The Aquino Legacy and the Emerging Succession Struggle In The Philippines, 1984

By David Wurfel, University of Windsor.
in Southeast Asian Affairs, (1985), pp. 261-278

Greater excitement and greater instability in Philippine politics than at any time in the history of the republic marked developments in 1983-84. But what is as yet unclear is whether the excitement is merely the accompaniment of impending leadership change within fairly persistent structures or whether it marks the beginning of fundamental alterations in the nature of the whole political system. As in any political community, the more intense the conflicts within the elite, the more likely that there will be basic changes in elite-mass relations as well, though other factors, for example, the pre-existing structure of power or the nature of foreign intervention, also impinge on the outcome. Poorly institutionalized systems, such as the Philippines, are especially vulnerable to the break-up of the ruling coalition in the succession process, which already seems to have been set in train.

This kind of breakup would have two ongoing causes: increasing doubts about future stability because of the failing health of the supreme patron and diminishing opportunities for profit within the economic elite. As economic conditions worsened after 1979 those opportunities diminished most rapidly for those outside the narrow circle of political favour. And even for some originally within that circle, the costs to the regime of inefficiency and corruption forced cutbacks and contributed to the infighting.

The Assassination of Benigno Aquino

The fatal shooting of Benigno Aquino, Jr. at the Manila airport on 21 August 1983, brought the succession struggle in Philippine politics to world-wide attention and greatly accelerated the elite breakup. To understand that event one must first try to appreciate Aquino’s motives for return. Then we can examine how it was perceived and handled in Manila.

President Marcos’ brief hospitalization before his triumphal state visit to the United States in September 1982 had intensified speculation about his longevity. Benigno Aquino in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was on the telephone to Manila almost every day, must have received indications that the event was sobering to the President himself. He did appoint his wife to the Executive Committee, which had been given interim powers in case of the death or incapacity of the President. In any case, Aquino began to contemplate returning home. But the state visit boosted Marcos’ morale and despite the rigorous pace he followed, his health seemed to improve thereafter.

The lesson that Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino took from the Marcos state visit only reinforced his experiences ever since Reagan took office. His hope of American backing as an alternative to Marcos – typical of many in the elite opposition – had been dashed. His Washington connections had been largely swept away by the Reagan tide. The signing in June 1983 of a new five-year bases agreement on terms more favourable to Marcos than before may have confirmed his pessimism on this score. Thus he was thrown back on his own resources, good rapport with the world press, a crowd-pleasing charismatic appeal, a strong sense of his political destiny, a streak of bravery, and his Filipino friends. His timing was not significantly delayed by his second meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria with Mrs Marcos, in May 1983. After a renewed effort to buy his co-operation had failed, Aquino later told friends, Imelda took on a vehement, bitter tone. She warned him gravely of plots against his life even “beyond the control of the President”. But Aquino thought assassination unlikely, perhaps because of American assurances. Ultimately Aquino chose to return home, despite considerable contrary advice, because of an almost naive faith in the prospect of rational dialogue with President Marcos. New reports of his deteriorating health in early August made the need for dialogue more urgent to Aquino, who hoped that a man who felt closer to the end of his life would be more philosophical.

The bloody scene on the tarmac of the Manila airport is all too vivid in many memories. But the true nature of the event remains behind so many screens that it may be years before we fully understand it. Still, informed speculation about what happened, and why, is a necessary prelude to assessing present and future consequences of the shocking murder.

It was a shock even to those familiar with Philippine politics, not because there were no fears for Aquino’s safety, but because the manner of the killing was so brazen, and so calculated to focus blame on someone in government.

The Filipino opposition now blames Marcos, while the U.S. Government absolves him personally. In any case, if Marcos did authorize the killing, it may not have been the same man with a well-earned reputation for tactical genius in politics. There is widespread speculation that the President has suffered for several years from systemic lupus, an incurable disease which progressively affects different organs, including the kidneys. The impact of lupus on the brain can produce paranoia, which could have helped to explain some of the President’s unusual statements in 1983. One quote from his 22 August news conference has never been clarified; said Marcos, “No matter what explanation we make now, there will be some kind of shadow over the government, and this was never, never our purpose. We had hoped the matter could be handled with a little more finesse.”1

Suspected U.S.-Aquino Links

Whatever the influence of lupus on the decision, however, President Marcos had long had a deep suspicion about the links between Aquino and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of which Aquino had openly bragged in the 1950s. In the 1978 Batasan campaign, when Aquino was an opposition candidate from his prison cell, government broadsides stressed his connections with American intelligence. Thus events of June and July 1983 must have looked especially ominous to Marcos.

In early June, U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz went to Manila to see the President. Later one of his aides told the New York Times that “the Marcos regime is entering its twilight and we don’t want to find ourselves in the same position as we did in Iran when the Shah was overthrown”. On 23 June Aquino himself told a House sub­committee in Washington that the Philippines was on the brink of disaster unless Marcos shared power with the opposition. A few days later the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific delivered a softened, but similar, message on Capitol Hill.

President Marcos may well have viewed this series of statements as the orchestration of a new U.S. policy. The apparent foolhardiness of Aquino’s determination to return, even after receiving the direst of warnings, would have confirmed for Marcos his suspicion of American backing. Some of his statements and actions at the time were consistent with this interpretation.2 For instance, in late July Marcos “clarified” lines of authority in the military, revealing that the power of Defence Minister Enrile and Police Constabulary General Commander Ramos, both considered to have good American connections, had been severely downgraded while the control of General Ver over the entire military had been solidified. The President also appointed 27 new general officers, almost all of whom were reputed to be Ver’s protégés.

It is easy to imagine that opponents of Aquino believed the only way to control him, given his powerful foreign backers, was to eliminate him, and quickly, so they would have no time to play a protective role.

Questions Concerning the Assassination

The President’s own version of the assassination was that the blame was on “the communists”. (Prime Minister Virata, however, admitted early that “some elements of the government” may have been involved.)3 Yet if he were to admit the communists had the capability, it would require the admission also of a terrible, unparalleled breach in military security. This is not impossible, but most unlikely. The argument for motive is also inconclusive. While it is true that the removal of a popular, pro-American critic of the regime could have been seen as tipping the balance of opposition forces more towards the communist party by weakening the moderate voice, it must also be recalled that the party in recent years has had a generally cautious policy of avoiding provocations, especially moves that would rapidly enhance the power of the military, as this event has. (In late August 1983 student organizations friendly to the National Democratic Front (NDF) condemned violent demonstrations. And if the 21 September violence had been planned by the communists, there would have been militant follow-ups, which were absent. In fact, some friends of the party believe its leadership had great difficulty in developing a consensus on how to deal with the entire post-Aquino crisis.) Ultimately what makes one most sceptical about the official version is that after more than a year the awesome power of military intelligence was not able to come up with a credible witness.

