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In 1991 the government was led by President Corazon C. Aquino, who was head of state, chief executive, and commander in chief of the armed forces. The vice president, who under the Philippine Constitution need not belong to the same party as the president, was Salvador H. Laurel. Aquino did not seek to create a political party to perpetuate her rule, preferring instead to rely on her personal popularity, which initially was strong but diminished throughout her term. Constitutional Framework After Aquino came to power, on March 25, 1986, she issued Presidential Proclamation No. 3, which promulgated an interim "Freedom Constitution" that gave Aquino sweeping powers theoretically even greater than those Marcos had enjoyed, although she promised to use her emergency powers only to restore democracy, not to perpetuate herself in power. She claimed that she needed a free hand to restore democracy, revive the economy, gain control of the military, and repatriate some of the national wealth that Marcos and his partners had purloined. Minister of Justice Neptali Gonzales described the Freedom Constitution as "civilian in character, revolutionary in origin, democratic in essence, and transitory in character." The Freedom Constitution was to remain in effect until a new legislature was convened and a constitutional convention could write a new, democratic constitution to be ratified by national plebiscite. The process took sixteen months. Although many Filipinos thought delegates to the Constitutional Commission should be elected, Aquino appointed them, saying that the Philippines could not afford the time or expense of an election. On May 25, 1986, she selected forty-four names from hundreds suggested by her cabinet and the public. She appointed respected, prominent citizens and, to be on the safe side, prohibited them from running for office for one year after the constitution's ratification. Delegates had the same profile as those who had drawn up the constitutions of 1898 and 1935: they were wealthy and well educated. They represented a range of political stances: some were leftists and some were ardent nationalists, but moderate conservatives held a majority. There were thirty lawyers, including two former Supreme Court justices. A nun, a priest, and a bishop represented the interests of the Catholic Church. Eight commissioners had also served in the aborted constitutional convention of 1972. Five seats on the fifty-member commission were reserved for Marcos supporters, defined as members of Marcos's New Society Movement, and were filled by former Minister of Labor Blas Ople and four associates. One seat was reserved for the Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ), which, however,

declined to participate. One of Aquino's appointees, leftist movie producer Lino Brocka, resigned, so the final number of commissioners was forty-eight. The commission divided itself into fourteen committees and began work amidst great public interest, which, however, soon waned. Long, legalistic hearings were sometimes poorly attended. Aquino is known to have intervened to influence only one decision of the commission. She voiced her support of a loophole in the constitution's antinuclear weapons provision that allowed the president to declare that nuclear weapons, if present on United States bases, were "in the national interest." The commissioners quickly abandoned the parliamentary government that Marcos had fancied, and arguments for a unicameral legislature also were given short shrift. Most delegates favored a return to something very much like the 1935 constitution, with numerous symbolic clauses to appease "cause- oriented" groups. The most controversial proposals were those pertaining to the Philippine claim to Sabah, presidential emergency powers, land reform, the rights of labor, the role of foreign investment, and United States military base rights. Special attention focused on proposals to declare Philippine territory a nuclear-free zone. Aquino had asked the Constitutional Commission to complete its work within ninety days, by September 2, 1986. Lengthy public hearings (some in the provinces) and contentious floor debates, however, caused this deadline to be missed. The final version of the Constitution, similar to a "draft proposal" drawn up in June by the University of the Philippines Law School, was presented to Aquino on October 15. The commission had approved it by a vote of forty-four to two. The constitution, one of the longest in the world, establishes three separate branches of government called departments: executive, legislative, and judicial. A number of independent commissions are mandated: the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit are continued from the old constitution, and two others, the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on Good Government, were formed in reaction to Marcos's abuses. The Commission on Good Government is charged with the task of repossessing ill-gotten wealth acquired during the Marcos regime. Some ambitious Filipino politicians hoped that the new Constitution would invalidate the 1986 presidential election and require that a new election be held. Their hopes were dashed by the "transitory provisions" in Article 17 of the new constitution that confirmed Aquino in office until June 30, 1992. Other officials first elected under the new constitution also were to serve until 1992. Article 3, the bill of rights, contains the same rights found in the United States Constitution (often in identical wording), as well as some additional rights. The exclusionary rule, for example, prohibits illegally gathered evidence from being used at

a trial. Other rights include a freedom-of-information clause, the right to form unions, and the requirement that suspects be informed of their right to remain silent. The church and state are separated, but Catholic influence can be seen in parts of the Constitution. An article on the family downplays birth control; another clause directs the state to protect the life of the unborn beginning with conception; and still another clause abolishes the death penalty. Church-owned land also is tax-exempt. The explosive issue of agrarian reform is treated gingerly. The state is explicitly directed to undertake the redistribution of land to those who till it, but "just compensation" must be paid to present owners, and Congress (expected to be dominated by landowners) is given the power to prescribe limits on the amount of land that can be retained. To resolve the controversial issue of United States military bases, the Constitution requires that any future agreement must be in the form of a treaty that is ratified by two-thirds of the Senate and, if the Congress requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a national referendum. Many provisions lend a progressive spirit to the Constitution, but these provisions are symbolic declarations of the framers' hopes and are unenforceable. For example, the state is to make decent housing available to underprivileged citizens. Priority is to be given to the sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children. Wealth and political power are to be diffused for the common good. The state shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service. To be implemented, all of these declarations of intent required legislation. Aquino scheduled a plebiscite on the new constitution for February 2, 1987. Ratification of the constitution was supported by a loose coalition of centrist parties and by the Catholic Church. The constitution was opposed by both the Communist Party of the Philippines--Marxist Leninist (referred to as the CPP) and the leftist May First Movement (Kilusang Mayo Uno) for three reasons: It was tepid on land reform, it did not absolutely ban nuclear weapons from Philippine territory, and it offered incentives to foreign investors. But the communists were in disarray after their colossal mistake of boycotting the election that overthrew Marcos, and their objections carried little weight. The constitution faced more serious opposition from the right, led by President Aquino's discontented, now ex-defense minister, Juan Ponce Enrile, who reassembled elements of the old Nacionalista Party to campaign for a no vote to protest what he called the "Aquino dictatorship." Aquino toured the country campaigning for a yes vote, trading heavily on her enormous personal prestige. The referendum was judged by most observers to turn more on Aquino's popularity than on the actual merits of the Constitution, which few people had read. Her slogan was "Yes to Cory, Yes to Country, Yes to Democracy, and Yes to the Constitution." Aquino also showed that she was familiar with traditional Filipino pork-

