The Road to Malacañang: Marcos to Arroyo

Its 1965, it was the good old times, it was the first time since 1935 that the country was experiencing and economic boom. Life was good and everything seems to be alright but we can never know for sure if the people running the country are satisfied the things that are going on. People always want to be rich and powerful and so being president gives you all the opportunity to achieve that age-old obsession in the field of politics.

Note: This is a reprint of my article series posted in my old blog site.

Its 1965, it was the good old times, it was the first time since 1935 that the country was experiencing and economic boom. Life was good and everything seems to be alright but we can never know for sure if the people running the country are satisfied the things that are going on. People always want to be rich and powerful and so being president gives you all the opportunity to achieve that age-old obsession in the field of politics.

The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos passed with flying colors as he put the Philippines in an enviable position and at that time, the Philippines became one of the undisputed leader in South East Asia. At that time, most of our neighbors are still struggling politically and economically -- Malaysia is still wracked by insurgencies and Singapore has just seceded from the Federation, Indonesia is still under unrest as Sukarno was unseated from power by mutinous general, Vietnam is a divided country, and Thailand is reeling from a series of demonstrations against the military-controlled government.

President Marcos with U.S. President Lyndon Johnson visiting war veterans

We had one of the highest standard of living in Asia at that time, second only to Japan. Everything seems to be going well and life was pleasant.

On November 11, 1969, President Marcos ran for an unprecedented second full term and it would be the last election in the pre-Martial Law era. It would be the last time that the Nacionalistas and Liberalistas fought seriously for the presidency. As always, a string of nuisance candidates (Pascual Racuyal, Segundo Baldovi, Pantaleon Panelo, German Villanueva, Gaudencio Bueno, Angel Comagon, Cesar Bulacan, Espiridion Buencamino, Nic Garces and Benilo Jose) have also put their luck in the process.

Allegations of election fraud and voter intimidation were accused against President Marcos and his party. But in the end, he won via a big margin against Partido Liberal's Sergio Osmeña, Jr., thus ending the party's successes in the presidential race. Only Gerardo Roxas and Ambrosio Padilla won Senate seats for the Liberalistas.

President Marcos became the first president to be re-elected.


Candidate Party Votes  %
Ferdinand E. Marcos Nacionalista Party 5,017,343 61.47%
Sergio Osmeña, Jr. Liberal Party 3,143,122 38.51%
Pascual Racuyal Independent 778
Segundo Baldovi Partido ng Bansa 177
Pantaleon Panelo Independent 123
German Villanueva Independent 82
Gaudencio Bueno New Leaf Party 44
Angel Comagon Independent 35
Cesar Bulacan Independent 31
Espiridion Buencamino NP 23
Nic Garces Philippine Pro-Socialist Party 23
Benilo Jose Independent 23


Candidate Party Votes  %
Fernando Lopez Nacionalista Party 5,001,737 62.76%
Genaro Magsaysay Liberal Party 2,968,526 37.24%

President Marcos' popularity seemed to be waning and there were concerns he may run for a third term. Despite his assurances that he will not run for the presidency, a series of unfortunate events that changed the course of history occurred.

President Marcos hatched a plan called Operation Merdeka for the planned destabilization of Malaysian-controlled Sabah (a disputed teritorry by both countries) and its eventual annexation by the Philippines. And so Tausugs and Samals were trained to fight and kill fellow Muslims. When they learned of the original purpose of their commando unit named Jabidah, they mutinied and so they were machine gunned to death en masse by their trainers on the bloody night of March 18, 1968. This event gave rise to the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao.

The growing student demonstrations and infiltration of the academe by the left-wing groups gave rise to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People's Army. These circumstances were inflamed by the fact that the Philippines was associated with the now growing unpopularity of the Vietnam War and the growing presence of American forces in the country.

The 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 tarnished 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 found himself harassed by the government.

On August 21, 1971, while the Partido Liberal held their Miting de Avance in the plaza, a bomb exploded, killing 9 and injuring almost 100 civilians. These events were an excuse for President Marcos to declare martial law on September 21, 1972.

In the early years of martial law, political parties were suspended. Political parties resumed only with the election for the Interim Batasang Pambansa on April 7, 1978. It was the first national election under Martial law.

The second electoral exercise was the election of local officials held on January 30, 1980. As expected, political parties resurfaced. Those who supported President Marcos formed the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) which became in fact a new political party. Its members were from the ranks of the Liberal and Nacionalista parties. The KBL dominated all the elections held during the Marcos era.