But whatever the fascination with various details of timing, ballistics, identification of bodies, and disappearing witnesses, about which a society with a superabundance of lawyers is particularly curious, the overweening fact was that most politically conscious Filipinos believed that their President was responsible for the shooting of his major rival. Thus they could not imagine that any investigating commission appointed by that President would reveal the truth about the incident. In fact, the inability of the first investigation commission either to gain legitimacy or to begin its work were major indicators of the damage which the assassination had inflicted on the regime. The second commission, headed by Judge Agrava, showed surprising initiative, in part as a result of public American encouragement and probably also private assurances of U.S. support. In fact, as the investigation progressed they became bolder in their questioning.

In the short term, Aquino’s bloody sacrifice may have gone further towards undermining the regime than any contributions he could have made in the complex compromises of life. The anger at this brazen killing quickly spread to segments of the population which were never before politicized, those both high and low. For instance, the normally apolitical Philippine Social Science Congress issued a scathing indictment of the regime in November. And when an ageing regime has already been perceived by the relatively well-informed as suffering from increasing corruption and ineffectiveness, this mass emotional release rapidly creates a wider acceptance of that perception, even as it is radicalized and becomes more intense. An indicator was an escalation in the language of protest, and in the uncontrollable explosion in press freedom, first in newly appearing tabloids and then by force of competition even in the expanded comment in the officially sanctioned and heretofore, controlled press. (By 1984 many observers were calling the Philippine press the freest in Southeast Asia.) Furthermore, large demonstrations are a welcome form of political expression for masses who have had no effective way of voicing their dissatisfaction since the declaration of martial law. A more rapid erosion of regime legitimacy and a sudden acceleration in the growth of political expression and participation were thus the most immediate consequences of the assassination, setting a new stage for the succession struggle.

Economic Ramifications of Aquino’s Death

Changes of mood have a direct impact not only on politics, but on economics as well. The increasing prospect of political instability shattered the confidence of investors and creditors, both domestic and foreign. The actual flight of capital in the first two months after the assassination was estimated at over US$1 billion,4 including large amounts controlled by those friendly to the President, according to reports. The devaluation of the peso in early October by 21 per cent (which followed close on the heels of a nearly eight per cent devaluation in June) may have been an adjustment to reality, but it only slowed the flight of hard currency. And in the atmosphere of crisis most foreign banks stopped proffering any credit.

The shift in mood in the Philippine business community, and its behavioural consequences, was one of the more dramatic developments after 21 August. This is not to say, however, that Filipino businessmen were without long-standing grievances. They had prospered under martial law in the 1970s, thus their bitterness against favoured Marcos cronies or discomfort at the inroads of foreign corporations was muted. But in 1981 the world-wide depression began to wreak havoc in the Philippines. The Gross National Product (GNP) growth rate fell sharply to 2.6 per cent in 1982 and nearly reached zero in 1983. The cut-back in markets and in available credit sharpened whatever lines of conflict already existed. Manufacturers who had enjoyed tariff protection were especially shocked and embittered by the Prime Minister’s acceptance of World Bank conditions on its “structural adjustment loan” which required a 30 per cent drop in import duties by 1985.

In 1981 the most articulate representative of business interests became the newly-formed Makati Business Club (MBC), headed by the ambitious and dynamic Enrique Zobel, president of Ayala Corporation, one of the major concentrations of old wealth. The MBC eclipsed the long-established Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in debating and criticizing government policy and in proposing alternatives, which sometimes extended beyond the purely economic sphere to include restoring a free electoral process or reforming an inefficient bureaucracy5

Reaction of Business Groups

Business support for the frequent anti-Marcos demonstrations in Makati became widespread, extending by November to provincial cities. Jaime Ongpin, president of Benguet Corporation, primarily a gold-mining firm, and brother of a Marcos cabinet member, became an even more articulate Marcos critic than Zobel, calling for free elections, immediate choosing of a vice-president, and the resignation of Imelda Marcos from all offices. In any case, the shift among the economic elite from dominantly covert to more overt opposition to the government had profound consequences. Already in 1983 it complemented the protests of the moderate opposition alliance UNIDO, and thus helped compensate for that group’s organizational weakness. In 1984 business leaders became even more vocal in opposition. This made it easier for the United States to think about alternatives to Marcos.

UNIDO, which was formed in January 1980 as the United Democratic Opposition, in 1982 changed its name to United Nationalist Democratic Organization, without changing its acronym. It began as an alliance of several opposition groups, and has yet to be transformed from an alliance into a single party, though there has been such talk. It was generally assumed that Senator Aquino would return to the Philippines to become chairman. In the meantime Salvador Laurel, son of the wartime president of the Philippines under Japan, a long time Nacionalista, who was elected to the Batasan in 1978, acted as head of UNIDO, while making frequent trips abroad to consult with Aquino. He had neither the personality nor the reputation, however, to command the respect of UNIDO members to the extent Aquino could, though in September 1983 he resigned from the Batasan to emphasize the strength of his opposition to the regime. Thus while Aquino’s sacrifice altered the national mood, it may have been a blow to the organizational strength of the group he would have led. UNIDO did not in 1983 have a local-level structure in most provinces (and when it did the integration of local affiliates and national leadership was poor), nor was it organized down to the neighbourhood level in the metropolis as was the government party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). From November, however, UNIDO expanded its provincial political activity, recruiting many scions of old political families.

The liberal side of UNIDO leadership to which Aquino belonged, was decimated by an assassin’s bullet in August but could have been substantially bolstered, if the senior remaining political exile, Jovito Salonga, were to return – considered likely in late 1984. He had left in 1980, partly for health reasons and partly because he had been falsely charged for complicity in the September and October bombings. Successor to the title of president of the Liberal Party when ex-Senator Gerry Roxas died, ex-Senator Salonga has a reputation for nationalism, intellectual integrity, and social progressivism that makes him much more in tune with the times than the Liberals’ elder statesman, ex-President Diosdado Macapagal (the predecessor of Marcos), or the leader of a competing Liberal faction ex-Senator Eva Kalaw.

The Catholic Church

In addition to the business community, UNIDO protests have been augmented by the vocal role of Jaime Cardinal Sin. But in the present situation the church is riven by deep cleavages. Cardinal Sin’s political leadership is designed in part to hold the church together as well as to reform the government. As a good shepherd of his flock he voices the discontent that they cannot, but also maintains political dialogue with the regime to decrease the likelihood of a thoroughly damaging attack on the interests of the church, for example, full taxation of church property. By attending to the concerns of both progressives and conservatives, he helps prevent further cleavage.

