The military of a country can make or break its present administration—this claim perhaps is best proved by the events that transpired during President Ferdinand Marcos’ despotic administration. During the implementation of Martial law in the country, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, composed of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Air Force became pivotal in quelling uprisings and attacking “enemies of the state”. But towards the end of Marcos’ presidency, the Philippine military also played a key role in overthrowing the dictator.
Since Marcos’ first term in the end of 1960s, the military has been always been important in achieving his administrative as well as political goals. Marcos deployed resources of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to help in such civilian activities as infrastructure construction, economic planning and program execution, and community development. To a very large extent, the line separating the civilians from the military was blurred during Marcos’ twenty-year rule.
Marcos likewise used the military in achieving military ends. Between 1966 and 1968, Marcos sent some 1,600 troops of the military composed of over 10,000 soldiers as support American cause in the Vietnam War. Upon the execution of Proclamation 1081, Marcos used the military to decimate his political enemies and critics like Benigno Aquino Jr., Jose Diokno, and Jovito Salonga. In his pursuit of the “Bagong Lipunan” (New Society), Marcos used the Military for confiscating monopolies and lands from oligarchs and supposedly “redistributing them to more needy Filipinos.” Suffice it to say, the Philippine Military for a time became Marcos’ watchdogs—they were instrumental in carrying out Marcos’ illicit political schemes.
Despite their tainted record, the Philippine Military, nonetheless, “redeemed” itself when it changed loyalties in the eve of February 28, 1986. A faction led by former defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Fidel Ramos, then AFP vice-chief of staff Lt. General, backed the civilians in their successful stand against the dictator. On the same day, Marcos was overthrown. The Philippine democracy was thus restored.
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