Philippines Election 1986, The Downfall of Marcos.

Philippines 1986 election

Following the end of Martial Law a snap election was held on the 7th February 1986 this election in turn led to the downfall of President Marcos via the People Power Revolution (Also known as EDSA 1.)

On a political affairs program in November 1985 on ABC TV American journalist David Brinkley dared Marcos to call an election. On the 3rd of December 1985 a law was passed by Batasang Pambansa setting the date of the election for the 7th February 1986. On 4th February Marcos himself declared the 6th and 7th of February non working days for the whole of the Philippines. While it might seem strange calling a public holiday at such sort notice it is normal in the Philippines and still happens today.

Interest had been stirred up in 1983 when Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr was assassinated, also rumours about the hidden wealth of Marcos had been getting coverage in the press in the USA and the Philippines.

The Mercury News revealed a list of Filipino elite that had invested millions illegally in the USA, this was reprinted in the Philippines press which lead to protests in the streets and an attempt to file an impeachment hearing. The attempt at impeachment failed but it did force Marcos to order an inquiry.

The international media could not get enough of what was happening and it was soon being reported how Filipino elite were smuggling fortunes out of the country in US dollars. The New York Times also reported on the misuse of aid money sent by the USA by the Marcos’ administration.

developed other angles as well. The most significant were those uncovered by Times’ Jeff Gerth, who wrote on the misuse of American aid money by the Marcos’ administration, these allegations were denied by President Marcos, despite him denying it he was quickly losing support in congress and there was a danger of it harming US military interests.

In declaring the election a year early Marcos hoped it would put a stop to the criticism by the United States and at home in the Philippines, he also hoped it would put the death of Benigno Aquino Jr. to rest.

The calling of a snap election caused a problem for the opposition as they had not yet selected a single presidential candidate as it was clear to stand a chance of winning they needed to all get behind one candidate.

It came down to a choice between Doy Laurel, Benigno Aquino Jr or Corazon “Cory” Aquino, Cory was not very keen to run for president as she was worried about losing her privacy and considered herself not to be the most able choice, however she did agree to run if there was a petition with at least 1,000,000 supporters. Doy being the son of former president Jose P. Laurel believed his background had prepared him to be a president.

The Result

The turnout of voters dropped from 89% in the 1984 election to just 76%.

Marcos was proclaimed the winner by 1.5 million votes however NAMFREL (National Citizen’s Movement For Free Elections) had Aquino with a lead of over half a million.

This lead to a belief that the election had been tampered with and it was cosidered to be electoral fraud. This lead to many debates and violence broke out with murders happening in broad daylight.

The International Observer Delegation concluded the election was not conducted in a free and fair manner due to the power of the Marcos administration. A multinational team of observers investigated further and cited cases of intimidation, vote buying and thousands of voters being denied the right to vote, election returns that had been tampered and snatching of ballot boxes.

2 days after the election 35 computer programmers for the COMELEC walked out and claimed the election results had been manipulated by the Marcos camp. Fearing for their lies they went to Baclaran Church for sanctuary.

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal the President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippine released a statement saying “a government does not of itself freely correct the evil it has inflicted on the people then it is our serious moral obligation as a people to make it do so.” his declaration also asked “every loyal member of the Church, every community of the faithful, to form their judgement about the 7th February polls”

These events caused the resignation of Marcos’ Defence Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, and Armed Forces Vice-Chief of Staff General Fidel Ramos. Enrile and Ramos then secluded themselves in the military and police headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, respectively, leading to the People Power Revolution from 22–25 February 1986, which toppled the Marcos regime.

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