However, in general the hierarchy in 1983 was increasingly concerned about Marxist influence in the church. Until a few years ago there were still a number of bishops who not only sympathized with the inclination of some of their priests to work with communist-led organizations, but were themselves capable of dialogue and autonomous co-operation. Since then the impact of experience and of Vatican intervention appear to have polarized views on this subject. Perhaps as many as five per cent of priests and nuns are committed to the NDF or the New People’s Army (NPA) and in one way or another are working with them. Dialogue with their bishops on their position has become more and more difficult, however. Testimony from an arrested NDF priest in Samar shocked moderates and conservatives. Several of the progressive bishops also went through their own experiences in which they felt that Catholics working with the NDF had deceived and misled them. At the same time they were receiving messages through the hierarchy urging disengagement. In a more fundamental sense the incompatibility of Christian teaching on violence, to which many progressives have tried very hard to be faithful, and the Marxist line have become more evident as the armed struggle heats up, as guerrillas as well as soldiers succumb to the temptation for revenge.6 (For some conservatives in the hierarchy their “abhorrence of violence” has been a double standard, a convenient tool with which to flog only communists. They must have welcomed the President’s July appeal for an alliance between church and state against communism.) By February 1983, with a variety of motivations, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) agreed unanimously, for the first time, on vigorous criticism of the excesses of the regime, coupled with a condemnation of the use of violence for political ends, and of the subordination of Christian to atheist ideologies, which provided a firmer theological basis for clerical anti-communism.7 NDF recruitment of and co-ordination with the Catholic clergy is unlikely, therefore, to expand at the rate it has in recent years, unless military abuses escalate further.

In March Cardinal Sin had begun to call for a Council for National Reconciliation, with representatives from church and opposition as well as government. After August 1983 Cardinal Sin, who was a personal friend of Aquino, lent dignity and force to the protest over Aquino’s death. In his funeral homily, however, he returned to his theme: “In our grief over the passing of Ninoy, let us not blind ourselves to the fact that he came, not in the spirit of confrontation, but in that of reconciliation.”8 On 27 November Aquino’s birthday and the beginning of Advent, the CBCP issued another pastoral letter urging “reconciliation” as a way to avoid the “bloodbath of revolution” and asking those who espouse violence to reconsider in light of “the unique demands of a gospel of love”. It also called for an “end to graft and corruption”, honest elections in May, and the restoration of people’s basic rights.9 The church retains a much better communications system than does the secular opposition, having added a business-backed weekly newspaper, Veritas, in November 1983. Church bodies could become more important informal allies of the UNIDO, of the Jesuit-backed Pilipino Democratic Party (PDP) – under the increasingly active Aquilino Pimentel – and of business activists in the near future. Cardinal Sin’s unprecedented call for a massive non-violent protest on 7 October 1984, which prompted President Marcos to accuse the Cardinal of “fomenting rebellion”, was a step in this direction. The march, protesting earlier police violence against peaceful protestors, was also joined by many business leaders not previously involved in street demonstrations. Cardinal Sin’s initiative was clearly part of a pattern designed to avoid “the bloodbath,” the danger of which was, in fact, growing.

The Communist Party

The greatest source of rivalry to elite and middle-class politicians in the campaign to unseat Marcos has stemmed from the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA.

Given the urban focus of the political reaction to the murder of Aquino, however, the work of the Party’s National Democratic Front and its affiliates becomes more important though less obvious. Formed in 1973, the NDF is open to all “patriotic and democratic forces”. Its “organizational base” is claimed by the party to be the Kabataang Makabayan (or Nationalist Youth), an underground workers’ federation, an organization of the urban poor, and Christians for National Liberation, which pre-dated the NDF.10 Presumably each of these named organizations is party controlled; but the NDF has also had temporary alliances with a great variety of other organizations. If any of these others are party controlled, that, understandably, is a well-kept secret. But given the fluidity of political organizations in the Philippines generally, it is unlikely that many are.

Opposition Groups in Coalitions

Political crisis favoured new and broader coalitions. As early as 1981, when Marcos created conditions under which the only logical response to what was perceived as a rigged presidential election was boycott, a coalition to promote electoral abstention was formed, “People’s MIND”, which spanned the entire opposition spectrum. In addition to UNIDO and well established church, labour, and student groups, there were thoroughly independent peace and human rights organizations led by ex-Senator Jose Diokno, along with newer ad hoc formations reputed to receive some inspiration from the NDF. These last were best at organizing crowds. In 1982 there were efforts to initiate such a broad coalition on a more permanent basis, but they did not come to fruition.

The killing of Aquino created a new crisis in which it was relatively easy to find common ground regardless of ideological differences. JAJA, or “Justice for Aquino, Justice for All”, was a coalition formally headed by the elderly, but still vigorous, ex-Senator Lorenzo Tanada. More active leadership seems to have come from Diokno, JAJA secretary, now probably the most widely respected nationalist and human rights advocate, who has strong support in the church and close connections with Amnesty International. The Aquino and Laurel families were also at first represented in JAJA’s planning sessions, along with representatives of more radical groups. It co-ordinated most major demonstrations in late 1983, far surpassing the importance of UNIDO in that regard. But as in 1981, effective co-operation over such a broad spectrum did not survive. In 1984 JAJA favoured boycott of the May legislative elections, so Laurel and others wanting to participate broke off. It declined in importance as another broad coalition, led by Aquino’s brother Agapito (Butz) Aquino, organized the boycott.

The launching of still another new organization in November 1983, the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy, also under the chairmanship of ex-Senator Tanada and with a stronger secretariat than JAJA’s, had been preceded by preparatory meetings in the provinces and was clearly designed to survive for a longer period. Its structure is based on individual membership rather than group affiliation. (Diokno is not involved.) The language of the voluminous secretariat publications would seem to imply that the orientation towards the NDF is considerably closer than in the case of JAJA.11 But there are also some key UNIDO and PDP-Laban figures in its national council, including several Assemblymen. The incentive to build bridges between left and right opposition remained strong as long as crude military repression persisted and purely electoral approaches seemed inadequate.

The Military

The behaviour of the military after 21 August 1983 did not remove the threat. The shooting of demonstrators, as on 21 September, has fortunately been a rather rare occurrence under martial law in the Philippines. But the illness of the President could leave the military more and more without any moderating political guidance.12 Peaceful demonstrators were again killed and wounded by the military near Malacañang Palace in September 1984. Another profound consequence of the assassination seems to have been intensification of factionalism within the armed forces. More messages of dissatisfaction at middle levels filtered through to the opposition. Retired officers criticized the high command openly.

