Political Unrest in the Philippines

October 28, 1983

Report Outline
Rising Political Opposition
Dire Economic Repercussions
Ongoing Stability Problems
U.S. Foreign Policy Dilemma
Special Focus

Rising Political Opposition

Assassination Hurts Marcos' Credibility

The shots that rang out on the tarmac at Manila International Airport Aug. 21, killing Philippine opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., have shattered the credibility of the government of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, both at home and abroad. The demonstrations that have rocked the Philippines since the assassination represent the most serious threat to Marcos' regime since he declared martial law 11 years ago.

For the past two months thousands of citizens — from poor squatters to Mercedes-riding bankers — have repeatedly taken to the streets to express their outrage over the murder, and to vent anti-government frustrations pent up during 18 years of authoritarian rule. For the first time since martial law was imposed in 1972, people who before had been too passive, too cowed or too indifferent to complain about things they saw wrong in the Marcos style of government have been emboldened to demand change, and even his resignation.

Despite the president's repeated denials that his government was involved in the killing, skepticism over the official version of the murder has spread to all segments of the population. At least five members of the president's New Society Party have resigned in protest since the Aquino shooting, including Assemblyman and former Cabinet Minister Vicente T. Paterno. And in an unprecedented step, moderate Moslem groups from the southern islands have joined with the Catholic Church in calling for a credible probe of the shooting and establishment of a national council of reconciliation to sort out the country's current troubles.

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
Global Issues
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific