Why Kerry thinks Philippines is a model of democracy

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2016 05:17 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2016 06:15 PM

MANILA - US Secretary of State John Kerry waxed nostalgic about the Philippines' struggle to restore democracy after decades of military rule during his latest visit to Manila on Wednesday.

Kerry recalled how as a young legislator, he toured the country on board a helicopter to observe the 1986 snap elections, which was won by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos under suspicion of massive cheating.

A military-backed uprising dubbed the "People Power" revolution one year later thrust into power Corazon Aquino, the widow of martyred Senator Benigno Aquino, and Marcos was forced into exile in Hawaii.

EDSA 1986. A soldier stands with his rifle watching the crowd gathered in front of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. Photo: The Eggie Apostol Foundation

EDSA Evolution: Then and Now

"I saw people standing in long lines in the hot sun, very hot day, they were standing by the thousands literally, doing their part to make democracy work," he said.

"I can't tell you how impressed I was, the courage, the determination of the people of the Philippines to make democracy work," he said.

Illac Diaz of the MyShelter Foundation briefs U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on December 18, 2013, about cheap, green solar lights he developed and which are being used by residents of Tacloban City, Philippines, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. (State Department photo)

Kerry said he had never witnessed such enthusiasm, which he reported to Congress when he returned to Capitol Hill.

"Today, the Philippines is a model of democracy. The election that was held here in May was open and transparent," he said.

The US top diplomat was in Manila on Wednesday to congratulate President Rodrigo Duterte, who assumed office on June 30.