Philippines History and Politics

Philippines History and Politics

Early days

How and when the Philippines were settled is still very controversial. Some researchers assume that the island archipelago was isolated for a long time and then later around 70,000 BC. BC was settled over a land bridge. The peoples who settled the country at that time are called Austronesian peoples. This has nothing to do with astronauts, but with the language in which the settlers spoke. Members of this large language family now live in countries from Madagascar to Easter Island and from Taiwan to New Zealand. Among them are the Philippines, a country located in Asia according to ehealthfacts.


There are many archaeological sites in the Philippines. Finds of human remains from the Stone Age have been made. Researchers are trying to find out when, how and by whom the island was settled. Some scientists deny that the Philippines was first settled over a land bridge.

The Europeans in the Philippines

The Europeans landed in the Philippines in 1521. The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan discovered the islands for the Europeans. Magellan was Portuguese, but was in the service of the Spanish king.

The islanders initially fought violently against Spanish rule. In the end, the Spaniards prevailed and expanded their rule over the island. This also began the Christianization of the islands, because with the conquerors came the missionaries and they wanted to convert the local population to Christianity. The power of the clergy grew and they became rich and influential.

Spanish rule was briefly threatened at the end of the 16th century by the Dutch, who continued to expand their influence in Southeast Asia. But in the end the Spaniards continued to establish themselves and were able to rule the islands until the end of the 19th century.

The Spanish-American War

But then the resistance of the local population grew. It was planned to enforce independence against the Spanish colonial rulers. A revolution took place from 1896 to 1898.

But meanwhile the Spaniards fought against the Americans in the Spanish-American War. In the course of these clashes with Spain, the Americans then occupied Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and also the Philippines. Shortly before, a republic had been proclaimed in the Philippines that the Americans did not recognize.

A tough road to independence

The Americans fought the Filipinos. One million Filipinos were killed during the Philippine-American War. That was 20 percent of the total population living in the Philippines at the time.

So the country remained an American colony for the time being. After the Philippines was occupied by Japan during the Second World War and many people died again, the Southeast Asian country became independent on July 4, 1946 after the war.

The Marcos dictatorship

In 1965 the Filipino people elected the young politician Ferdinand E. Marcos to head the government. He became president. In the next election he received this post again and was thus re-elected as the first president. However, it is doubtful whether this election was all right.

Marcos gained more and more influence in politics and finally consolidated his position of power in 1972. At that time there was a bomb attack in the country and the president declared martial law. That means the president has a lot more influence over the media and the opposition. At that time he had critics locked up and established a dictatorship. This political phase has been named after him: the Marcos dictatorship.


Marcos tried again and again to appease the population by ordering new elections. He won all of them because he had the results falsified. The population grew angry and discontented. Although he built expensive clinics to build a better reputation for himself, it did not improve public confidence in him.

When the well-known critic of the President, Benigno Aquino, was shot dead in 1983, the country was inundated by a wave of demonstrations. The military refused to disband them. Marcos finally had to resign in February 1986. The wife of the murdered presidential critic, Corazon Aquino, became the country’s new president.

And today?

After the experience with Marcos, the Filipino population is politically traumatized. There is very little trust in politics. New presidents are repeatedly (and not always unfounded) accused of electoral fraud and corruption. There are frequent violent clashes between supporters of various political inclinations, including in 2009 in Maguindanao. There are always conflicts not only between political but also between religious groups. All of this makes the country’s political situation unstable to this day.

Rodrigo Duterte and the tough fight against drugs

Rodrigo Duterte came to power in the last election in 2016. Its primary goal is to combat the high level of drug crime in the country. However, he does not shy away from measures that grossly violate human rights. Many drug dealers are shot dead without being tried. The previously abolished death penalty was reintroduced. Those who use drugs can expect the harshest punishments, and there is often no distinction between addicts who live dependent on drugs and those who simply earn money with them. It is often the case that the real drug lords are spared. There are political entanglements and corruption. Duterte also often attracts attention by making statements that discriminate against and hurt other people. He is viewed very critically abroad and his actions are observed with great skepticism.

The freedom of the press in the country is severely restricted. Critical journalists have to fear for their lives.

Philippines History