Canadian International Council

The Philippines' Precarious Democracy: Coping with Foreign and Domestic Pressures under Aquino Author(s): David Wurfel Reviewed work(s): Source: International Journal, Vol. 44, No. 3, Southeast Asia Ascendant (Summer, 1989), pp. 676-697 Published by: Canadian International Council Stable URL: . Accessed: 02/08/2012 07:49
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Philippines' precarious with democracy: coping


and under



The media hype focussed on the Philippines in 1986 has now faded. But many of the factors which produced the drama of ' the 'People Power "revolution" remain, making for considerable uncertainty about the prospects for political democracy in the coming decade. Although the international context in which the Philippines must now operate seems on balance somewhat more favourable to the stability of democratic institutions than that which existed when they were first threatened in the early 1970s, the domestic context is even less so. A review of the domestic scene demands our initial attention. After three years of decline in the gross national product (gnp), with an expanding insurgency and an increasingly corrupt president, the Philippines in 1985 was frequently called the 'sick man of Asia.' An impending succession crisis had led to the assassination of the leading figure in the opposition, Senator Benigno Aquino, in 1983, which dissipated what was left of the regime's legitimacy. President Ferdinand Marcos, in an ill-fated attempt to recapture some of that legitimacy, bent the constitution and called an early presidential election for 7 February 1986. Much to his amazement the opposition united at the last minute around Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the widow of his long-time foe. Mrs Aquino campaigned with increasing success as the Very opposite' of Mr Marcos. In anticipation of Marcos-orchestrated

Professor of Political Science, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario; author of Filipino Politics: Developmentand Decay (1988). InternationalJournal xliv summer 1989

Thus. But on 22 Februarytheir plot was discovered. had been accused of plotting to kill Senator Aquino. though the legislature he controlledofficiallydeclared him the 'winner. In fact. was an increasing number of younger officers (the Reform the Armed Forces Movementor ram) calling publicly for reform and secretlyplanning a coup which centred on the seizure of the presidential palace. the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).both public and private.'neither the Filipino opposition nor commentators around the world accepted the decision as valid.prepared to watch the polls and to undertake their own count.took a few hundred men to armed forces headquarters. The chief of staff. Juan Ponce Enrile.1) bishopof Manila. joined by the vice chief of staff. Fearing imminent arrest. Mrs Aquino quickly launched a civildisobediencecampaignwhichwasdesigned to drive Marcos out of office. . Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcosesand the Making of American Policy (New York: Random House 1987). the archSin. but had been acquitted and returned to command. there wasconsiderable Meanwhile.Then followed the Tour Days of Courage' viewed on televisions around the 1 Raymond Bonner. But Marcoswas so desperate for a 'win'that his minions beat up poll watchersand grabbedballot boxes even in front of hundreds of foreign journalists and a prestigious American observer team. staffed by activists mobilized largely by the Roman Catholic Church and with the help of American money . FabianVer. 434. There they declared themselvesin rebellionagainst Marcosand stated that they recognized the validityof MrsAquino'selection as president in line with the Namfrel projection.THE PHILIPPINES! PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 677 fraud. unrestin the armed forces. Grouped around the defence minister. Enrile. He was deeply enmeshed in the corruption of the Marcos regime. (They were in close consultation with military attaches at the United States embassy. JaimeCardinal and MrsAquino'sadvisers. Fidel Ramos.covert and overt . they had set a date for late January 1986 but were apparently persuaded to wait until after the elections.

it is now rampant. Four Days of Courage (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart 1987)3 Lewis Simons. and whether the current criticismin the media and politicalcircles is justified. more than three years the euphoria has passed. WorthDying For (New York: William Morrow 1987). The need to consolidate regime legitimacythrough social reform. Let us examine how she has used her power.They had ended a dictatorship with very little bloodshed and had gained the world's respect in the process. but the Filipino people had suffered much more than Marcos. Corazon Aquino had already been inaugurated president by a defiant Supreme Court justice before Marcos left.3Unable to get his commanders to United fire on massedcivilians. It was an ignominious end to twenty years of rule. was understood by some of those around her. Cardinal Sin was primarilyresponsible for mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Manilaresidents as a buffer between government and rebel soldiers. everyone was surprised. particularly the redistribution of land. She has achieved much of the first objective but is much further from reaching the second.Now. and the economic stagnation. finallyadvisedby a vacillating and States administration that it was time to go. Mrs Aquino took office with a national surge of support greater than that enjoyed by any previous Philippines president. . Most Filipinoswere ecstatic. Marcos and his entourage were lifted out of the palace in Americanhelicopters on 25 February.8 Nuns with flowers stopped tanks while other devout carried Marian figures in procession before ranks of Marcos troops. president was widely frowned upon throughout 1986. how she has dealt with the nation's problems.678 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL world. She wanted to restore political democracy and to clean up the mess left by Marcos . Corazon Aquino took office with a vision. 269.only minutes before looters entered.especially the corruption. While public criticism of the later. the insurgency. but was never very high on her agenda as 2 See Bryan Johnson. She called it a 'miracle'. just as he had promised the coup plotters weeks earlier. 'People power' had put her in charge.

although essential. the leader of a coalition of opposition groups. The consequent unrest was an important basisfor the upsurge of opposition in 1985 acrossthe whole spectrum from the economic elite to the working class. But that victory would not have been possible without the support of the church and the Americans. another announced goal.4 for the rebels. It was CardinalSin who persuaded SalvadorLaurel. It was most effective in the decisions of the InternationalMonetaryFund. the economic 61ite.and who then mobilized support for Aquino at crucial times. thus assuringa single opposition ticket. has been unevenly pursued. to run for vice-president. was less imporof tantthan the mobilization volunteersby the Catholichierarchy. in turn. And that. and private banks to cut back on credit for the Marcos-dominated economy. That halted productionin many industriesand threw thousands out of work. have been translated into presidential power without the intervention of the military. and the military 'reformers. however. Positive American signals to coup plotters were even though open United States criticalto the ram initiatives. Co-ordinationamong the churchleaders. A majority of valid votes could not. The best evidence is that she did win a genuine electoral victory against overwhelmingodds (although Namfrel was not allowed to complete its count).THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 679 the results of the past three years reveal. The withdrawalof American backing for Marcos set the stage for the events of February. .did not materializeuntil two days before support Marcos left. American financing of Namfrel. the World Bank. What President Aquino has and has not accomplished is in large part attributableto the nature of her regime. was affected by the way she came to power. The plot to topple Ferdinand Marcos/ Veritas(October 1986). and Gwen Robinson.' United Statesofficialsto backAquino 4 Alfred McCoy. Marian Wilkinson. when victory was already in sight. The ram saw itself as having made 'people power' possible and thus having gained a right to a powerful voice in the new regime. National autonomy.

despite a certain continuity in personnel. Filipino Politics: Developmentand Decay (Ithaca ny: Cornell University Press 1988). elites. The communists and their allies misjudged the situation and declared a boycott of the February election. (The Aquino and Cojuangco clans were not the least of these. and most particularly in the halls of Congress after May 1987. 323.5 To be sure it had some of the characteristics of a political revolution in the extralegal change of leadership followed by the creation of new institutions. it was most notably a restoration of the values. Fear of the expanding insurgency of the New People's Army (npa) facilitated elite co-operation to support the most popular non-communist alternative. . A lower house of Congress based on single-member districts reinvigorated patronage politics. to be sure. and policy with the Marcos era. structure. thereby forfeiting any prospect of influence in the new regime. and institutions of the 1950s and 1960s. The people on government rosters.680 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL was stimulated by another major political force that had no direct role in the transition. by the intrusion of a politically assertive military. the outlawed Communist party of the Philippines. recalled the 61ite families that had dominated politics before the declaration of martial law in 1972.) And the new constitution ratified in February 1987 was largely a revival of the 1935 charter which had been discarded by Marcos in 1973. With this array of backers it is understandable that Aquino's success has been less a revolution than a restoration. Mrs Aquino's electoral support in February 1986 was based more on her charisma and on disgust with Marcos 5 David Wurfel. But. The ethos of Aquino's political movement has sometimes been compared with that of Ramon Magsaysay in 1953. distorted. so that the constitutional provision for an extra fifty seats to be elected by proportional representation (a provision designed to strengthen political parties and issue-oriented politics) has not been and probably will not be implemented by legislation. though Aquino's was certainly more nationalist.

The restoration of political democracy . Manila Chronicle. to draft the new basic law. Despite considerablecriticismof an appointed. MrsAquino was uncomfortablewith the fact that she had to use her decree powers to inaugurate that restoration. the wealthiest of the oligarchs have regained control of some of their pre-martial law corporations with the help of the Aquino administration. .was widely welcomed by Filipinos who have regularly participated in free competitive elections since 1907 except during WorldWarII and the martiallaw era. was disbanded. Aquino takes charge. now nurtured by the president'sbrother.7The pro-MarcosNational Assembly. She then decreed the establishmentof a constitutionalcommission. But those networks. The linkage between patron and client is the mechanism by which wealth is transformed into power. In fact. but within a month of constitutionwhich attainingoffice she promulgateda provisional retained much of the 1973 Marcos document. which she appointed. By October 1986 the draft had been completed and in February 1987 with President Aquino's endorsement it was ratifiedoverwhelminglyin a nation-wideplebescite. 14 March 1987. * 7 Carl Landl and Richard Hooley. rather than an elected commission. CongressmanJose Cojuangco. 1087-107. while granting all legislative power to the presidency until a newly drafted constitution could be implemented. 6 See. have revived and are flourishing.6The economic interestsof the militaryhigh command seemed to be compatible with those of the elite. and this decision proved a valid one.which was unprecedented . A need for speed had been the major argument for appointed rather than elected commissioners.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 68 1 than on patron-clientnetworks.usually meaning constitutional rule through honest elections with freedom of expression .and thus legitimate. sustainingan elite which Marcoshimself often called an oligarchy.which had been elected in 1984. for instance.Aquino consulted widely and created a body that was accepted by most Filipinos as generally representative.' Foreign Affairs 64(summer 1986).

'Fromautocracyto elite democracy/ in AuroraJavate-deDios et al. Francisco Nemenzo.1987). However.with the addition of a human rights commission. As well as action to recover the costs of past corruption. 223-5. Implementation of the new constitutionproceeded on schedule. It was quite appropriate. eds.'8 and real property of Marcos''cronies'who had reequipment.and then defaulted .Whereasthe worstof previousThird World leaders had usually measured their loot in millions. that one of Aquino's first decrees created the PresidentialCommissionon Good GovThe corporateshells. almost all the governmentalinstitutionsprovided for in the 1935 constitution were revived . Dictatorshipand Revolution:Roots of People'sPower (Manila: Conspectus . ceived huge loans from governmentbanks. presidential prerogatives were somewhat more limited than before 1972. Unfortunately.682 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL As noted.were also to be sold to the private sector. restoring democraticinstitutionsturned out to be much easier than repairingthe damage to society inflicted by Marcos' misrule. with elections for Congress in May 1987 and for local officialsin November. there was talk of removing the remaining corrupt officials from office. With recent memories of an allpowerful executive. ernment (pcgg) to recover'stolenwealth. But the impact of both these policies was undermined by structuraldilemmasand a lack of political will. These elections were seen by both observersand participantsas freer and more honest than any since 1971. 1988). the presidentialterm was set at six years without re-election. Even though the pcgg had been given sweeping rights to sequester ill-gotten gains . Universityof the Philippines. though some legacies of the Marcos era could not be wiped out overnight. That aspect of the Marcos regime which received most attention in the world's media was the massive one of the few instances where 8 See Belinda Aquino. The Politics of Plunder: The Philippines under Marcos (Manila: College of PublicAdministration. that of Marcoshad to be calculatedin billions of United States dollars. instead of the previous maximum of two four-year terms. therefore.

even more so when it has become embedded in the way of life as it had under is not clear that President Aquino was as deeply committed to making it the standard of her whole administrationas Magsaysayhad been. and the most successful thieves acquired the most expensive solicitors. Aquino therefore 9 Manila Chronicle. 1 September 1988. The restoration of constitutional government had.When sequestration by the pcgg began to hit corporations in which the old elite shared interests with the cronies. there was political as well as legal opposition. meant restoringthe rule of law and the majesty of the courts.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 683 the powers of presidentialdecree were used effectively . a number of elite families had been either tempted or pressured into various dealings with what was the fastest growing sector of the Philippine economy in the challenges mounted quickly. Those removed legallywere at best a handful.9The pcgg faced another dilemma as well. Yet in the last days of Marcosmany of these same elite families were enthusiasticsupporters of Aquino and thus gained influence in the new administration. with the restoration of the rule of law.A similar task had confronted Ramon Magsaysaywhen he was elected president in 1953. in September 1988. And while her personal probitywas beyond assail. the pcgg. The cronies were in deep political disgrace. In any case. but in 1986 the Augean stables were piled much higher. Although a large segment of the old economic elite had had little to do with the empirebuilding of the Marcoscronies. . Cleaning up corruption is a daunting task for any regime. could only claim that it had recovered US$65 million from the holdings of Marcosand his cronies when estimates of Marcos'wealth alone had gone as high as US$10 billion. under criticismfrom Congress. The same tangled skein produced pressure from the old elite to stop some salesof the remnantsof cronycorporations. of course. expressed through Congress or directly to the president. but they could afford to hire the most skilled lawyers. officials charged with corruption could not be removed without due process. Thus.

she was caught between hard-line revolutionariesand the short-sighted intransigence of powerful factions in the Philippines military and their Pentagon backers. and new ones put in their places. was now chaired by a new appointee.the 'right'recipientwas increasingly the president's brother.10 In her commitment to correct human rights abuses and as a step towards building the trust necessary for ceasefire nego10 Gareth Porter.' With imrhetoric about the need to restructure to increase efpressive ficiency. Thousands on both sides have been killed and hundreds of thousands are refugees from the fighting. once headed by a brilliantand incorruptibleformer senator. In 1987 those who regularlydealt with the bureaucracywere priceof serviceswas no longer reportingthat the under-the-table certain and that with the confusion of reorganizationthe hapless citizen often did not know whom to pay. which was eighteen years old in 1986.' Problems Communism of 1987). the insurgency was given higher priority and had more immediate political ramifications. whole offices and sections of bureaux were abolished. 14-35. By 1989 the trend was even more clearlyestablished:the pcgg.684 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL fell back on the trusted technique of 'reorganization. The communist-led insurgency. it was a very popular move. Despite the importance of the fight against corruption to Aquino's legitimacy. the attempt to halt. however. But by 1988 that problem was being solved . but were simply those with the weakest connections to the new authorities. the personal attorney of Cojuangco. Jovito Salonga.Those fired were not necessarilythe most corrupt. 36(September-October . When Aquino promised during her campaign to seek a ceasefire. The sale of sequestered corporations is now not necessarilyfor the primarybenefit of the Philippines government. is a major national tragedy. But in 1986 when she tried to make good on that promise. Jose Teping' Cojuangco or his designates. This not only allowed the dismissal of incumbents but provided patronage rewards for demanding new allies.'Philippinecommunismafter Marcos.

12 October 1988. 2$ September 1988. 29-32. his dismissal strengthened Aquino's hand. and an agreement on a 60-day ceasefire was signed in November. they had underestimated the national longing for peace.12 The absence of any credible coup attempt since then is largely 1 1 See A Recordof the Peace Initiatives Offeredby the Governmentof the Republic of the to Philippines theNDF (Manila:InformationDivision.'155-61. which helped prevent a renewal of the ceasefire. even Jose Maria Sison. 1987).THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 685 tiations. the hard line taken in the negotiations by the npa leaders. and in August 1987 she was very nearly overthrown by the ram under the leadership of Colonel Gregorio Honasan in a country which had never seen a serious coup plot before 1986. even though he was not prosecuted. . caused some of their political support to evaporate. Mrs Aquino's miscalculation was her judgment of the reaction of the armed forces. Meanwhile Enrile. 'Fromautocracyto elite democracy. Formal negotiations got under way in August 1986 with an all-civilian panel representing the government. Just as President Aquino and some of her advisers had hoped. Her attempt to bypass the military in the 1986 negotiations and other perceived slights stirred resentment among younger officers. founding chairman of the Communist party. This helped speed negotiations. which so frightened the Pentagon. the mere commencement of ceasefire negotiations. Although talks then began for a longer term settlement. 29-33. ll Ironically. was let go. 30-4.21 September 1988. she quickly announced her intention to release all political prisoners.'Ramboys: reformistofficers and the romanceof violence. Nemenzo. 12 Alfred McCoy. now the minister of defence. contributed more to undermining the revolutionary movement than all the military efforts of the previous decade. Enrile was not the only problem.'Midweek (Manila). and full-scale fighting resumed in late January 1987. neither the military brass nor the npa's leaders found a prolongation of the ceasefire to be in their institutional self-interest. escalated his charges that Aquino was 'soft on communism' and finally in November was caught in a coup plot.GRP NegotiatingPanel for Peace.

must ensure the survivalof the insurgencyin the long run. the revival of the economy was undoubtedly the first priority. because the gnp had plunged more than 10 per cent since 1984. For most of Mrs Aquino's61iteand urban middle class supporters.686 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL a result of the fact that the president has gone a long way to accommodate militarydemands. the politicizationof the militaryfirst by Marcosand then against him.and she appears to have abandoned her earlierpolicyof protectinghuman rights. In 1988the churchand the non-communist left both promoted the idea of regional ceasefires and of localized zones of peace. the new administrationchose to retain the nation'stop economic policymaker. even though he was a Marcosappointee. In a distinctly unrevolutionary fashion. but neither side has shown a willingness to support broader restraint. There were reasonablysuccessful twoday ceasefires at Christmasand the New Year. as Marcosdid. She has increased the deficit to raisetheir pay and has otherwiseexpandedthe defence budget to a level much higher than it was under Marcos. produced the primary threat to the consolidation of democracy since 1986. Governor Jose Fernandez of the Central Bank.and no effective steps have been taken against the increasing number of assassinationsby vigilante groups trained and funded by the military. No military officers have been punished for their part in torture or disappearances. which proved essential for toppling the autocrat. In sum. Nor has she dared to go after corruption in the armed forces. The sense of continuitywas reinforced by the first plan of the Aquino administration'sNational Economic and Development Authority which appeared . In any case. President Aquino herself no longer appears to be providing leadership towards peace. although she certainly does not promote it. whatever its present success in frightening rebel supporters. The double irony is that the laudable attempt to end the insurgency peacefully stimulated a greater political assertivenessby the militarywhich not only threatens central democratic institutions in the short run but has led to militarybehaviour that.

After being attacked by Marcos in the 1986 presidential campaign for coming from a great landowning family.) Favourable growth figures were primarily the result of an expansion of industrial production. less than 5 per cent for the two-year period. Mrs Aquino had been pressed into making her own promises 13 United Nations. take place in the next three years was more a result of Aquino's luck than of her administration'spolicy. which had penalized the Philippines in the last years under Marcos. and with the easing of credit factories reopened and many former employees returned to work. which fell from 35 per cent in early 1985 to 13 per cent by mid. however. in fact. InternationalFinancial Statistics. .13 The sugar price index went from 362 to 520 in the same period.1987. rose during 1986-7. rose more than 100 per cent from third quarter of 1985 to third quarter of 1988. The awareness of gross inequities was thus most intense in rural society. (Real per-capita income is not expected to match 1981 levels until 1991. It is not surprising that Mrs Aquino's popularity remained very high. By 1987 the gnp was growing by nearly 7 per cent. the economist who had directed the authority in the 1970s found no basic change from objectives or strategies he had set. 1989. the overthrow of Marcos unleashed foreign credits and a renewed flow of investment: direct foreign investment. The prices of coconut products. The improvement in the economy which did. which had been negative in three quarters of 1985. jumped to US$343 million in the first half of 1988. World commodity prices. Copper and lumber prices increased somewhat less dramatically. A key stimulus of economic expansion was a change in bank lending rates. even in 1987 agricultural production grew at less than half the rate of population. though 'pump-priming' public works expenditures did contribute. 428-29. the country's largest export. At the same time the rate of inflation dropped dramatically.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 687 in late 1986. Furthermore. That awareness led to increasing support for sweeping land reform. Prices levelled off.

They perceived that 14 See D.' Extension of land reform beyond rice and corn was entirely ineffective. 'a landlords'law. even though some of her key advisers were arguing that land reform was the best way to win over the peasants. James Putzel and John Cunnington. Landlord attachmentto their estates is very emotional. But she did nothing for nearly a year after taking office. Provisions for enforcement were so weak that most landholdingscoveredby the legislationwill never even become known to the Department of Agrarian Reform. where memberswere elected almostentirely by patronage politics. in the eyes of its opponents.' Pilipinas i2(spring 1989). In the lower house. killing more than a part of which farm workers are paid less than US$i per day.14 Landlords countered with their own crescendo of protest obviously with more success than the peasants. 'Land reform under Marcos and Aquino: contexts. the act required compensation of owners at market price. did the president appoint a cabinet action committee to draft an agrarian reform decree. Gaining Ground:Agrarian Reformin the Philippines (London: War on Want Campaigns Ltd 1989). Despite extensive lobbyingby a newly formed coalition which had strong of radicaland moderatepeasantorganizations. they feel they are protecting their way of life . accomplishments and prospects. for which availablegovernment funds are completely inadequate. landlords were amply represented. . support from the president's brother-in-law. Wurfel. and their most effective spokesman was the president's powerful brother. the bill finally passed by Congress and signed by the president in June 1988 was. Only after troops surroundingthe presidentialpalacefired on peasants demonstrating for land reform in January 1987. Finally. and any moves by the department which displease landlords can be blocked in the courts. In July a presidential decree declared the principleof land reform in all crops but left decisions on the most importantprovisionsto Congress. even if landlord evasion severely limited the area to be transferred to the cultivators.688 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL about land reform.Senator Agapito Aquino.

the capture of several top party officials. There seems little doubt that the dominant elite hoped that the experience of the 1950s would be repeated. But taming the current revolt is not nearly as easy as dealing with the Huks in the 1950s. the wooing of the Huks in the 1950s was based in part on the promise of free land in Mindanao and other frontier areas.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 689 the communist threat was passing. first as secretary of defence and then as president. Then the Hukbalahap rebels. Furthermore. concentrated in central Luzon. Even if those who have been co-opted by the president's popularity and patronage politics should number in the millions. perhaps some 10 per cent of all villages. were roundly defeated by a reformed military. It is spread over nearly all the provinces and is based on a much more intense and extensive political education of peasant supporters. First. Since the election of Aquino in 1986 and the brief ceasefire which her representatives signed with the npa. Except in areas controlled or influenced by the guerrillas. At the same time the guerrillas' erstwhile peasant supporters were charmed by the charismatic Ramon Magsaysay. the revolutionary movement of the 1980s is much broader. and the establishment of pro-landlord anti-communist vigilantes with military backing in hundreds of fact average farm size . This option is no longer available . providing a severe restraint on the prolongation of her regime's legitimacy. there has been a repetition of that earlier process to some extent. given the popularity of Aquino. Agrarian 'reform' under Aquino was in some respects a step backward from the policies of Marcos. the rural power structure was as firmly based on wealth as it had been two generations ago. After Magsaysay's death peasant participation in politics was largely rechannelled into the traditional patron-client relationship. Impatient cultivators who seized idle lands to plant food for their families were often removed by force with the co-operation of absentee owners and the military. Thus there was no need to sacrifice. there is probably still a critical revolutionary mass in the countryside.

28 January 1989.' Philippines Free Press.P. which surely must have required some assurances from the president about future policy. This confidence in regime legitimacy has even coloured foreign policy. corruption is again on the rise. University of Toronto/York University. Finally.69O INTERNATIONALJOURNAL has been declining since the 1960s. 10-13. Attention to foreign policy quickened after Laurel was eased out in late 1987 and replaced by Raul Manglapus.'s foreign policy thrust: development diplomacy. which under Marcos was primarily a 'tool for regime survival. has been pursued with less vigour under Aquino than under Marcos. 1983). 'R.) Soon after taking office Manglapus was faced with the five15 D. . grew ever wider. The personal popularity which Corazon Aquino enjoys and the legitimacy lent her regime by free elections have placed less emphasis on policy output as a means of gaining support for the government. Mrs Aquino faced many urgent domestic tasks in her first year and deliberately delayed giving attention to the most compelling foreign policy question . Most military units create more enemies of the government than they destroy.with the formula. partly because there is less cohesion in policy-making circles and partly because there is less sense of urgency.'15Of course. factionalism is deep. decisive action in foreign affairs was difficult while the political divide between the president and Vice-President Laurel. 16 See Raul Manglapus. who had been foreign secretary for a time under Magsaysay.' Furthermore. even the negotiations with the Muslim rebels. Philippine Foreign Policy: Strategies Regime Survival.the future of the United States military bases of Subic Bay and Clark Field . who also served as foreign minister. 38. Canada and for the Pacific: Agenda for the Eighties. the military has not been reformed into an effective fighting force. It is probably fair to say that all domestic policy.16 (Manglapus took the unprecedented step of resigning his elected Senate seat to accept a cabinet appointment. 'I am keeping my options open. Working Paper 15 (Toronto: Joint Centre on Modern East Asia. Wurfel. and human rights violations are often an integral part of tactics.

The executive agreement finallysigned in October 1988 provided the Philippineswith US$480 million per year . 'Philippine foreign policy and neo-patrimonial dependency.according to American reckoning nearly three times the previous level of grants and loans primarilyfor military purposes.not the Philippines.Like their Americancounterparts. of course. Wurfel. eds. seems to have served to prolong rather than shorten his tenure.'To justify his initialdemand for US$ 1 billion per year. 17 D. Wurfel and Bruce Burton. The Political Economyof Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia (London: Macmillan. relevant to the discussions that will begin in 1989 on a new agreement to replace the present one which expires in 1991.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 69 1 year review of the current bases agreement with the United States.) Many of the issues raised during this negotiation were. forthcoming). which would focus primarilyon the question which the Filipinoside called 'compensation. some officials said that they would not again deal with Manglapuson the bases question . .17(Manglapusclaimed that ancillary sources of aid were also mentioned which brought the yearly package to nearly a billion dollars. much of what goes on in the Senate these days is designed to influence the question of ratification. Manglapusstressed the dangers for the Philippines inherent in serving as a base location and asserted that the bases were primarily for the defence of the United States.' The Americans were unaccustomed to such feisty and sophisticated negotiating tactics from the Filipinos.' in D.These argumentstaken from the nationalists'quiver gave new legitimacy to the anti-bases movement. which the government had hitherto described as leftist.Filipino senators sometimes try to take foreign policy initiativesaway from the president. In fact. which was widely reported in the press. The issue of nuclear weapons is a case in point. The Philippines constitution of 1987 provides that any extension of the United States use of these bases beyond that date must be governed by a treaty ratified by two-thirdsof the Senate.but American unhappiness.

