Timeline: The Philippines

A chronology of key events:

1542 – Spanish expedition claims the islands and names them the Philippines after the heir to the Spanish throne.

1890s – Beginnings of insurrection against Spanish rule.

Villagers displaced by mudslides near Mayon volcano, 320 km south of Manila

Mount Mayon volcano, with its near-perfect cone, is active

1898 – During the Spanish-American War, the US navy destroys the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. Spain cedes the Philippines to the US under the Treaty of Paris in December. The US proclaims military rule.

1899 – Insurgent activity against US forces begins.

1901 – Leader of insurgents, Emilio Aguinaldo, is captured.

1902 – US civil government replaces military rule.

1907 – A Philippine assembly is inaugurated.

1935 – A plebiscite approves the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Manuel Quezon is the first president. The Philippines is promised full independence within 10 years.

Invasion and occupation

1941 – Japan attacks the Philippines by air and invades two weeks later.

Former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos

Ferdinand Marcos amassed estimated $10bn fortune

Born in 1917

Became president in 1965

Fled the country in 1986

Died in Hawaii in 1989

2003: Manila awarded Marcos millions

On This Day 1986: Coup leaders tell Marcos to go

1944 – US forces retake the islands.

1946 – The islands are granted full independence and renamed the Republic of the Philippines.

1947 – The US is awarded military bases on the islands.

1951 – Peace treaty signed with Japan. The Philippines eventually receive $800m in reparations payments.

1965 – Ferdinand Marcos becomes president.

1969 – Marcos is re-elected amidst allegations of electoral fraud. Marcos supports the US policy in Vietnam. There are protests against this. Muslim separatists in the south of the country also begin their campaign of guerrilla war.

Martial law

1972 – Marcos declares martial law. The parliament is suspended, opposition politicians are arrested, censorship is imposed.

1973 – A new constitution gives Marcos absolute powers.

1977 – Opposition leader Benigno Aquino is sentenced to death. Marcos delays the execution.

1980 – Aquino allowed to travel to the US for medical treatment.

1981 – Martial law is lifted. Marcos wins presidential elections.

1983 – Aquino returns to the Philippines, but is shot dead as he leaves his plane. The military is blamed for the murder.

"People power"

1986 – Presidential elections see Marcos opposed by Aquino’s widow, Corazon. Marcos declares himself the winner, but Aquino disputes the result. There are mass protests, dubbed "people power", in Manila. The military withdraws its support for Marcos. Marcos flees the country for Hawaii. The new government claims Marcos had looted billions of dollars from the country during his time in power. Marcos dies on Hawaii in 1989.

1989 December – US jets assist Philippine government forces in suppressing an attempted coup.

1990 – Military officials are convicted of the murder of Benigno Aquino.


Former Philippines president Estrada

Joseph Estrada: Former film star was ousted in coup

1991 – The US abandons Clark Air Base after a volcanic eruption smothers it with ash.

1992 – Aquino’s defence minister, Fidel Ramos, wins presidency. The US closes Subic Bay Naval Station.

1996 – Peace agreement reached with Muslim separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front. Another group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), carries on its campaign.

1998 – Joseph Estrada elected president.

2000 November – Impeachment proceedings start against Estrada on allegations of corruption, betrayal of public trust, and violation of the constitution.

2001 January – Impeachment trial is suspended on the 16th. There are mass street protests. The military withdraws its support. Estrada stands down on the 20th, proclaiming his innocence. His vice-president, Gloria Arroyo, is sworn in as president.

2001 March – The MILF declares a ceasefire and says it is ready to hold talks with the government.

Estrada tried

2001 April – Estrada is charged with plundering more than 80 million dollars from state funds while in office. He is eventually found guilty and jailed for life. He wins a pardon.