barrel politics, promising voters in Bicol 1,061 new classrooms "as a sign of my gratitude" if they voted yes. The plebiscite was fairly conducted and orderly. An overwhelming three-to-one vote approved of the Constitution, confirmed Aquino in office until 1992, and dealt a stunning defeat to her critics. Above all else the victory indicated a vote for stability in the midst of turmoil. There was only one ominous note--a majority of the military voted against the referendum. Aquino proclaimed the new Constitution in effect on February 11, 1987, and made all members of the military swear loyalty to it.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS As president Corazon C. Aquino entered the final year of her six-year term in 1991, she presided over a demoralized nation reeling from the effects of natural calamities and economic malaise. The country had slid into dictatorship and gross economic mismanagement during Ferdinand E. Marcos's twenty-year presidency. When Aquino was elevated to the presidency in an inspiring People's Power Revolution in 1986, Filipinos' hopes rose. Inevitably, the stark realities of the nation's economic and political predicaments tarnished Aquino's image. Aquino's achievements, however, were significant. She helped topple a dictator who had unlimited reserves of wealth, force, and cunning. She replaced a disjointed constitution that was little more than a fig leaf for Marcos's personalistic rule with a democratic, progressive document that won overwhelming popular approval in a nationwide plebiscite. She renounced the dictatorial powers she inherited from Marcos and returned the Philippines to the rule of law; she lived with the checks on her own power inherent in three-branch government; and she scheduled national elections to create a two-chamber legislature and local elections to complete the country's redemocratization. The 1987 constitution returned the Philippines to a presidential system. The national government is in theory highly centralized, with few powers devolving to provincial and municipal governments. In fact, local potentates often reserve powers to themselves that the national government is not even aware of. The national government consists of three branches: the executive, headed by the president; two houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives; and the Supreme Court, which heads an independent judiciary. A bill of rights guarantees political freedoms, and the constitution provides for regular elections. The performance of these institutions was, of course, conditioned by Philippine history and culture, and by poverty. For example, the twenty-four members of the Senate, elected by nationwide ballot, in the 1980s were drawn almost entirely from old,

prominent families. Senators staked out liberal, nationalist positions on symbolic issues, such as military base rights for the United States, but were exceedingly cautious about any structural changes, such as land reform, that could jeopardize their families' economic positions. Political parties grew in profusion after the Marcos martial law regime (1972-81) was ended. There were 105 political parties registered in 1988. As in the pre-Marcos era, most legal political parties were coalitions, built around prominent individuals, which focused entirely on winning elections, not on what to do with the power achieved. There was little to distinguish one party from another ideologically, which was why many Filipinos regarded the political system as irrelevant. President Aquino's early years in office were punctuated by a series of coup attempts. Her greatest frustration, and a most serious impediment to economic development, was a fractious, politicized army. Some officers wanted to regain the privileges they enjoyed under Marcos; others dreamed of saving the nation. Although all coup attempts failed, they frightened away foreign investors, forced Aquino to fire cabinet members of whom the army did not approve, pushed her policies rightward, and lent an air of impermanence to her achievements. Criticism of the Aquino administration came from all parts of the political spectrum. Filipino communists refused to participate in a government they saw as a thin cover for oligarchy. The democratic left criticized Aquino for abandoning sweeping reform and for her probusiness and pro-American policies. Her own vice president, Salvador H. Laurel, castigated her mercilessly from the beginning and even encouraged the army to overthrow her. The far right (sugar barons, military malcontents, and exMarcos cronies) characterized her as naive and ineffective and ridiculed her for being what she always said she was, a "simple housewife." In reality she was far more than that. Amidst this cacophony, Aquino seemed to have calmly accepted that she would not be able to resolve the Philippines' deeply rooted structural problems and that it would be enough to have restored political democracy. She prepared the ground for her successor. The Roman Catholic Church also was a major political factor. It had reverted to a less visible (but no less influential) role than in the declining years of Marcos's rule, when its relative invulnerability to harassment spurred priests and nuns to become political activists. Most church leaders criticized human rights abuses by military units or vigilantes, but they supported constitutional government. Cardinal Jaime Sin, who played such a pivotal role in Aquino's triumph over Marcos, recognized her personal virtue but denounced the corruption that stained her administration. Some parish priests, disgusted by the country's extreme polarization of wealth and power, cooperated with the New People's Army.

The communist insurgency had not been eradicated, although guerrillas posed less of a threat than they did before 1986. They conducted murderous internal purges. Still, if a guerrilla army wins by not losing, the New People's Army was a real alternative to the elected government. It fought for more than twenty years, and the class inequities it condemned continued to grow in the early 1990s. The fight against Filipino Muslim separatists in Mindanao likewise continued, also at a diminished level. Philippine foreign relations in the late 1980s and early 1990s were colored by the contradiction between subjective nationalism and objective dependency. After nearly fifty years of independence, Filipinos still viewed their national identity as undefined and saw international respect as elusive. They chafed at perceived constraints on their sovereign prerogatives and resented the power of foreign business owners and military advisers. Yet, as a poor nation deeply in debt to private banks, multilateral lending institutions, and foreign governments, the Philippines had to meet conditions imposed by its creditors. This situation was galling to nationalists, especially because the previous regime had squandered its borrowed money. Filipinos also sought to achieve a more balanced foreign policy to replace the uncomfortably close economic, cultural, military, and personal ties that bound them to the United States, but this was unlikely to happen soon.



POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS In the 1992 elections, Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos (Lakas-NUCD), authorized by Aquino, won the presidency with just 23.6% of the vote in a field of seven candidates.

Aquino declined to run for reelection and was succeeded by her former army chief of staff Fidel Ramos. He immediately launched an economic revitalization plan premised on three policies: government deregulation, increased private investment, and political solutions to the continuing insurgencies within the country. His political program was somewhat successful, opening dialogues with the Marxist and Muslim guerillas. However, Muslim discontent with partial rule persisted, and unrest and violence continued throughout the 1990s. In 1999, Marxist rebels and Muslim separatists formed an alliance to fight the government.

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 charged of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, a major separatist group fighting for an independent homeland in Mindanao, was signed in 1996, ending the 24-year old struggle. However, an MNLF fragment group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front continued the armed struggle for an Islamic state. The Ramos presidency and human rights Since his ascension to the presidency in 1992, Gen. Fidel Ramos has projected the Philippines as on track towards peace and progress. He has done this through inaugurating the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan or Philippines 2000, and through brokering peace negotiations with the former military splittists, the Moro rebels and the National Democratic Front (NDF). As president, Ramos has taken to the posturing that his government has undertaken basic reforms which would answer the problems of landlessness, working class misery and general poverty. Yet the continuing human rights violations in the

country betray that the Ramos government's economic and peace agenda are not responding to the popular demands for social change and justice. For the other side of the government's boisterous claim of a 6.8% GNP growth this first half of 1997 is the massive dislocation of the peasantry, including the national minorities; labor contractualization and the suppression of wages; rising abuses on Filipino OCWs; commercialization of education; the commodification and white slavery of women; and increasing abuses on children. Inspite of the Filipino people's increasing poverty, the government continues to sell the country's natural resources to foreign monopoly capital for a pittance and provides various incentives to facilitate the entry of surplus goods and capital from imperialist countries through the three evils of deregulation, liberalization, and privatization. On the other hand, the Filipino people, who are made to suffer the brunt of the crisis of the world economic system, are being suppressed for struggling for their democratic rights, interests, and welfare. Human rights violations are not mere dark stains on the white canvas. They expose that the common grievances of the people are being answered by brutal attacks, suppression, and the gradual constriction of civil liberties. Over the past five years, there has been the distinctive pattern of continuing human rights violations. Civil and political rights violations remain unabated as the AFP intensifies its counter-insurgency operations as well as the suppression of people's organizations. Contrary to the claims of the Commission on Human Rights, the AFP is still the worst violator of human rights. During the last five years, the AFP was involved in 753 cases of human rights violations. And its lapdog, the CAFGU, was involved in 99 cases. The PNP committed 533 cases of human rights violations. And the various intelligence agencies of both the AFP and PNP were involved in 48 cases. Human rights violations are likewise being committed as the regime forcibly displaces the workers and peasants to give way to foreign investments, mining and IFMA (read: logging) concessions, eco-tourism projects, and industrial and commercial centers. Aside from utilizing the PNP and AFP in these operations, security guards and armed goons are mobilized to break picketlines and student protest actions. Security guards were involved in 20 cases and armed goons in seven cases of human rights violations. The direct involvement of government officials was documented in 68 cases.

There are increasing moves by the Ramos government to maintain itself in power, curtail institutionalized civil liberties, and strengthen its coercive powers. Arrests and detention/Disappearances Throughout the five years of the present regime, there were 808 incidents of arrests, affecting 1,754 individuals. Continuing political arrests and detention belie the faade of democracy in the Philippines. The present 166 political prisoners nationwide are living symbols of political repression. The majority of these political prisoners were arrested without warrant and were charged or convicted of common crimes instead of political offenses. Government's foot-dragging on the issue of the release of all political prisoners has been a sticky point in its ongoing peace negotiations with the NDF. That it is a matter of justice to have all political prisoners released eludes the government, which wants to drag them through a screening and judicial process that is filled with loopholes and marked by an insincere attempt to show it is addressing the issue. There is a total of 15 disappearances for the past five years. The most recent disappearance is that of peasant organizer Romeo Cortez, who disappeared in Pampanga province on April 1, 1997. He is the 1,595th to disappear in the Philippines since the Marcos dictatorship. economic dislocation, and aerial attack directed against the people. Since January 1997, the MILF areas in Mindanao have been under heavy militarization. The AFP's bombing that month in Buldon, Maguindanao resulted in the death of nine students and one teacher. This past June-July, as many as 65,000 civilians have been displaced in the said areas because of continuous military operations against the MILF. Arrests and detention/Disappearances Throughout the five years of the present regime, there were 808 incidents of arrests, affecting 1,754 individuals. Continuing political arrests and detention belie the faade of democracy in the Philippines. The present 166 political prisoners nationwide are living symbols of political repression. The majority of these political prisoners were arrested without warrant and were charged or convicted of common crimes instead of political offenses.

Government's foot-dragging on the issue of the release of all political prisoners has been a sticky point in its ongoing peace negotiations with the NDF. That it is a matter of justice to have all political prisoners released eludes the government, which wants to drag them through a screening and judicial process that is filled with loopholes and marked by an insincere attempt to show it is addressing the issue. There is a total of 15 disappearances for the past five years. The most recent disappearance is that of peasant organizer Romeo Cortez, who disappeared in Pampanga province on April 1, 1997. He is the 1,595th to disappear in the Philippines since the Marcos dictatorship. Thus, despite its current peace negotiations with the NDF the Ramos government is still hell-bent on militarily overrunning the NDF-led revolutionary movement. It is also intent on defeating the MILF. Meanwhile, the government has successfully coopted the RAM-SFP-YOU, as well as induced the capitulation of the Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front. Meanwhile, the Ramos government also continues to try revising the Constitution. It also persists in political maneuvers to remove the obstacles against Ramos perpetuation in power, accumulate more power as well as attempts to legislate repressive decrees like the bills on anti-terrorism, anti-racketeering, crime control, national security and a national identification system. It has in fact succeeded with implementing the national ID system by issuing it as an executive decree instead of having it pass through the legislature. And the same old set of draconian edicts remain in place. These includePD 1866 (making illegal possession of firearms in furtherance of rebellion a capital offense), Government Orders 66 and 67 legalizing checkpoints and warrantless searches, Memorandum Circular 139 authorizing military food blockades during counterinsurgency operations, Umil vs. Ramos Supreme Court ruling legalizing warrantless arrests, and so on and so forth. The presence of a military cabal in government is also alarming. There are more than 60 former AFP officers in government. The fact that they hold top cabinet posts and other sensitive positions show that an old boysF network of former military officers is actually running the country. In sum, the government's moves towards authoritarianism show an ailing political system that must clamp down on militant resistance to remain in power. Yet the strengthening people's struggle show that the government must beware in reimposing

martial rule, for it may be digging its own grave. The unabated cases of attacks on people's organizations, communities, and the suppression of protest actions, as well as the gradual constriction of civil liberties are mere symptoms. Militarization, intensifying counter-insurgency operations, and the maneuvers of the Ramos regime to maintain itself and accumulate more power are acts of desperation. Peace and democracy, economic development and prosperity for the Filipino people under Philippines 2000 are mere illusions. On the contrary, the MTPDP which conforms to the Structural Adjustment Program of the IMF-WB and the GATT-WTO agreements will only lead to the increasing misery and poverty of the Filipino people. Displacements, landlessness, economic dislocation, unemployment and wage slavery will continuously be the reality. These social abuses stem from the Ramos regime's continued subservience to the dictates of foreign monopoly capital which is suffering from a crisis of overproduction. Paradoxically, the rapid rate of technological development which further expedites the accumulation of capital and the overproduction of goods in industrialized countries also brings about the destruction of the national economies of semi-colonies, as in the Philippines, to pave the way for the entry of surplus goods and capital from the former. Gen. Ramos is the chief hatchetman of elite interests and the foreign monopoly capitalists led by the United States. He has received praises from industrialized countries such as the US, Canada, Japan, and the IMF-WB for kowtowing to all their demands. Likewise, the local ruling elite composed of the local bureaucrats who accumulate money from bribes and corruption; the big Filipino businessmen, who benefits from joint partnerships with MNCs and export-import transactions; and the local landlords, who thrive on the production of raw materials and their monopoly of prime lands being converted to golf courses, resorts, and "industrial centers" push for his retention to power. And increasingly, these social cancers will be accompanied by intensifying oppression, suppression and brutal attacks on the people as they struggle against the pro-imperialist and anti-people policies and programs of the regime. In the final analysis, the more than 100 years of nationalist and democratic struggle bears out the truth that the people's enjoyment of their human rights in all its dimensions - civil, political, economic, social, and cultural - can only be possible under conditions of national liberation and social emancipation.




President Joseph Estrada assumed the presidency on July 1, 1998 with a promise to improve the lives of the poor Filipinos. Two and a half years later, he left Malacanang and the people who elected him a lot poorer than before.

Enjoying an entertainment-based popularity and a chauvinistic charisma, Estrada easily won the 1998 presidential elections over traditional politicians and became the 13th president. While his English did not come in handy, the former movie actor always had candid Filipino rebuttals to every criticism by his political rivals.

"Huwag ninyo akong subukan!" and "Walang kai-kaibigan!" were just among his quotable phrases, which received the cheers of the Filipino masses. When he organized his government and began business with the old Marcos cronies, it became apparent that he meant the opposite.