Some Features of U.S.-Philippine Relations

Changes in U.S.-Philippine relations brought about by Aquino’s murder may still be largely under a classified security blanket, as is true of those within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). But some outlines did emerge, and the changes are crucial to the succession process. Both Congress and the State Department seemed to be come more willing to distance themselves from Marcos than they were when the 1983 renewal of the Bases Agreement was signed. Immediately after Aquino’s murder the State Department called it a “cowardly and despicable act”. A few weeks later the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, Monjo, testifying before a House of Representatives sub-committee, went further, saying, “Many Filipinos, and not all of them opposed to the current government, suspect the complicity of elements of the government in the crime. It raises very disturbing questions that demand answers.”13 He concluded with the assertion that the May 1984 parliamentary election had become “more important than ever” since “a free and fair electoral process in which Filipinos can place their confidence is the key to the resolution of the political problems left in the wake of the Aquino assassination”.

The planned Presidential visit to Manila in November 1983 became, of course, the key indicator of any shift in U.S. policy. Despite the widespread editorial advice in the United States to cancel both on the grounds of Reagan’s safety and because it would send the wrong message to the Philippine Government and people, few thought the White House would change its plans. But it did. The reason given only thinly disguised real official thinking, but the indefinite postponement to other ASEAN countries softened the blow to Marcos. Clearly the visit would have triggered a political explosion of primary benefit to the left which Reagan’s advisers sought to avoid. Ironically this postponement thus helped to prolong Marcos’ power rather than weaken it, as some had argued earlier.

The next important American policy decision was of necessity a product of private/public sector consultation – on how to respond to the urgent plea from Manila for more credit. It may be that the broad thrust of American policy was reflected in a speech by Ambassador Michael Armacost to the Makati Rotary Club on 17 November. While describing new and accelerated American assistance to alleviate the Philippine “financial crisis” he also insisted that Philippine problems were “precipitated by questions concerning social and political stability”.14 At the same time he mentioned that additional U.S. aid awaited the final decision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on credit for the Philippines. The December 1983 decision of the committee of 12 leading private creditors of the Philippines to offer US$1.4 billion in new funds – still dependent on a final IMF determination – plus a re-scheduling of old debt, implied the same two-track policy: enough aid to avoid the “worst-case” scenario, but much less than hoped for in order to maintain leverage for political change. Most economists believed US$3 to US$4 billion in new money was needed to make possible real growth. One could assume that in the midst of crisis, American leverage – in concert with the IMF – would be especially effective.

The Call for Free Elections: Participation or Boycott

In 1984 “free elections” became a major pillar of U.S. foreign policy in the Philippines; it was equally a concern of creditors around the world, worried about the stability of an authoritarian regime with a sickly ruler. In a letter dated 29 March 1984 President Reagan sent Marcos a warning that “continued movement towards fully functioning democratic institutions appropriate to the Philippines is the key to the rebuilding of both economic and political confidence.15 Other messages through private and public channels were sent by a variety of officials to the same end prior to the May poll. At the same time, to soften the impact of the foreign exchange drought in the Philippines, the United States accelerated the disbursement of funds under existing aid and credit categories amounting to nearly US$1 billion.16

The socio-economic context in which the Batasan election campaign began was indeed grim, contributing to unrest and therefore reinforcing opposition appeals. Because of the continuing failure to reach agreement on the terms of a new IMF loan (which IMF officials themselves suggested was because of Marcos’ judgement that the conditions to be imposed would be so politically unpalatable as to be best postponed until after the election),17 private banks and other governments were reluctant to extend new credit as well. Credit was not sufficient to fund imported production goods, so factories continued to close, putting people out of work – more than 300,000 by best estimates (but denied by the Ministry of Labour). Disinvestment was a more subtle and insidious cause of unemployment. Strikes, usually for payment of the minimum wage, became more frequent and more militant. Necessary inputs for the most productive form of agriculture were also in very short supply, contributing to lower yields of food crops. Even the banking system was teetering on the edge of disaster, revealed in the Central Bank takeovers of more than a dozen shaky private banks.

Reagan, the IMF, and the most militant Filipino opposition, despite their different persuasions, all agreed that the purpose of the electoral exercise was to legitimize, and thus stabilize, the Marcos regime. Only a segment of the moderate opposition expressed hope for a change in the composition of political leadership as a result of the election. This latter group had as its most prominent spokesman ex-Senator Salvador Laurel, president of UNIDO. UNIDO, along with some regionally-based political parties, especially PDP-Laban (strong only in the Manila area, Cebu and northern Mindanao), decided to participate, despite the fact that they had supported a joint declaration in January with all other opposition for electoral boycott unless Marcos would undertake basic reforms of the electoral system and renounce his powers of decree under Amendment VI of the Constitution, among other conditions. It was, as most understood, an impossible dream. UNIDO’s ultimate participation, however, was hedged with a threat to withdraw if fraud should escalate. (Multiple registration of thousands of pro-government voters and the President’s refusal to name opposition nominees to the Commission on Elections, despite his promise to do so, were among the issues that brought howls of opposition protest, but did not alter UNIDO’s decision.)

Laurel, confident that Marcos was under strong pressure by business, the church, and the IMF to have clean elections, said UNIDO could win. (He predicted his party would win 40 per cent of the votes even in a “relatively dirty” poll)18 With a legislative majority they could convene a constitutional convention to draft a new basic law, as well as elect the Speaker – who until 1987 would be in line to presidential succession.

The biggest boost to the prospect of free elections was actually given by the re-emergence of NAMFREL, first organized in 1951 as a national movement for free elections with alleged U.S. assistance; it had lapsed into inactivity before the end of that decade. NAMFREL had been a major factor in creating the conditions for the election of Ramon Magsaysay as president in 1953. In 1984 NAMFREL recruited tens of thousands of Filipinos from around the country to monitor registration and voting and to organize a vote-counting mechanism independent of the official Commission on Elections (Comelec). Even its admirers admit that it was part of a U.S. effort to force Marcos to hold free elections.19 Marcos noted that they received “private” U.S. funds; the U.S. embassy gave open “moral” support. NAMFREL chairman, Jose Concepción, a flour mill owner, was sufficiently uncomfortable with the frequent charge from boycotters that NAMFREL was a tool of the CIA that he explicitly denied it in an open letter published throughout the Philippines shortly before the election.20

The boycotting opposition could not be accurately described as simply a “communist-inspired movement”, as did UNIDO vice-chairman Eva Kalaw, General Ver and some foreign journalists, though elements of the Communist Party’s united front were certainly part of the broad movement, and particularly influential in organizational work. The Coalition of Organizations for the Restoration of Democracy (CORD), headed by Aquino’s brother, Butz Aquino, co-ordinated most boycott activities. Its backers included staunch anti-communists as ex-President Diosdado Macapagal, Liberal Party President and ex-Senator Jovito Salonga, and ex-Senator Raul Manglapus, temporarily resident in the United States, as well as nationalist leaders Lorenzo Tanada and Jose Diokno, both ex-Senators, and an array of other elite opposition and church leaders. While radicals characterized electoral participation as “collaboration … with the executioner of the Filipino masses”, and church workers likened compulsory voting in the May elections to the “golden image” which Daniel refused to worship – hoping that their own abstention would have less severe consequences – constitutionally-minded lawyers saw participation as lending legitimacy to an illegal regime. All agreed the Batasan was a powerless institution in any case.

