Philippines Table of Contents
Martial law had emasculated and marginalized the opposition, led by a number of traditional politicians who attempted, with limited success, to promote a credible, noncommunist alternative to Marcos. The most important of these was Salvador H. "Doy" Laurel. Laurel organized a coalition of ten political groups, the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO), to contest the 1982 National Assembly elections. Although he included Benigno Aquino as one of UNIDO's twenty "vice presidents," Laurel and Aquino were bitter rivals.
During the martial law and post-martial law periods, the Catholic Church was the country's strongest and most independent nongovernmental institution. It traditionally had been conservative and aligned with the elites. Parish priests and nuns, however, witnessed the sufferings of the common people and often became involved in political, and even communist, activities. One of the best-known politicized clergy was Father Conrado Balweg, who led a New People's Army guerrilla unit in the tribal minority regions of northern Luzon. Although Pope John Paul II had admonished the clergy worldwide not to engage in active political struggle, the pope's commitment to human rights and social justice encouraged the Philippine hierarchy to criticize the Marcos regime's abuses in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Church-state relations deteriorated as the statecontrolled media accused the church of being infiltrated by communists. Following Aquino's assassination, Cardinal Jaime Sin, archbishop of Manila and a leader of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, gradually shifted the hierarchy's stance from one of "critical collaboration" to one of open opposition.
A prominent Catholic layman, Josť Concepcion, played a major role in reviving the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) with church support in 1983 in order to monitor the 1984 National Assembly elections. Both in the 1984 balloting and the February 7, 1986, presidential election, NAMFREL played a major role in preventing, or at least reporting, regime-- instigated irregularities. The backbone of its organization was formed by parish priests and nuns in virtually every part of the country.
Data as of June 1991