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Tuesday 14 July 2015

1978: Philippines

1978: Marcos Administration

  1. 1978: Philippines

    1.      Politics and government.

                For the first time since martial law was proclaimed in September 1972, Filipinos went to the polls this April 7 to elect a new legislature. On June 12, the 80th anniversary of the end of Spanish rule, the Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly), an interim legislative body, opened its session. The over-whelming majority of the assembly's members belonged to the new government party, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement). Only nine opposition candidates managed to get elected to the 200-member assembly.
                Earlier in the year President Ferdinand E. Marcos lifted curfew restrictions except in a few areas in Mindanao and northern Luzon, where rebels still resisted government authority. Other significant moves the martial law government has made to pave the way for restoration of constitutional processes included the following: the release of thousands of detainees arrested by the military on charges including illegal assembly, unauthorized possession of firearms, and rebellion; grants of amnesty to those who have left rebel groups; and the transfer of thousands of cases from military tribunals to civilian courts.
                With the National Assembly in session, President Marcos ceased to issue decrees, although he retained his emergency powers and can still rule by decree when the assembly is not in session. It was expected that the parliamentary form of government will function in full force at the end of the Batasang Pambansa's six-year term and that a new election will be called. Meanwhile, Marcos reorganized his government and changed the designation of his department secretaries to ministers. He also created a new cabinet post, minister of ecology and human settlements, and named his wife, Imelda Marcos, who concurrently holds the position of governor of metropolitan Manila, as minister. As authorized by the last referendum prior to the National Assembly elections, the president assumed the role of prime minister during the transition period until he calls for a new election under the parliamentary system of government.

    2.      Foreign relations.

                Philippine foreign policy has been geared primarily to promoting the country's economic development effort through greater trade with all countries and diversification of the sources of both long-term foreign loans and foreign investment in capital-intensive loan enterprises. In accordance with this policy, the government has been sending financial and investment missions to the European Economic Community members, other European nations, the United States, and Japan—to entice foreign investors and also to maximize foreign loan availability. The Philippines is also beginning to obtain development funds from Arab countries.
                A great deal of attention has been given to relations with the other four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Efforts at further trade liberalization moved along smoothly, and by the end of 1978, ASEAN was expected to have at least 1,000 commodities under preferential trading arrangements.
                Progress was made in updating the military bases agreement between the Philippines and the United States. Washington agreed to Manila's exercising sovereignty over bases now used by the United States in the Philippines, through the appointment of Filipino commanders and the flying of the Filipino flag over these bases. The ticklish question of jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed by American personnel, both inside and outside the bases, was yet to be resolved, as was the amount of rent the United States should pay to the Philippines for use of the bases.

    3.      The economy.

                Despite poor prices for some of the Philippines' major exports, the economy performed quite well in 1977. The gross national product grew by 6.3 percent, compared with 6.1 percent (a revised figure) in 1976. This overall growth was made possible by satisfactory gains in such major production sectors as agriculture, which still accounts for nearly 30 percent of total GNP; manufacturing, which in the 1980's is expected to catch up with agriculture as a contributor to GNP; and mining, which is still steadily expanding in spite of price setbacks suffered by the major metals through the first half of 1978.
                One of the bright spots in the agricultural sector has been the attainment of self-sufficiency in rice supply, making the Philippines a net rice exporter instead of an importer, as it had been until a few years ago. A major setback in the agricultural sector has been the depressed price of sugar in the world market, relegating sugar to the second position in the export list and making sugar growing and milling a distressed industry.
                Declines in world market prices of several major exports—including copper and nickel, as well as sugar—combined with rising production costs and the operation of the socialized pricing scheme for prime commodities to adversely affect the profitability of many enterprises. In 1977, five of the 50 biggest corporations in the Philippines reported losses, and 15 showed decreased earnings. The largest corporations, in petroleum and mining, suffered the heaviest declines in profits. On the other hand, the public utility firms, which enjoy a monopoly in their franchise areas, were among the most profitable and showed some of the highest returns on sales.
                The inflation rate was kept at 7 percent in 1977 and into 1978, compared with 10 percent in 1976. But wage and tax increases contributed to raising the cost of doing business, and such costs were generally being passed on to consumers.

    4.      Disasters.

                In August the Philippines suffered from a series of tropical depressions that brought torrential rains and floods. About a score of fatalities resulted from landslides and rampaging waters, and there was significant damage in infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Damage to crops was not serious enough to set back projections of another bountiful rice harvest this year. At least two volcanoes that had been dormant for some time, Mayon in southern Luzon and Kanlaon on Negros island in the central Philippines, erupted but caused little damage.

    5.      Insurgency.

                The government claimed that hundreds of additional Muslim rebels abandoned insurgency groups and were granted amnesty. But raids and ambushes of military personnel continued in southern Mindanao, and elements of the New People's Army, based in northern Luzon and also lately in such Visayan (central Philippines) islands as Samar and Panay, continued to defy the martial law government.

    6.      Area and population.

                Area, 115,830 sq. mi. Pop. (est. 1978), 46.3 million. Manila (cap.; met. area), 7 million.

    7.      Government.

                Republic under martial law, now in transition to parliamentary system. Pres. and prime min., Ferdinand E. Marcos.

    8.      Finance.

                Monetary unit, peso; 1 peso = US$0.1375. Budget (1979), US$4.6 billion.

    9.      Trade (1977).

                Imports, $4.5 billion; exports, $3.15 billion.

    10.  Education.

                Enrollment (1977-1978): elementary schools, 7,850,000; secondary schools, 2,400,000; institutions of higher learning, 850,000.

    11.  Armed forces (est. 1978).

                Army, 63,000; navy, 20,000; air force, 16,000; paramilitary forces, 65,000.

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