The Road to Malacañang: A Brief History of the Presidential Elections (part 2)

After 300 years of Spanish colonial rule and 50 years of American administration, the Philippines is now an independent nation. And President Manuel Roxas was inaugurated on the historic day of July 4, 1946. The Star Spangled Banner has been unfurled for the last time and now the national flag flew on its own for the first time.

President Roxas speaking in front of a
joint US-Philippine assembly

The new Philippine republic is now facing a wide range of issues that may undermine its political stability as the country is still reeling from the devastation from the war. The communist insurgency has become a growing menace in the countryside as Philippine Constabulary forces fought them in punitive guerrilla campaigns. There widespread discontentment by the peasants and the working class. The rich illustrados have become richer as they owned more and more lands while the poor became poorer, Brigands, scalawags and hoodlums prowled the countryside as lawlessness became uncontrollable. Political families have their own private armies.

These are the challenges that President Roxas has to solve and the new republic has to overcome.

Philippine Independence — July 4, 1946

Unfortunately, while on a speech at the American-controlled Clark Air Base on April 15, 1948, President Roxas suffered a fatal heart attack. Elpidio Quirino succeeded Roxas as president of the Philippines. To learn more about the Quirino presidency, please visit my other blog.

Being a president not elected by popular vote, President Quirino declared himself a candidate for the November 8, 1949 elections — the dirtiest election in Philippine history. It was marred by massive vote buying, political killings and voter intimidation. Despite the dirty tactics, the election may have gone either way as President Quirino held a very slim margin against Jose P. Laurel.

The split in the Partido Liberal may have affected the count and the votes for Jose Avelino of the split faction of the Partido Liberal may probably for the Nacionalista bet Laurel.


Candidate Party Votes %
Elpidio Quirino Liberal Party (Quirino Wing) 1,803,808 50.93%
José P. Laurel Nacionalista Party 1,318,330 37.22%
José Avelino Liberal Party (Avelino Wing) 419,890 11.85%


Candidate Party Votes %
Fernando Lopez Liberal Party (Quirino Wing) 1,341,284 52.19%
Manuel Briones Nacionalista Party 1,184,215 46.08%
Vicente J. Francisco Liberal Party (Avelino Wing) 44,510 1.73%

And so President Quirino got his fresh mandate, but the following years into his term he became unpopular because of corruption and incompetent administration. The Hukbalahap are getting stronger and a new and rising political star is rising and may probably steal Quirino’s thunder, he is the man of the masses — Ramon Magsaysay. As the Secretary of National Defense, he managed to force the surrender of prominent Hukbalahap leaders (with the aid of CIA).

President Quirino and his family

It may be assumed that the Americans feared that an unpopular government would result in political instability in the Philippines and may even lead to a communist takeover. Such scenario is detrimental to American interests in the country. So it is not surprising that American Air Force intelligence officer Lt. Col. Edward Lansdale became so close to Magsaysay that his victory in the election may have been attributed to the CIA’s secret war against the communists and left-wing elements in the country.

In the November 10, 1953 elections, Magsaysay squared off against the incumbent President Quirino, who is seeking his second full term. It seems that the president may defeat the novice politician because of his large political machinery as well as its very important connections from his vast party apparatus. Well, he taken for granted Magsaysay’s popularity with the masses as well as help from the CIA, which ultimately turned the tables around as the Nacionalistas swept the Liberalistas out from power for the first time since 1941.


Candidate Party Votes %
Ramon Magsaysay Nacionalista Party 2,912,992 68.90%
Elpidio Quirino Liberal Party 1,313,991 31.08%
Gaudencio Bueno Independent 736 0.02%


Candidate Party Votes %
Carlos P. Garcia Nacionalista Party 2,515,265 62.90%
Jose Yulo Liberal Party 1,483,802 37.10%
President Magsaysay and his first lady entertaining
former U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt

But in an unfortunate series of events, President Magsaysay failed to complete his full term because he died in a freak air crash in the mountains of Cebu on March 17, 1957.  Over two million people attended his funeral as his cortege was paraded in the streets of Manila on March 22, 1957. Until now, his death is still shrouded in mystery.

President Magsaysay’s necrological service

For the second time in history, a vice president has become the president of the country. Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol is the third Visayan to become the president of the Philippines. Though he instituted a “Filipino First” policy throughout his term, his foreign relations were inexorably tied more to American interests. However, he did acted upon the Bohlen-Serrano Agreements which shortened the leases of the American bases from 99 to 25 years.

And just like his predecessor, the late President Quirino, President Garcia decided to run for a full term as president in the November 12, 1957 elections. For the first time, many politicians have vied for the presidency. The incumbent president and his fellow Nacionalista running mate Jose B. Laurel Jr. is facing the Jose Yulo-Diosdado Macapagal tandem of the Partido Liberal, the Manuel Manahan-Vicente Araneta pair of the Progressive Party, the Claro M. Recto-Lorenzo Tanada partners of the National Citizen’s Party, the Valentin Santos-Restituto Fresto duo of the Lapiang Malaya, Antonio Quirino of the splinter faction of the Partido Liberal and Alfredo Abcede of the Federal Party.

