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HISTORY of the Republic of the Philippines

The History of The Philippines can be divided into seven very distinct phases: 1. the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); 2. the Spanish colony period (1521-1898); 3. the Filipino Revolution period; 4. the American colony period (1898-1946); 5. the Japanese occupation period; 6. the Philippine Independence and 7. the post-Independence period (1946-present).

1. Pre-Spanish Period of The Republic of the Philippines

The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, Malays came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats by sea. The Malays settled in scattered communities, named barangays after the large outrigger boats in which they arrived, and ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century, sometimes traveling on the ships of Arab traders, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

2. Spanish Colony Period of The Republic of the Philippines

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, but stayed for only a few days. Christianity was established in the Philippines only after the arrival of the succeeding Spanish expeditionary forces (the first led by Legazpi in the 16th century) and the Spanish Jesuits, and in the 17th and 18th centuries by the conquistadores.

Until Mexico proclaimed independence from Spain in 1810 the islands were under the administrative control of Spanish North America, and there was significant migration between North America and the Philippines. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed with a local government centered in Manila and with considerable clerical influence. Spanish influence was strongest in Luzon and the central Philippines but less so in Mindanao, save for certain coastal cities.

The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, European-educated Filipinos or ilustrados (such as the Chinese Filipino national hero Jose Rizal) began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain that began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo (another Chinese Filipino) and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

3. Filipino Revolution Period of The Republic of the Philippines

During the Filipino Revolution period starting in 1898 until 1899, there arose two very distinct revolutionary outcome from native Filipinas residents who initiated an armed uprising against the historical Spanish government of the Filipinas, and against the invading forces of the United States of America, who initially had the backing of the northern Filipinos of Luzon but ended up doing battle against them after they defeated the ruling Spaniards because they withdrew their support for the Americans after it became clear the U.S. wanted to take the Filipinas islands for its own, and paid to get it done legally in the sum amount of $30,000,0000.00 to Spain.

  • A Filipinas country and Filipinos people CAVEAT: The Filipinas consisted of the entire Islands Groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Filipino Revolution Period covers the entire Filipinas and its collective Filipinos people, and we aim to show how REVISIONIST "HISTORIANS" from the Manila-centric view point tries to present to the world an erroneous representation of the facts of history. They equate the "Republic of The Philippines" as their "Republic of Manila." Every aspect of their revisionist Filipinas history only covers what transpired in the Manila area at the time of the revolutionary wars. What these revisionist historians are doing is a mockery of history and all the "other" Filipinos who sacrificed their lives for the benefit of a united country. The Filipinos of the Visayas and of Mindanao will be given their due historical place of martyrdom and clout in our representation of Filipinas History as it happened, accordingly.

First, we will tackle the two wars that erupted, initially between the Filipinos and the ruling Spaniards and then between the Filipinos and the United States of America:

The Philippine-Spanish War

The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, Western-educated Filipinos or ilustrados (such as national hero Jose Rizal) began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain that began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

The Philippine-American War

Following Admiral George Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the U.S. occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by revolutionary President Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. This conflict claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Although Americans have historically used the term "the Philippine Insurrection", Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999, the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the U.S., and resistance gradually died out until the conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. However, armed resistance continued sporadically until 1913, especially in Mindanao and Sulu, with heavy casualties on both sides.

Now, let us highlight the two very distinct "local Filipinos" outcomes of the Filipino revolution, which are:

  • I. Philippine Revolutionary Government - started: June 23, 1898, as a Dictatorial Government by Gen. Aguinaldo (Revolutionary type)

Started under proclaimed Dictator/President Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, for the Islands of Luzon and Visayas as the Dictatorial Government of the Philippine Revolutionary Government, as spelled out in Article 1 of their declaration papers. This is the actual history of what happened to the Philippines. In order for any government to govern the people, it must have de facto control over its claimed territory, which Aguinaldo never established. There was never a united Philippines during the 1898 revolution, or any time thereafter, until the United States gave it independence on July 4, 1946.

