democracyinthephilippines - Democracy in the Philippines In...

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Democracy in the Philippines In our journey of the political opera of the Philippines, we have observed thus far the progression of Filipino society from a colonial territory to a United States influenced territory to a flawed democracy to a society governed by a repressive authoritarian regime. We rejoin the “opera” in 1986, following a contentious election between Ferdinand Marcos and the democratic opposition, consolidated under Corazon Aquino. When we left the Philippine transition to democracy from authoritarianism, a revolution sparked by “People Power” ousted Marcos from power and in his place installed a democratic government led by Aquino. Since this milestone moment in Philippine democracy, there have been several key events that have shaped Philippine government and politics, and these events continue to serve as factors in the molding of democracy in the Philippines, even to this very day. The first of these landmark events is the 1986 provisional “Freedom Constitution.” The twelve year history of Marcos’s authoritarian regime – and the history of the Philippines in general - is marked by the fluidity of the Constitution and the ease with which any power hungry leader can change the rules to benefit himself. For example, Marcos made amendments to the 1973 constitution to grant himself full executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Taking this into account, it was a very significant goal of Corazon Aquino’s to change this constitution – not change an article or clause to benefit her political goals but change the very nature of the Philippine Constitution. In June 1986, the Constitution Commission (Con-Com) convened in order to draft another constitution. (Villegas, 1987) Con-Com consisted of 48 delegates, all of whom were handpicked by C. Aquino. Though all of these members had differing political views, they were all – not coincidentally – from the wealthy, educated, elite class, which could pose a problem because the Constitution may not be representative of the average Filipino. 1
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(Villegas, 1987) After much dispute and discussion, Con-Com finally came to an agreement on October 1986. The “Freedom Constitution” gave Aquino many powers – powers that rivaled that of Marcos – so that Aquino could significantly reform Philippine government and politics. (Country-Data, 1991) Aquino argued (and obviously Con-Com agreed) that to restore democracy and to undo what Marcos did, great power is needed. The Constitution also states that Aquino would stay in office until June 30, 1992; this served as a “transitory” provision. (Country-Data, 1991) On the positive side, however, the new Constitution included a conclusive Bill of Rights that greatly increased the level of civil liberties. (Country-Data, 1991) The Constitution was supported by many centrist parties and the Catholic Church, and it was opposed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), people on the right of the political spectrum, Marcos’s party, the New Society Movement, also known as KBL, and General Enrile, who was dismissed from the defense minister position by Aquino when his loyalties faded. (Country-Data,
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  • Fall '05
  • Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, President of the Philippines

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