macapagal.
The Convention’s image was ruined by scandals which included the bribing of some delegates to make them “vote” against a proposal to prohibit Marcos from continuing in power under a new constitution. This scandal was exposed by delegate Eduardo Quintero. For exposing the bribery attempt, Quintero was harassed by the government. On September 21, 1972, Marcos declared Martial Law.
This truly marked the beginning of the Marcos dictatorship in his twenty years. Proclamation 1081 placed the entire country under the military. It was signed on September 21, 1972 and announced to the nation in the evening of September 23, 1972. His main reason for declaring Martial Law is “to save the Republic” and “to reform society”. He explained that the growing violence in the nation, caused by the leftists and the rightists elements had come to certain magnitude that required martial law. It was not lifted until January 17, 1981. During this time, he wanted an end to the “Old Society.
” However, in the “New Society” Marcos’s “cronies1” and his wife, Imelda Marcos, were completely corrupt. Imelda became governor of Metropolitan Manila and minister of human settlements. The previously nonpolitical armed forces became highly politicized, with high-ranking positions being given to Marcos loyalists. In 1979 the United States built U.S. military bases and continued to provide military and economic aid to the Marcos regime. When martial law was lifted in 1981 and a “New Republic” was apparently there, and Marcos easily won reelection. People believe today that the true reason why Marcos declared Martial Law was to perpetuate his rule over the Philippines.
The 1935 Constitution limited the term of the President to no more than eight consecutive years in office. Marcos extended the period of Martial Law beyond the end of his term in 1973. He abolished the Congress of the Philippines and over its legislative powers. Hence, Marcos became a one-man ruler, a dictator. Marcos described his martial law government as “constitutional authoritarianism”.
Although the courts remained in the judiciary, the judges of all courts, from the Supreme Court down to the lowest courts, turned into “casuals”. Their stay in office depended on the wishes of the dictator. Under the martial law Marcos disregarded the constitution. For instance, he violated the provision which guaranteed the Bill of Rights (Article III). Upon order, the military detained thousands of Filipinos suspected rebels.
His critics and political opponent such as archenemy and political rival, Senator Benigno Aquino, and others were included in those detained. Hundreds of detainees were tortured by their captors. The crime rate in the country was reduced significantly. People became law-abiding. But after a year of martial law, crime rates started to soar. By the time Marcos was removed from power, the peace and order situation in the country had become worse.
This communist insurgency problem did not stop when Marcos declared Martial law. A government report in 1986 showed that the New People’s Army’s (NPA) had over 16,000 heavily-armed guerillas. The NPAs started war against government forces and plotted terrorist activities such as assassination of local officials who were known to be engaged in corrupt activities. The NPA killer squads were called Sparrow Units.
They were feared in the areas under their control. To fight the growing NPA threat, Marcos’ armed forces increased to over 200,000 men. He also organized Civilian Home Defense Forces in the rural areas threatened by the NPAs. Several NPA leaders were captured and tortured. The rising violation of human rights of the people in the rural areas suspected of being NPA sympathizers, the injustices committed by some government officials and powerful and influential persons, and the continuing poverty of the people were used as propaganda of the NPA in attracting young people. Student protests began and students went out into the street of Manila and other urban centers to try to stop human rights violation, high tuition fees, militarization and abuses of the military.
On January 1970 thousands of student demonstrators tried to burst into the Malacañang. Six students were killed and many were wounded. This was the “Battle of Mendiola”. In the early 1970’s many of the acts of violence were inspired by the communists. Some, however, were believed to have been planned by pro-Marcos and other terrorist incidents rocked Metro Manila. The bloodiest was the Plaza Miranda Bombing on the night of August 1, 1971 where the Liberal Party had a political rally. Eight persons were killed and over 100 others were injure.
Luckily, Benigno Aquino was absent from the event. Marcos blamed the communists for the tragic incident. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus to maintain peace and other. The suspension was lifted on January 11, 1972.
Hundreds of suspected subversives among the ranks of students, workers and professionals were picked up and detained by the government. The beginning of the end of the Marcos era occurred when his chief political rival, Liberal Party leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who had been jailed by Marcos for eight years, was assassinated as he arrived from an airplane at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983, following medical treatment in the United States. Aquino was exiled to the United States three years before, knowingly he would be killed when he returned. Marcos cronies were charged with this crime but were acquitted. Aquino, however, became a martyr and his murder would become the great awakening of the Filipino people. Three years later, Marcos called a “snap” presidential election for February 7, 1986.
When the Marcos-dominated National Assembly proclaimed Marcos the winner on February 22, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos announced their departure from the Marcos administration. Marcos was warned by Juan Ponce Enrile, a Defense Ministor, through Radio Veritas: “Enough is enough, Mr.
President. Your time is up. Do not miscalculate our strength now.” Meanwhile a crowd gathered outside Camp Crame. On February 23, thousands of people gathered at Camp Aguinaldo and Crame as they protect Ramos and Enrile, even bringing in meals for the rebels. Yes, bringing in food for men that were against them. At Ortigas and EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), a human barricade to shield the troops, as incoming tanks are near (Santiago 1996). Yes, a human barricade around the men they were against.
Fear strikes, people praying rosaries as the tanks approach. Some reached for their Bibles, saying their goodbyes. When the tanks stopped, unexpectedly, people cheered and wept with joy. In a matter of minutes, uprising that seemed fraught with despair, the air was now seized with hope. On February 24, citizens filled the streets from Cubao to Ortigas Avenue, and surrounded Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.
Despite pressure for his resignation, Marcos appeared on live television with his family to proclaim that he had no intention of conceding. “All of us in Malacañang are dressed and prepared for any eventuality,” he says, as the camera resumed focus on his son, Bongbong, at the sidelines wearing a military fatigue uniform. At EDSA, the unexpected was turning into a reality. Soldiers were refusing to fire when ordered, and flowers were laid on top of rifles. Yes, flowers on guns and weapons of men they were against. On February 25, the long wait was over.
People that had been very peacefully protesting continually for days had prevailed. Not just the ones protesting, but everyone in the country. The Marcos family fled Malacañang Palace in exile, and Corazon C. Aquino was sworn in as President of the new government, marking a peaceful transition to democracy and the end of a dictatorship. Soldiers and civilians embraced each other, and joy spread through the streets. EDSA was a triumph that could not be claimed by any one party or personality. It belonged to the people of the Philippines.
The People’s Power Movement, an uprising by the people supported by good-hearted military units, overthrew Marcos on the day of his inauguration (February 25, 1986) and brought Aquino to power in an extraordinarily peaceful rebellion. In an unbounded amount of conflict, a bloodless revolution triumphed for all.