An Independent Nation: Not Without Corruption
The Philippines achieved full independence on July 4, 1946. Manuel A.
Roxas y Acuña was elected its first president, succeeded by Elpidio
Quirino (1948–1953), Ramón Magsaysay (1953–1957),
Carlos P. García (1957–1961), Diosdado Macapagal
(1961–1965), and Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965–1986).
Under Marcos, civil unrest broke out in opposition to the leader's
despotic rule. Martial law was declared on Sept. 21, 1972, and Marcos
proclaimed a new constitution that ensured his role as president. Martial
law was officially lifted on Jan. 17, 1981, but Marcos and his wife,
Imelda, retained broad powers.
In an attempt to resecure American support, Marcos set presidential
elections for Feb. 7, 1986. With the support of the Catholic Church,
Corazon Aquino declared her candidacy. Marcos was declared the official
winner, but independent observers reported widespread election fraud and
vote rigging. Anti-Marcos protests exploded in Manila, Defense Minister
Juan Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos defected to the opposition, and
Marcos lost virtually all support; he was forced to flee and
entered the U.S. on Feb. 25, 1986.