The brief Estrada administration saw the meteoric rise to power of Lucio Tan and Danding Cojuangco, arguably the richest men in the country today. Tan won his P25billion tax evasion case against the government, wrested control of the Philippine Airlines, and acquired the Philippine National Bank (PNB). Cojuangco, on the other hand, obtained the majority share in San Miguel Corporation, the country's richest company.

Estrada was born Joseph Ejercito in San Juan on April 19, 1937. Contrary to the popular notion that he tasted poverty, Estrada, a son of a government contractor, lived relatively well-off. After being expelled from the Ateneo de Manila in his younger years, he enrolled in an Engineering course at the Mapua Institute of Technology, eventually dropping out to pursue an acting carreer.

He starred in about 100 films, the most popular of which was "Asiong Salonga", a movie about a modern day Robin Hood born in Tondo. From then, Estrada embraced the image of a tough hero who was ready to fight the rich and powerful for the sake of the poor. But he had a contender in this role, Fernando Poe Jr. who became his friend and

gave him the nickname "Erap", the inverted pronunciation of the word "Pare" (loosely: "Friend"). As a movie celebrity, Estrada had himself surrounded by many beautiful women, aside from her wife Loi Ejercito. Among these women were Nora Aunor, Guia Gomez, Joy Melendrez and Laarni Enriquez. There were more who claimed they had a relationship with him. In 1968, Estrada entered politics as mayor of San Juan, a position he held until 1986. In 1987, he became a senator and, five years later, vice-president. In 1998, he was mainly responsible for carrying a unified opposition party (LAMP) to victory with the support of movie celebrities like Fernando Poe Jr. and Nora Aunor and the trust and loyalty of then Supt. Panfilo Lacson, whom he later appointed as the police chief.

As president, Estrada blamed the Ramos administration for the weak economy he inherited. So, he tapped the expertise and managerial skills of experienced economists to pump up the economy, but to no avail. Businessmen and foreign investors began to lose their trust in the new administration, with the entry of the president's friends, mostly big Chinese tycoons.

The problems of the Estrada administration reached a crescendo in 2000. Bugged by the intensifying insurgency in Mindanao and a series of natural and man-made calamities nationwide, the new administration poorly restored hope of a bright future. Then came the BW Resources anomaly, which Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Perfecto Yasay blamed on the president.

Impeachment Cases In October, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson, a former friend and close ally of the president, exposed that the president received about P500 million from jueteng kickbacks and excise tax from the Ilocos region. Corruption charges against the president ensued which spawned the dramatic passage of the Articles of Impeachment by the House of Representatives led by Speaker Manuel Villar on November 13. The Senate then convened itself as an Impeachment tribunal and began the process on December 7. The House prosecutors presented more than 30 witnesses, mostly women, who testified that the president was involved in several irregular transactions. One witness, Clarissa Ocampo, a senior vice-president of Equitable-PCI Bank, claimed he saw the president affix a different signature, Jose Velarde, on a multi-million Peso bank transaction.

The defense panel, composed of the brightest lawyers in the country, and the majority party senator-judges, questioned the materiality and relevance of Ocampo's testimony. Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide ruled that Ocampo's testimony would only be considered if the prosecution panel could prove that the multi-million bank account came from irregular transactions.

On January 16, the House prosecutors were about to establish the missing link by opening an envelope, which they claimed would prove that the president had amassed P3.3 billion in ill-gotten wealth, when 11 senator-judges voted not to open the envelope. This prodded Senate President Aquilino Pimentel to resign, the House prosecutors and complainants to walk out, and the viewing public to storm to the historic intersection of EDSA and Ortigas in Mandaluyong City - the start of the 5-day People Power 2 at EDSA, that would force President Joseph Estrada to leave office.

Former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Corazon Aquino, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, students, office workers, activists, lay people, laborers, politicians and celebrities joined the furious crowd in asking for the resignation of the president. On January 18, Nora Aunor stunned everyone when she joined the rally, publicly admitting her previous relationship with the president, and called him a woman-beater. The following day, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, Interior and Local Government Secretary Alfredo Lim, the military generals, and the police officers withdrew their support from the president, as foretold by former President Ramos.

In the morning of January 19, the president was guided out of Malacanang by Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Angelo Reyes to give way to a new president, a woman. Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took his oath as the 14th president before Chief Justice Davide at noontime. She formally began her term in office on January 22, the same day the new US President George Bush was inaugurated at the White House.



A professor of economics, Arroyo entered government in 1987, serving as assistant secretary and undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry upon the invitation of President Corazon Aquino. After serving as a senator from 1992 to 1998, she was elected to the vice presidency under President Joseph Estrada, despite having run on an opposing ticket. After Estrada was accused of corruption, she resigned her cabinet position as Secretary of Social Welfare and Development and joined the growing opposition to the president, who faced impeachment. Estrada was soon forced from office by peaceful street demonstrations, and Arroyo was subsequently sworn into the presidency on January 20, 2001. She was elected to a full six-year presidential term in her own right in and was sworn in June 30, 2004 which ends at noon of June 30, 2010. In 2005, Arroyo was selected as the fourth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. She is ranked 51st on Forbes magazine's 2007 list of the world's most powerful women. Gloria Arroyo is one of the most powerful politicians in the Philippines today. Many of her policies have resulted in opposition from other groups in Filipino government and society.

EDSA II REVOLUTION On January 20, 2001, after days of political turmoil and popular revolt, the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant. The military and the national police had earlier withdrawn their allegiance to Estrada and shifted to Arroyo's side. Arroyo was sworn in the same day as the 14th president of the Philippines by then Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. Coincidentally, Arroyo assumed office the same day as US President George W. Bush. The ousting of Estrada would later be known as EDSA II. Estrada later questioned the legitimacy of the High Court's declaration when he sought to reclaim the presidency, but the Supreme Court upheld the legitimacy of Arroyo's succession. Arroyo was able to wield and enjoy the powers and privileges of the presidency. The international community, through their respective embassies and consulates in the country, together with all the government offices and most of the armed forces, recognized Arroyo as President of the Philippines. Protesters numbering in the thousands marched to the presidential palace on May 1, 2001 and demanded Estrada, who had previously been apparently arrested on charges of 'plunder', be released and reinstated. Violence erupted when the protesters attempted to storm the presidential palace. In response, protesters and prominent political leaders were arrested, and the protest was eventually quelled. This would be infamously (albeit informally) pronounced as EDSA III. Support for the opposition and

Estrada subsequently dwindled after the victory of administration allied candidates in the midterm elections that was held later that same month. Arroyo outlined her vision for the country as "building a strong republic" throughout her tenure. Her agenda consists of building up a strong bureaucracy, lowering crime rates, increasing tax collection, improving economic growth, and intensifying counter-terrorism efforts.


