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Independent Philippines and the Third Republic (1946-1972)

In April 1946, elections were held. Despite the fact that the Democratic Alliance won the election, they were not allowed to take their seats under the pretext that force had been used to manipulate the elections. The United States withdrew its sovereignty over the Philippines on July 4, 1946, as scheduled.

Manuel Roxas (Liberal Party), having been inaugurated as President as scheduled, on July 4, 1946 before the granting of independence, strengthened political and economic ties with the United States in the controversial Philippine-US Trade Act, In Mar., 1947, the Philippines and the United States signed a military assistance pact (since renewed) which allowed the US to participate equally in the exploitation of the country's natural resources—and rented sites for 23 military bases to the US for 99 years (a later agreement reduced the period to 25 years beginning 1967). These bases would later be used to launch operations in the areas of Korea, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

During the Roxas administration, a general amnesty was granted for those who had worked together with the Japanese while at the same time the Huks were declared illegal. His administration ended prematurely when he died of heart attack April 15, 1948 while at the US Air Force Base in Pampanga.

Vice President Elpidio Quirino (Liberal Party, henceforth referred to as LP) was sworn in as President after the death of Roxas in April 1948. He ran for election in November 1949 against Jose P. Laurel (Nacionalista Party, henceforth referred to as NP) and won his own four-year term.

During this time, the CIA under the leadership of Lt. Col. Edward G. Lansdale was engaged in paramilitary and psychological warfare operations with the goal to hold back the Huk Movement. Among the measures which were undertaken were psyops-campaigns which demoralized the superstition of many Filipinos and acts of violence by government soldiers which were disguised as Huks. By 1950, the U.S. had provided the Philippine military with supplies and equipment worth $200 million dollars.

The huge task of reconstructing the war-torn country was complicated by the activities in central Luzon of the Communist-dominated Hukbalahap guerrillas (Huks), who resorted to terror and violence in their efforts to attain land reform and gain political power. They were finally brought under control (1954) after a dynamic attack introduced by the minister of national defense, Ramón Magsaysay. By that time Magsaysay was president of the country, having defeated Quirino in Nov., 1953. His campaign was massively supported by the CIA, both financially and through practical help in discrediting his political enemies. He had promised sweeping economic changes, and he did make progress in land reform, opening new settlements outside crowded Luzon Island. His death in an airplane crash in Mar., 1957, was a serious blow to national morale. Vice President Carlos P. García succeeded him and won a full term as president in the elections of Nov., 1957.

In foreign affairs, the Philippines preserved a firm anti-Communist policy and joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954. There were difficulties with the United States over American military installations in the islands, and, in spite of formal recognition (1956) of full Philippine sovereignty over these bases, tensions increased until some of the bases were dismantled (1959) and the 99-year lease period was reduced. The United States rejected Philippine financial claims and projected trade revisions.

Philippine opposition to García on issues of government corruption and anti-Americanism led, in June, 1959, to the union of the Liberal and Progressive parties, led by Vice President Diosdado Macapagal, the Liberal party leader, who succeeded García as president in the 1961 elections. Macapagal’s administration was marked by efforts to combat the mounting rise that had plagued the republic since its birth; by attempted alliances with neighboring countries; and by a territorial argument with Britain over North Borneo (later Sabah), which Macapagal claimed had been leased and not sold to the British North Borneo Company in 1878.


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