separatist movement was building momentum. And as Marcos approached the endof his second term in office, it became increasingly clear that a constitutionalconvention charged with drafting a new, post independence constitution did notintend to abolish the two-term limit for the presidency. Thus, Marcos faced theprospect of having to leave office after 1973.Martial Law The convention never completed its work, however. Claiming anarchy was near,Marcos declared martial law in 1972, thereby suspending the 1935 constitution,dissolving Congress, and assuming total power. Marcos suppressed the politicalopposition, arresting leaders such as Benigno ('Ninoy') Aquino, Jr., and ended a longtradition of a free press. A new constitution promulgated in January 1973 gaveMarcos absolute power, and elections were indefinitely postponed. Marcos ruled bydecree, cloaking his dictatorial decisions in the rhetoric of law.In 1981 Marcos officially lifted martial law, but retained sweeping emergencypowers, in order to validate his power through a sham presidential election.Predictably, he won an easy victory and another term as president. Then his healthbegan to fail. He had a degenerative illness, lupus erythematosus, which led tokidney failure. He was on dialysis and had a kidney transplant. He seemed to bedying.Road to RevolutionIn 1983 Aquino decided to return to the Philippines, even though heanticipated being rearrested. Aquino was shot in the back of the head and killedminutes after his arrival at Manila International Airport (now Ninoy AquinoInternational Airport). The government claimed the assassination was the work of alone gunman, who had been killed by security police at the airport. A specialcommission subsequently concluded the murder was the result of a militaryconspiracy, but in 1985 a high court acquitted all of the officers charged with thecrime.By 1984, his close personal ally, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, starteddistancing himself from the Marcos regime that he and previous Americanpresidents had strongly supported even after Marcos declared martial law. TheUnited States, which had provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, was crucialin buttressing Marcos's rule over the years. During the Carter administration therelation with the U.S. soured somewhat when President Jimmy Carter targeted thePhilippines in his human rights campaign.In the face of escalating public discontent and under pressure from foreignallies, Marcos called a snap presidential election for 1986, with more than a year leftin his term. He selected Arturo Tolentino as his running mate. The opposition unitedbehind Aquino's widow, Corazon, and her running mate, Salvador Laurel.During the voting, American observers witnessed many irregularities.Afterward, the two monitoring bodies, one sponsored by a U.S.-based group and theother an official government commission, reported contradictory election results.