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.

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 January 2001 4 minute READ

Keith Suter

Director of Studies, International Law Association (Australian Branch)

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.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.