President Marcos placed the entire country under martial law

New political parties emerged to fight the KBL. One such group was the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) founded in 1978 by the opposition group headed by former Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. LABAN had a 21-man ticket in Metro Manila for the 1978 IBP elections. The KBL candidates headed by Imelda R. Marcos prevailed in the elections.

Aside from LABAN, the other partied organized were the Mindanao Alliance, the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP), Bicol Saro, Pusyon Bisaya and Pinaghiusa in Cebu. Later on these small political parties united themselved into one umbrella organization that came to be known as the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) headed by former Senator Salvador H. Laurel. The UNIDO had its first electoral exercise in the 1984 Batasan elections. The great majority of the 60 or so opposition lawmakers who were elected in 1984 were UNIDO candidates.

Despite the growing number of personalities associated with the opposition like Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., President Marcos kept a tight grip in power. Though he lifted Martial Law on January 17, 1981 in an effort to soften his image, he kept his hardline stance against the opposition.

Due to public discontent and growing opposition, President Marcos decided to call for an election to be held on June 16, 1981. It was a sham election as President Marcos defeated a relatively unknown Gen. Alejo Santos of the Partido Nacionalista. Former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. was then living in exile abroad and could not run for presidency. The Partido Liberal did not take part in the election.


Candidate Party Votes  %
Ferdinand E. Marcos Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 18,309,360 91.43%
Alejo S. Santos Nacionalista Party - (Roy Wing) 1,716,449 8.57%

The sham elections did not gave popular mandate to President Marcos because everyone believed that it was a show election just to boost the president's public approval. However, President Marcos' international hit rock bottom when when Senator Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 when he was disembarking from the China Airlines jetliner that brought him from the U.S. back to Manila.

As the economy continued to decline, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the United States and the country's foreign creditors pressured President Marcos to institute reforms as a condition for the grant of additional economic and financial help. Rumors about the possibility of a snap presidential election spread like wildfire.

The rumors turned to be true because in November 1985, President Marcos announced that there would be a snap presidential election. The president said that he needed a new mandate from the people to carry out a national economic recovery program successfully. And so the Batasang Pambansa enacted a law scheduling the election on February 7, 1986.


Final Official Parliamentary Canvass (Nullified on March 24, 1986)
Candidate Party Votes  %
Ferdinand E. Marcos Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 10,807,197 53.62%
Corazon C. Aquino United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO)- LABAN 9,291,761 46.10%
Reuben Canoy Social Democratic Party 34,041 0.17%
Narciso Padilla Movement for Truth, Order and Righteousness 23,652 0.12%
Total: 20,156,651 100.0%

Candidate Party Votes
Corazon C. Aquino United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO)- LABAN 7,835,070
Ferdinand E. Marcos Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 7,053,068


Final Official Parliamentary Canvass (Nullified on March 24, 1986)
Candidate Party Votes  %
Arturo M. Tolentino Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 10,134,130 50.65%
Salvador H. Laurel United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO)-LABAN 9,173,105 45.85%
Eva Estrada-Kalaw Liberal Party (Kalaw Wing) 662,185 3.31%
Roger Arienda Movement for Truth, Order and Righteousness 35,974 0.18%
Total: 20,053,394 100.0%
Candidate Party Votes
Arturo M. Tolentino Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 6,613,507
Salvador H. Laurel United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO)-LABAN 7,441,313

The electoral exercise was marred by alleged electoral fraud from both sides of the political fence as well as violence. President Marcos and his running mate Arturo Tolentino won by over a million votes according to the COMELEC. The opposition headed by Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr.'s widow Corazon C. Aquino and former senator Salvador Laurel refused to accept the allegedly fraudulent result.

Due to the reports of fraud, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement condemning the elections, the United States Senate passed a resolution stating the same. This chain of events eventually led to the resignation of President Marcos' Defence Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and military vice-chief Fidel Ramos, who then decided to seclude themselves in the military and police headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame respectively, leading to the People Power Revolution which precipitated Marcos's departure from the country into exile in Hawaii. On March 24, 1986, the Regular Batasang Pambansa made a people's resolution sign by 150 lawmakers which nullified the election returns that proclaimed that Marcos and Tolentino as the winners. Instead, it mandated that Aquino and Laurel were the real winners of the snap elections.

President Ramos became the first general to become president
After surviving numerous coup attempts against the administration of President Corazon Aquino, she decided not to ran for office in the 1992 presidential elections even if the constitution allows her to run. Because of this development, the presidency is wide open for anyone who runs for the position.

And on May 11, 1992, about 22 million registered voters cast their votes for the next president. The election is the most hotly contested election in history because of the fact each candidates had a decent chance of winning. The election also showed the rising star in politics much like how Ramon Magsaysay made an impact -- the movie actor Joseph Estrada.

