The New Society
Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating a
"New Society" based on new social and political values. He argued
that certain aspects of personal behavior, attributed to a
colonial mentality, were obstacles to effective modernization.
These included the primacy of personal connections, as reflected
in the ethic of utang na loob, and the importance of
maintaining in-group harmony and coherence, even at the cost to
the national community. A new spirit of self-sacrifice for the
national welfare was necessary if the country were to equal the
accomplishments of its Asian neighbors, such as Taiwan and the
Republic of Korea (South Korea). Despite Marcos's often
perceptive criticisms of the old society, Marcos, his wife, and a
small circle of close associates, the
crony (see Glossary)
now felt free to practice corruption on an awe-inspiring scale.
Political, economic, and social policies were designed to
neutralize Marcos's rivals within the elite. The old political
system, with its parties, rough-and-tumble election campaigns,
and a press so uninhibited in its vituperative and libelous
nature that it was called "the freest in the world," had been
boss-ridden and dominated by the elite since early American
colonial days, if not before. The elite, however, composed of
local political dynasties, had never been a homogeneous group.
Its feuds and tensions, fueled as often by assaults on amor
proprio (self-esteem) as by disagreement on ideology or
issues, made for a pluralistic system.
Marcos's self-proclaimed "revolution from the top" deprived
significant portions of the old elite of power and patronage. For
example, the powerful Lopez family, who had fallen out of
Marcos's favor (Fernando Lopez had served as Marcos's first vice
president), was stripped of most of its political and economic
assets. Although always influential, during the martial law
years, Imelda Marcos built her own power base, with her husband's
support. Concurrently the governor of
Metro Manila (see Glossary)
and minister of human settlements (a post created for her), she
exercised significant powers.
Data as of June 1991