Philippines Politics in the 2000’s

Despite the repeated commitments made by the various successive presidents since the fall of the authoritarian regime of FE Marcos (1965-1986), to accelerate the process of modernization and development of the country, the Philippiness remained at the beginning of 2000.still substantially backward, with serious structural deficiencies and large pockets of poverty and misery. Primary services, such as electricity and drinking water, were still closed to the poorest strata of the population, especially in the countryside, and for many families the only source of income continued to be represented by the remittances sent by one or more of its exponents who had emigrated to the abroad. Among the main causes of this situation there was both the persistence, at all levels of the state apparatus, of widespread corruption, among which a large part of the resources destined for infrastructures and services ended up being entangled, and the lack of solidity political institutions, undermined, as well as by the restlessness of the armed forces,, NPA) and the Muslim one (Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF), which continued to affect mainly the southern part of the country.

After the brief interlude of President J. Estrada (1998-2001), forced to resign because he was involved in serious episodes of corruption, in January 2001 the power passed into the hands of his vice president, Mrs. GM Macapagal-Arroyo, daughter of the former president DP Macapagal (1961-1965), an expression of the dominant oligarchies and appreciated by the Catholic hierarchy. The new administration resumed dialogue with the MNLF and the NPA, rejecting the massive use of the army adopted (however unsuccessfully) by Estrada, and focused its efforts on fighting corruption and reducing public debt, including in its program also the commitment to improve the living conditions of the poorest strata. This line guaranteed the government the support of the population, testified by the success reported by the majority parties in the political and administrative elections of May 2001. In the following years, however, the situation remained critical, and the stability of the government was undermined by the failed coup attempt, carried out in July 2003,by some members of the armed forces. Also in this period there was an exacerbation of the conflict with the Muslim guerrillas and the intransigent line was adopted again, with a massive use of the army. This new strategy was influenced by pressure from the US government which, after the attacks of 11 September 2001, had requested a more rigorous repression of the various armed Islamic movements and had included the Filipino ones in the list of the most dangerous. In reality, GM Macapagal-Arroyo tried to avoid an excessive escalation of the clash with the MNLF, leaving the door open for dialogue, which was in fact resumed during 2004.

The presidential elections held in May 2004, characterized as always by violence and intimidation, reconfirmed the outgoing president in power with 40 % of the votes. To try to revive the image of his administration, GM Macapagal-Arroyo presented a program with strong social content, and reaffirmed his commitment to fight unemployment and corruption and to restore public debt. During 2005, clashes with the Islamic guerrillas continued to intensify, while a new wave of scandals swept through the president’s family. In foreign policy, relations with the United States were strengthened during these years, especially on the military level, even if in July 2004 the government decided to anticipate the withdrawal of its contingent engaged in humanitarian aid in ̔Irāq, meeting the pressure of public opinion. They also tried to improve relations with China and with the countries of the area, in an attempt to increase trade agreements.

Philippines Politics in the 2000's