Republic of Zamboanga map, where President Alvarez and his troops, along with the redeemed Zamboangueños, became the only citizens of the Filipinas who had complete sovereignty over their de facto jurisdiction, a feat no other Filipinos ever attained during the revolutionary wars.
  • II. Republic of Zamboanga - born: May 18, 1899, by Popular Choice of the People (Revolutionary type). It became the first sovereign republic in The Philippines.

Established under President Gen. Vicente Alvarez, for the Islands of Mindanao, Basilan, and Sulu as the Republic of Zamboanga and where he was popularly chosen by the local people. The Republic of Zamboanga's declared sovereignty lasted from May 18, 1899 until November 16, 1899, wherein its revolutionary government and chosen President General Vicente Alvarez, who led the liberation of the Zamboangueños from the tenuous grip of the retreating Spanish military, along with his victorious military troops, exercised de facto sovereignty over administrative functions and military control within their new country territory and was not subordinate or subject to any other government or authority in the country known as Las Islas Filipinas by its former Spanish rulers, that became The Philippines under its United States conquerors and administrators (which finally resulted as the Republic of The Philippines after its eventual independence from all foreign intervention). President Alvarez proclaimed his new Republic of Zamboanga had overarching rule over the entire island of Mindanao, Basilan and Sulu - effectively the entire southern Filipinas, amidst a tri-party war between the U.S., Spain, and the Philippine islands' natives. Although President Alvarez's overarching claim was grandiose (similar in context to proclaimed Dictator/President Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo's overarching non-de facto claim for the Islands of Luzon and Visayas as the Dictatorial Government of the Philippine Revolutionary Government on June 23, 1898), his more realistic sovereignty was over the existing premises of ancient Zamboanga, which can be estimated to be about the same size as present day Zamboanga City is. Nevertheless, President Alvarez and his troops, along with the redeemed Zamboangueños, became the only citizens of the Filipinas who had complete sovereignty over their de facto jurisdiction, a feat no other Filipinos ever attained during this war, not even his northern cohort, Luzon's revolutionary Dictator/President, and General, Emilio Aguinaldo.

4. American Colony Period of The Republic of the Philippines

American empire in 1900, with farthest Philippine colony

Following Admiral George Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the U.S. occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by revolutionary General Aguinaldo in Luzon and General Vicente Alvarez in Mindanao, broke out in 1899. This conflict claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999, the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term.

In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States, and resistance gradually died out until the conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. However, armed resistance continued sporadically until 1913, especially among the Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu, with heavy casualties on both sides.

While the U.S. military was busy taking care of Aguinaldo's armed resistance in Luzon, General Vicente Alvarez was successful in winning against the retreating Spanish officials into Zamboanga City in Mindanao as their last stronghold was the combined contingent of Spanish and local Chavacanos militia who were loyal to their Spanish friends, until they found out they were being lied to about the Spaniards losing to the United States.

In 1899, Gen. Alvarez defeated the Spaniards in Zamboanga and declared independence for the new Republic of Zamboanga. He and his troops has command and control over their entire area of influence and was the only General and President to have led his people into independence, with sovereignty over their new republic. This sovereignty lasted for six months until he was uprooted by the attacking U.S. military on fort Pilar in the Republic of Zamboanga. When the U.S. military took control of the area, they replaced the escaped President Alvarez with his opponent Isidoro Midel. The Republic of Zamboanga lasted until March 1903 under U.S. administration, when the new Moro Province was enacted under U.S. military rule for the entire Mindanao and Sulu area.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education, public infrastructure, and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907, and a bicameral legislature, largely under Filipino control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

President McKinley's Schurmann Commission (1899) recognized the determination of the Filipino people to gain their independence and recommended the establishment of the institutions for a civilian domestic government as soon as practical.

Even though on March 16, 1900 the fighting in the War of Independence was still far from over, President McKinley appointed the Second Philippine Commission (Taft Commission) and gave it the legislative and executive authority to put in place the civilian government the Schurmann Commission had recommended.

With 499 statutes issued between September 1900 and August 1902, the Taft Commission swept away three centuries of Spanish governance and installed in its place the laws and institutions of a modern civil state akin to that of the United States. It established a code of law, a judicial system and elective municipal and provincial governments.

The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 extended the protections of the United States Bill of Rights to Filipinos and established a national bi-cameral legislature. The lower house was the popularly elected Philippine Assembly and the upper house was the Philippine Commission appointed directly by the President of the United States.

Following American practice, the Philippine Organic Act imposed the strict separation of church and state and eliminated the Roman Catholic Church as the official state religion. In 1904 the administration paid the Vatican US$7.2 million for most of the lands held by the religious orders and were later sold back to Filipinos.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907, and a bicameral legislature, largely under Philippine control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I.

The Jones Act of 1916 carried forward the Philippine Organic Act of 1902. An elected Philippine Senate replaced the appointed Philippine Commission and the former Philippine Assembly was renamed the House of Representatives. As before, the Governor-General, responsible for the executive branch, was appointed by the United States President.

Commonwealth of The Philippines

P.C. coin
P.C. seal

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth of the United States. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new commonwealth government, which was tasked to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period.

The Act of Congress approved March 24, 1934, known as the Philippine Independence Act, directed that, on the 4th day of July immediately following a ten-year transitional period leading to the independence of the Philippines, the President of the United States of America should by proclamation withdraw and surrender all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty of the United States of America in and over the territory and people of the Philippines, except certain reservations therein or thereafter authorized to be made, and, on behalf of the United States of America, should recognize the independence of the Philippines.

However, World War II intervened when Japan attacked and occupied the Philippine Commonwealth.

5. Japanese Occupation Period of The Republic of the Philippines

World War II began in the Philippines when Japan surprised and deliberately attacked the country and after months of continued offensive, the island of Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, finally fell in May 1942. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos fought a running guerilla campaign against Japanese forces.

The full-scale war to regain the Philippines began when General Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrendered in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting, making it the second most devastated city in World War II after Warsaw. In total, an estimated one million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

Due to the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation from the Japanese military, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with the original plans for independence.

On July 4, 1946, just ten months after regaining their war-torn country, the Filipinos got what they have been preparing for in a long time - the United States finally proclaimed the independence of the Philippines, and became the sovereign Republic of the Philippines.

6. Independence of The Republic of the Philippines

From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access [www.gpoaccess.gov] [Laws in effect as of January 3, 2007] [CITE: 22USC1394]

[Page 281-282]

TITLE 22--FOREIGN RELATIONS AND INTERCOURSE
CHAPTER 15--THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
SUBCHAPTER VI--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

§ 1394. Recognition of Philippine independence

  • (a) Withdrawal of American sovereignty

On the 4th day of July immediately following the expiration of a period of ten years from the date of the inauguration of the new government under the constitution provided for in this Act, the President of the United States shall by proclamation withdraw and surrender all right of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty then existing and exercised by the United States in and over the territory and people of the Philippine Islands, including all military and other reservations of the Government of the United States in the Philippines (except such naval reservations and fueling stations as are reserved under section 1391 of this title), and, on behalf of the United States, shall recognize the independence of the Philippine Islands as a separate and self-governing nation and acknowledge the authority and control over the same of the government instituted by the people thereof, under the constitution then in force.

  • (b) Naval reservations and fueling stations

The President of the United States is authorized and empowered to enter into negotiations with the government of the Philippine Islands, not later than two years after his proclamation recognizing the independence of the Philippine Islands, for the adjustment and settlement of all questions relating to naval reservations and fueling stations of the United States in the Philippine Islands, and pending such adjustment and settlement the matter of naval reservations and fueling stations shall remain in its present status.

  • (c) Property for diplomatic purposes

(1) Whenever the President of the United States shall find that any properties in the Philippines, owned by the Philippine Government or by private persons, would be suitable for diplomatic or consular establishments of the United States after the inauguration of the independent Government, he may, with the approval of the Philippine Government, and in exchange for the conveyance of title to the United States, transfer to the said Government or private persons any properties of the United States in the Philippines. Title to any properties so transferred to private persons, and title to any properties so acquired by the United States, shall be vested in fee simple in such persons and the United States, respectively, notwithstanding the provisions contained in subsection (a) of this section.

(2) Whenever, prior to July 4, 1946, the President of the United States shall find that any properties of the United States in the Philippines would be suitable for diplomatic and consular establishments of the United States after the inauguration of the independent Government, he shall designate the same by the issuance of a proclamation or proclamations, and title to any properties so designated shall continue to be vested in fee simple in the United States notwithstanding the provisions contained in subsection (a) of this section.

(3) Title to the lands and buildings pertaining to the official residences of the United States High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands in the cities of Manila and Baguio, together with all fixtures and movable objects, shall continue to be vested in the United States after July 4, 1946, notwithstanding the provisions contained in subsection (a) of this section.

(4) Administrative supervision and control over any properties acquired or designated by the President of the United States pursuant to this subsection, and over the official residences in the Philippines of the High Commissioner, shall, on and after July 4, 1946, be exercised by the Secretary of State, in accordance with Acts of Congress relating to property held by the United States in foreign countries for official establishments.

(Mar. 24, 1934, ch. 84, Sec. 10, 48 Stat. 463; Aug. 7, 1939, ch. 502, Sec. 3, 53 Stat. 1230.)

References in Text

This Act, referred to in subsec. (a), is act Mar. 24, 1934, ch. 84, 48 Stat. 456, as amended, which enacted sections 1281a, 1391, 1393 to 1395 of this title, and section 1248 of Title 48, Territories and Insular Possessions, amended sections 1231 to 1234, 1237, 1238, 1239, 1241 to 1243, 1245, and 1247 of Title 48, and enacted a provision set out as a note under section 1391 of this title. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Tables.

[.[Page 282].]

Prior Provisions

Provisions similar to those contained in subsec. (a) of this section were contained in the first par. of section 10 of act Jan. 17, 1933, ch. 11, 47 Stat. 768.

Amendments

1939--Subsec. (c). Act Aug. 7, 1939, added subsec. (c).

Effective Date of 1939 Amendment

Section 7 of act Aug. 7, 1939, provided that act Aug. 7, 1939, should become effective on Jan. 1, 1940, if certain conditions were fulfilled. The conditions were fulfilled and section became effective on said date.

Independence Date Advanced

Section 3 of act June 29, 1944, ch. 322, 58 Stat. 626, provided in part that date of independence could be advanced prior to July 4, 1946, but it was not done.

  • Proc. No. 2695. Philippine Independence

Proc. No. 2695, July 4, 1946, 11 F.R. 7517, 60 Stat. 1352, provided:

The United States of America hereby withdraws and surrenders all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty now existing and exercised by the United States of America in and over the territory and people of the Philippines; and,

On behalf of the United States of America, I do hereby recognize the independence of the Philippines as a separate and self-governing nation and acknowledge the authority and control over the same of the government instituted by the people thereof, under the constitution now in force.

________________________________________

  • PROCLAMATION:

HARRY S. TRUMAN
XXXIII President of the United States of America: 1945-1953

Proclamation 2695--Independence of the Philippines

Pres. Harry S. Truman proclaimed Philippine Independence: July 4, 1946

July 4, 1946

WHEREAS the United States of America by the Treaty of Peace with Spain of December 10, 1898, commonly known as the Treaty of Paris, and by the Treaty with Spain of November 7, 1900, did acquire sovereignty over the Philippines, and by the Convention of January 2, 1930, with Great Britain did delimit the boundary between the Philippine Archipelago and the State of North Borneo; and

WHEREAS the United States of America has consistently and faithfully during the past forty-eight years exercised jurisdiction and control over the Philippines and its people; and

WHEREAS it has been the repeated declaration of the legislative and executive branches of the Government of the United States of America that full independence would be granted the Philippines as soon as the people of the Philippines were prepared to assume this obligation; and

WHEREAS the people of the Philippines have clearly demonstrated their capacity for self-government; and

