February 7, 1986, the Comelec Conducted Presidential and Vice-Presidential “Snap” Elections
On February 7, 1986, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) conducted the presidential and vice-presidential “snap” elections with incumbent President Ferdinand E. Marcos and former Senate President and Foreign Minister Arturo M. Tolentino running against the tandem of Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino and former Senator Salvador H. Laurel.
In the first week of November 1985, when President Marcos was interviewed in the David Brinkley Show, he stated his intention to call for a snap election, even going so far as to invite the members of the US Congress to observe, calling the accusation of fraud as unfounded. The announcement for a snap election within three months was ahead of schedule; the next regular elections were supposed to be held in 1987.
Prior to the snap election announcement, a “Convenor Group” was formed, composed of Lorenzo Tañada, Jaime V. Ongpin, and Cory Aquino, to select a presidential candidate for the opposition. Cory was regarded as the rightful candidate, the “people’s choice,” who was also promoted by Jaime Cardinal Sin. For fear of being left out, Salvador Laurel of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) and Eva Kalaw of the Liberal Party (LP) formed the National Unification Committee’s (NUC). Laurel was nominated by the NUC’s Nominating Convention held at the Araneta Coliseum as the presidential candidate of the opposition party for the coming Snap elections.
Cory Aquino announced her intention to run if a snap election was to be held, and if she had the support of a million citizens. She was successful in gaining this support. The opposition, therefore had two frontrunners: Aquino, and former Senator Salvador “Doy” Laurel. However, in the same year, on December 7 Laurel decided to give way to Aquino. Though initially reluctant, Laurel was eventually convinced that their tandem was the only way the opposition stood a chance against the overwhelming influence of Marcos and the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), and decided to run as Aquino’s vice president. Aquino and Laurel ran together under the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO).
Massive poll fraud and rampant cheating marred the vote on the day of the elections, February 7, 1986. Thousands of registered voters—who had voted successfully in previous elections—found their names suspiciously missing from the lists. Approximately 850 foreign correspondents flew in to observe, including a delegations headed by U.S. senators and congressmen, who saw vote rigging happen. On February 9, 35 COMELEC employees and computer operators at the COMELEC Tabulation Center walked out in protest due to the wide discrepancy between the computer tabulation and the tally board, showing blatant manipulation of electoral results. In the countryside, precincts were hounded by the military and ballot-rigging was rampant. NAMFREL, in turn, showed Aquino in the lead with almost 70 percent of the votes canvassed.
Marcos-controlled Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Marcos and Tolentino as winners in the presidential and vice-presidential race.
However, the opposition members refused to accept the poll results which they claimed as fraudulent.
Mrs. Aquino and other opposition leaders called for nationwide protests and civil disobedience against Marcos. The Filipino people, including church leaders, heeded her call and rallied behind her.
These series of events eventually led to the ousting of Marcos and the installation of Mrs. Aquino as the country’s 11th President on February 25, 1986 through the People Power Revolution.