Behind the façade of People Power

Philippine military and big business join hands to oust Estrada

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2001

The ousting of Philippine President Joseph Estrada on January 20 has been widely presented in the media as the outcome of People Power II—a re-run of the protest movement headed by Cory Aquino that brought down the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Tense standoff in the Philippines after Estrada impeachment trial comes to a halt

By Peter Symonds, 19 January 2001

The impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday night after the Senate, which is hearing the charges, voted 11-10 to block the opening of key bank records. According to the prosecutors, the documents would have proven that Estrada had amassed $US66 million in bribes and kickbacks under four aliases during his 18 months in office.

Mounting evidence of Philippine president's involvement in shady dealings

By Keith Morgan, 15 January 2001

Over the last two weeks damning evidence has come to light in the impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada linking him to a bank account under the fictitious name of “Jose Velarde” at the Equitable PCI Bank. According to the prosecuting team, money in the account came from payoffs from the illegal numbers racket “jueteng”.

Philippines impeachment trial

Evidence mounts of Estrada's involvement in illegal gambling racket

By Peter Symonds, 16 December 2000

Just over a week into the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada in the Philippines Senate there appears to be considerable evidence that he was at the centre of a racket to take millions of pesos a month in protection money from the operators of the country's illegal numbers game “jueteng”.

Senate removes obstacle to a speedy impeachment trial for Filipino president

By Peter Symonds, 2 December 2000

The impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada is due to proceed on December 7 after Supreme Court chief justice Hilario Davide sitting in the Senate on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Estrada's lawyers to dismiss the charges on the grounds that procedure had not been followed.

Philippines Congress rushes through impeachment of President Estrada

By Peter Symonds, 16 November 2000

Under pressure from big business to rapidly end the country's political impasse, the Philippines House of Representatives on Monday impeached President Joseph Estrada on four charges of corruption, bribery, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution. The impeachment—the first in the country's history—was rushed through the House without debate, or a vote, in eight minutes flat.

Amid impeachment proceedings

Philippines president Estrada struggling to hang onto office

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 6 November 2000

Philippines President Joseph Estrada is fighting to hang onto office after desertions from his cabinet, advisers and ruling coalition last week, further falls in the peso and demands from big business that he step down to stem the country's deepening economic and political turmoil.

Filipino president faces calls for resignation over gambling payoffs

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 23 October 2000

Last Wednesday an impeachment motion was formally filed in the Philippine congress against President Joseph Estrada over alleged payoffs of more than $US8 million from an illegal gambling racket known as jueteng. Heherson Alveraz, secretary-general of the main opposition party Lakas-NUCD, who filed the motion along with 40 other congressmen, accused Estrada of bribery, graft, corruption and the betrayal of public trust.

"Promised Land" garbage landslide kills at least 200 in the Philippines

By Angela Pagano, 21 July 2000

In early July two tropical typhoons ravaged parts of the Philippines causing severe flooding and deaths. These storms are annual events that bring with them catastrophes affecting the country's most impoverished layers. In the capital Manila, a huge municipal garbage dump, ironically named the “Promised Land” by locals, became a sodden, unstable mass and then collapsed and burst into flames on July 10.

Hostage standoff continues in war torn and impoverished southern Philippines

By Peter Symonds, 9 May 2000

The plight of 21 hostages held for more than two weeks on the Filipino island of Jolo has focused international media attention on the situation in the southern Philippines. The captives, reportedly sick and exhausted, include tourists from Germany, France, South Africa, Finland and Lebanon as well as resort workers from Malaysia and the Philippines. They were seized by Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas on April 23 from the Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan and taken to Jolo by sea.

Philippines president buys a little time by ending Cha Cha reforms and reshuffling cabinet

By Keith Morgan, 8 February 2000

In mid-January, Philippines president Joseph Estrada moved to defuse an increasingly dangerous confrontation with the political opposition headed by former president Cory Aquino and Catholic Archbishop Jamie Sin. Facing plummetting opinion polls and further planned protests, he announced in a report to the nation on January 10 that he would drop his push for constitutional change, commonly referred to in the Filipino press as Cha Cha.

Fifty truckloads of jellyfish reveal a jittery political atmosphere in the Philippines

By Celeste Lopez and Peter Symonds, 7 January 2000

Public response to a widespread power blackout at the end of last year speak volumes for the tensions and nervousness within ruling circles in the Philippines and the growing loss of confidence in the government headed by President Joseph Estrada.

Overloaded ferry sinks in the Philippines killing at least 42 people

By Keith Morgan, 31 December 1999

The sinking of the Filipino ferry M.V. Asia Korea at dawn on December 23, near Bantayan Island off Cebu province, is a further tragic indictment of the widespread practice across Asia of overloading aged and unseaworthy ferries. Based on the reports of survivors, the vessel struck rocks in heavy seas and its engines and generators stopped. The ferry began listing within 10 minutes of the accident, and went down within half an hour.

The Philippines:

Why 60 people died in the Cherry Hills housing estate

By Celeste Lopez, 8 September 1999

As many as 109 people died in the Philippines when Typhoon Olga provoked torrential rains and flooding throughout much of South East Asia in early August. The areas worst affected were Manila, Pampanga, Rizal and Pangasinan. Over 73,000 people were forced to leave their homes and seek shelter and food in local halls, schools and clubs. Some 900 families were evacuated from the town of Valenzuela as flood water rose to dangerous heights.

Estrada embarrassed by proof of Marcos billions

By Keith Morgan, 20 July 1999

A series of six articles by journalist Donna S. Cueto of the Philippines Daily Inquirer, exposing the extent of the Marcos fortune, has thrown the Estrada administration into its greatest political turmoil since taking office a little over a year ago.

Wage freeze hits Philippine workers and poor

By Keith Morgan, 24 June 1999

Philippine President Joseph Estrada, popularly known as “Erap” (Buddy), came to power last year in a populist campaign. He presented himself as a “friend of the poor”. In May, however, he rejected outright union demands for an increase to the minimum wage—a decision that will condemn many workers to hardship and poverty.

First execution in the Philippines in 23 years

By Peter Symonds, 6 February 1999

For the first time in 23 years, the death penalty has been carried out in the Philippines. Leo Echegaray, 39, died shortly after 3 pm local time yesterday, having been injected with lethal chemicals at the execution chamber in New Bilibid Prison on the outskirts of Manila. The execution was turned into a media circus with 11 selected journalists as well as government officials permitted to watch the prisoner die.