Reactions to Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino Before, During, and After the Special February 1986 “Snap” Philippine Presidential Elections Karen Ames
Dr. Katherine Tinsley
Student Research Symposium
All of the world’s attention was focused on the Philippines before, during, and after the special February 1986 “snap” presidential election. The elections showcased a struggle for presidency between Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos. Corazon Aquino, a victim, martyr, who was there for the Philippines versus Ferdinand Marcos a dictator, a leader, who wanted to keep the presidential power. David versus Goliath is what the “snap” elections were often referred to. What did the people of the Philippines think of these opponents? How did all the events surrounding the “snap” election come about? Accusations and actions were made on both sides of the table, some good, and some bad. This is to examine the reactions of people in the Philippines as well as around the world to Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino by looking at the events leading up to, during, and after the special February 1986 “snap” election. Ferdinand Marcos became president of the Philippines on December 30, 1965 by the promise of make the Philippines a great nation again.1 In the beginning Filipinos were optimistic of their new leader. Alex Abatayo commented that during the first ten years in office Marcos led the Philippines very well.2 However, the Philippines started to deteriorate when he implemented Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Marcos said the implementation of martial law was for the good of Philippines. He said it was “to save the Republic and to reform society”. He later extended the time of Martial Law and “abolished the Congress of the Philippines and took over the legislative powers”. Marcos ignored the Constitution and violated the Bill of Rights; people’s rights were taken advantage of and abused.3 This in short made Marcos a dictator, though this label was not how he considered himself. He preferred the title “constitutional authoritarian”.4 1 Dr. Florida C. Leuterio, Philippine: History & Government (Manila: St. Augustine Publications, Inc., 1998), 150. 2 Alexander Abatayo interview, Conducted by Karen Ames, Oct. 7, 2007 3 Dr. Florida C. Leuterio, 153. 4 Dr. Florida C. Leuterio, 153. Ames 3
Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the husband of Corazon Aquino, was a former opponent of Marcos who had been arrested and imprisoned before going into exile in America. He returned from exile in the U.S. to the Philippines, in 1983, because of his hopes of persuading Marcos to peacefully transfer the presidential position to him.5 He was warned by Marcos to not to return because of the threats on Benigno’s life. This did not dissuade Ninoy from coming back, for he was there for the people of the Philippines and not for himself. On August 21st, upon his return to the Philippines, Benigno Aquino was assassinated.6 Corazon Aquino as well as the rest of the Philippines was in shock at the news of Ninoy’s assassination. When Corazon Aquino returned to the Philippines, she did not think many people would the funeral. The government had banned any media coverage on the assassination and the funeral of Benigno Aquino.7 Only Radio Veritas, a Catholic Church Radio station, was broadcasting information about these two events.8 Word spread of what had happened, and the reaction of the Philippine nation showed at the funeral in grief, sadness, anger as well as outrage. Ninoy’s funeral was compared to that of Mahatma Gandhi, not only in size but also by the reaction of the Philippine people.9 Many Filipinos sympathized with the Aquino family and started to show their feelings against Ferdinand Marcos.10 The assassination of Benigno Aquino gave Marcos a bad image around the world. When the assassination occurred, the United States obtained a negative view of Marcos and President Reagan cancelled his trip to the Philippines during his tour of Asia. 11...