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1986 Philippine presidential election

← 1981 February 7, 1986 1992 →
Turnout78.8% Decrease 2.1%
Nominee Corazon Aquino Ferdinand Marcos
Alliance UNIDO
Running mate Salvador Laurel Arturo Tolentino
Popular vote 7,158,769 (NAMFREL)
9,291,716 (COMELEC)
6,532,362 (NAMFREL)
10,807,197 (COMELEC)
Percentage 46.10%
(COMELEC, later nullified)
(COMELEC, later nullified)

Election results per province/city.

President before election

Ferdinand E. Marcos

Elected President

Corazon C. Aquino

1986 Philippine vice presidential election

← 1969 February 7, 1986 1992 →
Candidate Salvador Laurel Arturo Tolentino
Party Nacionalista KBL
Alliance UNIDO
Popular vote 7,249,925 (NAMFREL)
9,173,105 (COMELEC)
6,385,293 (NAMFREL)
10,134,130 (COMELEC)
Percentage 45.85% (COMELEC) 50.66% (COMELEC)

Elected Vice President

Salvador Laurel

The 1986 Philippine presidential and vice presidential elections were held on February 7, 1986. Popularly known as the 1986 snap election, it is among the landmark events that led up to the People Power Revolution, the downfall of the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, and the accession of Corazon C. Aquino as president.[1]


Influence of the American media

After being dared by an American journalist, President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared a snap election during an interview on the American Broadcasting Company political affairs programme, This Week with David Brinkley in November 1985.[2][3][4] On December 3, the Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) passed a law setting the date of the election on February 7, 1986.[5] On February 4, 1986, Marcos declared February 6 and 7 as nationwide non-working special public holidays to "give all registered voters fullest opportunity to exercise their right of suffrage."[6]

The courage and the essential goodness of Corazón Aquino was so impressive in her battle against enormous odds. And the bravery of her followers— many of whom were killed as they pursued their belief in a true democracy... And then there was this: the role of the press, print and electronic. Through television cameras and newspapers, the whole world was watching. President Marcos could lie and cheat, but in the end he could not hide.[7]

The assassination of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. on August 21, 1983, revived the oppositionist press, and the pro-Marcos press soon retaliated. Both catered to the intense news-hunger of the Filipino people, but it was a smaller group of reporters who delivered the crucial blow to Marcos' image, with reports about Marcos' hidden wealth and falsified war record. An example would be the article written by Eduardo Lachica in December 1982 that stirred interest after it had been published in The Asian Wall Street Journal on the Marcos property holdings in New York.[7]

By late January 1985, the pursuit for the truth behind the rumors began with Lewis M. Simons, a Tokyo-based correspondent for the San Jose Mercury News, who sent a memo to his desk editor, Jonathan Krim. There had been incessant speculations of Philippine "capital flight" that not only involved Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos themselves, but also government officials and friends of the first family. Simons provided Krim with a list of names, telling him to look into Philippine investments in the San Francisco Bay area. Krim handed over several clips (including Lachica's article) and miscellaneous letters from the Filipino exile community to the investigative reporter attached with a note, "Look into this." Carey began his paper trail after setting up his personal computer and a telephone modem as well as using real-estate data bases to acquire both California and out-of-state records. Another method he used in tracking the story were his interviews with the members of the Filipino exiled opposition who were divided between those who were resolute in helping him and those who deemed themselves apolitical, fearing reprisals if they spoke. In an interview, Carey says, "I kept telling them, 'I'm not interested in quoting people, I'm not going to use yours or any names. I'm interested in documentary evidence,' That convinced people...." Due to budgetary concerns, he continued his trail by exploring records in New York and Chicago through telephone. At a later date, Katherine Ellison from the San Francisco Bureau, who Carey called a "great investigative reporter," joined the group as they conducted interviews and convinced reluctant locals to provide essential information.[7]

On June 23–25, 1985, the Mercury News series under the by-lines of Carey, Ellison, and Simons elicited a staggering response after revealing a list of names, showing how the Filipino elite had illegally invested millions in the U.S., why real estate conditions made California a prime investment territory, and how capital flight fueled Philippine insurgency. Meanwhile, local publications in the Philippines such as Malaya, Veritas, Business Day, and Mr. and Mrs. all reprinted the series. There were protests on the streets, attempts by the National Assembly's opposition minority to file an impeachment hearing (which was quickly annulled) while Marcos was forced to order an impartial inquiry (though it lasted briefly).[7]

The international clamor surprised the three Mercury News investigators with Carey commenting, "There's a vast difference between simple allegations and something with a factual, documentary basis," he says. "It provokes a totally different psychological reaction in the readers. Gossip stirs their apathy; facts galvanize them to action."[7]

After the successful publication of the series, newer articles were produced by the Mercury News team, among other things, such as how the Manila elitists smuggled fortunes, in the form of American currency, out of the country. More reporters from The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times developed other angles as well. The most significant were those uncovered by Times' Jeff Gerth, who wrote on the misuse of American aid money by the Marcos' administration. Although Marcos continued to deny these allegations, that did little to avert the consequences. His support in the congress quickly dissipated while news of his misrule endangered U.S. military interests.[7] Revelations of Marcos' hidden wealth disparaged him in America, but in the Philippines, it was the truth of his war records that did him in.