WHEREAS the Act of Congress approved March 24, 1934, known as the Philippine Independence Act, directed that, on the 4th day of July immediately following a ten-year transitional period leading to the independence of the Philippines, the President of the United States of America should by proclamation withdraw and surrender all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty of the United States of America in and over the territory and people of the Philippines, except certain reservations therein or thereafter authorized to be made, and, on behalf of the United States of America, should recognize the independence of the Philippines:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States of America, acting under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the aforesaid act of Congress, do proclaim that, in accord with and subject to the reservations provided for in the applicable statutes of the United States,

The United States of America hereby withdraws and surrenders all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction, control, or sovereignty now existing and exercised by the United States of America in and over the territory and people of the Philippines; and,

On behalf of the United States of America, I do hereby recognize the independence of the Philippines as a separate and self-governing nation and acknowledge the authority and control over the same of the government instituted by the people thereof, under the constitution now in force.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this Fourth day of July in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and forty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-first.
________________________________________

  • STATEMENT:

HARRY S. TRUMAN
XXXIII President of the United States of America: 1945-1953

Statement by the President Concerning Philippine Independence.

May 5, 1945

I HAVE HAD several discussions with President Osmena on the subject of Philippine independence. These discussions were started by President Roosevelt.

As a result of the discussions I have had with the President of the Philippines, I am prepared to endorse and carry through to their conclusion the policies laid down by President Roosevelt respecting the Islands and the independence of the Filipino people.

The date of independence will be advanced as soon as practicable in pursuance of the policy outlined by Congress in S.J. Resolution 93. The Filipino people whose heroic and loyal stand in this war has won the affection and admiration of the American people, will be fully assisted by the United States in the great problem of rehabilitation and reconstruction which lies ahead.

In view of the special relationship between the United States and the Philippines as created by S.J. Resolution 93, I believe that suitable reciprocal trade between the two countries should continue for such time, after independence, as may be necessary to provide the new Republic with a fair opportunity to secure its economic freedom and independence--a permanent blessing for the patriotic people of the Philippines.

To assist me in the attainment of these objectives and with concurrence of President Osmena, I am asking Senator Millard Tydings, of Maryland, Chairman of the Filipino Rehabilitation Commission, to proceed to Manila as my special envoy to examine conditions there and report his recommendations to me.

I have also designated the following to accompany Senator Tydings and to assist him in the accomplishment of this mission:

Vice Admiral W. T. Tarrant, United States Navy;
Brigadier General Frank E. Lowe, United States Army;
Colonel Julian Baumann, United States Army;
George E. Ijams, Veterans Administration;
E. D. Hester, Interior Department;
J. Weldon Jones, Bureau of the Budget;
Ben D. Dorfman, United States Tariff Commission;
Daniel S. Brierley, United States Maritime Commission; and
C. H. Matthiessen, Consultant, War Production Board.

It will be my constant endeavor to be of assistance to the Philippines. I will be only too happy to see to it that the close friendship between our two peoples, developed through many years of fruitful association, is maintained and strengthened.

I hope to be able to accept the invitation of President Osmena to visit Manila at the inauguration of the Philippine Republic.

________________________________________
Note: S.J. Res. 93 is Public Law 380, 78th Congress (58 Stat. 625).
________________________________________
The American Presidency Project.

7. Post-Independence Period of The Republic of the Philippines

The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. The communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy. In 1962, the official Philippine Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a six-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers, and corruption and cronyism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983 after a long period of exile coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Under Aquino's presidency, progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was signed in 1996, using the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a vehicle for self-government.

Popular movie actor Joseph Ejercito Estrada's election as president in May 1998 marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected vice president in 1998, assumed the presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power. National and local elections took place in May 2004. Under the constitution, Arroyo was eligible for another six-year term as president, and she won a hard-fought campaign against her primary challenger, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr., in elections held May 10, 2004. Noli De Castro was elected vice president.

Impeachment charges were brought against Arroyo in June 2005 for allegedly tampering with the results of the elections after purported tapes of her speaking with an electoral official during the vote count surfaced, but Congress rejected the charges in September 2005. Similar charges were discussed and dismissed by Congress in 2006 and 2007, and again raised in 2008.