On July 26, 2003, Arroyo faced a rebellion when renegade junior officers and their followers mutinied and seized a hotel and shopping mall in the business district of Makati City in Metro Manila. Arroyo delivered a televised warning to the renegades and threatened hostile action if they did not surrender. Senator Rodolfo Biazon, a former general, was requested to talk to the mostly young, rebel soldiers. They surrendered soon after it became apparent that they would be attacked by government forces. The mutiny was rumored to have been connected to Estrada and his supporters. A former aide of Estrada has been arrested in connection with the uprising. The President created the Feliciano Commission to investigate the mutiny. The commission later found that the rebellions, dubbed the Oakwood Mutiny (named after the hotel the rebels seized), was planned and not spontaneous. It was obviously an attempt to bring down the Arroyo Government. The connection to Estrada, however, was never proven. Jose Pidal controversy In August 18, 2003, Senator Panfilo Lacson accused Jose Miguel Arroyo, the president's husband, of siphoning campaign funds into a bank account under the fictitious name "Jose Pidal". The accusations were never legally substantiated.

The 2004 election and subsquent rigging allegations Although the Philippine Constitution bars a president from reelection, it allows for the election of a person who has succeeded as president and has served for not more than four years. In December 2002, Arroyo made the surprise announcement that she would not seek a new term in the May 2004 elections. Ten months later, however, she reversed her position and declared her intention to seek a direct mandate from the people, saying "there is a higher cause to change society in a way that nourishes our future". Arroyo faced a tough election campaign in early 2004 against Estrada friend and popular actor Fernando Poe, Jr., senator and former police general Panfilo Lacson, former senator Raul Roco, and Christian evangelist Eddie Villanueva. Her campaign platform centered on a shift to a parliamentary and federal form of government, job creation, universal health insurance, anti-illegal drugs, and anti-terrorism. Arroyo lagged behind Poe in the polls prior to the campaign season, but her popularity steadily climbed

to surpass Poe's. As predicted by pre-election surveys and exit polls, she won the election by a margin of over a million votes against her closest rival, Fernando Poe, Jr. She took her oath of office on June 30, 2004. In a break with tradition, She chose to first deliver her inaugural address at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila before departing to Cebu City for her oath taking, the first time a Philippine president took the oath of office outside of Luzon. In the middle of 2005, Samuel Ong who is a former deputy director of the country's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) claimed to have audio tapes of wiretapped conversations between President Arroyo and an official of the Commission on Elections. According to Ong, the contents of the tape prove that the 2004 national election was rigged by Arroyo in order to win by around one million votes. On June 27, Arroyo admitted to inappropriately speaking to a Comelec official, claiming it was a "lapse in judgement", but denied influencing the outcome of the election. Attempts to impeach Arroyo failed later that year. Two witnesses, Antonio Rasalan and Clinton Colcol, stepped forward in August 2006, claiming involvement in an alleged plot to alter the results for the May 2004 elections. Rasalan claimed that he was fully convinced that the election returns presented at the House of Representatives were manufactured and had replaced the original documents. Colcol, a tabulator for the Commission on Elections (Comelec), said that Arroyo only received 1,445 votes, while Poe received 2,141 in South Upi, Maguindanao during the May 2004 elections. On Friday, February 24, 2006, an alleged coup d'tat plot was uncovered in the Philippines, headed by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim. The declaration of Proclamation No. 1017 gave Gloria Macapagal Arroyo the power to issue warrantless (and until then unconstitutional) arrests and to take over private institutions that run public utilities. The President, through the Department of Education, suspended classes in elementary and high school levels. In response, colleges and universities suspended classes. By virtue of PP 1017, she declared a State of Emergency for the whole country in an attempt to quell rebellion as her grip on power began to slip, stop lawless violence and promote peace and stability. The government's first move after the declaration was to disperse demonstrators, particularly the groups picketing along EDSA. Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino was among those that protested, along with leftist and extreme right activists. A number of public figures were reported to have been arrested. After the foiling of the plot and the dispersal of the rallies, PP 1017 continued for a week on threats of military plots (such as the military stand-off of February 26 at Fort Bonifacio headed by Col. Ariel Querubin), violence, illegal rallies and public disturbance. Six leftist representatives - Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casio, and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza of GABRIELA, and Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis were charged with rebellion. Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis was arrested on February 25 on charges of inciting to sedition and rebellion. To avoid further arrest, the other five

found shelter at the Batasan Complex. On Saturday, February 25, the office of the Daily Tribune, a newspaper known as a hard-hitting critic of the Arroyo administration, was raided. After the raid, an issuance of Journalism Guideline followed, authored by the government in order to cope with the "present abnormal situation", according to then Chief of Staff Michael Defensor. The move to suppress freedom of the press against the Daily Tribune was criticized by Reporters Without Borders. The decree was lifted on March 3 2006. However the opposition, lawyers, and concerned citizens filed a complaint in the Supreme Court contesting the constitutionality of PP 1017. The court, on May 4, declared the proclamation constitutional, but said it was illegal to issue warrantless arrests and seize private institutions.

The Manila Peninsula Rebellion The Peninsula Manila Rebellion was a rebellion in the Philippines on November 29, 2007. Detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, General Lim and other Magdalo officials walked out of their trial and marched through the streets of Makati City, called for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and seized the second floor of The Peninsula Manila Hotel along Ayala Avenue. Former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona also joined the march to the hotel. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier Gen. Danilo Lim surrendered to authorities after an armored personnel carrier rammed into the lobby of the hotel. Director Geary Barias declared that the standoff at the Manila Peninsula Hotel is over as Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim along with other junior officers agreed to leave the hotel and surrender to Barias after the 6 hour siege. There was difficulty getting out for a while due to the tear gas that was covering the area where they were hiding. Days after the mutiny, the Makati City Regional Trial Court dismissed the rebellion charges against all the 14 civilians involved in the siege, and ordered their release. Economy Arroyo, a practicing economist, has made the economy the focus of her presidency. Early in her presidency, Arroyo implemented a controversial policy of holiday economics, adjusting holidays to form longer weekends with the purpose of boosting domestic tourism and allowing Filipinos more time with their families. Economic growth in terms of gross domestic product has averaged 4.6% during the Arroyo presidency from 2001 up to the end of 2005. This is higher than previous recent presidents when compared to the 3.8% average of Aquino, the 3.7% average of Ramos, and the 2.8% average of Joseph Estrada. Inflation during the Arroyo presidency has been the lowest since 1986, averaging 2.5%. Recently in 2nd quarter of 2007, the economy expanded at 7.5%, the fastest in 20 years. Arroyo's handling of the economy has earned praise from observers including former US President Bill Clinton, who praised Arroyo for making

"tough decisions" that put the Philippine economy back in shape. It was once reported that a series of 100-peso bills misspelling her name as "Arrovo" were released during the early part of her presidency. Most of these bills were withdrawn from circulation. A controversial expanded value added tax (e-VAT) law, considered the centerpiece of the Arroyo administration's economic reform agenda, was implemented in November 2005, aiming to complement revenue-raising efforts that could plug the country's large budget deficit. The tax measure boosted confidence in the government's fiscal capacity and helped to strengthen the Philippine peso, making it East Asia's best performing currency in 2005-06. The peso strengthened by nearly 20% in 2007, making it by far Asia's best performing currency for the year, a fact attributed to a combination of increased remittances from overseas Filipino workers and a strong domestic economy. International relations

The Arroyo administration has forged a strong relationship with the United States. Arroyo was one of the first world leaders who expressed support for the US-led coalition against global terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and remains one of its closest allies in the war on terror. Following the US-led invasion of Iraq, in July 2003 the Philippines sent a small humanitarian contingent which included medics and engineers. These troops were recalled in July 2004 in response to the kidnapping of Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz. With the hostage takers demands met, the hostage was released. The force was previously due to leave Iraq the following month. The early pullout drew international condemnation, with the United States protesting against the action, saying giving in to terrorist demands should not be an option. Arroyo's foreign policy is anchored on building strong ties with the United States, East Asian and Southeast Asian nations, and countries where overseas Filipino workers work and live.In 2007, the Philippines was host to the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu City. On August 21 2007, Gloria's administration asked the Senate of the Philippines to ratify a $4bn (2bn) trade deal with Japan (signed on 2006 with the former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi), which would create more than 300,000 jobs (by specifically increasing local exports such as shrimp to Japan). Japan also promised to hire at least 1,000 Philippine nurses. The opposition-dominated senate objected on the ground that toxic wastes would be sent to the Philippines; the government denied this due to the diplomatic notes which stated that it would not be accepting Japanese waste in exchange for economic concessions.

Domestic policies Charter change In 2005, Arroyo initiated a movement for an overhaul of the constitution to transform the present presidential-bicameral republic into a federal parliamentary-unicameral form of government.At her 2005 State of the Nation Address, she claimed "The system clearly needs fundamental change, and the sooner the better. It's time to start the great debate on Charter Change". In late 2006, the House of Representatives shelved a plan to revise the constitution through constituent assembly. Executive Order No. 464 and calibrated preemptive response In late September 2005, Arroyo issued an executive order stating that demonstrations without permits would be pre-emptively stopped. Then members of the military testified in Congressional hearings that they were defying a direct order not to testify about their knowledge of the election scandal. There is the issuance of Executive Order No. 464 forbidding government officials under the executive department from appearing in congressional inquiries without President Arroyo's prior consent. These measures were challenged before the Supreme Court, which apparently declared some sections as unconstitutional.

A May 2006 Amnesty International report expressed concern over the sharp rise in vigilante killings of militant activists and community workers in the Philippines. Task Force Usig, a special police unit tasked to probe reported extra-judicial killings, by state run death squads counts 115 murders and says most of these are the result of an internal purge by communist rebels. Human rights groups put the number as high as 830. These violations were alleged to have been committed against left-leaning organizations and party-list groups including BAYAN, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis. These organizations accuse the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines for the deaths of these political opponents. Arroyo has condemned political killings "in the harshest possible terms" and urged witnesses to come forward. "The report, which Melo submitted to Arroyo last month, reportedly linked state security forces to the murder of militants and recommended that military officials, notably retired major general Jovito Palparan, be held liable under the principle of command responsibility for killings in their areas of assignment." General Palparan who retired September 11, 2006 has been appointed by President Arroyo to be part of the Security Council. This has alarmed left-leaning political parties about the potential for human rights violations. An independent commission was assembled in August 2006 to investigate the killings. Headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, the group known as the Melo Commission concluded that most of the killings were instigated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but found no proof linking the murder of activists to

a "national policy" as claimed by the left-wing groups. On the other hand the report "linked state security forces to the murder of militants and recommended that military officials, notably retired major general Jovito Palparan, be held liable under the principle of command responsibility for killings in their areas of assignment." Stricter anti-terror laws have also caused some concern in recent years. Under Arroyo's government, the Philippines has become second only to Iraq as the world's riskiest place to report the news, with 23 journalists killed since 2003. In her July 23, 2007 State of the Nation Address, President Arroyo has set out her agenda for her last three years in office, and called for legislation to deal with a spate of political killings that have brought international criticism to her presidency. Amid thousands of protesters in Manila, she promised to bring peace to the troubled south, and also defended a controversial new anti-terrorism legislation. Ms Arroyo told the joint session of Congress that "I would rather be right than popular." Lawmakers and lawyers, however, were dismayed by the SONA's failure to highlight and address this major hindrance to human rights. Specifically, the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) echoed the lawmakers position that Mrs Arroyo failed to take responsibility for the problem. Amnesty proclamation On September 5 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front. The amnesty will cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs," but not including crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols "even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs." The National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) will issue a Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. Implementing rules and regulations are being drafted and the decree will be submitted to the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives for their concurrence. The proclamation becomes effective only after Congress has concurred. Estrada pardon On October 25, 2007, Arroyo granted pardon to Joseph Estrada based on the recommendation by the Department of Justice. Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye quoted the signed Order: "In view hereof in pursuant of the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution, I hereby grant Executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political rights." Bunye noted that Estrada committed in

his application not to seek public office, and he would be free from his Tanay resthouse on October 26, noon. The Sumilao Farmers' March On December 3, 2007, 55 farmers of the Higaonon tribe from Sumilao, Bukidnon arrived in Metro Manila, 2 months after their march through 13 provinces from Mindanao to ask the government to stop the conversion of the land they are claiming into a hog farm. They farmers petitioned the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to issue a ceaseand-desist order (CDO) on the contested 144-hectare property in Barangay (village) San Vicente, Sumilao which San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI) converted into a hog farm. The Supreme Court of the Philippines had earlier dismissed the farmers' rights lack of legal standing. Farmer Tuminhay stated that: Our titles were cancelled because Norberto Quisumbing was allowed to convert his land on condition that he would implement a five-year development plan. Since he did not implement the plan, it is only proper that DAR renew the CARP process and give us back our titles. Quisumbing's development plan for the property included the establishment of a development academy, a cultural center, an institute for livelihood science, a museum, library, golf course, a sports development complex, an agro-industrial park, forest development and support facilities, and construction of a 360-room hotel, restaurant, housing projects, inter alia. On December 17, 2007, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo revoked the conversion order on the disputed 144-hectare lot in Sumilao, Bukidnon, resulting to the return of the land ownership to the 55 members of the Higaonon tribe farmers who marched 1,700 kilometers for 2 months from Mindanao to Metro Manila. The order, signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, reads: Wherefore premises considered and as

recommended by DAR, the petition for cancellation and/or revocation of the conversion order covering 144 hectares of landis hereby granted. San Miguel Foods as landowner must be paid the current value of the property before the land can be distributed to the farmers.



