Philippines Politics since 1959
In the partial elections of 1959, the nationalist party of President Garcia won victory by setting the electoral campaign on the economic detachment from the United States. All the efforts of the new government were concentrated on trying to remove the levers of economic power from the hands of the resident Chinese, through a harsh policy of oppression.
The subsequent general elections of November 1961 saw the success of the liberal candidate D. Macapagal, who faced two serious crises: the United States Congress voted against a loan of 73 million dollars, motivated by the fact that this would be been directed towards initiatives that are anything but fundamental and productive for the country’s economic structure; and the resignation of vice president and foreign minister Pelaez, accused of corruption. The widespread unease due to the deterioration of the economic situation and political corruption led to the presidency of the republic, with the 1965 elections, the leader of the nationalist party, Philippines Marcos. Its programmatic platform envisaged rapid economic take-off through industrialization and a four-year plan of investments to be made in priority private sectors: chemical and mechanical industry, timber processing, etc. The economic situation improved and in 1969 Marcos was re-elected president. His new and more ambitious goals were land reform, stabilization of the currency and integration of structures. However, the persistence of corruption and social inequalities caused serious unrest at the beginning of the 1970s. At the same time, on the island of Luzon, the Huk guerrilla fueled by peasants resumed, and in Mindanao the latent contrasts between the Christian and Muslim communities, subject to discrimination and advocating a separate Islamic state, resulted in bloody massacres. In the course of 1972 the guerrillas spread and Marcos took advantage of it to concentrate all the powers in the hands of men devoted to him. On 7 July 1972 a Constituent Assembly was convened which approved the replacement of the presidential regime with a single-chamber parliamentary system. In January 1973 the Philippines became a parliamentary republic; however, power remained in the hands of President Marcos.
In foreign policy, after having formed the clearly pro-American ASA (Association of Southeast Asian States) with Thailand and Malaysia in 1961, the Philippines under the Macapagal presidency tried to acquire greater autonomy vis-à-vis the United States. Successor Marcos initially imposed an anti-Communist line by sending men to South Vietnam. However, he tried to find a political solution to the Vietnamese conflict by organizing a conference in Manila in October 1966 which did not achieve any result.
In 1968, following the conflict for Sabah (northern Borneo) over which the Philippines were advancing rights, Manila broke off diplomatic relations with Malaysia. In the early 1970s, Marcos’ foreign policy conformed to the Nixon doctrine which proclaimed the downsizing of American engagement in Asia. The contingent sent to South Vietnam was withdrawn, military agreements with the United States were renegotiated and relations were re-established with the enemies of the past, first of all, the People’s Republic of China.