Boycotting was not a passive activity. CORD organized rallies and seminars throughout the Philippines to explain the purpose of boycott, delivering a strident anti-Marcos and nationalist message in the process. They were encouraged by the low turnout for the January referendum, which was perceived as a response to the boycott movement then.

Both boycotters and participants may have miscalculated the impact of their particular strategies, however. The former aimed to deny the legitimacy of Marcos and his institutions, but the experience of the only two previous electoral exercises since 1972 revealed that a well-organized boycott campaign weakens the opposition challenge, and thus reduces the government need for such extensive fraud, in turn damping the fire of outrage in the election’s aftermath. Boycott also constrains popular anger by lowering expectations of the electoral process. In 1978 when an attempt to participate was the dominant opposition response, Marcos’ manufacture of the returns more rapidly eroded his own legitimacy than in 1981, when he ran for re-election practically unopposed because of a widely supported boycott. Outrage was subdued after a fraud long anticipated.

On the other hand, the goal of a parliamentary majority, which UNIDO needed to posit in order to fully justify election participation, was wildly unrealistic. Marcos made it clear that he perceived legitimation for himself in an election so “free” as to allow the opposition 20 seats or ten per cent of the Batasan. Thus, many expected him to use fraud, coercion, money and pure concoction if he feared the threat of much greater opposition success. And this is exactly what happened.

It was reported that NAMFREL watchers were driven away from the polls at many locations so that ballot-box stuffing could proceed apace. Multiple voting was also rampant. But the biggest government gains seemed to have been made simply by the “cooking” of returns. The first NAMFREL report, based on 27.5 per cent of the returns had opposition and independent candidates leading the KBL by 91 seats to 66, with the rest yet undecided.21 The next day Marcos told U.S. television audiences in a live broadcast that he expected the KBL to win about 140 seats. (To be sure the early returns were more heavily from urban areas, where the opposition was known to be strong.) About the same time NAMFREL was reporting independents and opposition parties ahead in 94 and KBL in 89. A few days later, with 90 per cent of returns in, NAMFREL – which had to rely on official village tabulations – was reporting a KBL lead for 101 seats and opposition and independents for only 82.22 By the time the reports emanated from the Commission on Elections, opposition and independent seats were down to 73, with 110 for the KBL.23 Thus within about ten days the opposition and independents had lost 21 seats as the count “progressed”; the KBL moved from minority to majority. Some of the late returns were from villages or districts where the KBL vote was greater than the total population. In Cebu the switch was particularly dramatic. Whereas the NAMFREL tally gave five out of six seats to the opposition, the Commission on Elections proclaimed only one opposition candidate.24 It is not surprising then that as the citizens of Cebu began to learn of the switch being pulled, they protested; the protest was large and noisy. The police were jittery and at one point began firing on the crowd: four persons died and 18 were injured.25 The reaction of UNIDO president Salvador Laurel to the evidence of fraudulent counting was also very strong: he asked for new elections in 21 provinces and threatened a UNIDO boycott of the Batasan session.26 PDP-Laban chairman Pimentel warned, on the contrary, that his party would enter the Batasan and file a motion of impeachment against the President. Marcos himself, still not satisfied with a two-to-one margin in parliament, called for a special session of the lame-duck Batasan to adopt legislation permitting presidential appointment of an additional 18 members. And as if the atmosphere were not sufficiently tense already, on 24 May the Metropolitan Commission (METROCOM) Brigadier General Tomas Karingal was assassinated, ostensibly by an NPA hit squad in retaliation for police killing of striking workers a short time before. The police reacted with a “red alert”, establishing numerous checkpoints around Manila.

Many feared that the massive post-election crackdown on the opposition which had been rumoured for months was about to happen. But it did not. Such a move would have jeopardized the mood of reform and stability which the foreign backers of the regime had hoped to create out of the elections. The U.S. Embassy had already labelled them “an amazing example of democracy and participation of the people”.27 On 18 May the Wall Street Journal had jumped to conclude editorially that the elections “moved the Philippines closer to democracy, and that should please all of us”. The New York Times applauded in a similar vein. Accentuation of the positive was continued by Cardinal Sin who called the 14 May poll “by and large, the … freest, cleanest since 1972” – in itself faint praise. But he then added with Sin-ful hyperbole that it might rank “among the best elections since World War II”,28 despite NAMFREL’s conclusion that only fraud earned a KBL victory. He called for the shelving of opposition plans for impeachment. The President abandoned his plans to appoint more members to the Batasan, which had infuriated his most moderate opponents.

The electoral scenario had not proceeded just as the participant opposition had hoped, but they were perhaps more pleasantly surprised than the boycotters. Why had the boycott failed? In part it failed because the political analysis in the message of the boycott movement, as some activists themselves pointed out,29 was too complex, too abstract for the average citizen, compared to the “simple” choice of voting for the “good guy” instead of the “bad guy”. Many Filipino voters simply did not want to be deprived of a chance to vote against the regime, a traditionally concrete form of protest. Furthermore, some middle-class citizens may have been scared off by the “red” charges against the boycott movement. There was also a great deal of money spent; best estimates are that P4.6 billion of new currency was printed during the campaign, about a tenth of all government tax revenue in 1983!30 (The IMF was understandably disturbed.) Some KBL candidates spent more than P10 million. The willingness to offer short-term loyalty for material favours, especially in a time of great hardship, is another traditional habit hard to break, though many thousands did. The immediate financial rewards also help explain the multiplicity of candidates – nearly ten aspirants for every KBL nomination.

What was more difficult to explain was the great number of opposition and independent candidates, who were not primarily interested in Marcos’ largesse, for a powerless legislature in a declining regime. It is probable that many were thinking in terms of positioning themselves for the 1986 local elections and the successor regime, building the traditional local power base to gain influence at the centre, in the medium even if not the short term. Some became UNIDO candidates after being denied KBL nominations. UNIDO as well as KBL candidates included a number of sons or other relations of powerful patrons of an earlier era. President Marcos had at one point announced himself against “political dynasties”, but in one race he was not above writing personal letters to competing candidates to get them to withdraw, thus assuring election of his daughter Imee from Ilocos Norte.31

In any case, arguments for and against participation and boycott, which had even riven the Aquino family, abated after the election. Some in UNIDO argued at first that without the boycott to sap their strength they could have won, but the actual turnout would seem to belie that thesis. Some leading boycotters made the fascinating suggestion that the role of the boycott movement and the electoral parties had been quite complementary. On the one hand international attention to the elections had prevented the regime from cracking down too hard on mass movements, and the possibility of driving the parliamentary opposition into the arms of the boycotters restrained Marcos somewhat from his tendency to electoral overkill. The ideological split between the two types of opposition did not disappear, however. They could not even agree to a common anti-Marcos rally on the anniversary of martial law. Aquilino Pimentel of the PDP-Laban, whose election the Marcos-controlled Comelec tried to reverse, was one of the few who could keep one foot in each camp.32 The much stronger nationalism of the “boycotters” sustained the split, as well as the differences on tactics, a contrast between confrontation and the moderates’ “critical collaboration”.