The Presidency of Benigno S. Aquino III began at noon on June 30, 2010, when he became the fifteenth President of the Philippines, succeeding Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino is the third-youngest person to be elected president, and the fourth-youngest president after Emilio Aguinaldo, Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino is the first president to be a bachelor, being unmarried and having no children. Aquino is the second president not to drink alcoholic beverages; the first president not to drink alcohol was Emilio Aguinaldo. Aquino is the eighth president to be a smoker. Aquino is the first graduate of Ateneo de Manila University to become president. Aquino is the third president who will only hold office in Malacaang Palace, but not be a resident, following Corazon Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos. Aquino is the first president to make Bahay Pangarap his official residence. Aquino is the third president to use his second given name, Simeon, as his middle initial, as Manuel L. Quezon and Jos P. Laurel did. Aquino is the second president to be a child of a former president, his mother was former President Corazon Aquino; the first president to be a child of a former president was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is the daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal. STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT The presidential transition began on June 9, 2010, when the Congress of the Philippines proclaimed Aquino the winner of the 2010 Philippine presidential elections held on May 10, 2010, proclaiming Aquino as the President-elect of the Philippines. The transition was in charge of the new presidential residence, cabinet appointments and cordial meetings between them and the outgoing administration. On June 29, 2010, Aquino officially named the members of his Cabinet, with Aquino himself as Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, a position that Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay initially wanted, however, Aquino stated that the post is not being considered for him, but has offered Binay various positions, such as, to head a commission that will investigate the outgoing Arroyo administration, the posts of Secretary of Agrarian Reform, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and the chairman of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), but Binay refused. Aquino also announced the formation of a truth commission that will investigate various issues including corruption allegations against outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino named former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, . to head the truth commission. Traditionally, it is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines who administers the oath of office to the incoming President and Vice President, however, Aquino refused to allow Chief Justice Renato Corona to swear him into office, due to

Aquino's opposition to the midnight appointment of Corona by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on May 12, 2010, two days after the 2010 elections and a month before Arroyo's term expired. Instead, Aquino formally requested Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Conchita Carpio-Morales, who opposed the midnight appointment of Corona, to swear him into office. Aquino took the oath of office on June 30, 2010, at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, The oath of office was administered by Associate Justice Conchita CarpioMorales, who officially accepted Aquino's request to swear him into office, reminiscent of the decision of his mother. During the inaugural address, Aquino created the no wang-wang policy, strengthening the implementation of Presidential Decree No. 96. The term wang-wang is street lingo for blaring sirens. Presidential Decree No. 96 was issued on January 13, 1973 by former President Ferdinand Marcos, regulating the use of sirens, bells, whistles, horns and other similar devices only to motor vehicles designated for the use of the .However, despite having the privilege of using wang-wang, Aquino maintained he would set the example for his no wang-wang policy, not to use wang-wang, even if it means being stuck in traffic and being late every now and then. From June 30July 9, 2010, Aquino was Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, until Aquino named Jesse Robredo, a former Naga mayor, as Interior Secretary. On July 14, 2010, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) called an emergency meeting in Camp Aguinaldo to assess the damage caused by Typhoon Basyang. Aquino attended the meeting to obtain information on the damage caused by Typhoon Basyang and to personally monitor the repair and recovery work in the aftermath of the typhoon. In the meeting, Aquino criticized the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for failing to predict and to warn the residents of Metro Manila that Typhoon Basyang would ravage Metropolitan Manila. On July 15, 2010, Aquino offered Vice President Jejomar Binay the position of chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). Binay has accepted the offer of Aquino to take charge of the housing sector as chairman of HUDCC.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS During Aquino's first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino announced his intention to reform the education system in the Philippines by shifting to K12 education, a 12-year basic education cycle. K12 education is used in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

On July 30, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 1, creating the Truth Commission. The commission is tasked to investigate various anomalies and issues including graft and corruption allegations against the past administration, government officials and their accomplices in the private sector during the last nine years. The commission has until December 31, 2012 to complete its mission. Hilario Davide, Jr. will head the commission. On August 4, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 2, signed on July 30, 2010, ordering the immediate removal of all midnight appointments made by the previous administration for violating the 60-day constitutional ban on presidential appointments before a national election. On August 6, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 3, signed on July 30, 2010, an executive order revoking Executive Order No. 883, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on May 28, 2010, that automatically promoted lawyers in government executive service to the rank of Career Executive Service Officer III (CESO III). Aquino also announced the removal of Prisco Nilo as administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). PAGASA was directly under Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development (R&D) Graciano Yumul. A special order from DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, dated August 5, 2010, designated Yumul as PAGASA administrator, replacing Nilo On August 7, 2010, Malacaang announced that Yumul will be heading PAGASA temporarily, for only three months, as PAGASA will undergo a "reorientation" to improve its services. Aquino has yet to name the new administrator who will permanently head PAGASA. On August 9, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 4, signed on July 30, 2010, reorganizing and renaming the Office of the Press Secretary as the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), and creating the Presidential

Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO). Aquino appointed former ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) anchor Ricky Carandang and Herminio Coloma as secretaries of the new media communications group. On August 13, 2010, Aquino appointed Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, his first appointment to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. On August 14, 2010, Aquino directed the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to fully implement Executive Order No. 255, issued on July 25, 1987 by former President Corazon Aquino, requiring all radio stations to broadcast a minimum of four original Filipino musical compositions every hour.

On August 16, 2010, Aquino launched his official presidential website. The presidential website's aim is to create communication between Aquino and the people, getting feedback from the people, telling Aquino their woes and grievances. On August 23, 2010, in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila, the site of Aquino's presidential inauguration, the Manila hostage crisis occurred. Aquino expressed concern over the matter and gave his condolences to the victims. Aquino defended the actions of the police at the scene, stating that the gunman had not shown any signs of wanting to kill the hostages. Aquino ordered a "thorough investigation" into the incident, and would wait until it is completed before deciding whether anyone should lose his or her job. Aquino declared that the media may have worsened the situation by giving the gunman "a bird's-eye view of the entire situation". Aquino also made reference to the Moscow theater hostage crisis, which, according to Aquino, resulted in "more severe" casualties despite Russia's "resources and sophistication".On August 24, 2010, Aquino signed Proclamation No. 23, declaring August 25, 2010, as a national day of mourning, instructing all public institutions nationwide and all Philippine embassies and consulates overseas to lower the Philippine flag at half-mast, in honor of the eight Hong Kong residents who died in the Manila hostage crisis. On August 25, 2010, at a press conference in Malacaang, Aquino apologized to those offended when he was caught on television apparently smiling while being interviewed at the crime scene hours after the Manila hostage crisis. Aquino said; On September 1, 2010, Aquino implemented Executive Order No. 5, signed on August 25, 2010, an executive order amending Executive Order No. 594, signed by former President Glori Macapagal-Arroyo on December 20, 2006, stating the rules governing the appointment or designation and conduct of special envoys. Executive Order No. 5 prevents special envoys from using the title "ambassador". Aquino also ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to support and assist all regional hospitals and health centers and intensify their efforts to attend to the needs of dengueinflicted patients. On September 2, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 6, extending the duration of the operations of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) to December 30, 2010. On September 3, 2010, Aquino took responsibility for everything that happened during the Manila hostage crisis. Aquino actually has direct supervision of the Philippine National Police, since Aquino had asked Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo to address other concerns, such as coming up with a comprehensive plan on delivering social services to and relocating informal settlers in coordination with the local governments. On September 8, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 7, ordering the suspension of all allowances, bonuses and incentives of board members of government-owned and-

controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) until December 31, 2010. On September 9, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 8, reorganizing and renaming the Build-Operate and Transfer Center (BOT) to the Public-Private Partnership Center (PPP) and transferring its attachment from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). On September 13, 2010, Aquino appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Director General Raul Bacalzo as the new PNP Director, replacing General Jesus Verzosa, who retired on September 14, 2010. On September 20, 2010, Aquino delivered his departure statement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), before leaving for his first official trip to the United States. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima, Secretary of Trade & Industry Gregory Doming, and Secretary of Energy Jose Rene Almendras, including 34 businessmen and 12 officials and support staff of the Presidential Communications Operations Office joined Aquino in the trip. On September 22, 2010, Aquino delivered his speech during the Citibank Economic Conference in New York City. On September 23, 2010, Aquino delivered his extemporaneous remarks during a meeting with the Filipino community at Baruch College in New York City. Aquino also delivered his remarks at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact agreement signing ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The US$434-million MCC compact agreement will fund the Aquino administration's various programs on poverty reduction, revenue generation, and infrastructure development. On September 24, 2010, Aquino delivered his statement before the 65th United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Aquino also had a seven-minute one-on-one talk with President of the United States Barack Obama during the 2nd Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN)-US Leaders Meeting at the WaldorfAstoria Hotel in New York City. During the meeting, Aquino recognized the United States commitment to reinvigorating its relationship with the region and its individual nations at a time of ever-increasing complexity in global affairs. Obama expressed his determination to elevate RP-US relations to a higher level, and welcomed the Aquino administrations anti-corruption efforts. Aquino and Obama also discussed military matters, about the possible removal of thousands of tons of war materials that Allied forces had left behind on Corregidor Island during World War II. On September 26, 2010, during a visit to the Seasons Market Place in Milpitas, California, Aquino was greeted by cheering members of the Filipino community of San Jose, California. Aquino also delivered his speech in front of the Filipino community at the Mission San Francisco de Ass in San Francisco, California. On September 28, 2010, Aquino arrived

at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), after his week-long working visit to the United States. Aquino delivered his arrival statement at NAIA. On September 30, 2010, Bishop Nereo Odchimar of Tandag, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that Aquino might face excommunication from the Catholic Church for supporting the Reproductive Health Bill, the plan to distribute and give Filipino couples the choice to use contraceptives for artificial birth control. However, despite the possibility of excommunication, Aquino said that he is not changing his position on contraceptive use. On October 1, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 9, amending Section 1 of Executive Order No. 67, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on January 22, 2002, and reorganizing the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement created under Executive Order No. 199, signed by former President Joseph Estrada on January 17, 2000. On October 2, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 10, declaring October 2, 2010 as the Nationwide Philhealth Registration Day (NPRD) and directing the Department of Health (DOH) to lead concerned government agencies to facilitate the nationwide Philhealth registration. On October 26, 2010, Aquino delivered his departure statement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), before leaving for his first official trip to Vietnam. Aquino met with President of Vietnam Nguyn Minh Trit at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam. Aquino and Trit signed four memorandum of agreement on four areas of cooperation, namely, higher education, defense, oil spill preparedness and response, and search and rescue at sea.Aquino also met with Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyn Tn Dng. Aquino delivered a toast at the State Banquet hosted by Trit at the Government Guest House. On October 27, 2010, Aquino delivered his extemporaneous rema during a meeting with the Filipino community in Vietnam. On October 28, 2010, Aquino delivered his statement during the ASEAN Leaders Retreat in Hanoi, Vietnam. On October 29, 2010, Aquino delivered his statements during the 13th ASEAN-Japan Summit, 13th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, 13th ASEAN-China Summit, 13th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, and 3rd ASEAN-UN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. On October 30, 2010, Aquino delivered his statements during the 8th ASEAN-India Summit, 5th East Asia Summit, 2nd ASEAN-Russia Summit, ASEAN-Australia Summit, and ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. On October 31, 2010, Aquino arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), after his first official trip to Vietnam. Aquino delivered his arrival statement at NAIA. On November 8, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 11, transferring the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples from the Department of Environment and Natural Resourcs (DENR) to the Office of the President.

On November 9, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 12, delegating to the Executive Secretary the power to approve compromises or releases of any interest, penalty or civil liability to the Social Security System (SSS) pursuant to Section 4(6) of Republic Act No. 8282, otherwise known as the Social Security Act of 1997. On November 10, 2010, former President of the United States Bill Clinton arrived in Manila Aquino met with Clinton in a courtesy call at Malacaang Palace. Clinton gave a talk on globalization and delivered a lecture titled "Embracing Our Common Humanity" at the Manila Hotel, attended by politicians, business executives and members of the media. The next day, Clinton quietly left for Singapore. On November 11, 2010, Aquino delivered his departure statement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), before leaving for his first official trip to Japan for the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Yokohama, Japan. On November 12, 2010, Aquino delivered his speech during the APEC CEO Summit in Yokohama, Japan. On November 14, 2010, Aquino delivered his statement during the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting Retreat in Yokohama, Japan. On November 15, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 13, abolishing the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) and transferring its investigative,

adjudicatory and recommendatory functions to the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs and the Office of the President. On November 19, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 14, transferring the control and supervision of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from the Department of Health (DOH) to the Office of the President. On November 22, 2010, Aquino signed Proclamation No. 73, declaring November 23, 2010, as a national day of remembrance for the victims in the Maguindanao massacre. On December 9, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 18, abolishing agencies under the Office of the President such as the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change. On December 20, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 15, granting combat allowance to uniformed members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who are directly involved in combat operations against members of National Security Threat Groups. On December 21, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 16, extending the term of the SOCCSKSARGEN Area Development Office (ADPO) from January 2010 to December 2016. On December 22, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 17, forming the EDSA People Power Commission, designated to organize the nationwide celebrations

commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution in February 2011. On December 30, 2010, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 19, extending the suspension of the grant of allowances and other incentives to members of the Board of Directors/Trustees of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs). On January 6, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 20, extending the duration of operation of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMECC), led by Special Envoy Roy Cimatu, to June 30, 2011. On January 14, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Orders No. 21 and 22 , reducing the rate of import duty on milling wheat, cement and cement clinker to zero under Section 104 of the Presidential Decree No. 1464, otherwise as the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978. On February 1, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 23, declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force. On February 10, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 24, which prescribed rules to govern the compensation of members of the Board of Directors/Trustees in Government-Owned Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs). On February 24, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 26, declaring the implementation of a National Greening Program (NGP). The NGP will plant some 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares for a period of six years, from 2011 to 2016. On February 28, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 27, implementing the reduction of real property taxes and interest/penalties assessed on the power generation facilities of independent power producers under build-operate transfer contracts with Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations in Quezon. On March 14, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 28, reorganizing the Single Negotiating Panel into the Philippine Air Negotiating Panel and the Philippine Air Consultation Panel, mandated by the Philippine government's Domestic and International Civil Aviation Liberalization Policy. On March 14, 2011, Aquino signed Executive Order No. 29, authorizing the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Philippine Air Panels to "pursue more aggressively" the International Civil Aviation Liberalization Policy. On March 14, 2011, Aquino also signed Executive Order No. 30, transferring the Land Registration Authority (LRA) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the Department of Justice (DOJ).