President Garcia and his wife with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower

The result of the election was quite mix and though President Garcia won a full term, his running mate lost to Diosdado Macapagal. For the first time both president and vice president are from different political parties. The Partido Nacionalista still dominated the legislative branch as Ambrosio Padilla and former actor Rogelio Dela Rosa were the only Liberalistas to have gain Senate seats.


Candidate Party Votes %
Carlos P. Garcia Nacionalista Party 2,072,257 41.28%
Jose Yulo Liberal Party 1,386,829 27.62%
Manuel Manahan Progressive Party 1,049,420 20.90%
Claro M. Recto Nationalist Citizen’s Party 429,226 8.55%
Antonio Quirino Liberal Party (Quirino Wing) 60,328 1.20%
Valentin Santos Lapiang Malaya 21,674 0.43%
Alfredo Abcede Federal Party 470 0.01%


Candidate Party Votes %
Diosdado Macapagal Liberal Party 2,189,197 46.55%
Jose B. Laurel, Jr. Nacionalista Party 1,783,012 37.91%
Vicente Araneta Progressive Party 375,090 7.97%
Lorenzo Tañada Nationalist Citizen,s Party 344,685 7.32%
Restituto Fresto Lapiang Malaya 10,494 0.22%

Vice President Diosdado Macapagal’s victory over President Carlos Garcia’s running mate may have been a sneak preview of their duel for the presidency in the next election. An on November 14, 1961, the two men face off in the election, which marked for the first time an incumbent president is running against an incumbent vice president. President Garcia is going for an unprecedented second full term.

Vice President Macapagal in a political campaign

Though many ran for the presidency (including nuisance candidates like Alfredo Abcede, German P. Villanueva, Gregorio L. Llanza, and Praxedes Floro), the election became only a one-on-one duel. The vice presidential race was a more interesting case as three competitive candidate vied for the position: Partido Liberal bet Senator Emmanuel Pelaez, Partido Nacionalista bet Sergio Osmeña, Jr. and independent candidate Gil Puyat.

In the end, Vice President Macapagal won the presidency and he became the first incumbent vice president to defeat an incumbent president in an election. It was also a big blow to the Nacionalistas as only two candidates managed to get Senate seats: Lorenzo Sumulong and Jose Roy.


Candidate Party Votes %
Diosdado Macapagal Liberal Party 3,554,840 55.00%
Carlos P. Garcia Nacionalista Party 2,902,996 44.95%
Alfredo Abcede Independent 7
German P. Villanueva Independent 2
Gregorio L. Llanza Independent 2
Praxedes Floro Independent 0


Candidate Party Votes %
Emmanuel Pelaez Liberal Party 2,394,400 37.57%
Sergio Osmeña Jr. Nacionalista Party 2,190,424 34.37%
Gil Puyat Independent 1,787,987 28.06%

For the past few elections, its always been the Nacionalistas and the Liberalista just like a competitive derby between two eternal rivals, one wins and the other loses.

The next election proved to be one of the costliest elections in history as the rivals faced off in one of the last elections in the pre-Martial Law era. An up and coming star named Ferdinand Marcos, the Senate President, was born. And as typical historic dynamics would allow, a young upstart would challenge the one in power.

Macapagal vs Manglapus vs Marcos

It has one of the most number of nuisance candidates for the presidency with a total of nine that includes New Leaf Party standard bearer Gaudencio Bueno, NLP bet Aniceto Hidalgo, Partido ng Bansa candidate Segundo Baldovi, People’s Progressive Democratic Party bet Nic Garces, Labor Party candidate Guillermo Mercado, Allied Party aspirant Antonio Nicolas Jr., Philippine Pro-Socialist Party aspirant Blandino P. Ruan and independent candidates German F. Villanueva and Praxedes Floro. As you can see some of them have ran for the presidency for the second time. Another shoo-in for the presidency was Progressive Party member Raul Manglapus.

This time, the Nacionalistas reclaimed power and handed the Liberalistas a stunning defeat in the polls with only Sergio Osmeña, Jr. and Jovito Salonga as the only Senate winners for their party.


Candidate Party Votes %
Ferdinand E. Marcos Nacionalista Party 3,861,324 51.94%
Diosdado Macapagal Liberal Party 3,187,752 42.88%
Raul Manglapus Progressive Party 384,564 5.17%
Gaudencio Bueno New Leaf Party 199
Aniceto A. Hidalgo NLP 156
Segundo B. Baldovi Partido ng Bansa 139
Nic V. Garces People’s Progressive Democratic Party 130
German F. Villanueva Independent 106
Guillermo M. Mercado Labor 27
Antonio Nicolas, Jr. Allied Party 27
Blandino P. Ruan Philippine Pro-Socialist Party 6
Praxedes Floro Independent 1


Candidate Party Votes %
Fernando Lopez Nacionalista Party 5,001,737 57.14%
Gerardo M. Roxas Liberal Party 3,504,826 40.04%
Manuel Manahan Progressive Party 247,426 2.83%

The election of Senate President Marcos as president of the Philippines has forever changed the course of history. And with his victory brought this man power, and with that power comes absolute corruption and ignominious political decapitation.

This entry was published on June 15, 2009 at 7:38 pm. It’s filed under Election, History, Political History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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