How do we classify the Philippines with respect to the military role? Robert Looney considers countries “under military control” if they meet one or more of these criteria: key political leadership by the military; existence of a state of martial law; extrajudicial authority exercised by security forces; lack of central control by national political authorities over large sections of the country where official or unofficial security forces rule; or control by foreign military organizations.1 In the Marcos era, the first four of these conditions obtain; if one can consider an insurgent force equivalent to a “foreign military organization,” then all of them did. Under President Aquino, General Ramos first served as chief of staff of the armed forces, then became secretary of national defense. The president at all times was dependent on him for survival. Martial law was not in force, but the armed forces endured continual accusations of exercising extrajudicial authority in rural areas, and the accusations were at least sometimes correct. Armed citizen’s groups (e.g., the Alsa Masa) at times ran cities (such as Davao) and always were objects of fear in the populace (as revealed in polls), particularly when they were on the rampage. And with the NPA having influence in 20 percent of the country’s barangays in the late 1980s—a conservative figure—it is clear that Manila’s writ did not run everywhere. And yet the Philippines was not under military control under either Marcos or Aquino.
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