Though the election did provide Marcos a bit of the international legitimation that he so desperately needed, he still faced two very serious challenges, each of which was capable of triggering the collapse of the regime, if handled poorly; but, in fact, both had to be dealt with simultaneously. First was the need to finalize the agreement with the IMF in order to get foreign credits flowing in again; second was the upcoming Agrava Commission report on the Aquino assassination and the need for Marcos to make an adequate response. Both posed fundamental dilemmas, and the regime had gained no domestic legitimacy to facilitate their disposition.


Negotiations with the IMF were not easy to get back on track after the election, given the residue of distrust from the much earlier overstatement of reserves and the printing of new money during the campaign, contrary to IMF advice. There were also a number of other points at issue, as became apparent later.33 The IMF was quite unhappy with new taxes imposed in June on imports, on exporters’ windfall profits, and on certain foreign exchange transactions. The international watchdogs were also intent on curbing inflation, reducing government spending and breaking up the monopolies in sugar and coconut, which touched at the centre of the regime’s power structure. Thus it took until September to get a “letter of intent” from the Philippines to comply with IMF conditions, and open the way for the eventual release of the expected US$613.5 million in Special Drawing Rights.

The revenue measures in June had been sufficiently unpopular so that KBL Assemblymen had joined the opposition in a September motion in the Batasan to end the 30 per cent export tax, a coalition which President Marcos had only hours earlier described as “impossible”34 New taxes affecting jeepneys had triggered a Manila-wide one-day strike. And a motion of non-confidence in the Prime Minister triggered a Batasan debate in which very few KBL members came to his defence.35

But the IMF was demanding a shift of the burden of new revenue necessary to reduce the budget deficit to domestic excise taxes, especially on tobacco, liquor, and petroleum products – with the last helping to trigger inflation to about 65 per cent by the end of 1984. This would probably have a more adverse political impact than even the unemployment-producing drought in foreign credits of the last year. Certainly the hurt would be felt more widely, by middle as well as working-class families. It raises the interesting question as to whether the IMF, which is certainly not unaware of the political consequences of its policies, underestimates the ability of the opposition to exploit the impending unrest or whether they are over-confident of the military’s ability to control the protest, under American guidance.

IMF-requested “reforms” will not only stimulate mass unrest, with additional unemployment to be caused by a continuing schedule of tariff reductions at IMF insistence, but they will also aggravate intra-elite conflict which has already escalated dramatically in the last year. As noted earlier, members of the business community outside the circle of power have been mobilized to anti-Marcos protest since the death of Aquino and thus are more vocal than ever in criticism of government economic policy; since May their views are more often presented in the Baiasan as well. Some leading figures in the KBL, anxious about the regime’s future, are themselves becoming more attentive to the complaints of business leaders, who have attacked both the technocrats under Virata, for their “subservience” to the IMF, and the Marcos “cronies”. But the cronies have themselves long been unhappy with Virata, an attitude which will surely worsen as IMF puts more and more pressure on Marcos to dismantle the sugar and coconut monopolies. With both Benedicto and Cojuangco members of the powerful KBL Central Committee and dominant figures in their respective regions (Central Visayas and Central Luzon), as well as in the crop-based industries they control, these two will be very difficult to dislodge. They are closely allied with major factions in the military as well. Since the technocrats have no political base, implementation of the IMF requirements, by further alienating both autonomous economic elites and masses from the regime, make it more dependent than ever on the military.

The Agrava Commission and its Implications

This has intensified Marcos’ other dilemma – how to handle the Agrava Commission. Despite the commission’s initial lack of credibility, as it proceeded to its investigation it showed genuine signs of courage and independence, undoubtedly aided by strong American backing. The evidence piled up linking the military to the assassination plot and discrediting the official line of Galman as a communist “hit man”. The commission first went into seclusion in early July to write their report, promising it by 21 August, the first anniversary of the killing of Aquino. But three times they reopened hearings to listen to additional witnesses. By October there was leaked to the press a preliminary draft of the commission report and a staff memorandum, clearly to pressure Marcos. They concluded that the military were responsible and named nearly 20 members of a conspiracy. However, while four of the five members were willing to name General Ver himself as being involved in that conspiracy, Chairman Agrava was unwilling to go higher than airport security chief General Custodio in placing blame, it was reported.36 Two Philippine bar associations had already publicized their own findings, which implicated the military.37

While the commission remained in seclusion, unable to agree on a final draft, the military counter-attacked. A key witness to the AFP involvement in the killing wrote a retraction to the commission which was delivered by the Presidential Security Command, headed by General Ver. A spokesman for the commission quite correctly interpreted this as a move to discredit its work. But as long as there was a danger of Ver being named by the commission, it should not have been surprising that he would use whatever tactics he felt necessary to try to stop it.

In fact, the commission’s delay in reporting was indicative of a deadlock between the two most powerful forces in Philippine politics today, the dominant faction in the military and the U.S. Government. And the deadlock was not simply on the question of the commission’s findings, but on the crucial issue of succession. General Ver, widely rumoured to be allied with the First Lady, as intelligence chief as well as head of the Palace guard and AFP chief of staff, was in the key position to control the succession, regardless of constitutional provisions. Yet both the United States and the international banking community regarded him, with Imelda Marcos, as likely to establish a regime so corrupt, so ruthless and so devoid of economic rationality as to trigger much more severe political instability, a grave threat to the United States as well as IMF/World Bank interests. Thus the United States and her allies were determined to get rid of Ver. Being named as part of the conspiracy to kill Aquino by an official inquiry would provide strong grounds for his dismissal by the President. In fact, no other legal grounds seemed available. Thus the commission was at the eye of a much larger storm.