US and Philippines troops, 2002

US military has backed attempts to subdue extremists in the south

2007: US helps fight against Abu Sayyaf

2008: US plays quiet role

2002 January – US says joint exercises with Filipino military signal new phase in war on international terrorism. Exercises take place near stronghold of Abu Sayyaf group which US says has links to Osama Bin Laden.

2002 October – Series of deadly bomb blasts – on a Manila bus and at three locations in Zamboanga city – blamed on Islamic militants.

2003 February – Ceasefire between MILF and government breaks down. Planned talks are called off in May after a rebel attack on Mindanao kills 30.

2003 July – Government signs ceasefire with MILF ahead of planned talks in Malaysia.


2003 July – Army mutiny in Manila; some 300 soldiers seize a shopping centre but surrender peacefully following negotiations. President Arroyo declares a state of rebellion.

2004 February – Peace talks between government and communist rebel New People’s Army start in Norway, but are called off by the rebels in August.

2004 June – With counting completed, Gloria Arroyo wins May’s presidential elections.

The late Cardinal Jaime Sin

The late Cardinal Sin, a driving force behind two uprisings

2004 July – Philippines withdraws its peacekeepers from Iraq, bowing to the demands of the kidnappers of a Filipino lorry driver. The driver is freed.

2004 November-December – Hundreds of people are killed in floods and mudslides caused by powerful storms and a typhoon.

2005 January – Heavy fighting between troops and MILF rebels breaks the July 2003 ceasefire.

2005 April – Breakthrough on contentious issue of ancestral land achieved at peace talks in Malaysia between government and MILF rebels.

2005 June – Influential Cardinal Jaime Sin, who led two peaceful revolts, dies aged 76.

Arroyo under pressure

2005 July-September – President Arroyo is pressured to resign over allegations of vote-rigging. In September she survives an opposition attempt to impeach her.

2005 November-December – Scores are killed during clashes between troops and Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels on the southern island of Jolo.

2006 February – 74 people are killed and hundreds are injured in a stampede for tickets for a TV game show at a stadium in Manila.

More than 1,000 people are killed by a mudslide which engulfs a village on the central island of Leyte.

President Arroyo declares a week-long state of emergency after the army says it has foiled a planned coup.

Protest against spate of killings of activists, Quezon, 2007

Report implicated military in deaths of hundreds of activists

2007: Philippines army is ‘in denial’

2006 June – The death penalty is abolished. It was scrapped in 1987 but had been re-introduced.

2006 August – President Arroyo survives an attempt to impeach her over allegations of corruption, human rights abuses and election fraud.

2006 December – Hundreds of people are feared dead after Typhoon Durian batters the east, triggering mudslides.

2007 January – Tests confirm that a body found in a remote area is that of Abu Sayyaf leader Khaddafy Janjalani. The army says he was killed in fighting in 2006.

2007 February – Government report accuses military figures of being behind the killings of hundreds of mainly left-wing activists since 2001.

2007 April – The military says it is stepping up its offensive against the Islamic militant group, Abu Sayyaf, after the group beheaded seven Christian hostages on the southern island of Jolo.

2007 May – Parliamentary and local elections. More than 120 die in violence in three months of campaigning.

Southern separatism

2007 August – 26 Soldiers killed in fighting with separatists on Jolo.


2007 September – Ex-president Estrada is found guilty of massive corruption and is jailed for life. He wins a presidential pardon shortly afterwards.

2007 November – Renegade soldiers make a failed coup bid at a luxury hotel in Manila after breaking out of court where they were standing trial for the failed 2003 mutiny.

2008 July – Government negotiators say they have reached an agreement with MILF rebels on the expansion of a Muslim autonomous region in the south.

2008 August – The MILF deal collapses after Christian communities raise objections and renewed fighting on the southern island of Mindanao leaves at least 30 people dead.

2008 December – Norwegian-brokered peace talks with New People’s Army Maoist guerrillas break down, NPA attacks army patrol on Mindanao.

2009 June – Army says it has captured a major MILF base on Mindanao, killing 30 rebels.