The Philippines: Civil-Military Relations, from Marcos to Duterte
- Terence LeeTerence LeeDepartment of Political Science, National University of Singapore
The Philippines has been beset by several instances of military mutinies since the end of the Marco dictatorship. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were also actively involved in pressuring the resignation of President Joseph Estrada and in propping up the presidency of Estrada’s successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The military’s actions suggested that that the armed forces’ influence in Philippine politics was on the rise. Since that time, with no instances of coups and mutinies under the presidencies of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Rodrigo Roa Duterte, military adventurism appears to be on the decline. Could it be that civilian supremacy is ascendant in the Philippines and the AFP have abandoned their “interventionist tendency” in civilian affairs?
An examination of the patterns in post-Marcos Philippine civil-military relations in five domains—elite recruitment, public policy, internal security, national defense, and military organization—indicates that the AFP remain a highly politicized institution. Although institutional guardrails to preserve civilian supremacy have been instituted, with positive moves to professionalize and reorient the armed forces toward an external security posture, challenges in the areas of elite-dominated and clientelistic governance and the country’s protracted insurgencies remain obstacles to civilian political leaders’ authority over the military.