If its members could not be deflected from charging the military by fair means or foul, then efforts had to be made by Ver and friends to limit the damage, to restrict the naming of names to lesser officers, certainly no higher than General Custodio. This was the tactic of Mrs Agrava’s minority report, and its quick acceptance by the President. But even that move failed, since by the majority report General Ver faced possible indictment. Perhaps a trial will be sufficiently frustrated that it fails to convict. But a military reshuffle, perhaps in the form of a palace coup, may remain the only tactic to protect Ver’s position. Ver would undoubtedly try in that event to dethrone the technocrats at the same time, since IMF-imposed budgetary restraints have already begun to cut into perceived military needs. (The take-home pay of a Philippine Army major in early 1984 was already down to less than US$50 per month.) But with Ver’s forced “leave of absence”, such a move became much more difficult to accomplish successfully.

An extremely well-informed article by Time correspondent Ross Munro in the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine spelled out the preferred scenario with remarkable frankness: “Washington should signal Marcos that Ver’s continuation as armed forces chief is unacceptable. No other single reform promises such an early payoff as does a halt in the armed forces’ decay.” He also noted the West Point backgrounds of some top Filipino officers, for example, General Ramos, and a receptiveness to U.S. intervention which is unique in the Third World.38

Whatever the “back-up scenarios” may have been, however, international economic pressure obviated the necessity of more obtrusive U.S. intervention in this case. The dimensions of the context just prior to the release of the Agrava Commission report may help explain the Marcos capitulation on Ver. Firstly, President Marcos was not involved in public activities for two weeks because of a “regular medical check-up”, surely an unsatisfactory explanation except for its reference to the President’s health. It is possible that Marcos was persuaded during that time, as his creditors already were, that if his condition worsened sharply with Ver more and more in charge, this could lead to a collapse of the economy and ultimately of the political system as well. Secondly, the negotiations for debt re-scheduling and new private credits were going on at the same time. Apparently the message given in those meetings was straight forward – no money until the Agrava Report is treated seriously, including the trial of Ver. Marcos, who earlier might have tried to put on his nationalist hat and rally support against the IMF now saw that this was not possible. He merely fulminated about U.S. pressure. Thirdly, both journalists and American officials39 had in the meantime been building up a case for greatly expanded military aid to the Philippines. And if that case were only half exaggerated – the AFP was certainly in dire need of help, which Marcos must have known – it provided another powerful source of U.S. leverage. Thus he succumbed to pressure he had long resisted.

In sum, neither foreign creditors nor the Filipino people could long tolerate the continuation of the existing situation. Temporarily, at least, the crisis was resolved through international pressure, pleasing to foreign backers, but not necessarily to the Filipino opposition: removing Ver while retaining Marcos. But no matter how benevolent, intelligent or politically skilful the autocrat may once have been, he cannot now long survive the destruction of that regime’s core. Struggles between technocrat and crony and among military factions will intensify. If Ver cannot make a comeback, the removal of the kingpin in the gathering of intelligence and the application of force could begin to unravel the networks that gave form to the Marcos regime.

Some Possible Scenarios

If events since the assassination of Aquino are best understood in the context of a succession struggle, we can hardly avoid commenting on where present trends in that struggle are leading. By the end of 1983 the emerging pattern seemed to be a gradual augmentation of power by General Ver, perhaps in concert with Imelda Marcos, as the President’s health deteriorated, culminating in Ver’s de facto seizure of power at the time of the President’s incapacity. In 1983 Ver had gained a determined ally in the wealthiest and most aggressive of Marcos “cronies”, Eduardo Cojuangco, the “coconut king”. Imelda and her allies had successfully frustrated in the Batasan a U.S.-backed plan to have Prime Minister Virata, the IMF favourite, named vice-president. The constitutional amendment on succession actually ratified in January 1984 promised vice-presidential elections in 1987, but otherwise reverted to an earlier arrangement by which the Batasan Speaker, a powerless tool of the KBL (which means to say the First Lady, plus key bureaucratic and capitalist allies), would become interim president.

However, as the economic crisis deepened in 1984 both the World Bank/IMF and the U.S. Government became more convinced that political stability was the essential foundation for renewed economic progress and that in the Philippine case only democratization and restoration of the rule of law could re-establish that stability. So the United States promoted free elections, even to the point of helping to finance NAMFREL, tried to encourage the renunciation of presidential powers of decree, and gave strong backing to stoutly independent members of the Agrava Board. That backing and credible threats of economic demise by foreign exchange starvation forced Marcos to accept an investigation report that even implicated Ver in Aquino’s murder, forcing Ver to take leave and face trial. His removal was clearly seen by the IMF as a prerequisite to removing the baneful influence of the “cronies” on the economy.

Future scenarios in the succession struggle depend in the short run on whether Ver can recoup his pre-eminence within the military or whether as acting chief of stall General Ramos can consolidate his control. Both seemed prepared to try, Ramos speaking of the need to “restore morale” and Ver mobilizing support from 58 general officers (out of 83) in a newspaper advertisement. Reinstatement of Ver, would be anathema to the United States and the IMF. It would lead to further narrowing of regime support, erosion of technocrats’ power in favour of cronies, and would make implementation of IMF conditions almost impossible. Ver in any case would then control the future succession process more tightly than ever.

Prospects of a Ver recovery might trigger a U.S.-backed, Ramos-led coup that neither Washington, nor Marcos wants, but which Washington would require to avoid political/economic disaster.40 Even if launched in the name of Marcos it would probably accomplish his early retirement. A Ramos-backed regime, achieved gradually through consolidation of his present position or by abrupt intervention to block Ver, would be both a victory for the technocrats and for expanded democratization. The KBL majority in the Batasan might break-up, with some sensing the wind’s direction, and a new majority formed around the present opposition, providing a semblance of new legitimacy. The President’s death, incapacity or resignation would be handled legally with a successor elected either from among prominent dissidents in the present regime, from moderate opposition figures or someone mutually agreeable to both categories.

No matter how well-intentioned, the leadership of such a regime would face a profound dilemma. On the one hand it would receive intense pressure for wider participation, for example, new, unfettered Batasan elections, and the drafting of a new constitution. Yet to open the political process to all groups and to re-examine all the old rules would release a flood of new ideas and new leaders likely perceived as threatening to the core interest of the regime and its military, business and foreign backers. Thus after briefly allowing “one hundred flowers to bloom” a new round of restrictions on participation, even repression, would be a lively prospect. With all the frustrations that have built up in the Filipino body politic since 1972, it is no longer possible to keep “the lid on”, but terribly difficult to take it off slowly. Any significant opening would produce a participation explosion. And the Philippines does not have as large a middle class as Argentina, which helps temper demands in that decompression chamber. A new cycle of repression would produce the concomitant alienation and erosion of regime legitimacy as well as provide renewed justification for violence. Only a charismatic leader with sufficient self-confidence to disregard pressure from economic elite and foreign banker alike could re-enthrone the ballot and undercut the appeal of the bullet, but such calibre of leadership is very rare. Aquino – who may or may not have been such a leader – was very conscious of the dilemma described here, and was thus, in his reflective moments, reluctant to succeed Marcos. And yet no one now on the political horizon has the appeal of Aquino, even before his martyrdom.

