Monday, November 8, 2010

The Fifth Republic of the Philippines - Post Marcos Dictatorship

Fifth Republic of the Philippines was re-established after the downfall of the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino administration (1986–1992)

With the People Power Revolution, Corazon Aquino's assumption into power marked the restoration of democracy in the country. Aquino immediately formed a revolutionary government to normalize the situation, and provided for a transitional "Freedom Constitution" that restored civil liberties and dismantled the heavily Marcos-ingrained bureaucracy— abolishing the Batasang Pambansa and relieving all public officials. The Aquino appointed a constitutional commission that submitted a new permanent constitution that was ratified and enacted in February 1987. The constitution crippled presidential power to declare martial law, proposed the creation of autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao, and restored the presidential form of government and the bicameral Congress.

Progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and respect for civil liberties, but Aquino's administration was also viewed as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military. Aquino privatized many of the utilities the government owned, such as water and electricity. This practice was viewed by many as Aquino catering to oligarchic as well U.S. interests, losing the government's power of regulation.

Economic growth was additionally hampered by a series of natural disasters. In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo in Central Luzon erupted, after being dormant for 600 years. It was the 2nd largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. It left 700 dead and 200,000 homeless, and cooled global weather by 1.5°C.
In September 16, 1991, despite lobbying by President Aquino, the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty that would have allowed a 10-year extension of the U.S. military bases in the country. The United States turned over Clark Air Base in Pampanga to the government in November, and Subic Bay Naval Base in Zambales in December 1992, ending almost a century of U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

Ramos administration (1992–1998)

In the 1992 elections, Defense secretary Fidel V. Ramos (Lakas-NUCD), endorsed by Aquino, won by just 23.6% of the vote, over Miriam Defensor-Santiago (PRP), Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. (NPC), House Speaker Ramon Mitra (LDP), former First Lady Imelda Marcos (KBL), Senate President Jovito Salonga (LP) and Vice President Salvador Laurel (NP).

Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, and Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end.

A standoff with China occurred in 1995, when the Chinese military built structures on Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands claimed by the Philippines as Kalayaan Islands.

Ramos was heavily criticized for passing an oil-deregulation law, thus inflating prices of gasoline products. Ramos was also criticized for alleged corruption in his handling of the Philippine Centennial Exposition and the PEA-AMARI land deal, in which Ramos allegedly received kickbacks amounting to millions of pesos.

A peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Nur Misuari, a major Muslim separatist group fighting for an independent Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao, was signed in 1996, ending the 24-year old struggle. However an MNLF splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Salamat Hashim continued the armed Muslim struggle for an Islamic state.

The 1998 elections were won by former movie actor and Vice President Joseph Ejercito Estrada (PMP-LAMMP) with overwhelming mass support, with close to 11 million votes. The other ten candidates included his closest rival and administration candidate, House Speaker Jose De Venecia (Lakas-NUCD-UMDP) with 4.4 million votes, Senator Raul Roco (Aksyon Demokratiko), former Cebu governor Emilio Osmeña (PROMDI) and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim (LP).

Estrada administration (1998-2001)

Estrada assumed office amid the Asian Financial Crisis. The economy did, however, recover from it. From a low -0.6% growth in 1998 to a moderate growth of 3.4% by 1999. Like his predecessor there was a similar attempt to change the 1987 constitution. The process is termed as CONCORD or Constitutional Correction for Development. Unlike Charter change under Ramos and Arroyo the CONCORD proposal, according to its proponents, would only amend the 'restrictive' economic provisions of the constitution that is considered as impeding the entry of more foreign investments in the Philippines. However it was not successful in amending the constitution.

In March 21, 2000 President Estrada declared an "all-out-war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the worsening secessionist movement in Midanao The government later captured 46 MILF camps including the MILF's headquarters', Camp Abubakar.

In October 2000, Ilocos Sur governor Luis "Chavit", Singson a close Estrada friend, accused the President of receiving collections from jueteng, an illegal numbers game.

On November 13, 2000, the House of Representatives impeached Estrada on grounds of bribery, graft and corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution. His impeachment trial in the Senate began on December 7, but broke down on January 17, 2001, after 11 senators allied with Estrada successfully blocked the opening of confidential bank records that would have been used by the prosecution to incriminate the President. In response, millions of people massed up at the EDSA Shrine, where in 1986 the People Power Revolution had ousted Marcos, demanding Estrada's immediate resignation. Estrada's cabinet resigned en masse and the military and police withdrew their support. On January 20, the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant and swore in Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the country's 14th President. Estrada and his family evacuated the Malacañang Palace soon after.

Nevertheless, Estrada challenged the legitimacy of the Arroyo before the Supreme Court on grounds that he did not resign, but just went on an indefinite leave. The Supreme Court upheld the legitimacy of Arroyo with finality on March 2, 2001.

Arroyo administration (2001-2010)

Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (the daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal) was sworn in as Estrada's successor on the day of his departure. Estrada later challenged the legitimacy of Arroyo's government, claiming he did not resign from office, but the Supreme Court twice upheld Arroyo's legitimacy. After Estrada was arrested on corruption charges in April 2001, thousands of his supporters staged an "EDSA III" to overthrow the Arroyo government, but the attempt failed when the protest rallies degraded into violence. Arroyo's accession to power was further legitimated by the mid-term congressional and local elections held in May 2001, when her coalition won an overwhelming victory.
Arroyo's initial term in office was marked by fractious coalition politics as well as a military mutiny in Manila in July 2003 that led her to declare a month-long nationwide state of rebellion. Although she had declared in December 2002 that she would not contest the May 2004 presidential election, citing a need to heal divisiveness, she reversed herself in October 2003 and decided to run. She was re-elected and sworn in for her own six-year term as president on June 30, 2004.

In 2005, a tape of a wiretapped conversation surfaced bearing the voice of Arroyo apparently asking an election official if her margin of victory can be maintained. The tape sparked protests calling for Arroyo's resignation.

Arroyo admitted to inappropriately speaking to an election official, but denied allegations of fraud and refused to step down. Attempts to impeach the president failed later that year.

Arroyo currently spearheads a controversial plan for an overhaul of the constitution to transform the present unitary and presidential republic with a bicameral legislature into a federal parliamentary government with a unicameral legislature.

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