Organizing the 1986 Philippine elections

On November 4, 1985, Sam Donaldson and George Will interviewed President Marcos on the American Broadcasting Company political affairs program This Week with David Brinkley.[2][3] Marcos was being asked about his policies and support when, without warning, he announced that he would hold a snap election on February 7, 1986, a year earlier than the supposed 1987 election. Marcos said that in the snap election, the vice president would also be determined. Also, the final decision regarding the election would be determined by the National Assembly. On December 3, 1985, the Batasang Pambansa passed a law setting the date of the election on February 7, 1986.[5]

Marcos declared the early elections since he believed that this would solidify the support of United States, silence the protests and criticisms both in the Philippines and the United States, and finally put the issues regarding the death of Benigno Aquino Jr. to rest.[8]

The opposition saw two problems regarding the announcement of Marcos. First is the credibility of the announcement since at the time two-thirds of the National Assembly were from Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, which means that they could decide not to push through with the snap election. This would then give Marcos an image that he was willing to entertain opposition, which would then contribute to his popularity. Second problem is that the opposition was yet to choose a single presidential candidate to who had a chance to win.[8] This posed a problem for them since the opposition were yet to be united, supporting only one presidential candidate.

The opposition, was divided between the widow of Benigno Aquino Jr., Corazon "Cory" Aquino, and Doy Laurel, son of President Jose P. Laurel. Cardinal Jaime Sin talked to both the potential candidates. Aquino was hesitant to run since she believed that she was not the best and most able choice. Aquino said she would be willing to run if there was a petition campaign with at least a million signatures supporting her as a presidential candidate. Doy on the other hand, was earnest in running as president since he believed his family background, training, and experience had prepared him for the presidency.


The campaign period lasted 45 days, from December 19, 1985, to February 5, 1986.[9][5][10]

As the election campaign continued, Marcos was able to campaign in selected key cities while Aquino was able to campaign intensively and extensively, even going to remote places from the north of the Philippines to the south of the Philippines. The Aquino campaign concluded a rally that is believed to have 800,000 participants wearing yellow in Rizal Park and Roxas Boulevard forming a "sea of yellow".[11]


Main article: Batasang Pambansa canvass for the 1986 Philippine presidential election

About 85,000 precincts opened at seven o'clock in the morning of Election Day.[12][circular reference] Each precinct was administered by a Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), which was tasked to oversee voting. The BEI did not continuously abide by the stipulated voting procedure, which raised the impression of fraud.

The voting period was also scheduled to close at three o'clock in the afternoon but was extended to give way for people who were in line. Counting of the ballots followed and in most precincts was able to finish by six o'clock in the evening.[10]

Results showed that a huge percentage of eligible voters did not vote. Out of the 26 million registered voters, only 20 million ballots were cast. This showed a decreased percentage of voters from the 1984 election, which had 89% of registered voters cast their ballots, to around 76% during the snap election.[10]

Number of voters in the 1986 election
Number of registered voters 26,181,829
Actual number of votes canvassed by the Batasan 20,150,160
Percentage of actual to registered voters 76.96%

A number of disenfranchised voters were evident during the snap election.

Estimated number of disenfranchised voters[10]
1984 percentage of actual to registered voters 89%
1986 number of voters based on the 1984 percentage 23,422,264
Actual number of votes canvassed by the Batasan 20,150,160
Estimated number of disenfranchised voters 3,272,104



Ferdinand MarcosKilusang Bagong Lipunan10,807,19753.62
Corazon AquinoUnited Nationalist Democratic Organization9,291,71646.10
Reuben CanoySocial Democratic Party34,0410.17
Narciso PadillaMovement for Truth, Order and Righteousness23,6520.12
Valid votes20,156,60697.30
Invalid/blank votes559,4692.70
Total votes20,716,075100.00
Registered voters/turnout26,278,74478.83
Source: Annex XXXVIII of the report by the International Observer Delegation
Popular vote

The COMELEC proclaimed Marcos as the winner,[12][circular reference] receiving more than 1.5 million votes more than the next contender, Cory Aquino. In the COMELEC's tally, a total of 10,807,197 votes was for Marcos alone. Conversely, NAMFREL's partial tally had Aquino leading with more than half a million votes.