In the presidential election, retired general Fidel V. Ramos of Lakas-NUCD successfully won a six-year term as President, by a small margin. Ramos also got the lowest plurality in the Philippine electoral history.

The 1992 election was the second time both president and vice president came from different parties. Movie actor and Senator Joseph Estrada won a six-year term as Vice President, by a landslide victory.


Party Candidate Results
Votes Percentage

Lakas-NUCD Fidel V. Ramos 5,342,521 23.58%

People's Reform Miriam Defensor-Santiago 4,468,173 19.72%

Nationalist People's Coalition Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. 4,116,376 18.17%

Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino Ramon Mitra, Jr. 3,316,661 14.64%

Kilusang Bagong Lipunan Imelda Marcos 2,338,294 10.32%

Liberal and PDP-Laban Jovito Salonga 2,302,123 10.16%

Nacionalista Salvador Laurel 770,046 3.40%

Vice President

Candidate Party Votes  %
Joseph Ejercito Estrada Nationalist People's Coalition
Partido ng Masang Pilipino
6,739,738 33.00%
Marcelo Fernan Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino 4,438,494 21.74%
Emilio Osmeña Lakas-NUCD 3,362,467 16.47%
Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. People's Reform Party 2,900,556 14.20%
Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. PDP-LABAN
Liberal Party
2,023,289 9.91%
Vicente Magsaysay Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 699,895 3.43%
Eva Estrada-Kalaw Nacionalista Party 255,730 1.25%

The rise of Vice President Joseph Estrada to superstardom happened in the next election just as he was flexing his muscles as Philippine Anti-Crime Commission chief. Just like an action star, he endeared himself to the masses just like the late President Magsaysay. Though many critics questioned his educational attainment and track record, Erap seemed to be sure winner for the presidency considering that he achieved a cult status among the poorest of the poor.

And on May 11, 1998, people flocked to the polling places and overwhelmingly voted Erap in power. The landslide victory was so overwhelming that his critics and political opponents were scratching their heads and licking their wounds. Senator Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also won a landslide as vice president.


Candidate Party Votes  %
Joseph Ejercito Estrada Laban ng Makabayang
Masang Pilipino (LAMMP)
-Partido ng Masang Pilipino
10,722,295 39.86%
Jose de Venecia Lakas-NUCD-UMDP 4,268,483 15.87%
Raul Roco Aksyon Demokratiko 3,720,212 13.83%
Emilio Osmeña PROMDI 3,347,631 12.44%
Alfredo Lim Liberal Party 2,344,362 8.71%
Renato de Villa Partido ng Demokratikong Reporma
-Lapiang Manggagawa
1,308,352 4.86%
Miriam Defensor Santiago People's Reform Party
-Gabay Bayan
797,206 2.96%
Juan Ponce Enrile Independent 343,139 1.28%
Santiago Dumlao Kilusan para sa
Pambansang Pagpapanibago
32,212 0.12%
Manuel Morato Partido Bansang Marangal 18,644 0.07%


Candidate Party Votes  %
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino
12,667,252 49.56%
Edgardo Angara Laban ng
Makabayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP)
-Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino
5,652,068 22.11%
Oscar Orbos Partido ng Demokratikong Reporma
-Lapiang Manggagawa
3,321,779 13.00%
Sergio Osmeña III Liberal Party 2,351,462 9.20%
Francisco Tatad Gabay Bayan
-People's Reform Party
745,389 2.91%
Ismael Sueño PROMDI 537,677 2.10%
Irene Santiago Aksyon Demokratiko 240,210 0.93%
Camilo Sabio Partido Bansang Marangal 22,010 0.09%
Reynaldo Pacheco Kilusan para sa
Pambansang Pagpapanibago
21,422 0.08%

However due to Erap's unexplained wealth and some corruption allegations, a series of investigations and legislative inquiries ensued but in the end it was locked into a stalement. Because of this a series of mass demonstration that demand the ouster of President Estrada occured. Dubbed as "People Power 2," President Estrada was forced to flee from Malacañang.

President Estrada's six year term was cut short and ended on the evening of January 16, 2001. And on January 20, Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was proclaimed the new president.

President Estrada became the first Asian president to be impeached and the first Filipino president to be imprisoned. However, he was pardoned by President Arroyo in exchange for not running for the presidency again.