Manglapus'tour of the other countriesof the Associationof South-EastAsian Nations in 1988 was designed to get from their governments either open support for the maintenanceof the bases as essentialto the security of the whole region. if this provision were fully implemented. among other things.but was again blocked by the house. would be severely restricted.whose interest and principal payments now take more than 40 per cent of the export of goods and services . storage or transport'of nuclear weapons on Philippines territory. which is both less nationalist and more effectively controlled by the administration. without consulting the president. or quiet agreement to their removal. In November 1988 the Senate's frustration was expressed in a resolution. The overweening importanceof the bases issue is confirmed by the connection to it of so much of the other activityof the Department of Foreign Affairs. 21 August 1987. ten members of her party out of the twentyfour newly elected senators sponsored a bill that would outlaw 'possession. consistentwith the nationalinterest. which declared the bases agreement amendment of the month before in violation of constitutional provisions on nuclear weapons.18In June 1988 it passed the Senate overwhelmingly.adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.'Even though the United States refuses to confirm or deny the presence of nucleardevices at its bases. (He 18 WashingtonPost. passed overwhelmingly. . In August 1987.692 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL The Philippinesconstitutionincludes a 'declarationof principles' which. But the bill remains stalled in the House of Representativesand the secretaryof justice has ruled that the regulation of nuclear weapons is a presidential prerogative. Thus the utility of the bases for the United States. states that 'the Philippines. The Senate also attempted to legislate a partial repudiation of the Philippines' massive foreign debt .the belief that they arethere is almost universal in well-informed circles.

' 4 the United States . members of the United States Conare quite open in their warnings of 'no bases. 7-8.administrationrequests Committee81 have alreadybeen cut in the House Appropriations 19 See. WashingtonTimes.'The internationalanti-Aquino network: AsianStudies threat to Philippinedemocracy.19) Mrs Aquino's trip to China in 1988.there is no solid indication that the assurancesgiven have been violated. also included a nostalgic visit to the village of her ancestors. RichardD.'Far Eastern Plan?'Katipunan 21 Jon Melegrito.23 March 1989. for example. nor the Soviet Union. Economic the extension of the bases agreement. The Multilateral Aid Initiative (mai). . sometimescalled the 'mini-Marshall Plan. even though half or more of the funds would come from other countries.May 1987. was seen as an American technique to encourage the Philippines to extend the bases agreement.') gress The initiative's prospects are now endangered by new constraintson the United States budget . no aid.'which originallycalled for US$10 billion in grants and loans over five years but has now been greatly scaled down. 20 'Not in the bank. 9.)He improvedrelationswith Hanoi and Moscow to signify a reduction of external threat to the Philippines. 24 March 1987.THE PHILIPPINES! PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 693 was not successful. The strengthening of relations with communist countries was also related to the government's desire for frequent reassurances that neither China. after a meeting with Deng Xiaoping. Even the Philippines need for foreign economic assistance has been linked .thus putting Sino-Philippinesrelationson a new level. In December 1988 the first ever visit to the Philippines by a Soviet foreign minister won Filipino approbation when Mr Shevardnadzehinted that the Soviet Union might dismantle its bases in Vietnam even before Washington made a decision on whether to withdraw from its bases in the Philippines. 75.'Maxi-roughroad for mini-Marshall 2(April 1989). (Despite claims in Heritage Foundation publicationsand the Washington Times. Fisher.80 (Indeed. nor Vietnam had any intention of supporting the npa.

Although the CentralIntelligence Agency still spends millionson the antiinsurgency campaign. should the be noted that there are four developments on the world scene that may facilitate the Philippines quest for far the largestas a percentage of gnp in SoutheastAsia . and stable democracy. economic development. PhiladelphiaInquirer. Neither Soviet nor Chinese support for the Huks or the npa was ever very significant. 15 February 1987. it of Withoutminimizing seriousness thisconstraint. despite initial reluctance. which is nearly US$30 billion. 23 Rigoberto D. . economic pressuresin the United Statesare forcing some constraintson Washington'simperialreach. An increasing number of Filipino leaders counter that the best way for friendly countries to help is to forgive the debt.most especiallythe maintenance of democratic stability. 18 February 1987. more precisely. 74-5.2 billion per year. seems to have revived the frantic search for foreign loans pursued under Marcosand has thus come under increased pressure from the International MonetaryFund to adopt the same budget-cutting. Debt servicing now requires a net outflow of US$2. Second.22 is not likely to be matched by new credits. 23 March 1989. 21 September 1988. Tiglau.24 Filipinodemands for compensation for 22 Augusto Cesar Espiritu. economic problems in the communist world have caused interest in or support for revolutionarymovements abroad to wane or. First of all. The Aquino administration. 'Manila tests its credit/ Far Eastern EconomicReview.and rising at more than US$i billion per year. 24 New YorkTimes.83 ens both domestic and foreign constraints on the search for solutions to the Philippines'many collapse.but Filipino revolutionaries have even less ground now to hope for assistance.694 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL .and by severe clogging in the Philippines aid pipeline which raises doubts among donors about the capacity of the Philippines to absorb a larger flow of foreign assistance.deflationary The debt crisis sharppolicies that helped topple that regime. It nor is that necessarilya desirablesolution. 'The debt trap: how do we get out of it?' Manila Chronicle.

