The Philippines Under Stress

October 24, 1980

Report Outline
Opposition to Martial Law
Crucial Issues Facing Marcos
Continuing American Interests
Special Focus

Opposition to Martial Law

American Unease Over Analogy to Iran

In the aftermath of the revolution in Iran, American policymakers are taking a hard look at U.S. friendship with dictators. The United States has traditionally supported a number of authoritarian regimes because of their hard-line anti-communism. But when the dictatorships collapse, the new forces in power are understandably hostile to the United States. Such an alarm is being raised on U.S. support for the martial-law regime of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. As internal discontent mounts, fears that the Philippines may go the way of Iran increase.

A recent spate of bombings, a deteriorating economy, growing opposition from conservatives, moderates and radicals alike, and an unabated Moslem insurgency are inviting questions about Marcos' iron-hand rule. Although the government seems to face no immediate danger of collapse, it is uncertain how long Marcos, 63, can maintain himself in power. He was elected to office in 1965 but has ruled by decree since September 1972. What is most discomforting, observers say, is that liberal groups are beginning to advocate violence and some of Marcos' old-time allies have switched to the opposition. The April 6 Liberation Movement, which claims it is behind the series of bombings in Manila since Aug. 22, is believed to be composed of the church-oriented middle class.

The United States, with substantial economic and security interests in the Philippines, is watching the situation closely. Although none of the opposition factions alone is strong enough to topple Marcos, a coalition could pose a serious threat. U.S. concern has been heightened by warnings from a number of Filipino opposition leaders who say, in effect, “do not treat our country as you did Iran.” In the U.S. Congress, several members have echoed this thought and have proposed to cut U.S. aid to the Philippines.

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
Alliances and Security Agreements
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific