Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

Synopsis

This work is a case study of the tumultuous rule of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines from 1972 to 1986, examining the levers of power available to absolute rulers and the development of a political economy of authoritarianism.

Excerpt

On February 26, 1986, Ferdinand Marcos, the man who ruled the Philippines for almost twenty years, left the presidential palace amidst a throng of people rallying for his removal. A military group, led by longtime Marcos ally Juan Ponce-Enrile, had declared a rebellion, which the people enthusiastically supported. A quick overthrow of Marcos had been unexpected. After the assassination of Marcos's chief rival, Benigno Aquino, in August 1983, many predicted that the Marcos government would not survive the crisis resulting from that assassination. In spite of the predictions of his political demise, however, Marcos did survive massive opposition for a few more years.

During the early 1980s a general feeling prevailed that no alternative to Marcos and his regime existed and that his hold on power was strong in spite of the widespread criticism against him. In 1981 he was able to lift martial law and still retain his absolute powers. Martial law was no longer necessary to justify his rule because he had established his power base.

This study explains how the authoritarian regime of Marcos ruled the Philippines and remained in power after the coup of 1972. This study also will look into the means that Marcos employed to maintain his power. Repressive regimes may seem undesirable, but they are able to elicit the support of significant sectors of society. Marcos was able to maintain authoritarian rule because of the support of bureaucrats, businesspeople, the military, and political leaders in various regions, with the assistance of the U.S. government. He maintained this network of support through a patron-client system with a centralized bureaucracy as its power and resource base, In order to reward Iiis supporters, Marcos expanded the authority of government. To minimize the political cost of the expansion, he maintained the legal and constitutional forms of democracy. To add credibility to his usurpation of power, he claimed that economic development was impossible without centralized authority. Government information offices and the controlled media echoed his claims and extolled the virtues of the regime. To discourage, weaken, and punish his opponents, Marcos used the armed forces and paramilitary groups who arrested and imprisoned more than 60,000 citizens and harassed or liquidated alleged subversives. To assure survival and the enjoyment of patronage, various sectors of . . .

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