The Marcos Coup in the Philippines


  • Robert B. Stauffer





The following article deals with only one aspect of the Marcos coup. Economic and social conflict in the Philippines has been intensifying since the mid-1960s, distinguished by militant anti-imperialist struggle against the U.S. war in Vietnam and the U.S. penetration and influence in the Philippines. The Marcos government's policy of terror against the Muslim population of Mindanao, to make room for the expanding logging industry and other plantation interests, as well as against the popular anti-imperialist movement, created further tension. It was also in the last few years that the New People's Army, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, was established and began guerrilla activity. In addition to these and other contributors to mounting economic and political crises, the ruling circles in the Philippines have been confronted with a nationalist coalition and legal developments that threatened the continuation of U.S. enterprise. The coup is examined here in the context of the latter development by Professor Stauffer who teaches political science at the University of Hawaii and has recently returned from a year of research and teaching in the Philippines. He adds by way of explanation: "The imposition of martial law by President Marcos in September 1972, is viewed in this paper as representing a seizure of power (by using the armed forces to eliminate the mass media, the Supreme Court, and Congress from the national decision-making process) sufficiently drastic to warrant use of the term coup to describe the event. In the first two months following seizure of power he manipulated the Constitutional Convention (sitting at the time to draft a constitution to replace the one dating from the American occupation) into (1) incorporating the policies of his "New Society" into the document, (2) extending his term as chief executive for an indefinite period subject only to his decision to hold new elections, and (3) making changes in existing constitutional safeguards governing the treatment of foreign private investment of a type designed to "attract" multinational corporations to invest in the Philippines." - The Editors

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