Discovered by Magellan in 1521, the Philippine islands were conquered by Spain in 1565 and named after the Spanish king, Philip. In Dec. 1898, following the Spanish-American War, the Philippines were ceded to the USA. The Philippines acquired self-government as a Commonwealth of the USA in March 1934. The islands were occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Independence was achieved in July 1946. From independence until 1972 the Philippines were governed under a constitution based largely on the US pattern. In Sept. 1972 President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. In May 1980 Benigno Aquino, Jr, the leading opponent of Marcos, was released from prison to go to the USA for medical treatment. He was killed when he returned to the Philippines after three years in exile. At the presidential elections of Feb. 1986 Ferdinand Marcos was opposed by Aquino’s widow, Corazón. Aquino became president, Marcos fled the country and a new constitution limiting the president to a single, six-year term in office was ratified in Feb. 1987. Insurgent activities carried out since 1972 by the Moro National Liberation Front (Muslims) were ended by a peace agreement of 2 Sept. 1996 which provides for a Muslim autonomous region in an area of Mindanao island in southern Philippines.
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