Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

By Albert F. Celoza | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

A Complete Government Takeover

On January 17, 1981, Marcos announced the termination of martial law, through Proclamation 2045. He also inaugurated the [New Republic,] while retaining all martial law decrees, orders, and law-making powers through Amendment Six to the Constitution. He also specifically retained the suspension of the right of the writ of habeas corpus for crimes relating to subversion, insurrection, rebellion, and also conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes. Marcos could imprison political opponents much as he had under the [New Society] or the martial law regime.

Marcos's action was timed with two significant events: the election of Ronald Reagan as president of the United States and the planned visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines in February 1981. By lifting martial law and creating an appearance of normalization, Marcos could strengthen his relationship with the newly elected American administration. He could therefore get unqualified support from an ally because he was more comfortable with President Reagan than with exPresident Carter. The latter's relationship with Marcos was strained by the U.S. human rights policy. The newly elected American president, however, responded warmly to Marcos. Reagan's basic concern with the Philippines was the retention of U.S. military bases to enable America to continue fighting communism and projecting U.S. power in Asia. Before the inauguration of Reagan, Mrs. Marcos met with the president-elect and was reportedly given assurances of more favorable relations. It was also reported that a Reagan aide hinted to the First Lady of the Philippines that [it would be good if Marcos could get a fresh mandate from the people.]1 In deciding to lift martial law, Marcos not only considered the election of Reagan but also sought to minimize papal criticism of his regime, lessening chances of negative publicity and adverse public opinion in the predominantly Catholic Philippines and in the international press.

In February the parliament sitting as a constitutional commission passed proposed amendments to the Constitution. On April 7 a plebiscite was held to approve a shift from a parliamentary to a presidential system of government patterned after the French system. Executive power resided in the president with a prime minister under him. The president was granted the power to name his successor through an

-73-

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Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Nation Divided 7
  • Chapter 3 - Martial Law and Regime Legitimation 39
  • Chapter 4 - A Complete Government Takeover 73
  • Chapter 5 - The Authoritarian Regime's Network of Support 95
  • Chapter 6 - Decline and Fall of the Dictatorship 125
  • Epilogue - The Philippines, 1986–1996 133
  • Selected Bibliography 135
  • Index 139
  • About the Author 145
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