The Philippines: Time of Frictions

May 17, 1967

Report Outline
Testing Time for Philippine Republic
Development of Independent Philippines
Efforts to Cope with Priority Problems
Special Focus

Testing Time for Philippine Republic

The philippine republic, after little more than two decades of independence, is facing a time of severe trial. Owing in part to four centuries of foreign domination before the attainment of independence in 1946, the Filipinos have yet to fashion the political institutions and develop the cohesion that might enable them to deal effectively with the nation's internal tribulations: Economic stagnation and widespread poverty; resurgence of the Communist-led Huk guerrilla movement which plagued the country from 1948 to 1953; graft and corruption; and the collapse of domestic order. In addition, the republic is searching for the wisest course to follow between the United States, its former ruler, and its neighbors in Asia.

Most of the problems confronting the Philippines are not new. Failure to solve them in the past has resulted in the defeat of every elected president who has sought a second term. Only one Philippine president, Ramon Magsaysay, appeared to make headway in instituting needed economic and political reforms. He was killed in a plane crash in March 1957, eight months before the election he was favored to win. That plane crash, George Farwell has commented, killed “more than a president and many of his advisers.” It also killed “the hopes of millions who believed that at last a more peaceable, constructive life was possible.”

Troubled First Year of Marcos Administration

Magsaysay's early successors did not pursue his social and economic goals. But with the election in 1965 of Ferdinand E. Marcos, one of the nation's leading heroes of World War II, the hopes of the Filipino people revived. Marcos promised to launch programs to end corruption and smuggling, institute effective land reform, and revitalize the stagnant economy. The new President, in his inaugural address, Dec. 30, 1965, attempted to shock his people into joining a campaign against the country's ills. “The Filipino,” he told the inaugural audience, “has lost his soul and his courage. …We have ceased to value order. Justice and security are as myths. Our government is gripped in the iron hand of venality, its treasury is barren, its resources are wasted, its civil service is slothful and indifferent, its armed forces demoralized, and its council sterile.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aug. 10, 1990  Can Democracy Survive in the Philippines?
Feb. 06, 1987  Philippine Politics
Oct. 28, 1983  Political Unrest in the Philippines
Oct. 24, 1980  The Philippines Under Stress
Apr. 25, 1975  Philippine Instability
May 17, 1967  The Philippines: Time of Frictions
May 17, 1950  Philippines in Transition
Apr. 12, 1945  Rehabilitation of the Philippines
Aug. 05, 1933  Independence Contest in the Philippines
Dec. 12, 1931  Economics of the Philippine Problem
Nov. 06, 1926  The Problem of the Philippines
Jan. 28, 1924  Philippine Independence
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific