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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story



CASH GOING BEGGING: The case of the invisible bribe recipient

Like any leader, Joseph Estrada has a number of formal and informal advisers, both in and out of government. Few can match the clout and access of the following five:

ROBERTO AVENTAJADO, 49. Economics and MBA graduate from the University of the Philippines. Four-time rally (car-racing) champion and taekwondo enthusiast. Father was a councilor in San Juan (whose then-mayor was Joseph Estrada). His three sons are all named Jose (Joseph's real name), and the eldest, Josenino, is an Estrada godson. Helped organize JEEP, the Joseph Ejercito Estrada for President movement, last year. Presidential adviser on economic affairs and chairman of the Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects, created in 1994 by the then president, Fidel Ramos. As Flagship Committee chairman, Aventajado oversees some 110 projects worth about $20 billion. They include a new Manila international airport, a north rail connecting Manila to the vast plains of Central Luzon and to Clark and Subic freeports and a petrochemical plant. Also Estrada's peace negotiator with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

RONALDO ZAMORA, 54. Studied law at the University of the Philippines and topped the bar in 1969. Began work at Malaca"ang at age 20. By 26, he was deputy executive secretary and legal counsel of then-president Ferdinand Marcos. Elected to Congress in 1987 and 1992, representing San Juan, Estrada's hometown. He and Estrada have homes in the same upscale Greenhills subdivision in the town. Godfather to one of the president's children. Managed the political side of Estrada's presidential campaign. Master political strategist, and can clean a business contract of legal loopholes and traps that can make the difference between profit and loss. The president's executive secretary, or chief of staff.

MANUEL ZAMORA, 60. Ronaldo's elder brother. Also studied law at the University of the Philippines; No. 3 in the bar exams in 1961. The businessman and banker of the Zamora family. Chairman, president and CEO of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Co., the nation's biggest nickel firm and the source of the family wealth. Sponsored the wedding of Estrada's eldest son, Jinggoy, the present San Juan mayor. If the president's limo breaks down, he provides a bullet-proof BMW. If the president needs an executive jet, he provides it. Estrada's chief fundraiser during the campaign, being the treasurer of his political party, the Partido ng Masang Pilipino. Can turn a losing proposition into a winning deal.

MARK JIMENEZ, a.k.a. MARIO CRESPO, 52. Business graduate of a Manila university who left the country in the 1980s following a run-in with the military. Settled in Florida, changed his name, dabbled in the stock market and made a fortune selling computers in Latin America. Donated to the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton but didn't observe the limits. Didn't show up for his indictment and instead returned to the Philippines. Saw Estrada's potential and invested in his campaign. When Estrada became president, Jimenez's expertise in wheeling and dealing came in handy in packaging the hostile takeover of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., enabling First Pacific Co. Ltd. of Hongkong to acquire a 17.2% controlling interest for $750 million. For the effort, he was reported to have received a huge fee (about $50 million) that no one confirms or denies. Has settled into a mansion in Manila's tony Forbes Park. Frequent after-office-hours conversation buddy of the president. They share common interests, like exchanging jokes about Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

LUIS JUAN "BUBOY" VIRATA, 45. Filipino born in Portland, Oregon. Did MBA at Wharton and has M.A. in economics from Trinity College, Cambridge. His banker father died when he was just 22, and Manuel Zamora, his old man's top aide, took him under his care. Chairman and CEO of Jardine Fleming Exchange Capital Group, of which he owns 50%, president and acting CEO of Philippine Airlines, and chief financial adviser to beer, tobacco and airline tycoon Lucio Tan. Speaks fluent Mandarin, which Chinese Filipino Tan appreciates. The Virata family is part-owner of the Zamoras' Rio Tuba company.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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