Ending the armed conflict in the Philippines (Soldiers of the Filipino People – Young Officers’ Union)


A peace agreement mediated by an agency of the Government of the Philippines ended the repeated efforts of the Soldiers of the Filipino People, the Young Officers’ Union, and the Revolutionary Nationalist Alliance factions of the military to seize power with force.

After more than two decades in power, the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos was brought to an end in 1986 by a broad coalition of opposition groups, including significant portions of junior officers in the Philippines Armed Forces as well as business interests and the clergy. This movement was unified in opposition to the corrupt and brutal administration and had been galvanised by an economic crisis that began in 1983. In a bid to reassert his legitimacy, Marcos held a snap election in February 1986, however the discovery of blatant electoral fraud inspired widespread public protests now known as the People Power Revolution. With significant sections of the military openly supporting the protesters (and reportedly preventing Marcos from launching a violent crackdown), he was forced to flee to the USA. Corazon Aquino rode a wave of popular support in the aftermath of the Revolution to the presidency, where she reinstated constitutional rule and democracy in the Philippines. However, the elements of the military that had supported her rise to power soon voiced their criticism of her leadership, largely focused on her handling of the ongoing conflict and intermittent peace process with the Communist Party of the Philippines. Beginning in 1987, these factions within the military launched a total of seven attempted coups d’état. <sub>1</sub>These attempts to seize power came to a crescendo on 1 December 1989, when three groups united by a broad anti-American sentiment and known as the Soldiers of the Filipino People, the Young Officers’ Union, and the Revolutionary Nationalist Alliance seized strategic infrastructure around Manila and attacked the Armed Forces General Headquarters.1 After six days of fighting (100 killed, 600 injured) and the use of “persuasion flights” by US fighters stationed in the Philippines, most of the soldiers involved in the coup attempt surrendered on 7 December.2

Although that coup had failed, many of the personnel involved in planning and carrying out the attacks remained underground. After being formally dismissed from the military for their actions and with many of their captured comrades facing an uncertain future, the prospects of an armed insurgency were high. The Government of the Philippines established a commission to investigate the grievances aired by the rebellious groups within the military and instigated some reforms, but the conflict remained unresolved. The June 1992 elections produced another new administration in Manila, one which had prioritised peace and reconciliation in their campaign. A National Unification Commission was created in September 1992 and tasked with opening dialogue with armed opposition groups and promulgating guidelines for the conduct of peace initiatives by public officials. One of its first successes was negotiating the Interim Peace Agreement with the military factions, which was signed on 23 December 1992.3 This ceasefire ended the armed conflict for all intents and purposes, but further talks eventually culminated on 13 October 1995 with the General Agreement for Peace.4

1Aurel Croissant, David Kuehn, and Philip Lorenz. “Breaking With the Past? Civil-Military Relations in the Emerging Democracies of East Asia.” East-West Center Policy Studies, No. 63. (2012) p.27

2 Sheila S. Coronel. “Dateline Philippines: The Lost Revolution.” Foreign Policy, No. 84. (1991) p.181

3Carlos F. Garcia. Negotiating Peace with the Reform the Armed Forces Movement/Soldiers of the Filipino People/Young Officers Union: Issues and Prospects. (Monterey: Naval Postgraduate School, 1995) pp.37-51

4Ibid. p.57

5 General Agreement for Peace between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa - Soldiers of the Filipino People - Young Officers' Union, 1995. Available at: https://www.peaceagreements.org/view/640 (Accessed 28/01/2022)

Start Year


End Year




UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Mediation of a peace agreement

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Government of the Philippines




More Posts

Corrections or comments about this article?