Joseph Estrada was elected president in May 1998. He had three decades experience in show business as a B grade movie actor, specialising in playing kind-hearted crooks who stole from the rich to give to the poor. His political opponents characterised him as a gambling, drunken womaniser – a colourful past won him no support from the Catholic hierarchy. But he was – and remains – very popular with the poor. Although a millionaire, he is a populist politician with the common touch. The poor people chose him as a vote against the traditional land-owning families.
Philippines: 'Buddy' Loses the Plot
Fifteen years ago, People Power in Manila toppled the corrupt regime of Ferdinand Marcos and ushered in a new era of democracy. But now there is an impeachment crisis over allegations of corruption against President Estrada, the economy is one of the weakest in Asia and there is a serious Islamic rebellion in the south. Those of us in Manila in 1986 thought the Philippines was ready for a fresh start. Now it seems to have lost its way.