Thus whether modest liberalization with the backing of the professional military were first or second in succession to the present regime, in each case with American support, it could well be followed by a revived revolutionary movement, which would include some of those who once hoped for a liberal democratic restoration. Mass mobilization under radical leadership is no longer a passing phenomena in the Philippines. Nor do powerful economic or military interests, domestic or foreign, face dissolution without a tussle. Thus short, or even medium-term, prospects in the succession struggle are for rather modest changes in the political or economic character of the regime, while long-term possibilities include profound systemic transformation.


In sum, the Philippines in 1984, for the first time in this century, stands on the brink of a revolutionary situation. And even if it pulls back from the brink in the near future, events could again propel the society towards violent transformation. This does not mean that all the necessary elements of such a “situation” are yet in place. Foreign support for the regime would need either to erode or be manifest in ways increasingly antagonistic to nationalist sensibilities. Mass unrest would need to spread further and cleavages within the ruling elite, especially within the military, would need to sharpen – but the trends are all there.

Historians may ultimately identify the assassination of Aquino as the accelerating or triggering event that led to revolution. But it now seems likely that at least one more accelerator may still be needed. Given the lack of consensus on succession, the President’s incapacity or demise prematurely rumoured to have occurred in November 1984 could be that trigger, or even, perhaps, Ver’s restoration.

In any case, even if a revolutionary “situation” were fully manifest, a movement must develop and implement the strategy and tactics that will translate potential into revolutionary actuality. Revolutionary leadership and organization skills are improving, though whether they are adequate for the tasks the movement has set for itself will only be revealed in the next stage. Revolutionary “situations” may pass without revolutions.

But whether for revolutionaries or for those committed to maintaining the socio­political system, and especially for those in between, the leadership choices in the coming year will be excruciatingly difficult. The excitement and instability that we have observed in the past 15 months could well be surpassed in 1985.

DAVID WURFEL is Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Windsor, Ontario.


1 Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBA), 24 August 1883, quoting RPN Television Network, 23 August 1983.

2 For the roost convincing version of this analysis, see J. Rocamora, “Marcos, Aquino and the Succession”, Southeast Asia Chronicle, no.. 92 (December 1983): 20ff.

3 Hong Kong, Agence France Presse (AFP), 9 September 1983.

4 Guy Sacerdoti, “The Crunch Comes”, Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), 20 October 1983, p. 66. Also, Asia Wall Street Journal Weekly, 21 November 1983.

5 Guy Sacerdoti, “Stirrings at the Club”, FEER, 24 September 1982, pp. 107-109. See Issues and Prescriptions, 1982, Makati Business Club Plenary Conference, 28 August 1982.

6 See, for instance, Bishop Francisco Claver, “An Option for Peace”, address to PDP convention. Cagayan de Oro City, 5 February 1983.

7 “A Dialogue for Peace”, Joint Pastoral Letter, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, 20 February 1983.

8 Jaime Cardinal Sin, Selected Writings on Church-State Relations and Human Development (Manila: Centre for Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia, 1984), p. 32. &July 1984 Joint Pastoral !Alter, “Let There be Lite”, continued the theme on non-violence, but also advised an end to the President’s decree-making powers.

9 New York Times, 27 November 1983, P. 3.

10 “Preparing for the Revolution: The United Front in the Philippines”, Southeast Asia Chronicle, no. 62 (May-June 1978): 6-7. Also, “Turning Point: The NDF takes the Lead”, Southeast Asia Chronicle, no. 83 (April 1982): 2-7.

11 For instance, see National/Political Issues, 11 (Manila: NDF Secretariat, 1983).

12 Though Cardinal Sin described the President as “troubled” and “rattled” in late September, he seemed to improve after that. But there were also indications of his illness in 1984. For the Sin statement see Hong Kong, AFP, 25 September 1983.

13 John C. Monjo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Fast Asian and Pacific Affairs, Statement on “The Consequences of the Aquino Assassination for the Philippines and U.S.-Philippines Relations-before Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, House Foreign Affairs Committee, 13 September 1983.

14 Philippines Daily Express, 19 November 1983; Veritas_,_ 27 November-3 December 1983.

15 See Ross Munro, “Dateline Manila: Moscow’s Next Win?”, Foreign Policy, no. 56, (Fall 1984): 176.

16 Nayan Chanda, “A Gloomy View of Reform and Rebellion from the U.S.”, FEER 30 August 1984, p. 29.

17 FBIS, 14 March 1984, p. 2.

18 FBIS, 30 April 1984, p. 3.

19 See Munro, op. cit., p. 176. FBIS, 10 May 1984, p. 3.

21 AFP, Hong Kong, 15 May; FBIS, 15 May 1984, p. 33.

22 FBIS, 23 May 1984, p. 5.

23 FBIS, 29 May 1984, p. 16.

24 FBIS, 23 May 1984, p. 6; 12 June 1984, p. 6.

25 FBIS, 21 May 1984, p. 2.

26 FBIS, 23 May 1984, p. I.

27 Solidaridad 11 (April-June 1984), p. 10.

28 FBIS, 1 June 1984.

29 See Alex Magno, “The Boycott Movement: Did it Fizzle Out in the May 14 Polls?”, WHO, 6 June 1984.

30 FEER, 30 August 1984, p. 24.

31 FBIS, 30 May 1984, p. I.

32 Business Day, 24 September 1984.

33 See, “The IMF Sets its Price”, FEER, 18 October 1984, pp. 64-65.

34 Business Day, 21 September 1984.

35 fn_Business Day,_ 25 September 1984.

36 Japan Times, 14 and 15 October 1984.

37 Japan Times, 6 and 28 September 1984.

38 The liberal interventionist stance on U.S.-Philippine policy publicly backs away from the promotion of a coup, but nevertheless advocates pressure for a kind of “reform” which could lead to a situation where a coup was seen as a necessary protection of U.S. interests. See William Sullivan (former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines), “Living Without Marcos”, Foreign Policy, no. 53 (Winter 1983-84): 153.

39 See Richard Armitage Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs, “Statement to the Sub-Committee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, Committee on Foreign Affairs, House”, 4 October 1984.

40 A U.S.-supported coup would probably be a response to an actual Ver takeover. In a journal which represents establishment views as carefully as Foreign Affairs, reference to such an event is only found in cryptic passages, for example “U.S. leverage should not be under estimated; U.S. efforts to shape the setting for the inevitable transition can almost certainly. have some benefit.” See Robert Manning, “The Philippines in Crisis” in Foreign Affairs. 63, no. 2 (winter 84/85): 410.

Categories Philippines, General politics