Republic of the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated on July 4, 1046. In 1947 the United States was granted the right to maintain military bases in the islands for 99 years. Meanwhile, the Huk-balahaps, or Huks—wartime guerrillas who had turned Communist—used terrorism against the government. They were brought largely under control in the early 1950's. Throughout the 1960's, however, Communist rebels continued a guerrilla campaign against the government.

In the 1950's and 1960's, programs of land reform and economic development were begun. Some progress was made, but it was hindered by the aristocratic families who had controlled land and commerce for generations. In the early 1970's, the Philippines experienced increased lawlessness and peasant insurgency. To bring about order, President Ferdinand E. Marcos imposed martial law in 1972 and ruled as a dictator.

In 1981, Marcos lifted martial law and won reelection as president. His administration was troubled by corruption, economic recession, and growing political opposition. He also had to contend with insurgencies by Communist-led peasants and by various Muslim separatist groups. In 1983, the assassination of a popular political opponent, Benigno Aquino, Jr., precipitated a spontaneous political uprising—the “People Power Revolution"—against Marcos's rule. To demonstrate his strength, Marcos called a presidential election for 1986; his opponent was Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino. Marcos, using fraud and intimidation, emerged as the official winner. Three weeks later he was forced from office by a rebellion, and Aquino became president. She promised democratic rule and in 1987 a new constitution was adopted and legislative elections were held.

Meanwhile, in 1986, the Aquino government began peace negotiations with the leading rebel groups among the Communist guerrillas and the Muslim separatists.

Aquino did not run in the presidential election of 1992. It was won by General Fidel Ramos. Later in the year, the Philippine government, responding to popular sentiment, chose to end American military presence in the country, and the United States closed Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay Naval Base.

Negotiations between the Philippine government and leading rebel groups continued. Ramos made little progress in coming to a settlement with the Communist guerrillas, but in 1994 established a cease-fire between the government and the leading Muslim rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). In 1996 Ramos and MNLF leaders negotiated a peace agreement.

Joseph Estrada was elected president in 1998. Estrada was impeached in November, 2000, on charges of corruption. He resigned the following year, and was replaced by his vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who remained in office after winning an election in 2004. During Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency, the government occasionally fought with several Muslim rebel factions.