On January 23, 1899, he was then elected President of the First Philippine Republic, a government constituted by the Malolos Congress under the Malolos Constitution.
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Bonifacio's revolutionary government never controlled much territory for any significant period.
Some historians contend that including Bonifacio as a past president would imply that Macario Sacay and Miguel Malvar should also be included.
By 1953 the Huks were no longer a serious threat, but Magsaysay’s radical measures had made many enemies for him within the government, compelling him to resign on February 28, when he charged the Quirino administration with corruption and incompetence.
Although Magsaysay was a Liberal, the Nacionalista Party successfully backed him for the presidency against Quirino in the 1953 elections, winning the support of , who had organized a third party.
Realizing that the Huks could not survive without popular support, he strove to win the trust of the peasants by offering land and tools to those who came over to the government side and by insisting that army units treat the people with respect.
Reforming the army, he dismissed corrupt and incompetent officers and emphasized mobility and flexibility in combat operations against the guerrillas.
Magsaysay promised reform in every segment of Philippine life, but he was frustrated in his efforts by a conservative congress that represented the interests of the wealthy.
Despite initial support of Congress in July 1955, Magsaysay was unable to pass effective land-reform legislation; government indifference to the plight of the peasants then undid most of his good work in gaining the support of the people against the Huks.
Nevertheless, he remained extremely popular and had a well-deserved reputation for incorruptibility.