ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Philippines : More of the Same?

In the end, his fall was as precipitous as his rise had been meteoric. A school dropout, Joseph Estrada moved to a successful career as a B-grade movie star and on to politics. His rise there was equally impressive – from small-time mayor to vice-president in 1992 and then the presidency in 1998, winning an absolute majority of the popular vote. But 30 months later, nemesis caught up with him and on January 21, faced with massive street protests in Manila, Estrada was forced out of office.

In the end, his fall was as precipitous as his rise had been meteoric. A school dropout, Joseph Estrada moved to a successful career as a B-grade movie star and on to politics. His rise there was equally impressive – from small-time mayor to vice-president in 1992 and then the presidency in 1998, winning an absolute majority of the popular vote. But 30 months later, nemesis caught up with him and on January 21, faced with massive street protests in Manila, Estrada was forced out of office.

From the outset Estrada's stint as president was clouded by scandals. The current storm erupted in October last year, when a long-time crony and a former gambling buddy, Luis Singson, went public with the revelation that he had personally delivered to the president a total of $11.7 million, much of it gambling profits from an illegal numbers game called 'jueteng'. The allegations, which Estrada stoutly denied, caught the nation when it was beset by several crises – political and economic. The Estrada administration's credibility plummeted. In October too Philippines recorded its highest rate of inflation in over a decade; the peso sank to an all-time low against the dollar and once again there were fears of contagion spreading to other countries in south-east Asia. The island of Jolo, on the outer extremities of Philippines, remained in the grip of separatism.

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