Independence meant no social change. The country was still characterized by the plantation economy. A US-Philippines trade agreement stipulated that there should be free trade between part two countries for 8 years and that North Americans should have the same right as Filipinos to engage in economic activity and exploit natural resources in the Philippines (the “Justice Decision”). In 1954, the agreement was revised to allow the Philippines to safeguard its industry with progressively increasing import duties on North American goods, but the decision of the Justice was not touched. The entire economy was then dominated by North American groups up to approx. 1970, when Japanese companies began to penetrate.
In 1946, the United States was also granted the right to have military bases in the Philippines for 99 years. This was changed in 1959 to 25 years with unlimited renewal rights. The US bases made the country the strategically most important area for the US in Southeast Asia. Especially after the end of the Vietnam War. In 1954, the country joined the Southeast Asian military organization SEATO. In 1967, it helped to form the regional cooperation organization, ASEAN.
According to Countryaah, the Philippines has rarely had legal left wing parties. A Communist Party (PKP) was formed in 1930, but banned the year after. The party then worked illegally, and the situation changed only during World War II when the guerrilla movement Hukbalahap – the People’s Anti-Japanese Army – became the driving force in the fight against the Japanese. After the war, Hukbalahap was legal for a period, but the United States unilaterally focused on the bourgeoisie and banned the movement. In the late 1940s, Hukbalahap – which had a strong support from the poor peasants in the battle against the large landowners – was quite active on the main island of Luzón and the Visayas, but the movement was broken by Defense Minister Magsaysay in the period after 1950. Until 1970, however, remnants of this guerilla that survived in inner Luzón.
1965-86 The Marcos dictatorship
In 1965, nationalist Ferdinand Marcos was elected president – and re-elected in 1969. During his reign, the contradictions within the bourgeoisie intensified as the economy deteriorated and corruption and crime increased. He also had problems with a new guerrilla movement, the New Peoples Army (NPA). It was the military branch of the newly formed Communist Party, the CPP. The party had been formed in 1968 as a peel from Hukbalahap. The party’s young dynamic leader was José Maria “Joma” Sison. It was marked by the then fierce contradictions between China and the Soviet Union. While the traditional Communist Party, the PPK was a mosquito, the CPP was Maoist, aiming for a Chinese model to build a guerrilla that could pave the way for a takeover of power. Initially, the NPA was based on the experience of the Hukbalahap guerrilla and was soon able to recruit among the peasants. In addition, many frustrated students from the cities poured into the guerrilla, which after a few years was a threat to the regime in the unsettled mountain regions of northern Luzón.
Marcos took the opportunity on September 22, 1972 to proclaim the state of emergency. Parliament was disbanded and many opposition politicians imprisoned. The dictatorship continued until 1986, when a broad alliance of opposition parties rebelled against the Marcos dictatorship, thus paving the way for a democratization of the country. The Marcos dictatorship was linked to a growing repression directed not only at communist and Muslim guerrillas, but also at political and trade opposition. On several occasions, North American troops participated in this repression.
The Catholic Church played an important role in developing the resistance to Marcos. For historical reasons, the church continues to play a major social role in the community, and 75% of Filipinos over the age of 10 still attend church affiliated schools today. In 1976, the church played an important role in condemning the electoral fraud around the referendum that would endorse Marcos’ exception law. In 1981, 45 political and professional organizations joined forces to boycott the unconstitutional election held by Marcos to stay in power. In September of that year, thousands of people in the streets of Manila demonstrated demanding the dictatorship ended and a retreat of the North American military bases.
On August 21, 1983, Marcos executed the popular opposition leader, Benigno Aquino, when he got off a plane, on his way back to the Philippines after a protracted exile in the United States. At Benigno’s funeral in Manila, ½ million people attended. From that point on, the popular movement against the Marcos dictatorship gained momentum that did not cease until it had fallen.
In April 1985, officers in the military created RAM – Reform the Armed forces Movement. They were dissatisfied with the intervention of Marcos in the military leadership. In a climate of violence and oppression that the church compared to the “dirty war” in Argentina in the 1970s, the population demanded that elections be held in 1986, and at the same time, it supported Cory Aquino’s candidacy. She was a widow of the slain Benigno Aquino.