Revolution in the Philippines

Published: 1986
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Philippine President Corazon Aquino gives the Philippine revolution sign to a standing ovation at Memorial Hall at Harvard University after delivering her address on September 20, 1986. Matina Horner, President of Radcliffe College (R) looks on. (UPI Photo/George Riley/Files)

Bob Fuss: It was a year for chanting Cory Aquino's name and wearing yellow in the Philippines, an extraordinary year that saw the downfall of a dictator by an almost general revolution and the new government at the year's end still titter on the edge of survival. As 1986 began, Ferdinand Marcos faced a February election challenge from Cory Aquino, the widow of a murdered opposition leader. The election attracted worldwide attention, Aquino attracted immense crowds.

Speaker: If you insist in using violence then violence it is and maybe it's 14:19 that we can handle anything.

Bob Fuss: As voting began, it became clear Marcos did not intend to lose. Cheating was widespread, cash paid for votes, ballot boxes stuffed, poll watchers murdered. In places, nuns draped their bodies over ballot boxes to protect them. Marcos finally had himself declared the winner; Aquino led demonstrations. Two weeks later, a dramatic turn as Marcos long-time Defense Minister, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Chief of Staff, General Fidel Ramos launched a rebellion with a handful of troops. Soon hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians surrounded the camp where they held up.


Speaker: A military helicopter flying into a Camp Crame, presumably carrying more defectors from the military forces who are joining Lieutenant General Ramos here and his opposition to President Marcos. Thousands of people out at the front gate here, many are throwing bread and sending other food in to the soldiers.

Bob Fuss: As the support evaporated, Marcos was sworn in for another term. On the same day, Aquino also took the oath.

Cory Aquino: I and Salvador H. Laurel, I am taking power in the name and by the will of the Filipino people.

Bob Fuss: That night Marcos, his military abandoning him and his palace surrounded, was evacuated by an American helicopter and ended up in exile in Hawaii fighting off legal battles, ended with recovering billions of dollars he had taken with him. In Manila, there was celebration.

Cory Aquino: Through the power of the people, we are home again.

Bob Fuss: But the Aquino-Enrile alliance was shaky and at year's end, General Ramos stepped in to stop a planned coup against Aquino, Enrile really was ousted as ceasefire was signed with the communists. The fragile democracy created by People Power was by no means guaranteed that it survived the tumultuous year. This is Bob Fuss.