Vice president

Arturo TolentinoKilusang Bagong Lipunan10,134,13050.66
Salvador LaurelUnited Nationalist Democratic Organization9,173,10545.85
Eva Estrada KalawLiberal Party (Kalaw wing)[a]662,1853.31
Roger AriendaMovement for Truth, Order and Righteousness35,9740.18
Valid votes20,005,39496.57
Invalid/blank votes710,6813.43
Total votes20,716,075100.00
Registered voters/turnout26,278,74478.83
Source: Annex XXXVIII of the report by the International Observer Delegation
  1. ^ Kalaw ran under her own wing of the Liberal Party, while the rest of party supported Laurel's candidacy.
Popular vote


These are for 69.03% of the voting precincts that reported.


Candidate Party Votes
Corazon Aquino United Nationalist Democratic Organization 7,158,679
Ferdinand Marcos Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 6,532,362
Total 13,691,041

Vice president

Candidate Party Votes
Salvador Laurel United Nationalist Democratic Organization 7,249,925
Arturo Tolentino Kilusang Bagong Lipunan 6,385,293
Eva Estrada Kalaw Liberal Party (Kalaw wing) 589,589
Total 14,224,807

Comparison between the tallies

For president
COMELEC[10] NAMFREL (partial; 69% of precincts reported)[13]
Marcos Aquino Canoy Padilla Total Marcos Aquino Total
National Capital Region 1,394,815 1,614,662 794 10,687 3,020,958 1,312,592 1,530,678 2,843,270
Region I 1,239,825 431,877 282 3,399 1,675,383 578,997 282,506 861,503
Region II 856,026 139,666 111 381 996,184 188,556 105,934 294,490
Region III 1,011,860 1,008,157 243 2,268 2,022,528 647,318 761,771 1,409,089
Region IV 1,190,804 1,425,143 336 3,831 2,620,114 757,689 995,238 1,752,927
Region V 433,809 761,538 258 376 1,195,981 354,784 634,453 989,237
Region VI 902,682 777,312 386 244 1,680,624 582,075 561,177 1,143,252
Region VII 773,604 827,912 4,012 394 1,605,922 535,363 722,631 1,257,994
Region VIII 627,868 411,284 475 213 1,039,840 527,076 372,179 899,255
Region IX 540,570 365,195 3,686 505 909,956 234,064 256,819 490,883
Region X 563,547 519,841 8,244 223 1,091,855 293,799 308,751 602,550
Region XI 609,540 662,799 13,413 773 1,286,525 353,413 404,124 757,537
Region XII 662,247 346,330 1,801 358 1,010,736 166,636 222,418 389,054
Total 10,807,197 9,291,716 34,041 23,652 20,156,606 6,532,362 7,158,679 13,691,041
For vice president
Region COMELEC[10] NAMFREL[13]
Tolentino Laurel Kalaw Arienda Tolentino Laurel Kalaw
National Capital Region 1,411,863 1,366,162 219,763 - 1,323,201 1,288,285 231,318
Region I 1,173,312 394,255 96,257 - 552,624 246,681 67,111
Region II 825,886 150,538 8,111 - 176,739 102,537 3,879
Region III 984,045 920,095 104,957 - 664,601 741,294 91,386
Region IV 853,600 1,691,011 58,524 - 504,364 1,221,014 44,349
Region V 388,961 774,336 25,654 - 328,526 653,025 23,772
Region VI 814,910 783,183 56,910 - 542,428 573,447 44,362
Region VII 790,432 799,565 7,571 - 552,760 694,377 7,296
Region VIII 606,648 403,660 21,931 - 506,552 377,735 22,243
Region IX 531,457 359,502 5,192 - 233,765 252,371 4,843
Region X 552,528 519,502 7,451 - 397,572 421,107 7,543
Region XI 599,462 635,701 37,640 - 422,444 464,813 33,565
Region XII 601,020 375,595 12,224 - 179,717 213,239 7,922
Total 10,134,124 9,173,105 662,185 35,974 6,385,293 7,249,925 589,589


The conduct of the February 7, 1986, snap election led to the popular belief that the polls were tampered with and considered the results to be fraudulent. The following days consisted of debates and actions as a sign of aversion to the conduct of the election. But in the end, according to the International Observer Delegation, the "election of the February 7 was not conducted in a free and fair manner" due to the influence and power of the administration of Ferdinand Marcos. The International Observer Delegation stated that the proclamation of the victors of the election was invalid because the Batasan "ignored explicit provisions of the Philippine Electoral Code [Batas Pambansa Blg. 881] requiring that the tampered or altered election returns be set aside during the final counting process, despite protests by representatives of the opposition parts". After further investigation, a multinational team of observers cited cases of vote-buying, intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes, tampered election returns and the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters.[10]

On February 9, thirty-five computer programmers walked out of the COMELEC's electronic quick count at the Philippine International Convention Center, some fearing for their safety and seeking sanctuary in Baclaran Church. The technicians—whose protest was broadcast live on national television[14][15]—claimed that the Marcos camp had manipulated the election results.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines President Cardinal Ricardo Vidal released a declaration stating that "a government does not of itself freely correct the evil it has inflicted on the people then it is our serious moral obligation as a people to make it do so." The declaration also asked "every loyal member of the Church, every community of the faithful, to form their judgment about the February 7 polls" telling all the Filipinos "[n]ow is the time to speak up. Now is the time to repair the wrong. The wrong was systematically organized. So must its correction be. But as in the election itself, that depends fully on the people; on what they are willing and ready to do."[16] The United States Senate passed a resolution stating the same. This chain of events eventually led to the resignation of Marcos' Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, and Armed Forces Vice-Chief of Staff General Fidel Ramos. Enrile and Ramos then secluded themselves in the military and police headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, respectively, leading to the People Power Revolution from February 22 to 25, 1986, which toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

Honored individuals

See also: Bantayog ng mga Bayani

A number of individuals who were killed in an effort to protect the integrity of the 1986 Philippine presidential election have been formally honored as "heroes" at the Philippines' Bantayog ng mga Bayani (lit. 'Monument of Heroes'). These include Jeremias de Jesus,[17] Evelio Javier,[18] Francisco Laurella,[19] Salvador Leaño,[20] Fernando Pastor Sr.,[21] and Michael Sumilang.[22]

In media

The snap elections and their aftermath are dramatized in the 1988 film A Dangerous Life.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Russell, George (April 18, 2005). "The Philippines: I'm Ready, I'm Ready". Time. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Dolan, Ronald E., ed. (1993). Philippines: A Country Study (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.: GPO for the Library of Congress. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-8444-0748-8.
  4. ^ Del Mundo, Fernando (December 16, 2010). "Marcos Told This Reporter He Had a Mission from God". Inquirer Politics. Archived from the original on December 18, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 – via Supreme Court E-Library.
  6. ^ Proclamation No. 2487, s. 1986 – via Official Gazette.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Bain, David Haward (1986). "Letter from Manila". Columbia Journalism Review. Vol. 25. pp. 28–31. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016 – via EBSCOhost.
  8. ^ a b Jagoe, Donald Alan (1986). Turmoil, Transition...Triumph? The Democratic Revolution in the Philippines (MA thesis). Naval Postgraduate School – via
  9. ^ While Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 mandated a campaign period starting on December 11, 1985, this law was put on hold until the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality on December 19.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g International Observer Delegation. A Path to Democratic Renewal (PDF) (Report). p. 350 – via National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and National Republican Institute for International Affairs.
  11. ^ Santos, Antonio (1987). Power Politics in the Philippines: The Fall of Marcos. Quezon City: Center for Social Research. pp. 22–25.
  12. ^ a b "Nation Commemorates 25th Anniversary of the 1986 Snap Presidential Election" (PDF). Election Monitor. Vol. 1, no. 61. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016 – via NAMFREL.
  13. ^ a b "1986 Tally Board". National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Image). Archived from the original on August 9, 2016. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  14. ^ Soho, Jessica. Walkout on 9 February 1986. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 28, 2013 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ Carvajal, Nancy C. (February 24, 2016). "1986 Comelec tabulators fear Marcos return". Retrieved October 31, 2022.
  16. ^ "Post-Election Statement". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  17. ^ "De Jesus, Jeremias S." Bantayog ng mga Bayani. October 15, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  18. ^ "Slain Opposition Leader Talks in Tape of How He Might Be Killed with AM-Philippine Election". AP News. February 13, 1986.
  19. ^ "Laurella, Francisco "Frank" C." Bantayog ng mga Bayani. November 15, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  20. ^ "Leaño, Salvador Fabella". Bantayog ng mga Bayani. August 19, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  21. ^ "Pastor, Fernando T. Sr". Bantayog ng mga Bayani. July 13, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  22. ^ "Sumilang, Michael J." Bantayog ng mga Bayani. May 3, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2022.

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