Philippines: May 1, 2001

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President Gloria Arroyo has declared a state of rebellion and called out more troops and police to keep the peace. She also ordered the arrest of a dozen opposition politicians suspected of being behind the attempted coup. A mob of some 8,000 people battled police and soldiers in the capital. At least three have died so far. The mob was calling president Arroyo to step down and be replaced by deposed former president Estrada. The mob is composed largely of poor people, who comprised the power base of former movie star Estrada.  The kleptocrats and their political allies were quite comfortable with Estrada, who eagerly joined in various corruption schemes. Corruption, especially at the higher levels of government, has always been a problem in the Philippines. Estrada was forced from power largely because of popular revulsion against the corruption. Estrada's predecessor had reduced corruption and the economy grew as a result. But once Estrada took power, cronyism and corruption flourished again and economic activity declined. The rich and corrupt politicians and businessmen (kleptocrats) have used their wealth to escape prosecution, but the demise of Estrada scared them all. Never before had a president been ousted because of corruption. 

 

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