With Erap out of the political circle, President Arroyo finished his term and now decided to run for the full six-year term. The opposition still reeling from the loss of Erap from the political limelight decided to gamble their chances on another actor as popular as Erap -- the late Fernando Poe Jr., a very close friend of the deposed president. With millions of Filipinos desperate for a hero who can change their fortunes, FPJ is the perfect "good guy" persona that can win the presidency because of cult status as action star icon.

The opposition may have found their perfect weapon against the administration but as the way Philippine politics goes, FPJ was questioned over his knowledge in politics and his lack of credible political track record. Moreover, he was also questioned regarding his disputed American citizenship. But as the election kicked off on May 10, 2004, FPJ gained the early lead early in the electoral count and it seems FPJ is going to upset President Arroyo.

But when the exit polls from President Arroyo's home province of Pampanga and the vote-rich province of Cebu, President Arroyo gained the upperhand. But in several areas in Mindanao, FPJ cut the president's lead and so it became apparent that the election would go down the wire.

And then the series of failure of elections were announced in election hotspots, which are believed to be areas where FPJ would probably get landslide lead over the president. In the end, it was a close call and President Arroyo gained a new six-year term at the expense of FPJ.

President Arroyo became the second woman president of the country

The elections were notable for several reasons. This election first saw the implementation of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, which enabled Filipinos in over 70 countries to vote. This is also the first election since the 1986 People Power Revolution where an incumbent President ran for re-election. Under the 1987 Constitution, an elected president cannot run for another term. However, President Arroyo was not elected president, but instead succeeded ousted President Joseph Estrada, who was impeached with charges of plunder and corruption in 2000, (later he was convicted on plunder charge but he was received a pardon from President Arroyo).


Final Official Congressional Canvass
Summary of the final official congressional canvass of the 10 May 2004 Philippine presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Lakas-Christian and Muslim Democrats / Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan 12,905,808 39.99
Fernando Poe, Jr. Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino 11,782,232 36.51
Panfilo Lacson Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Agapito Aquino Wing) 3,510,080 10.88
Raul Roco Aksyon Demokratiko / Alyansa ng Pag-Asa 2,082,762 6.45
Eduardo Villanueva Bangon Pilipinas Movement 1,988,218 6.16
Total 32,269,100 100.0
NAMFREL Quickcount
(Partial and Unofficial)
Candidate Party Votes %
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo K4 11,272,388 39.4%
Fernando Poe, Jr. KNP 10,456,243 36.6%
Panfilo Lacson Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino(Agapito Aquino Wing) 3,140,494 11.0%
Raul Roco Aksyon Demokratiko 1,942,921 6.8%
Eduardo Villanueva Bangon Pilipinas Movement 1,782,547 6.2%
Total: 28,594,593 100.0%


Final Official Congressional Canvass
Summary of the final official congressional canvass of the 10 May 2004 Philippine Vice Presidential election election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Noli de Castro Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan 15,100,431 49.80
Loren Legarda KNP 14,218,709 46.90
Herminio Aquino Aksyon Demokratiko / Alyansa ng Pag-Asa 981,500 3.24
Rodolfo Pajo Partido Isang Bansa Isang Diwa 22,244 0.06
Total 30,322,884 100.0
NAMFREL Quickcount
(Partial and Unofficial)
Candidate Party Votes %
Noli de Castro K4 13,342,530 49.6%
Loren Legarda KNP 12,505,777 46.5%
Herminio Aquino Aksyon Demokratiko /
Alyansa ng Pag-Asa
920,316 3.4%
Rodolfo Pajo Partido Isang Bansa Isang Diwa 22,244 0.1%
Total: 26,908,172 100.00%

Moreover, this was the first time since 1986 that both the winning president and vice president were under the same party/coalition. This election was also held at a period in modern Philippines marked by serious political polarization. This resulted in lesser candidates for the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections compared to the 1992 and 1998 elections.

Now this coming elections on May 10, 2010, so many personalities wanted to become the president and so many promises have been made. Let us learn our history and analyze what person should be deserving to lead us and determine our future. It would have been nice to have a strong two-party system like in the past wherein politicians fought with integrity in the elections and not the chaotic political circus of today wherein many prominent politicians masquerading as a 'man for the people' and many mentally-deficient nuisances making commotion and confusion in the election.

Let us learn from our mistakes in the past and make the correct decisions.



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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: The Road to Malacañang: Marcos to Arroyo
The Road to Malacañang: Marcos to Arroyo
Its 1965, it was the good old times, it was the first time since 1935 that the country was experiencing and economic boom. Life was good and everything seems to be alright but we can never know for sure if the people running the country are satisfied the things that are going on. People always want to be rich and powerful and so being president gives you all the opportunity to achieve that age-old obsession in the field of politics.
Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger
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