Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Nacionalista Party was elected President of the Philippines, defeating incumbent Diosdado Macapagal by a slim margin of 670,000 votes.
Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. of the Liberal Party was elected Senator to a Congress dominated by Marcos's Nacionalista Party.
Jose Ma. Sison organized a new Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to take over the struggle from the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP).
Marcos was elected President for a second term, defeating Sergio Osmena, Jr. The CPP joined forces with the PKP's military arm (Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan) led by Bernabe Buscayno (Kumander Dante); the new coalition became known as the New People's Army (NPA).
In January, demonstrations against Marcos, who was perceived to be angling for a third term, culminated in the "First Quarter Storm." Militant students, farmers, and workers picketing Malacañang Palace were violently dispersed by military troopers.
In June, the Constitutional Convention began to rewrite the 1935 Constitution. In August, Plaza Miranda was bombed, injuring several opposition stalwarts. Marcos blamed the Communists and suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Also he accused Aquino and other oppositionists of arming the NPA.
Amid allegations that the Marcoses had tried to bribe its members, the Constitutional Convention approved a parliamentary system of government. On September 13, Aquino exposed and denounced "Oplan Sagittarius," a Marcos plan to place the national capital region under military control. On September 16, Marcos accused Aquino of meeting with Communist Party leader Jose Ma. Sison and plotting to overthrow the government. On September 22, Marcos staged a violent ambush of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile's car and then declared martial law. Congress was closed and the Constitutional Convention suspended, and the media were muzzled. On September 23, Aquino was arrested and detained, along with other "subversive" oppositionists.
The final draft of the 1973 (Marcos) Constitution was ratified by Citizens' Assemblies and declared legal by Marcos's Supreme Court. In August, Ninoy Aquino was brought to trial before a military tribunal for violating the antisubversion law. He refused to participate in the proceedings.
NPA commander Bernabe “Ka Dante” Buscayno was arrested.
CPP chairman Jose Ma. Sison was captured. In November, Aquino and Buscayno were found guilty of subversion, illegal possession of firearms and murder, and sentenced to death by firing squad. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Enrile found himself caught in a power struggle with First Lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos, and Fabian Ver, chief of presidential security.
In April, elections for representatives to an interim Batasang Pambansa were held. Marcos's Kilusang Bagong Lipunan won 187 seats; the opposition, 13. In Metro Manila, the KBL led by Imelda Marcos defeated the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) led by Ninoy Aquino from his prison cell.
In September, Marcos had his first hemodialysis treatment to control hypertension and renal dysfunction. In December, Aquino was granted, for the first time since his detention, a three-week furlough that allowed him to be home with his family for his and his wife Corazon’s 25th wedding anniversary.
Elections for governors and mayors were held, the first since martial law was declared; the Liberal Party and LABAN boycotted the elections. In May, Marcos allowed Aquino to go to the United States for heart surgery; friends secured him fellowships at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In November, Ronald Reagan was elected US President. Irwin Ver was promoted to colonel, bypassing the next-in-line.
Early in the year, amid preparations for Pope John Paul II's first visit to the Philippines, Marcos lifted martial law but retained extra-legal powers. Midyear, he was re-elected to a six-year term, defeating Alejo Santos and Bartolome Cabangbang. He appointed Fabian Ver [head of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and the Presidential Security Command (PSC)] chief of staff of the Armed Forces, bypassing Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos.
The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped upgrade and computerize NISA’s telecommunications system, enabling them to monitor the system and patch into it at will.
In July, Enrile received reports of plans to eliminate him and the "MND (Ministry of National Defense) boys." To protect themselves, Enrile's chief security aide, Lieutenant Colonel Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, with four others founded the AFP Reform Movement, later known as the RAM. With Enrile's blessings, Honasan started building up their armory and expanding their base.
In July, Marcos turned down offers by Enrile and Ramos to resign. On August 7, Marcos underwent surgery for a renal transplant. Acute rejection occurred; the transplanted kidney was removed forty-eight hours later. On August 21, Aquino returned from self-imposed exile in the United States and was slain as he stepped off a China Air Lines plane at the Manila International Airport; his funeral drew millions of Filipinos to the streets in defiance of the dictator. In December, Ramos's Special Action Force joined up with Enrile's Security Operations Group; the two units underwent battle training under the supervision of British mercenaries.
In the elections for the Batasang Pambansa in May, Ninoy's widow, Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino, threw her support behind opposition parties UNIDO (United Nationalist Democratic Organization) and PDP-LABAN (Pilipino Democratic Party—Lakas ng Bayan). Despite allegations of fraud on the KBL side, her candidates won 56 seats out of 183. In October, the Fact-Finding Board found Ver, 24 other soldiers, and one civilian indictable for the murder of Ninoy Aquino; Ver went on leave of absence and Ramos was appointed acting chief of staff. In November, Marcos underwent a second renal transplant. Rumors of Marcos dying and Ver taking over were rife. Enrile began to admit publicly that he would like to be president in the future, when Marcos was no longer interested in the position.
In February, Ver et al stood trial before the Sandigan Bayan for the Aquino assassination. In March, the RAM went public at the homecoming ceremonies of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). In his speech to the graduating class the next day, Ramos confirmed the need for reforms and proposed sweeping changes to strengthen the demoralized military in the face of a mounting Communist insurgency. Soon after, Colonel Jose Almonte, former director of a Marcos think-tank, joined RAM.
In July, Marcos removed the Integrated National Police from Enrile's ministry and placed it directly under presidential control. In August, opposition Members of Parliament filed a motion to impeach Marcos, citing culpable violation of the Constitution and allegations of "hidden wealth." The RAM firmed up coup plans for the day after Christmas. US Senator Richard Lugar, head of the U.S. Senate’s committee on foreign relations, sent a member of his staff, Frederick Brown, to Manila to evaluate the deteriorating situation. Brown concluded that one of the few promising developments was the emergence of the RAM, a group that the Pentagon and CIA happened to be quietly encouraging.
In September, a US defense attache confirmed that Malacañang had issued secret and undated warrants for the arrest of RAM leaders.
In October, in Washington D.C., a secret strategy meeting attended by retired General Edward G. Lansdale discussed 2 questions: whether to keep the U.S. bases in the Philippines; if yes, how to shift control of the AFP from Ver to the RAM. US Senator Paul Laxalt visited Marcos to convey Reagan's concerns about the communist threat and to discuss CIA director William Casey's idea of holding snap elections, if only to disarm his liberal critics in America. Newspaper publisher Joaquin "Chino" Roces launched the Cory Aquino for President Movement (CAPM). A week later, Cory agreed to run if (1) Marcos called for snap elections, and (2) if the CAPM gathered, as promised, a million signatures endorsing her candidacy.
On November 3, Marcos declared on American television that he would run in a snap presidential election three months hence. On November 19, the Batasang Pambansa set February 7 as the date for the snap polls. On November 30, Cory Aquino was presented with more than a million signatures drafting her to run against Marcos.
On December 2, Ver et al were acquitted by the Sandigan Bayan of complicity in the Aquino assassination. The very next day, Cory declared her candidacy under the UNIDO banner, with former Senator Salvador “Doy” Laurel as her running mate.
On December 23, the Communist Party of the Philippines sounded the call to boycott the snap elections. On December 28, Ambassador Leticia Ramos Shahani, a sister of Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, announced her resignation from the Philippine foreign service to campaign for Cory Aquino. On December 31, KBL stalwarts began defecting to UNIDO. IBM Philippines refused to take part in the COMELEC's plans to computerize the election.
Their coup plans on hold, the RAM launched "Kamalayan '86," a series of prayer rallies and consciousness-raising seminars funded by anti-Marcos businessmen led by Jaime Ongpin to impress upon members of the military the need for clean and honest elections. Meanwhile, in separate meetings, key officers sketched Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos their coup plans. The reformist military tried, and failed, to convince Cory that she had no chance of winning at the polls.
A 21-member bi-partisan delegation of US senators, congressmen, and private citizens arrived in Manila to monitor the election.
An estimated million, the largest political gathering in the nation's history, attended Mrs. Aquino's miting de avance. NAMFREL (National Movement for Free Elections) announced it would post poll-watchers to prevent fraud in the counting. At least five banks, known to have ties with the Marcos regime, experienced a run.
Election Day. NAMFREL mobilized 400,000 volunteers to monitor voting, challenge wrongdoing, and guard against fraud. Broadcast alerts over Radio Veritas urged volunteers into troubled areas to stop ballot boxes from being stolen or tampered with.
Cory Aquino took the lead in NAMFREL's tally of precinct results. She vowed massive protests and daily street demonstrations if cheated. The government's counting proceeded more slowly and showed Marcos leading.
Led by Linda Kapunan, 30 computer technicians manning the COMELEC tabulation machines walked out of their posts to protest alleged deliberate changing of election results. A multinational team of observers cited cases of vote-buying, intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes, tampered election returns, and the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, especially in Metro Manila, by the ruling party.
Enrile warned of greater political instability. "Any untoward events may cause the country to swing either to the extreme right or to the extreme left." In either case, he said, only the Communist Party would benefit. Ver said that the recent election was "the most peaceful in the history of the country," and exhorted AFP men to keep up the good work.
LABAN leader Evelio Javier, former governor of Antique, was gunned down in broad daylight. The Batasang Pambansa formally began the canvass of election returns. Reagan said "hard evidence" of fraud was lacking, and he would send Philip Habib to mediate between the ruling party and the opposition camp. Cory Aquino asked "friends abroad" to set aside "short-sighted self-interest" and stop supporting "a failing dictator." This, as President Marcos invited her to join his government and "actively participate" in a planned Council of State.
The Philippine peso fell drastically to an all-time low of P20 to a dollar, dropping by 75 centavos from its rate the day before.
President Marcos took a virtually irreversible lead over opposition candidate Cory Aquino in the Batasan's official canvass of votes. This, despite efforts of opposition MPs to point out defects in almost all certificates of canvass opened by Speaker Nicanor Yniguez. Statistical improbabilities were also cited.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued its strongest statement ever, warning that a government which "assumes or retains power through fraud" would have "no moral basis." President Marcos's lead widened to 1.5 million votes, with only 1.1 million votes remaining uncanvassed.
Marcos called a meeting of senior generals – Ver, Ramos, Josephus Ramas of the Army, Vicente Piccio of the Air Force, Brilliante Ochoco of the Navy, and Prospero Olivas of the Metropolitan Command. They discussed the disciplining of military reformists and arrest of their leaders; the arrest and assassination of opposition leaders – Neptali Gonzales, Ramon Mitra, Homobono Adaza, Luis Villafuerte, Aquilino Pimentel, Rene Saguisaag, Joe Concepcion, Dante Santos, Ting Paterno, Jaime Ongpin, Vicente Jayme, among others; the declaration of a state of emergency; and the arrest and liquidation of Enrile.
The Batasang Pambansa formally proclaimed Marcos winner of the February 7 elections; all 50 opposition Members of Parliament walked out in protest. Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, speaking for the economic technocrats, assured Marcos of support if he undertook military, political, and economic reforms; Marcos signed an agreement to that effect. Philip Habib arrived in Manila.
At a "victory rally," Corazon Aquino called for coordinated strikes and the boycott of crony media, 7 banks, Rustan's department store, and San Miguel Corporation in a civil disobedience campaign aimed at overthrowing Marcos. Marcos announced that Ver had resigned as AFP chief of staff and NISA director-general and that Lt. Gen. Ramos would serve as chief of staff. The White House grudgingly admitted that the election "was marred by fraud and violence perpetrated largely by the ruling party" and instructed Habib to work out a compromise with Cory Aquino.
Marcos extended Ver's term to the end of February to allow him to wind up his affairs. Habib met with Marcos, then with Cory. Cory bluntly refused anything less than Marcos's removal from office. She announced that she would go around the country to sound her call for civil disobedience and non-violent protest actions; her first stops, Cebu and Davao, the coming weekend. (Habib also met privately with Ramos and Enrile over the next few days.)
Crony banks, corporations, and media were hit hard by the boycott. Deposit withdrawals were reportedly heavy not only in the seven banks in Cory's boycott list but also in banks either partly or wholly owned by known Marcos cronies. Nestle pulled out its ads from government TV Channel 4 and newspaper Bulletin Today. San Miguel-A shares went down to as low as P11.50 per share, while B shares went down to P14.50 per.
The financial fiasco extended to the beverage industry. Beer quaffers suddenly shifted to gin or hard drinks. Restaurants, eateries and cafes refused to serve San Miguel beer as well as Coca Cola, Sprite and Royal True Orange. A small number also stopped drinking Pepsi Cola, Seven-Up and Mirinda, thinking that these softdrinks were also under the control of a crony.
The peso fell to P22.04 to the dollar. NAMFREL chairman Jose Concepcion, Jr. said at least 3.27 million voters, mostly from areas considered as opposition bailiwicks, were unable to cast their votes in the February 7 election. Enrile's American friends warned him that Ver was positioning his forces around Metro Manila.
The US Senate voted 85 to 9 in favor of a declaration that the snap election in the Philippines was marked by "widespread fraud." Col. Irwin Ver placed the Presidential Security Command on red alert. American bishops announced their support of the local clergy's election protests.
Testifying before a US House subcomittee, Assistant Secretary of State Paul H. Wolfowitz disclosed that Reagan's offer of new aid was "in abeyance" as long as Marcos remained in office. Diplomats from 15 nations – Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Japan, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and West Germany – called on Mrs. Aquino who told them she was determined to assume the presidency "at the earliest possible time." Jeepney drivers, consumerists, students, and academicians joined the boycott wagon. RAM set the coup for Sunday, February 23, at 2:00 AM. Col. Almonte detailed the plans to Gen. Ramos.
Marcos admitted he was "nervous" about the decisions of foreign governments to boycott his February 25 inauguration and that he was launching a diplomatic offensive to inform foreign governments about what transpired in the polls. In a 35-minute meeting with Habib, Aquino advised the envoy to "wait and see...let events speak for themselves." Ver informed Marcos that Ramos and Enrile and his Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin were involved with RAM in a CIA plot to assassinate the President. Enrile received information that Ver had ordered his men to prepare for a series of arrests. Enrile then wrote a letter of resignation which he said he would deliver to Malacanang the following Monday.
Despite rumors of a weekend coup by RAM and suggestions that she stay put in Manila, Mrs. Aquino said she would fly to Cebu Saturday morning as scheduled to pursue her campaign for civil disobedience.
In less than a week since Aquino's call for a boycott of banks and business establishments either owned by or aligned with cronies, there was a total of P1.78 billion in withdrawals from crony banks and the Philippine National Bank, Security Bank & Trust Company, Republic Planters Bank, and Traders Royal Bank. The first to get their money out of the crony banks were groups belonging to the clergy; in Union Bank, the clergy represented at least 12 % of its deposit base. As a result, deposit upsurges were recorded in Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, and Citibank. Bulletin Today, the country's largest circulated newspaper (circulation 350,000) trailed the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malaya, and The Manila Times. Rustan's department store was empty; most of its customers moved over to SM Shoemart, Anson's, and Robinson's.
The political opposition said it was ready to set up a provisional government with strong backing from concerned military officers and their men if Marcos insisted on remaining in power. "Mrs Aquino and I have been approached by sufficiently high military officers" who had secretly pledged support for the opposition and the democratic process, Laurel said. He emphasized that he was not calling for a military take-over. "We just want to let Mr. Marcos know that his threat to use the military against the people will not work out."