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People Power II: The downfall of a president

On the crest of mass public protests Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in as the new president of the Philippines after Joseph Estrada accepted a Supreme Court decision to strip him of office.

In January, after 31-months in office, 64-year-old Joseph Estrada became the first Philippine president ever jailed for alleged corruption, his fate sealed by a popular military-backed revolt.

The Edsa shrine in Manila, the stage of the 1986 'people power' revolt that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, again became a symbol of democracy for the nation. It was at the shrine that Arroyo took her oath of office, cheered on by thousands of supporters.

The disgraced former movie star and his family left the presidential palace roughly two hours after Arroyo swearing-in amid vows from his followers that they would reinstate him.

Estrada is alleged to have amassed more than $77 million (four billion pesos) whilst in office -- an accusation he hotly denies.

The former leader says his arrest marks the culmination of a long-running "conspiracy" waged against him by the influential business community, led by Manila's middle class and elite.

The former president is still being held on non-bailable charges of economic plunder, graft, perjury and the illegal use of an alias.

He has denied all charges.

People Power 2 may have set a dangerous precedent in the Philippines, those who have come to power on the crest of a moral war against corruption, may also suffer the same demise. However the new administration appears more disciplined.

Arroyo has a tough job ahead: to push forward with economic reforms, provide stability for investors, as well as come up with a solution for Muslim militancy in the south -- an issue that has distracted the administration from its main tasks.

Healing the divisions of the past, as well as convincing people that there is hope in the future is Arroyo's main task.

In the wake of Estrada's removal from office, the Philippine government is still in a dilemma: how to enforce the law without turning Estrada, who has been in detention for over eight months, into a martyr for his mostly impoverished followers?

Estrada's trial is set to resume on January 7, 2002.



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Links

• IN-DEPTH: The Philippines: Struggle for democracy
• The latest news on the Estrada corruption case
• AUDIO: Estrada interview: 'It's all a conspiracy'










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