could be over-relianceon Japan.these are assets not to be squandered. Both governments seem to view a phase-out as the most cost-effectivealternative.Third. in its efforts to pursue autonomous democratic development. and a people showing signs of weariness of armed struggle even to achieve laudable goals . a scenario which some Filipino observers feared until last year. these two developments have. and investment.for example. While rationalefor the bases has been correspondingly the eventual phase-out of the bases may well undermine the justificationWashingtonrelies upon for appropriatinghigh levels of militaryand economic 'aid'for the Philippines. both at home and abroad. Washington is also worried about long-term instability in the Philippines and is thus less likely to try to impose an extension of the lease at all costs . A popular president who has so far not been blamed by the public for government mistakesand failures. Finally. . Japan and the newly industrializing countries of Asia continue to grow at a rapid rate. of course. recently restored constitutionalprocesses. In sum. by supporting a military coup to remove an intransigent nationalistSenate. Thus the prospects for destabilizing Filipino-Americanconflict over the extension of the lease on the bases have been reduced. while the Philippines faces severe restraints. which may perhaps help to explain Filipino overtures to China. The Japanese opposition to the use of the mai as a lever for extension of the bases lease is a case in point. The strategic energetic and resourceful private sector. which provides new opportunities for the Philippines to diversify its sources of aid. as the United States and the Soviet Union experience relative decline.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 695 base use may have hit the fiscal ceiling. there are also opportunities. there are many analystswho suggest that forgoing relianceon these funds would not only bolster Philippinesautonomy but enhance democratic processes. and to gain additional room for manoeuvre in the process. in any case. contributed to the American tensions and even given rise to reduction of Sovietthe possibilityof disarmamentwithin the region. The new danger. trade.

and the money to go with it. once one of the Philippines' great natural resources. he has his own set of clients in various provinces but is also backed by the more progressive elements in the original Aquino coalition. (Unless massive Marcos funds are made available. RamonMitra. the present secretaryof defence is the most popular. businessmen and bureaucratsalike tend to have very limited horizons. the outcome could be close. Land hunger and destruction of the environment will also be accelerated.and. outcome in the Philippines.) If Mrs Aquino does not wield her endorsement forcefully. and even if a bold policy . there is stilla great danger of governmentalimmobilism and increased domestic strife in the 1990s. Politicians and military officers. Jovito Salonga. This will probablymean even higher unemployment. seems to have the strongest Americanbacking. But even if Aquino herself. perhaps producing a president with only minority support . government is unable to stop .a somewhat dangerous.The speakerof the house. Thus attention seems to be riveted on short-term prospects. no legate of the 'New Society' is likely to be a major truth many officials are among the guilty parties . of easily elected. Most of the political elite are blind to the consequences of the failure of reform.the destruction of the forests. The collapse of any coherent population planning has caused a new surge in the birth a master of patronage politics and has the backing of the president's brother . worksmost smoothlywith the military. If Corazon Aquino really does not run (and she has so far said she will not).696 INTERNATIONALJOURNAL But whether the leadership has the vision to build on these assets or the unity to implement goals once identified is in grave doubt. The Senate's president. was a close friend and ally of Benigno Aquino and is the only one of the three who fought Marcos from the beginning. such as who is going to win the 1992 presidentialelection. Despite benign pronouncements. or an anointed successor. there will be a scramblefor her mantle among at least three major contenders: Fidel Ramos. and no new efforts to control it are in sight. because unknown.

however. which was lost. Thus partly for international and partly for domestic reasons.It mightalso gain sufficientstrengthto frighten an intransigent61iteinto the reimpositionof authoritarianrule. sustain conflict at a level which inhibits economicgrowth. an opportunity with great potential. uneven so riddled with corruption as to be an ineffective instrument of state policy. Declining world prices for Philippine exports and rising interest rates would speed the spiral of decline. but without major foreign support it cannot seize power.thanks to early politicization in the American period and the ravages of postwar inflation even before Marcos. as in the past. The revolutionarymovement can. On the contrary. is much more likely . as in 1972. thus intensifyingconflict. the situationin the Philippinesis one of unstablestalemate. incomplete. The marvellouslynon-violent way in which 'people power' won restorationof constitutionalgovernment in February 1986 may someday be recognized as a fleeting moment in Philippines history. . Although a highly politicized population (by Southeast Asian standards) demands reform. reform is unlikely to be implemented so as to reduce unrest.THE PHILIPPINES: PRECARIOUS DEMOCRACY 697 were enacted. the bureaucracy.and such a policy creates rather than reduces social conflict. Thus the insurgency is likely to regain momentum.

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